Hiking can be a great way to get some exercise and fresh air while taking in the beauty of nature. Whether you are thinking of hiking a short, well maintained trail or you want to spend a whole day exploring more rugged terrain, it’s important to consider a few things before you head out the door.
What will the weather be like? Be sure to check out the weather forecast first, and check the extended forecast in case your hike goes a bit longer than you anticipated. Dress in a way that protects your skin from sun and wind, opting for multiple light layers rather than a tank top and a heavy jacket.
Are you hiking a steep, rocky slope or a flat, well packed trail? Make sure you wear the right type of footwear for your hike, or you may find it cut painfully short. Also avoid hiking longer trails or harsher landscapes until you have some experience under your belt.
- Mapping and GPS
Depending on where you go hiking, your cell phone may not have the service it needs to run its GPS application. Consider bringing along an old-fashioned map of the area as a backup. Do bring your cell phone, though, in case you get lost. Even if your GPS doesn’t function as a map, it could still be used by emergency services to pinpoint your location if you should become lost or sustain a serious injury while out hiking.
- Nutrition and hydration
Consider investing in a “camel pack” style hydration system, so you can carry adequate drinking water without weighing yourself down too much. For hot weather hiking, you will want to drink at least a pint of water per hour to stay hydrated on your journey. Pack a snack, too; something dense in both protein and carbohydrates (like a healthy trail mix) can help rejuvenate your body and give you the energy you need to make it back to the trailhead.
Always be prepared for an emergency situation. Whether it be the need for medical care or encountering wild animals while on the trail. Take a first aid kit with you and a hiking specific backpack if possible. Also, consider including a venom extraction tool in case of a snake or spider bite. Additionally, consider bringing a walking stick, as it can help you gain better footing and can also help you fend off aggressive animals that you may encounter along the way.
- Bring a buddy
Novice hikers should avoid hiking alone until they gain more experience with taking treks in the wilderness. Hiking with a friend helps to ensure the safety of both of you, and sharing in the joy of a good hike with a buddy is an added bonus.
By packing the right supplies and preparing for whatever may come your way, you can ensure that your hike is a safe and fulfilling one. Don’t be caught without the necessities, and don’t bring more than you need. Pack smart before you hike so you can get the most out of the experience, each and every time.
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