8 Life-Saving Tips to Follow Before and During Every Hike
The idea of going for a hike is incredible; the beautiful outdoors, fresh air, stunning views, and a new adventure altogether. Immersing yourself into the outdoors is thrilling for many survivalists, but it comes with some risks. Regardless of your experience or where you are headed, unexpected circumstances might occur while you are out there.
Thankfully, there are several ways of reducing the chances of encountering unfortunate events during a hiking trip. The more prepared you are for the journey, the higher your chances of having a great time and staying safe.
1. Work On Your Cardiovascular Fitness
Fitness experts advise that an average person should do at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercises in a week. When planning for a hiking activity, consider following this recommendation and even adding some extra time. The best aerobic activities for hikers are cycling, jogging, swimming, and brisk walking, which are ideal when preparing for a hike.
Even if you cannot make it to the gym, you can exercise from your house. The aim is to get your heart pumping. So, look into activities like squats, hops, jumping jacks, leg raises, and plank jacks. If you are going to a high altitude area, include high-intensity training too to prepare your body for the bursts of strength you require to climb slopes.
When planning a hike, your cardiovascular fitness is an important factor to consider. The right conditioning will not only make the hike more enjoyable but will also help prevent fatigue and reduce the risk of injury. Here’s how you can plan your hike and prepare your cardiovascular system:
- Understand the Hike: Start by getting a thorough understanding of the hike. What’s the distance? How much elevation gain is there? What’s the trail condition? The more challenging the hike, the better cardiovascular shape you need to be in. You’ll also want to consider the altitude as high altitudes can put more strain on your cardiovascular system.
- Begin a Cardio Training Program: Aerobic activities such as walking, running, or cycling are good starting points to build your cardiovascular endurance. If you’re new to exercise, start with shorter, easier workouts and gradually increase the duration and intensity. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.
- Incorporate Interval Training: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can be an effective way to increase your cardiovascular fitness. HIIT involves alternating between periods of intense effort and periods of lighter activity or rest. This type of training can increase your stamina and help you handle the varying intensities of a hike, from uphill climbs to easier flat sections.
- Include Specific Hike Training: The best way to train for a hike is by hiking. Start with short, easy trails and gradually take on longer and steeper hikes. This will condition your cardiovascular system to the specific demands of hiking and help you get used to pacing yourself, navigating different types of terrain, and carrying a pack.
- Rest and Recovery: Proper rest is crucial to let your body recover and adapt to the increased physical demands. Be sure to schedule in rest days during your training and listen to your body. If you feel overly tired, take an extra rest day.
- Nutrition and Hydration: A balanced diet and adequate hydration play important roles in cardiovascular health and endurance. Try to eat a variety of nutritious foods, stay well-hydrated, and avoid things that can harm your cardiovascular system, like smoking or excessive alcohol.
2. Buy the Right Hiking Boots and Socks
Properly fitting hiking socks and boots with sufficient cushioning will help you to avoid issues like rolling your ankle. Please never forget these items because you need enough support while walking. When you purchase the right gear, you won’t experience painful blisters, which are major hiking hindrances.
If you don’t know what to buy, talk to an expert at any outdoor supplies store, and they will offer some guidance. When you get home, try walking around the house with the boots to test their comfort level. Avoid cotton socks because they keep moisture from sweaty feet, which results in blisters.
Instead, go for hiking socks that are made using materials like synthetics or wool to ease friction and wick away moisture.
3. Carry Enough Water or a Water Purification System
Hiking experts recommend that adults should drink at least half a liter per hour when they are active outdoors. You might need more if the sun is hotter or if you are on a steep trail. Although you can carry all the water you need while on a short hike, it’s not possible if you are going for an extended period.
You can save your weight by using a purification system. Ask the park rangers or check your map for natural water resources on the trail. If there are, carry some disinfection and purification materials to refill your bottle on your way. Otherwise, don’t drink unpurified water on a hike, even if it looks crystalline.
4. Pack a First Aid Kit
Buy or customize a first aid kit for the trip. The package should contain things like an antiseptic, bandage, painkillers, and an adhesive wrap. The items will help you manage common hiking injuries such as ankle rolls, bug bites, and scrapes.
You can buy the first aid kit from a drugstore or an online shop. If you want to DIY, everything you need to know about assembling one is on the Red Cross website. You might also add some items to the kit based on your health status.
