There is nothing like going on a long, refreshing hike through beautiful natural landscapes. Well, that is unless you did not prepare adequately for the experience. Preparing for hiking is extremely important and it could either make or mar your entire experience. There are a few essential tips that you should include in your hiking prep to ensure that you have a safe and seamless experience on the trails.
This checklist has ensured that I’ve had the most fun possible while also keeping me in top shape even through very long hikes. These are some of the most important things that you should do before going on a hike.
Find out about trail options
It is essential that you do good research before you pick the trail that you will be hiking through. This involves much more than just scrolling through Instagram and choosing the most picturesque-looking place. You should check out some trail websites, park websites as well as any relevant blogs. You can even pick up a guidebook.
Here, you’ll be able to get some important pieces of information about whatever trail you want to hike including the distance, difficulty, and any other important factors that could affect your experience.
Ensure that you choose a hiking trail that is within your abilities as well as that of your group. If you are a beginner, then you should pick an easier hike and gradually increase the difficulty as you gain experience.
Many trails have strict laws in place to ensure that the natural environment is protected and all hikers have a great experience. You can check out their websites to see if you would need a park pass, permit, or reservation. You can also find out other information like closed areas, information about pets, or any other thing that could be important to you and your hike.
Create and leave a trip plan
In your hiking prep, there is almost nothing more important than this step. You should tell a friend or family member all the necessary information about your hike, including the exact location as well as when you intend to return.
This will help greatly if they need to look for you in case of an injury or if you get lost. There are some amazing trip planning apps that you can use to help in this process.
Get some hiking buddies
Hiking alone could be cool, but hiking with a group of buddies is almost always better. It is much more fun and it is a thousand times safer to hike with friends or people you trust than hiking on your own.
If anyone gets hurt, it becomes much easier because you can help each other out. And because most wildlife tends to stay away from groups of people, the likelihood of you encountering any dangerous animals is reduced greatly.
Most hikers choose to go in groups of four. So, if anyone gets injured, two of the four can go and find help while one person stays with the injured individual. Do not think that adding more and more people will make the trip safer. Large groups of people tend to be disruptive, loud, and very difficult to manage.
If you are not interested in finding any hiking buddies or you simply aren’t able to find other people that are as interested in this activity as you, you can also choose to hike alone and still have an amazing experience. Just ensure you are extra careful and don’t go on any super difficult hikes when you’re alone.
Find out the trail conditions
One of the most frustrating things that can happen on the hike is getting halfway up the trail just for you to be blocked off by a huge dump of snow. Checking the conditions of the trail before going on a hike can save you a lot of frustration and also boost your chance of having fun.
It will also help you to avoid getting lost and improve your chances of staying safe throughout the hike. Preparing for hiking is incomplete without you planning and checking the trail conditions to ensure everything is in good order. There are many different places where you can check the trail’s condition including Instagram, park websites, hiking groups, and more.
Check avalanche and weather forecasts
You can easily check if there’s going to be any snow or rain as well as how cold it could possibly get during your hike. This would help when you pack clothes for the hike. Keep in mind that when you go hiking in the mountains, the weather is most likely going to be different from that in the city.
Ensure that you also check the avalanche forecast which you can easily check online, especially if you will be hiking during the winter months. If you do not have proper avalanche training, then you should probably not hike in avalanche terrain except if the forecast is extremely low or shows absolutely no signs of an avalanche.
Make sure you finish the trail on time
A significant percentage of accidents while hiking occur when people try to hike at night or when they are rushing through their hike, so even if you are on the best hikes in Joshua Tree National Park, be prepared.. Ensure you calculate the time you spend on your hike so that you have enough time to complete your hike.
You can check out how long it takes most people to hike that trail and then add a little more time just as a precaution. Also, ensure that you find out how long it will take for you to get to the trail in the first place. You can even find out when the sun usually sets in that area so you won’t be caught in the dark of the night.
Generally speaking, it is important that you wear clothing that dries quickly and does not hold moisture when going on a hike. This means that it is best you choose nylon, polyester, or merino wool clothing instead of any clothes that contain cotton.
You can also layer your dressing so that you can easily remove or add any pieces of clothing depending on the temperature at different points in time. Note that the weather can change pretty quickly no matter what the forecast says. So, it is a great idea for you to keep a rain jacket or extra warm layer in your backpack just in case of a fast temperature change.
Keep your feet safe
A big part of hiking prep is what you choose to wear on your feet. If you want to have a happy hike, then you should wear some trail runners or hiking boots that will easily grip the trail and that fit you perfectly.
Make sure you break in your hiking boots before you go out on the trail to ensure it’s the perfect fit. You can also wear wool blend socks to prevent any blisters. It’s also best that you cut your toenails just so your feet feel super comfortable.
Pack snacks and a water bottle
You should expect to get hungry and thirsty after hiking or even in the middle of your hike. Ensure that you pack a good amount of food for your trip and I even recommend that you pack more food than you feel you need.
You can keep a couple of energy bars in your backpack so you have emergency food if your hike ever takes longer than you thought it would or if anyone gets injured and you need to wait for help.
You should also bring one of the best filtered water bottles. Because getting dehydrated is one of the worst feelings on a hike. Having about two liters of water is a standard amount for a hike but if it’s a difficult hike or the weather is hot, you might need a lot more water.
You can also leave some snacks or extra water in your car to refresh yourself once you get back from the trail.
Pack the essentials
We cannot complete a checklist on how to prepare for a hike without giving you this list of essential items you must bring along with you on your hike. These items include:
· A backpack
· A communication device
· A first aid kit
· A map or another navigation device
· Some sun protection
· A knife
· A fire starter
· An emergency shelter
Also check your gear and make sure that everything is working well before you head out to the trail. You don’t want to just discover that your GPS device is malfunctioning at the moment you need it.
So that’s the list of some very essential things you need to do while preparing for hiking. They may sound like a lot, but you will find them to be worth it when you’re out on the trail with your backpack full of snacks and water and very warm clothing.
I advise that you do not miss a single step before going on a hike if you want the best out of your experience. Enjoy the trails, there’s a beautiful world out there just waiting for you to explore it.
Guest Post by Catalin Geangos from https://outdooradept.com