A natural walker, over the past years I’ve grown to love hiking, regularly joining 3-4 day trails and taking to the Table Mountain slopes every chance I get. I’ve learnt that a hike is one of the best ways to spend quality time with friends and family and allows me to get away from the madness of a busy life and recharge.
While this outdoor activity can be beneficial in more ways than one, it can go horribly wrong if you show up unprepared. Instead of recharging your mind and body, a hike can add to your stress – and be dangerous – if you’re not fully prepared for it.
Some forward planning is key for a successful hike. Aside from checking a reputable website such as outdoorcommand.com/, here are some other essentials you need in order to go hiking:
Your body is like a car’s engine. It’s made up of different parts, and all of these should work well with each other. But just like a car’s engine needs fuel, your body needs water in order to function. Water keeps all of your organs running, and makes your body stronger against common illnesses and diseases. Because of its importance, water is one of the first things you should pack whenever you go on a hike.
Regardless if you’re planning to hike for just a couple of hours or even days, a clean bottle of water should always be the first thing placed in your backpack. Don’t assume you can find bottled water once out there, and save the environment by having a reusable bottle. When your body doesn’t receive enough water, you’ll be prone to altitude sickness.
This is a medical condition caused by exposure to low amounts of oxygen at a higher elevation. This is one of the mildest forms of mountain sickness, the symptoms of which are headaches, tiredness, and dizziness. If you want to avoid experiencing altitude sickness, take a lot of water with you and drink even when you aren’t typically thirsty. The higher the altitude you’re going, the more water you should consume.
For first-time hikers, bringing your own food can be a challenge. You won’t want to carry a heavy backpack for hours and will think it overkill. But even if you’re only going on a hike that will only last for a couple of hours, it’s important to take snacks with you. Hiking will require your stamina and strength, and this can result in more calories being burned in an hour. This is one of the reasons why more and more people are choosing to hike in order to achieve their weight and fitness goals.
If your next hike starts early in the morning, it’s safe to assume that you will get hungry around 10 AM or earlier. If you’re going for a hike that can last the entire day, don’t forget to bring some snacks. When you feel nauseous during your hike, take the time to pause and consume snacks that are rich in sodium and calories. These nutrients can help refuel your body, allowing you to regain strength and energy to continue the hike.
3. Navigation Tools
After crossing off water and food from your list, make sure to bring some navigation tools for your upcoming hike. Depending on your preference and connectivity, you can opt to bring a map, compass, or altimeter. All of these tools can help you determine if you’re still on the right track. These tools can be a lifesaver, especially if you’re going to hike in a new or unfamiliar location.
If you don’t have any idea how to use these tools, take the time to practice weeks before your actual hike. Look for resources online or ask for help from your fellow more experienced hiker friends. Bringing all of these navigational tools but not knowing how to read them, would not be helpful.
4. Rain Protection And Shelter
You can never predict the weather. Even if the newscaster from your local TV show reported sunny skies during the day, always be prepared for wind and rain. Keep in mind that regardless of your hiking trail, weather conditions can change dramatically. For you to be prepared for any weather emergencies, bring a good raincoat or windbreaker. This will keep your body warm and safe from hypothermia.
Bringing a lightweight tarp, tent, and poncho is also a great idea if you don’t want to be trapped in a storm in the middle of nowhere. You never know when you’ll need emergency shelter, so it’s always best to be prepared.
5. Pack Immediately
The moment your friends and family invite you to go on a hike, start preparing immediately. Don’t wait until the day of the hike to pack. The sooner you prepare, the less the chances of leaving something important that you’ll need at home. Mostly though when it comes to hiking, keep an open mind and appreciation for the environment that you are lucky enough to find yourself in x.
Read more about my love for hiking – Natural Born Hiker. My Love for Walking Trails.