If you’re a fan of nature and the great outdoors, chances are you’ve probably done some hiking, trekking, and/or backpacking at some point. The reality is that, despite the threat of global warming and the ever-changing landscape of the earth, more and more people are interested in outdoor pursuits in which technology and the ‘always on’ culture is almost completely forgotten about.
Although high in physical exertions, hiking can be a relaxing activity where you explore the great outdoors through footpaths, hills, country lanes, forests, fields, and more. The spirit of hiking lies in being able to bring people to the natural environment, and to know the heritage and reserves through the use of trails.
It’s a pursuit that is good for both the mind and the soul, alongside being good for the pocket, while opening ourselves up to new experiences, memories, and situations in which our adventurous spirits can feel free and plentiful. So, if you are that kind of person, here are some useful tips you must know before your next adventure.
1. Choose the adequate travel partners or group
Have you heard the quote, “If you really want to get to know a person, you must travel together…?” Well, this couldn’t be truer. If you are traveling for an extended period of time, or in close proximity with someone, you get to know the good, bad, and the ugly of someone’s personality. While you don’t always have the luxury of choosing your travel partners, if you can, try to invite good friends you are comfortable with, or at least companions you know.
2. Select the right clothing and essentials
If you are a novice hiker, you may not be aware of what the essentials are, so it’s always best consult with someone who does or who can point you in the right direction. There are plenty of guides online that will give you the foundations and more.
When it comes to clothing, wear things that are predominantly made of synthetic materials that keep you dry as you start to work harder and sweat more. If you prefer to use pants (which is the most recommendable option), it should be made of durable, quick-drying fabrics such as spandex or nylon; that way, your legs will be protected from some of the hazards, and will keep you warmer when the temperature drops at night or in more extreme conditions.
Making sure that you have boots that are durable, comfortable, and appropriate for those kind of conditions (like waterproof materials for example) is an absolute MUST! Remember that wearing the wrong boots or shoes could leave your feet aching and give you serious injuries. It can be surprising just how many ligaments and muscles there are in our feet that are susceptible to injury in the wrong shoes.
Something that can definitely help when leaning more towards hardcore trekking is a hiking stick or pole. When you use them, your upper body shares part of the workload of hiking, which also provides exercise to your forearms, arms, shoulders, and chest for a true whole-body workout.
To complement the clothing, there are some backpacking essentials that will keep you on the right path whatever the conditions:
- Navigation (map and compass).
- Sunglasses and sunscreen.
- A headlamp or a flashlight.
- First-aid kit or supplies (pills, bands, rubbing alcohol).
- Hydration and nutrition.
There are statistics surrounding people getting lost without being fully prepared, so it’s always better to prepare for the worst than just hoping for the best.
3. Know your destination
Essential to your plans is researching and understanding location, the weather, and terrain before you leave; if you want to add that extra layer of security, you should also invest in intermediate gear. Hiking and backpacking should be enjoyable, but you should also be prepared and aware of everything.
As with many other sports and activities, hiking has different difficulty levels: The low difficulty can be a one-day hike on level ground. A medium difficulty hike that might include spending a night camping, having some steep slopes, and carrying a more loaded backpack. A high difficulty hike may require prior experience, as well as carrying a tent, sleeping bag, heater, high calorie foods, and even being accompanied by an experienced guide.
You also need to remember that when you are out embracing nature, you should always ensure that you do as little as possible to disturb the environment or ecosystem that you are sharing on your trip, and leave the location as you found it, something championed by the Leave No Trace initiative.
When you plan your trip, check out the options for tours and guides, like Big Wild Adventures who offer Yellowstone backpacking tours in an environment that is not to be taken for granted with its difficulty and danger, but also its natural beauty.
The important thing here is that you need to make this experience something exciting that invites you to come back and do it again. There are a large number of trekking and hiking federations and groups who organize mountain activities and walks all around the world. These activities are regulated by a series of safety standards, environmental protection rules, and professionalism, and their goal is to let you enjoy your life plentifully discovering almost every place in the planet.
Featured photo credit: backpacker.com via media.backpacker.com