5 Tips to prepare you for your next hike.
For such a simple activity, hiking can have many aspects. It would take a lifetime to explore all there is to know about the wide world of hiking. Here I thought I'd put together a simple list of a few things you can think about if you would like to take your hiking to the next level!
1. Know your shoes. (And socks!)
Not every hike needs a big pair of shin-high leather boots. For many trails a pair of runners are sufficient. I have a friend who completes almost all his adventures in his favourite pair of sandals. The point is that it’s not the shoe that is most important, it is how you feel in the shoes that counts. It is vital to know how the shoes will feel over a prolonged time and across various terrains. Have confidence and comfort in what you wear.
Pro tip: Socks are often overlooked but picking the right ones can make a big difference in comfort especially over multiple days and in certain weather conditions.
2. Train with weight
The number of times I have had people on tours who tell me how much walking preparation they did only to feel completely thrown off by wearing a pack. Even as little as 5-10kgs can cause fatigue and potential injury over prolonged periods if your body isn’t accustomed. Weight on your back will also make a big difference to balance on uneven ground. Do training walks with your chosen pack.
Pro tip: Don't overdo it. Make sure your pack is fitted properly before adding extra weight to it!
Walking may not seem as strenuous as some other forms of exercise but if you’re doing it a lot your body will notice! Having flexibility is more important in most hiking scenarios than being strong. Allocate a little time each day to stretching, especially all parts of your legs and back.
Pro tip: Add a meditation to your practice to help your mental health along the way.
Unfortunately, when you do long hikes you often have to carry water with you. The temptation is to minimise all unnecessary weight. Don’t let water be one of your sacrifices. Your body will respond much better during and (importantly) in recovery from your hike if you stay well hydrated.
Pro tip: Look into a water bladder with mouthpiece that will fit in your backpack. Not having to stop and pull out your water makes drinking a lot easier.
5. Try Walking Poles
Maybe they look a bit daggy or make you feel like a bit of a poser, but if you plan on hiking regularly poles are a great option. They help in many different terrains. They are great going uphill but heading down is where they are worth their weight in gold. If you’re an avid walker, do your joints a favour and consider adding walking poles to your equipment.