Whether you are just beginning or a veteran trekker, here are 10 important hiking tips everyone should take with them on the trails.
These suggestions will keep you safe and help you get the most out of your hiking trip.
1. Communicate. Let someone know where you are going. The danger of having an accident on the trails or in the wilderness is that it is likely that no one else will notice for a long time.
Letting someone close to you know your location will reduce the risk of being seriously hurt. Take some signalling device: a cell phone, a whistle, a mirror, and in extreme cases, matches for a smoke signal.
2. Hydrate. Of all hiking tips, this one is big, and often overlooked. Take enough water for your trip. In fact, take more water than you would expect to drink.
Drink water periodically. Strenuous hiking dehydrates you quickly, especially in heat. But you also need plenty of water in cold temps, too.
Carrying a water purifying system is always a good idea, in case you need to get water from a pond or stream. Find out more about Hiking Water Filters here.
3. Research. Choose trails that are within your ability. Before you hike, view the map of the trail you are about to take, and pay special attention to elevation changes and distance.
Read reviews or ask park rangers and other hikers about the trails and specific hiking tips.
4. Plan Ahead. Don’t forget the hike back! Remember that after going from point A to B, you should figure around the same amount of time to go back from point B to point A, and allow time to make it back before dusk to be on the safe side.
5. Navigate. Use some method of finding your way, and finding your way back. This could be maps, remembering landmarks along the way, using a compass or GPS.
6. Protect yourself. Bring protection from the elements. That means sun, wind, cold, heat, rain, snow… Wear or carry a few light layers of outdoor clothing (man-made materials perform best) and other important items like hats, sunglasses, and sunblock.
7. Energize. Take food if you will be hiking for more than two or three hours. Fruit, protein bars, or even backpacking food will help keep you from feeling fatigued. Munch on small amounts at regular intervals to avoid hunger pangs and headaches. Salty snacks help you retain your moisture.
Food is an important energy source, but humans can survive for weeks without it. Remember that water is much more crucial for your survival.
8. Gear Up. Wear good hiking boots. Be careful about wearing shoes for the first time on a long trail, since all shoes need a breaking in period.
Choose a high quality hiking shoe that is right for the occasion. I usually wear a good all around light hiking boot that keeps my feet dry in wet conditions, and keeps them comfortable in hot weather.
9. Tread Lightly. Respect the places that you enjoy. Make sure those places are just as beautiful for your kids, grandkids, and great grandkids.
Prevent causing erosion by staying on established trails, and take care not to damage or disturb plant and wildlife.
10. Enjoy. Of all our hiking tips, this might be the most important. Make the most out of your hike! Enjoy the vistas, take in the fresh air, smell the flowers. Push your mind and body to new limits.
Bring your camera, journal, or binoculars. Do whatever it is you love to do!