I have gathered a few Hiking Tips along the trail and thought I would summarise them here as a quick reference. These are some of the most important hiking tips and hints I can offer to help you better enjoy your hiking experience.
- Always carry the Ten Essentials on every hike
- Carry enough water for the hike. Carry at least one litre with you and consume 250ml every 30 to 45 minutes. Keep the water flowing into your body even if you don’t feel thirsty. Do you realize that by the time you actually feel thirsty you are already dehydrated? If you are hiking, you are losing moisture and you need to replace it. Drink often to stay hydrated using electrolytes on longer hikes. When you drink, don’t sip the water as this does not aide hydration. Drink a minimum of 200ml each time.
- Small snacks often will keep your energy level up rather than waiting for a big lunch meal after you’ve emptied your body’s reserves.
- Keep a small amount of surplus food ready, just in case of an emergency or unexpected overnight stay.
- Leave No Trace – I am constantly amazed at the rubbish people leave on the trail. Everything from food containers to toilet paper. What you pack in you need to pack out.
- Let someone know before you go. Leave your hike plan someone you trust indication the trail head, intended direction of travel, planned exit points and expected time of return. Register your intentions at Trip Intentions.
- Bring and use sunscreen and a hat to prevent sunburn, even on cloudy or cold days.
- Plan a hike that is suitable for everyone in your party and let the slower person set the pace.
- Keep your pack organised and put items back where you expect to find them.
- Repackage to reduce weight. Pour liquids into smaller containers. Don’t bring the whole plastic-wrapped box of 12 energy bars when you’ll only eat 2 and need one more just in case.
- Leave all your cotton clothes at home. Cotton is not a good wicking fabric and will make you cold when wet.
- Keep a bandanna tied to your pack strap for a quick wipe of your forehead as needed. Bandanna’s are also great for minimising the loss of body heat as well as for keeping you cool.
- Inspect your survival and first aid kits before each hike. Replace consumed items.
- Minimize your weight before starting a multi-day hike, lose a few kilo’s, get a haircut (short hair is much easier to manage in the wild and it is less inviting for bugs and critters looking for a place to live.), cut your finger nails, and go to the bathroom before every hike.
- Water is critical for staying alive, but it is also deadly when mixed with cold on the trail. Keep yourself and your gear dry. Put items in zip-loc bags, sleeping bag in heavy-duty plastic garbage bag, clothes in waterproof bags. Carry and use rain-gear.
- If your hands swell while hiking, raise them. Hold onto your pack shoulder strap for awhile and see how that helps. Use trek poles to keep your hands elevated a bit and keep the muscles active.
- Take a photo ID, insurance card, and credit card on the trail. Before a long trek, taking digital photos of your documentation and emailing it to yourself can be helpful if they are lost or stolen. Easy access to a copy of the document may aid in getting replacements faster.
- You may see rock cairns, piles of rocks, along the trail. Don’t destroy them, but don’t add to them either. Don’t create cairns, tree blazes, or any other sign to mark the trail – people should be able to navigate their own route and scarring the landscape doesn’t help anyone. The agency with responsibility for managing the land will determine which markings are appropriate.
- Leaving the trail to look at something or for a toilet stop? Leave your pack behind so that others know where you left the trail. It’s a lot easier to find you if people know where to start looking.
- Leave a copy of a map detailing your route, information about your group and emergency contacts.
- Put a few water purification tablets in your medical kit. These can be bought cheaply from most chemists and take up little room.
- Take with you either some baby wipes or a small bottle of hand sanatizer to clean your hands before lunch.
- In your first aid kit add some paracetamol
- Develop the skills you will need to be a better hiker