Pack your medical history so that in case of an emergency, the paramedic knows what to do.
5. Draw Up an Itinerary and Share It with Someone outside Your Group
Create an itinerary and send it to someone who is not going for the hike. Make sure that all your group members agree on the plan. Include the starting point, destination, trail, and the expected finishing time.
When calculating the timeline, remember that predicting how long you will take on unfamiliar terrain is not easy. That is why you should start the trip early, stick to the time frame, and avoid being over-ambitious. If you are hiking in a park, leave a copy of the itinerary at the park office.
6. Appreciate That Hiking Is Not a Race
During a hiking trip, sure is better than fast. Many beginners start the hike at a rapid pace, only to get tired halfway into the trail. Conserve your energy, especially if you are going for a long walk.
You don’t know what situation will arise when you require the power. It is all a matter of safety, so complete with some juice in the tank. If you are part of a group, stay with your friends. In case you plan on splitting at some point, keep the timelines you agree on.
Otherwise, engaging in other activities besides what you decided is a sure-fire way of getting stranded.
7. Use Your Whole Body
After a hiking trip, many people give credit to their legs for taking them through the trail. That explains why some accidents occur; most people don’t engage all their body parts during a hike. You have all your entire body to thank because it was involved in making the trip a success.
Whenever you need to call on your arms, hands, or behinds to scoot around the slopes, don’t hesitate to do so. Balance is vital, and your legs can get exhausted, especially during a challenging hike.
Hiking isn’t just about putting one foot in front of the other – it’s a full-body activity. Here’s how you can use different parts of your body while hiking:
- Legs and Feet: These are the primary muscles used in hiking. They include your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Your feet, ankles, and knees absorb the impact of each step.
- Core: Your core helps to maintain your balance on uneven terrain, supports your back under the weight of your backpack, and helps to transfer power from your lower body to your upper body. Keep your core engaged, especially on uneven or steep terrain.
- Arms and Shoulders: When you use hiking poles, your arms and shoulders get a workout too. They help maintain your balance, especially when you’re going downhill. Moreover, pumping your arms can help you maintain a good pace.
- Back: Your back muscles, specifically your lower back, also play a crucial role in hiking. They help you stay upright and balance the load of your backpack. Make sure your backpack fits well and distribute the weight evenly to avoid back pain.
- Hands: Use your hands for balance, especially when climbing over obstacles or traversing steep, rocky terrain. They can also be used to push off your knees for an extra boost uphill.
- Neck and Head: Look ahead and around, not just down at your feet. This can help you plan your path, avoid obstacles, and enjoy the view! Regularly change the position of your head to avoid neck strain.
- Eyes: Your eyes are essential for scouting the path ahead, spotting potential hazards, and taking in beautiful scenery.
- Lungs: Proper breathing is essential for long, strenuous hikes. Practice deep, rhythmic breathing, filling your lungs completely and exhaling fully to maximize oxygen intake.
Remember, hiking is not just about reaching your destination but also about enjoying the journey. Listen to your body, take breaks as needed, stay hydrated, and fuel your body with nutritious food.
8. Mental Preparation Is Crucial Too
Fear is a big enemy, whether you are trying a new venture or an old one. You can combat it by ensuring that you are physically prepared for the task. Make sure that you keep positive thoughts to engage your physique for the hike.
Focus on the benefits you will gain after completing the adventure. Most importantly, visualize success by picturing yourself at the end of the trail. There could be a little self-doubt because that happens to everyone, even the most prepared.
Luckily, you can handle it by knowing why you are on an adventure trip.
This video has been included for its clarification of the topic matter. Credit goes to
Adhering to life-saving tips before and during every hike can greatly enhance your safety and overall hiking experience. It is essential to meticulously plan your trip, understand your physical limitations, check the weather, and choose the right gear, including comfortable footwear, layered clothing, and a well-stocked first aid kit. During the hike, always stay on marked trails, consume plenty of water, and be alert to your surroundings, specifically signs of wildlife and changes in weather conditions.
Furthermore, the importance of informing a trusted individual about your hiking plans cannot be overstressed. This simple act could be lifesaving in the event of an emergency.
Remember that hiking is not only about reaching the destination; it’s about enjoying the journey and connecting with nature while respecting its forces. Be prepared, stay safe, and relish the adventure.