Hiking is a great way to spend time outdoors, you can get to see some amazing locations and awesome terrain.
However, it’s important to prepare properly… in this article I’m going to be discussing how to prepare for a day hike and what things you should consider before setting out.
If you’ve never hiked before, you should make sure that you are physically ready for the challenge – otherwise you could end up really struggling.
Hiking is a form of exercise and can absolutely test you fitness levels – you may think it’s simply a long walk, but it definitely isn’t a stroll in the park… you’ll be carrying your backpack and the terrain could be rough and uneven.
There are a vast variety of hiking trails – ranging from simple flat ones to steep, hilly terrains…
It would be a good idea to go on several shorter hikes in the weeks building up to your day hike to get your body ready.
It’s also important to stretch properly before and after the hike… hiking works most of the body – including your arms and back muscles, in addition to the more obvious leg muscles.
Having the correct equipment is vital for hiking – you wouldn’t play football wearing dress shoes and a suit, you’d wear football boots and a football kit… equally you need the right ‘kit’ for hiking.
Below I’ll discuss the various types of equipment that you should have for your hike.
The correct type of footwear is arguably the most important piece of equipment for a hike, for obvious reasons.
Hiking boots and shoes are an industry in their own right and there are a multitude of options out there…
It’s important to get your hiking boots in good time before the hike – to make sure that they fit properly and equally to give yourself time to break them in… it’s useful to use them on a few short trial hikes in the weeks leading up to the main hike.
This article on The Main Types Of Camping Boots And Their Uses will be useful to help you decide on what type of hiking boot to get.
I have a pair of Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boots that are my go to boots for all my hikes, I’ve had them for over 3 years and really like them – you can read our review of them here.
The rest of your clothing is also very important, to make sure that you are comfortable and to protect you from the elements.
Layering up is usually a good idea, as then you can take layers off if it gets warm.
Obviously, the type of layers you need depends on the time of year…
In summer – you would probably want to wear a t-shirt, with a lightweight over top along with a lightweight rain jacket.
In winter – in addition to your t-shirt and lightweight over top, you could take a fleece top and a waterproof winter jacket.
The following posts will be useful to help you decide what to get:
Summer: Lightweight, breathable trousers.
Winter: Fleece-lined water-resistant/wind-proof trousers.
It’s advisable to wear long trousers, if you are going to be hiking through areas such as woods, to protect your legs from low branches and the like.
It’s a good idea to have something to protect your head with in all weathers…
In summer this could take the form of a baseball cap or some other form of sun hat.
In winter, a woolly hat or a beanie would work well.
There are a few other bits of equipment that you will need.
You’ll need a backpack to carry all your gear (extra layers, food etc…).
It’s important to get a hiking backpack that sits well on your back and distributes weight evenly – I can’t stress the importance of this enough… you’ll be carrying this load for hours, so it’s important to get it right.
There are lots of good options out there… I would suggest going to a camping store and trying some out to make sure that they are comfortable and the correct size.
Alternatively, you could order online as you’ll be able to return it if it’s not right – this will also allow you to test it out at home… you can put your gear in it to make sure it all fits and then test out the weight while it’s loaded and then perhaps go for a walk down the road…
You can find a great range of hiking backpacks at Cotswold Outdoor.
Walking poles (also known as walking sticks, hiking sticks, hiking poles) may sound like something elderly people would use, but they are extremely useful for hiking over uneven surfaces.
They allow you to traverse these types of terrain confidently – aiding balance and stability and vastly reducing the risk of slipping.
They also protect your knees from the impact of walking, especially when going downhill.
Another advantage is that they actually build muscles in your upper body if used correctly.
The following video explains the proper technique for using walking poles
You can find a variety of walking poles at Cotswold Outdoor.
Food & Hydration
It is very important that you take high energy foods with you along with water, to maintain energy levels and to keep you hydrated.
Hiking can burn a lot of calories and the last thing you would want is to get low on energy or dehydrated, having run out of your food and water supply.
The best foods for hiking are protein and complex carbohydrate based to provide a slow and steady release of energy.
Avoid sugary snacks as they only give a quick boost and also avoid salty foods as they can dehydrate you.
The following article on the types of food to take on a hike may provide some useful tips.
You could also consider a hydration pack that can be placed in your backpack, allowing you to sip water from the attached pipe.
Hiking is a great outdoor pursuit that increases fitness levels, while allowing you to witness some spectacular and beautiful natural scenery.
The key is to prepare in advance and have the right gear… that way you’ll be sure to enjoy your hike – it will become an addictive past time for years to come.
Have a look at this post if you’re looking for somewhere to hike in the UK.
Or if you’re feeling a bit more ambitious – you can search for hiking trails anywhere in the world.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I’ll try to respond as soon as possible.