As the saying goes, "when you fail to plan, you plan to fail". And this saying definitely applies to hikers. It’s easy to forget to do the fundamentals, and leaving them out could make all the difference to your hiking experience. Whether you’re an expert hiker, or a novice, here’s a reminder of what you need to do before going on a hike:
Gather Up The Ten Essentials And Plan For Emergencies
Before packing the non-essentials, start by packing the 10 essentials. The list includes core items like a compass, matches, a first aid kit and extra food. With the 10 essentials taken care of, you can then start thinking about the items that are most important to the specific needs of your hike.
Next, get prepared for emergencies. Don’t presume that your trip will go to smoothly; this isn’t always the way when you out in the wilds, where the conditions can suddenly change. Have a firm idea of what you’ll do should an emergency occur and pack, charge and top up your phone. Take cash/a credit card with you, and always note where near by shelters are in case you need to head for one. And be sure to take enough extra food for at least 24 hours, and have spare layers of extra clothing.
Find Light Gear
Your backpack will start to feel heavy after a while, especially on the upward climb; plan to travel light where you can, without compromising on the essentials. To minimize your load, pick lightweight clothing like alpaca that is suitable for layering, and choose a lightweight backpack. Depending on the terrain, you might also be able to get away with lighter shoes.
Check You’re Fit For The Journey Ahead
We all overestimate our abilities at times, and this is one of the biggest mistakes that both new and expert hikers can make. Research the trail you’ll be tackling to ensure it’s suitable for your capabilities. If you need to, increase your fitness levels gradually before the hike, especially if you’re hiking further than usual. In addition, keep any medical conditions in check, and if you’re unsure about your fitness for hiking, get medical advice.
Also, don’t forget to ensure your gear’s fitness ahead of your trip. Is the waterproofing adequate? Is your essential hiking gear in good repair? If you’re taking emergency equipment like a beacon, is it in working order?
Understand The Trail
Not everyone wants to spend time researching the trail, but it’s good way of getting to know the area better before you leave. Look at trail maps and guides, websites and apps so you understand the area as well as possible. If you can, speak to wardens once you’re there, and ask them if there are any problem locations that you should be cautious with.
Check The Weather
This should be obvious, but not everyone listens to the weather forecast, especially if they decide to go hiking on the spur of the moment. Check the weather ahead of your hike and on the day of your visit, or at least before you ahead out. And if it’s a recognized trail, always visit the website. The website should always display any weather warnings or changes in conditions.
Don’t underestimate the planning involved in hiking, especially if you’re new to it. Recently, there has been a surge in hikers getting out of their depth because of their poor planning or because they are overestimated their abilities. There are several things you need to do before a hike. And provided you remember the basics, plan for emergencies, do your research, and plan to travel light, you should have all you need for a great hiking experience.
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Image: Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash