Darren and I absolutely love the satisfying feeling you get when you reach the top of a mountain escarpment and the stunning view that comes with it. Hiking is a great hobby to have, not only to keep fit and add those extra steps to your Fitbit but also to strengthen relationships through the arduous task of a hike and by together experiencing the fascinating nature that this world has to offer us.
After many years of hiking, and leaving crucial things behind, we have put together our very own list of hiking tips and essentials for all of you that want to get out there and hike.
We have put together our 7 Top Tips for your next hiking adventure:
First and foremost invest in a pair of proper hiking shoes/ boots.
For so long I found myself hiking in my favourite pair of Nike Free’s and too many times did I end up rolling my ankle or slipping (and taking a tumble) on a wet rock. I finally invested in a pair of Salomon Speedcross 3 shoes for the reason that they are sturdy and have aggressive tread pattern which is especially good for me and my clumsiness. Depending on whether you want to be hiking Kilimanjaro or your local mountainside the choice between boots and shoes lies in that decision. For when we finally take the plunge to hike Kilimanjaro we will have to buy some solid hiking boots but until then our Salomons do just fine for our local hiking hangouts.
Pack a backpack.
For travelling long distances you are going to have to pack a bag that can carry your necessities. You will want a place for your water bottle (extremely important), sunscreen, cap and snacks (pack extra just in case) to keep you going throughout the day. Don’t over pack your bag, unless you want a harder hike, by the time you get back you are going to hate yourself for over packing and have a sore back as a result of that.
Carry a map.
Always have a map of the route and surrounding areas of where you are planning to hike – no matter how well you know the area, it is always a good idea to keep a map handy in case of an emergency. We have this really nifty foldable solar LED bottle that we use to keep all our important things dry, it also acts as a light when we end up camping overnight, we usually keep our hiking map in that bottle as well to prevent it from getting damaged or wet.
Put together an emergency kit.
While hiking, especially in remote areas, you never want to be stuck without emergency supplies. Some emergency supplies to include in your kit are bandages, plasters, disinfectant, medicine such as antihistamines (you never know what plant you might brush up against that you are allergic to), and flint (in case you get lost and have to stay overnight). Pack a small go-to emergency bag to pop into your backpack every time you head off onto your next hike to ensure that you are covered for anything that might happen.
Make sure you have enough water for the duration of your hike.
You need to make sure that you have enough water for your hike – being dehydrated is not only dangerous for your health but can also impair your vision and your balance which is never a good thing when hiking, especially on top of a mountain. But extra water means extra weight on your back and that is something that you don’t really want. You should carry at least 3 – 4l of water for a full day’s hike which will make the weight on your back quite heavy. Some ways in which you can combat the weight is to pre-hydrate – drink a litre of water before you head out (and of course go to the bathroom before) and even invest in a water filter if there are streams/ rivers along your route.
Always let someone know that you are going on a hike.
It is advisable to hike with at least one other person but if you are adamant about hiking on your own then it is most definitely a requirement to let somebody back home know where you are going and when you should be expected back. At most hiking trails you are required to write in the log book before heading out but letting somebody else know when to expect you back will give you an extra person to raise the alarm in case you get into some trouble along your hiking route.
Finally, embrace the ethos of ‘Leave no trace’ and just take in your beautiful surroundings.
If you have any wrappers from snacks, make sure they go back in your pack! It is an absolute privilege for us to be able to explore the beautiful outdoors and we need to make sure that they are maintained for future generations to enjoy and experience too. Along the way don’t forget to look up, take in the scenery, at the end of the day you are not there to hike the fastest and be the first one to reach the lookout point but to enjoy the journey, wherever you may be going.