Whether you’re a keen hiker or just starting out, there are lots of ways we can all improve to make sure we are getting the most out of our treks. We share our top tips on everything from safety and preparation to building up your fitness to make sure that you’re pushing yourself to be the best you can be!
Any good hiker will know it’s important to keep to a good rhythm and pace when you walk. Ensuring you take the same length of step for the whole hike will improve your endurance. Remember to adjust your walk for steep terrain. It is better to take shorter steps here to decrease the amount of energy you use to climb the ascent. Balance is also key during hiking to prevent any injuries such as a twisted ankle. This is especially important when hiking across tougher terrain and is something that can be improved through training and muscle strengthening in between hikes. Try taking a yoga class or get yourself a balance board to practice in the comfort of your own home. These can help to retrain your sense of balance after injury, improve your posture as well as strengthen and tone your muscles.
Gradually build up your endurance by going on practice hikes. Taking shorter hikes, 3 to 4 times a week, will help your body adjust to new terrain while you build the muscles you need to tackle tougher hikes. Improve your cardiovascular fitness on these hikes by moving fast, and taking minimal breaks. Stay active in between hikes to keep your fitness level up. You need a plan that you follow day after day to build up your fitness. That way you don't end up feeling overwhelmed when you go back out on your next hike. To successfully improve your hiking endurance, focus on cross training for full-body strength. Hiking isn’t about just building your leg muscles, you need to build your core strength as well. Make sure you’re always warming up and cooling down properly with stretches to decrease the chance of any muscle injuries.
Before you begin your hike, it’s important to plan out your route on a map and bring it with you. A key tip here is to carry it in a clear, waterproof zip lock bag to prevent it from getting damaged. If you plan to travel a less frequently used trail, research it to determine if there are any challenges or hidden dangers. Start out by looking at a large scale map and further research using digital resources such as Google Earth, National Wilderness planning PDFs, GPS and many other free online sources. Also, be sure to check the official conditions reports from land management services. Make sure to bring food and water to keep your energy levels up throughout each hike. Every hour or so, stop and eat a snack such as energy bars, jerky or dried fruit. This will keep your blood sugar levels stable and give your body a break while you do so. It’s important to bring the right food with you. On longer hikes, bring full meals such as pasta or noodle dishes that contain fats, carbohydrates, and protein. You’ll want to make sure that the meals you bring are easy to prepare, so look for instant or packaged meals. You can buy energy gels and meal packets that are specifically made for outdoor activities like hiking, which are full of the right nutrients that your body will need. It is worth getting yourself a walking stick or trekking poles to assist you on your hike. These will need to be adjusted to the correct height for you but will take much of the effort of the trail off your feet and into your arms. Other items you should take in your back pack are a trail map, a pocket knife, a compass, headlamp, sleeping bag, sunscreen, a cap, sunglasses and your mobile phone. When hiking you always need to be prepared and these items will help you if you fall into any trouble and hopefully avoid you getting into any tough situations in the first place.
Get the right shoes and garments
It is important to invest in a good pair of hiking boots that are appropriate for the conditions you will be hiking in and are comfortable. You don’t want to be distracted or slowed down by blisters or water logged boots when you’re trying to focus on your goal. When purchasing hiking boots, bear in mind where you plan to go hiking, the terrain you will go over and the length of the journey as these will all play a part in what type of hiking shoe you get. Visit our Website to learn more about the different technologies and figure out which one is the best for your individual needs or ask your local retailer for advice. When trying them on, make sure they are a snug fit all over but not tight or pinching anywhere and have wiggle room around your toes. Most importantly, wear clothing that protects against unpredictable weather conditions. Getting yourself a good waterproof jacket is important as the weather during hiking can often change unexpectedly. When getting your own, the key attributes you want in your jacket is, of course waterproof, windproof and breathable, but also lightweight and pack into your backpack. Do you have any top tips you could add? Let us know in the comments below.