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Around 45 million Americans go hiking yearly, which makes it the 4th most-popular outdoor activity. It’s a great way to get some exercise in, breathe in the fresh air, and see the great outdoors. Not to mention, you can easily combine it with other activities, such as camping, fishing, boating, etc.
You’ve now probably realized that you spend too much time holed up inside. What better way to break up your monotonous routine than to go see what Mother Nature has to offer?
Of course, you can’t just jump into things. So to learn more about planning a hiking trip, keep reading. We’ll give you some great tips!
Consider Your Hiking Trail Options First
Your entire trip will revolve around the trail(s) you hike, so it’s vital you weigh your choices first. If you’re a beginner and aren’t in great shape, then it’s even more important you don’t go out of your depth.
For example, Colorado has 58 peaks over 14,000 feet (known as Colorado 14ers). While they’re all in the same vicinity, choosing one trail instead of doing the adjacent one can make a huge difference!
Picking a trail beforehand can also help you figure out how long the hike will take and what time to start. For instance, if you want to catch the sunset at a summit, you should leave a few hours in advance if it’s a medium-level trail.
If you’re having trouble deciding which trails to take, always go with the easier options. You won’t overexert yourself or be frustrated about the terrain. You can always work your way up to harder trails later!
Use This Hiking Gear Checklist
Here’s a handy checklist to use when packing so you won’t forget anything essential. Feel free to tailor the list based on your individual needs.
Shoes for Hiking
Now, you don’t have to run out and buy a new pair of hiking boots just yet. If you’re going on easy trails that are relatively flat, then regular running shoes will suffice. Otherwise, if you’re tackling harder and rockier terrain, then you’ll need hiking boots.
Whatever you choose to wear, make sure they’re broken in before your hike so your feet don’t suffer.
Check the weather to figure out what clothes to wear. Avoid denim since it’s heavy and not breathable.
Even if it’s hot, wearing shorts might not be a good idea. Your exposed skin can get irritated from a sunburn, plants, or bug bites. Wear lightweight pants to protect your skin and stay cool.
You’ll want to dress in layers for your hike. Mother Nature is unpredictable, and you’ll want to make sure you can adjust accordingly. Bringing a lightweight poncho can be a fantastic idea.
It’s easy to get lost out in nature. And if you’re thinking your phone will be enough as a navigation tool, then think again.
You might not get a signal while hiking, so you’ll want some backup tools. Good old-fashioned maps and compasses will work well! You can also bring a separate GPS device if you have one.
Make sure you have plenty of batteries and charging packs to power your devices.
Food and Water
Depending on how long you’re staying out there, you might need to cook some meals. What you bring will also depend on what facilities you have (a stove in a cabin vs a campfire), so plan accordingly. Either way, it’s nice to have some non-perishables you can eat without having to warm or cook.
Don’t forget about snacks for hiking either. Choose high-calorie ones that’ll power your hike, such as trail mix, energy bars, seeds, peanuts, nuts, granola bars, etc.
Generally, you’ll need half a liter of water per hour hiking. But you can never have too much water, so pack as much as you can!
The great outdoors is a wild place to be, and you need to be prepared for any emergency, especially if you’ll be far from civilization.
Bring all the basic first aid kit items, such as bandages, antibiotic ointment, tape, gauze pads, and medications. Pack lots of sunscreen too, as the sun can be harsh. Bug spray can ward off annoying bites too.
In addition, put in a multi-purpose tool, whistle, flashlight (and batteries!), and some sort of fire starter (like a matchbox). These can be literal lifesavers should you get off-trail.
Eat Well Both Before and After Hiking
Hiking will take a lot out of you, even if you pick an easy trail. So don’t depart on an empty stomach!
Have a hearty meal 2 hours before hiking, as well as plenty of water. Avoid eating saturated fats and excessive proteins. Instead, get lots of healthy carbs, such as those found in brown rice, whole-wheat toast, whole-grain pasta, and fruits and veggies.
After your hike, you should consume protein, as this will help repair your muscles. That way, you won’t feel as sore.
Take It Slow
This is of utmost importance, especially if your fitness level isn’t excellent. Pushing yourself too hard will make it an unpleasant experience and you might injure yourself.
If you’re hiking with friends, plan on things going even slower. You’ll probably talk a lot, which can distract you, plus you might find things to look at and discuss.
Have Fun Planning a Hiking Trip
Planning a hiking trip can be great fun, especially if you’re going with friends. You’ll have an unforgettable time if you prep right.
Just make sure you pick a doable trail, pack the right things, and make plenty of memories. All the rest will fall into place naturally, and you’ll find yourself out there again soon!
Want to enjoy more outdoor activities? Then read more of our blog page for outstanding ideas!