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9 Tips to Prepare For Your First Multi Day Hike

9 Tips to Prepare For Your First Multi Day Hike

Whether you have your sights set on hiking a national park or simply spending a long weekend on the trail, preparation and planning are both extremely important. Starting a hike without the proper food, equipment, medical supplies, and information can result in an extremely negative experience. At best, you’ll have a miserable time. At worst, you can put your well being at risk, even your life.

When done correctly, multi day hikes can be amazing experiences. You’ll see nature up close and personal, create memories, and possibly meet some interesting people on your treks. By following the 9 tips below, you can help ensure that your hiking trip is a success.

1. Research The Area You’ll be Hiking

Be sure you have accurate and up to date information on the areas where you’ll be hiking. You’ll want to know what to expect as far as weather, trail closures, and rules and regulations. Start by checking out the official information. This means visiting national park services websites, reading guidebooks, and learning the rules and recommendations put out by your local department of natural resources or department of conservation.

You can use that information to begin to plan your trip and map your hike. Your next step is to get the unofficial take on things. Look for community forums and discussion groups that have been formed by hikers and campers familiar to your chosen area. These are great sources for the kind of unofficial information that you won’t find through other sources. For example, experienced hikers may know of landowners along your path who will let you refill your canteen from their spigot or where some edible plants are accessible.

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2. Start Challenging Your Physical Limits

Packing around 30 to 50 pounds of gear is tough for a day. Doing it for two or more days, fatigue quickly becomes an issue if you aren’t prepared. Don’t wait for your long trek to see what your body can endure. Start challenging yourself today. Hit the gym and spend lots of time on the stair climber. Then, ask a trainer for help learning exercises that strengthen your core and your legs. You’ll need this in order to build up both strength and endurance.

On the other hand, be cautious. If you’re the bodybuilding type, you may be used to focusing on getting your gains at the gym. Now is not the time for that. If anything, consider trimming down a bit. It may help to focus on a workout routine designed for endurance athletes.

3. Take Special Care of Your Feet

It’s one thing to have to nurse a blister after a day of hiking. It’s a special kind of hell to deal with blisters and sore feet in the middle of a national park miles and miles away from civilization. Next to your brain, your feet are the most important body part when it comes to hiking. Take care of them.

Invest in a dedicated pair of hiking boots. Then, use them. Take them on several shorter hikes. You don’t want to start a long hike in a pair of boots that aren’t broken in. Next, buy several pairs of socks that are specifically designed for hiking and mountaineering. Merino wool socks are very popular amongst hikers these days. Here are some features that would make for a great pair of hiking socks:.

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  • They Provide Adequate Cushioning
  • They Wick Moisture Away From Your Feet
  • They Are Warm Without Being Overly Thick
  • They Are Breathable in Hot Weather

Some people recommend changing socks once daily. However, you should probably plan on changing more often if your feet sweat or if you are hiking in hot conditions.

4. Consider Investing in Lighter Gear

If you’re planning to hike for multiple days, you’ll have to add lots of new gear to your pack. This includes cooking equipment, sleeping bag, tent, and more clothing. That means adding more weight. You might be able to handle that for a day or two if you are in good shape, but it will take its toll as the days pass.

It  may be a good idea to invest the money in some lighter gear that is specifically designed for multi day hiking trips. You’ll be grateful, even if you can reduce  your overall load by just ten pounds.

5. Invest in a Good Navigation System

First, never start a hike without grabbing a copy of the trail map. If you have an equipment or battery failure, this could be a real life saver. You should also invest in a waterproof carrying case for that map. Having said that, it is more than worth the money you will spend to get a GPS system or app that is specifically designed for hikers. These durable pieces of equipment can help you navigate the toughest areas, and can withstand a lot of abuse.

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6. Make a Hydration Plan

When you plan your trip, it is of utmost importance that you make a plan to stay properly hydrated. Remember that you can’t simply throw a bunch of water bottles in your backpack. If you do carry water, it’s a good idea to invest in a hydration vest or belt. This allows you to carry the water you have more ergonomically.

Then, map out places where you can refill or otherwise replenish your water supply. If you aren’t certain that there will be potable water sources, it’s time to invest in a water filtration straw or purification tablets. If you are hiking in especially demanding surroundings, it may help to bring along some powdered sports drink mix.

7. Be Prepared to Pack Out What You Pack In

Good environmental stewardship is the responsibility of every hiker, camper, mountaineer, or backpacker. This mean that everything you bring along with you on your hike should come back off of the trail when you finish your hike. This includes food waste. Don’t leave it assuming that the animals will devour it. That’s not healthy for them, and it gives them a taste for human food which can be dangerous for them and other hikers.

8. Plan Your Meals to Optimize Nutrition And Avoid Waste

One good rule of thumb to keep in mind is ‘fresh food first’. If you have fantasies of roasting hot dogs over a fire, or preparing a camper’s breakfast with pancakes, eggs, and all the trimmings, that’s fine. Just plan your menu so that any perishable items are eaten first.

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If you’re thru hiking, fresh food may not be an option. Instead, you’ll want to rely on dehydrated or freeze dried foods. These are sold in packs at outdoor and camping supply stores. If you have your own food dehydrator, there are plenty of trail meal recipes online.

9. Have a Plan And Equipment in Place For Illness or Injury

Never hike without a proper first aid kit. If you are hiking long distances, you’ll want to invest in even more supplies than you would normally bring along. Also, bring cash with you. This will allow you to replace any times that you use up when you make your way into campgrounds or towns. Finally, if you decide to hike alone, please invest in a personal location beacon.

Overnight and thru hiking can be amazing experiences. Keep the tips above in mind so that you can get the most out of each hiking trip.

Featured photo credit: David Marcu via unsplash.com

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Elena Prokopets

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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