Most Americans go hiking without being ready for it, according to experts. Inadequate clothing, improper footwear and lack of planning or research are some of the most common backcountry mistakes that hikers make. In addition, failure to notify someone of their plans or pack enough water/food, overpacking, and not checking hiking gear prior to a trip are all up there among the top mistakes. However, you can avoid many of these problems by applying the following tips.
Take Care With Clothing/Footwear
Inappropriate clothing and footwear can be the downfall of many a hiker. As detailed in the NPR article, it’s not uncommon for hikers to wear denim or cotton for comfort, however, these materials will let in the wet and the cold. Instead, choose natural fibers like alpaca that will give you an added insulation and prevent your skin from becoming saturated if you get wet.
Take care with footwear, too. Poor footwear makes you more prone to injuries, falls and painful blisters. Limit the chances of painful feet by selecting suitable footwear for the terrain and ensuring it’s comfortable to wear. You can further protect your feet by breaking shoes in prior to a hike, and by pairing your shoes/boots, with warm, thick socks.
Have A Means Of Emergency Support
Too many hikers head outdoors without sufficient means of emergency support. And a regular phone might not suffice if you’re off the track. The answer? carry a beacon for back up. That way, if you should become lost or injured, a rescue team would be directed straight to your location.
Take Some Emergency Cash
There’s always a possibility you could get stuck overnight, but this isn’t something hikers always consider. There could be several reasons for a delay. For instance, the weather might turn bad or your car could breakdown. However, by taking some spare cash or a credit card, you can avoid being stranded, or being left without money for additional food and drink.
With everything you need to remember, it can be easy to over plan and over pack. And when you’re walking a long distance, on uneven ground or on an upward curve, it won’t take long for your backpack to feel heavy. To limit this problem, use a basic layering system and pack all the essentials and emergency equipment first before adding the non-essentials. If there’s a lightweight alternative to any of your other gear, use it, and select multi-functional tools/devices to reduce the load.
Take Enough Water
Dehydration is a serious threat to hikers and it could leave you in serious difficulty. To avoid this, work out how much water you think you’ll need and always take extra supplies. Experienced hikers advise you take enough water (and food) for an additional 24 hours. If you don’t want to carry too much water with you, find out where you can access freshwater supplies and ensure it's safe to drink.
Check Your Equipment
Not enough hikers think to check their equipment; don’t get caught out by this mistake. Before heading out, do an inspection of all your gear. Tents, sleeping gear, emergency equipment and any other essentials should all be looked over. Should you find any significant faults, consider replacing the item rather than trying to make a repair.
Notify Someone Of Your Plans
If there’s one thing as bad as not having is plan, it’s having a plan no one knows about. If friends and family don't know where you’re going, they’ll have no idea where to start looking should the worse happen. Make sure family members or friends know where you’ll be, what time you expect to arrive at your destination and what time you expect to be back.
There’s huge benefits to getting outdoors and into the fresh air. However, don’t be tempted to leave things to chance as this can lead to some everyday backcountry mistakes that could be avoided. The above tips will enable you to avoid some of the usual backcountry errors and make your journey safer and more enjoyable.
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