The Ultimate Hiking Guide

Hiking has grown in popularity because it is not reserved for a specific demographic. Anyone, young or old, can do it and it requires no special skills. It is also one of those activities that allow you to stay in touch with fellow humans while also being in tune with nature. It allows you to form a deep bond with your friends.

It is fun. Think of bonfires and barbecue at night. Think of crossing a stream and putting up tents. It is a great outdoor activity but it also comes with risks. Hiking can result to accidents, dehydration, and it is not unusual to encounter dangerous animals like snakes, mountain lions, and bears. Below are some tips for those who are planning to go on hiking.

Hiking Safety

It is never a good idea to hike on your own. But it is also not uncommon to hear of solo exploits. Experts agree that this is dangerous because things can go out of hand. You can fall or your body can give up. And the worst thing that can happen is you cannot call for help. But should you decide to go at it alone, make sure you inform your family or friends where you are going and how long you expect to be away. If you do not come back in time, they should start getting worried.

Bring an adequate amount of water with you. Streams are not the best sources of drinking water because the water never went through purification. Should you run out of water, the best thing to do is to bring stream water into a boil before drinking. There are other methods of purifying water but it is best to boil it. the high temperature will kill almost all the bacteria and viruses in it.

Lastly, stick to the trail to avoid getting lost. Cover yourself with protective gear for protection against plants, bugs, and even snake bites. Do not forget to carry a first aid kit and be knowledgeable enough how to use it.

Remember that those who hike solo are experts and are physically capable. They are also trained in the many facets of hiking. Never hike alone unless you know what you are doing.

Hiking Foods

Hiking requires physical activities that you do not normally do on any regular day. This means that you burn more calories and you need more energy as you go along. To ensure you are properly fed, bring foods that are rich in proteins and calories like meat, cereal bars, chocolates, and eggs.

It is also mandatory that you keep yourself hydrated. Bring lots of water and tools that should allow you to boil water in case you run out. You must also remember not to carry too much load because it will easily tire you.

First Aid Kit for Hiking

Your hiking gear is never complete without a first aid kit. The outdoors can be unforgiving and it is not uncommon for someone to get hurt. Without first aid, you risk infection even for simple wounds that you could have disinfected if only you had the right medicine with you.

Typically, the contents of your first aid kit should be bandages, antibiotics, thermometer, pain killers, alcohol, utility knife, antiseptic solutions, and a manual of first aid treatment for different situations.

Conditioning and Stretching Before the Hike

Hiking may not be as strenuous as other outdoor activities, yet it is equally tiring and physically demanding. This means that you need to condition yourself before you start your journey. Dangerous trails can also be a challenge even for young or physically fit individuals.

The most important aspect of your preparation is your legs. You will need a lot of muscle power to take you up the trail, not to mention that you need added power because of your backpack. To train your legs, you have the option to run daily or use a tread mill.

This brings us to the next important aspect of your health: cardio. Going up and walking on angled ground means that you are fighting against gravity. Your body will burn more calories and your heart needs to pump more blood as you burn oxygen. Running and using the treadmill also improves your cardiovascular system.

Appropriate Hiking Gear and Clothing

Hiking is just like any other outdoor activity that is best enjoyed when you are geared up properly. You must prepare yourself for varying weathers and terrains. If you are hiking during the day, it is still best that you bring raincoats with you.

Make sure you wear long-sleeved shirts that will spare you of bug bites. There are also plants that you have to worry about because they sting and can cause allergies. Hiking boots are a must. Needless to say, you cannot wear stilettos or rubber shoes. There are boots specifically made for hiking. They are tough and water proof.

Always carry a map and a compass. Do not rely on your GPS because they may not always work. In addition, you cannot go hiking without a utility knife, a whistle, waterproof matches, water, food, insect repellent, and sun screen.

Hiking Footwear

As mentioned earlier, footwear is crucial. Soft shoes will not protect your feet from the rough terrain. You must wear hiking boots specifically designed to grip rocks and soil and wet grounds. These boots will protect you from snake bites, bug bites, dirt, rain, mud, and rocks. You can choose between regular boots and high cut boots.

Group or Family Hiking

This is a fun activity and is really the typical hiking scenario. Friend and family members enjoy the outdoors together. It feels much safer than hiking alone. And it is. With a group, you abate your fears knowing that you have people around you who care for your safety. But hiking with kids is a different ballgame altogether. You must be more watchful and vigilant when hiking with kids. They tend to explore where they shouldn't and they can easily get hurt.

Seasonal Hiking

The weather in each country dictates whether it is the right time for hiking. The best time to do it is during summer where the weather is warm and there is absolutely no rainfall. When fall comes, the wind starts to bite you and as it leads to winter, the hike becomes more challenging because of the cold. Spring brings forth a lot of mud.

You can hike anytime you want but the different conditions will also require different gears and different level of expertise. In some states, hiking trails are closed when the weather proves to be too dangerous.

Wild Animals

It is not uncommon to meet bears and other wild animals as you hike. It is best to understand what creatures live in the area before you start your hiking activity. Read about them and understand carefully how to behave should you meet them along the way.

Preserving Trailways

You are responsible for nature. As you hike, you are expected not to litter and destroy the wildlife you come across. The only thing expected of you is to walk, take pictures, and enjoy the scenery. You are not even encouraged to feed the animals. There are some rules that you need to follow to ensure that you do not cause damage to wildlife, much less cause damage to yourself.

Popular National Parks and Trails

Throughout the country, there are trails that are really worth seeing. Some examples are Breakneck Ridge, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Appalachian Trail. Below we will take you to some resources for each of these three.

Hiking is a cool activity. Amateurs and children can enjoy it. The thing is, you need to choose the hiking area carefully and this will depend on your physical capabilities and hiking experience. All in all, you must always consider safety, weather, and prepare all the camping gears you need to make it a meaningful and hassle-free experience.

Additional Resources