How To Prepare For A Good Hike

Hi, I’m Brian. Welcome to my new WordPress Blog, Wandering Hiker. On this blog, I will be writing about everything that has to do with hiking. For starters, I will write a blog post about what sort of things you ought to bring with you when you are going on a hike. When I was a newbie, I had failed to make proper preparations for my first hike, and I suffered because of it. But I wasn’t going to let the trail beat me. After my first hike over twenty years ago, I licked my wounds, read up on hiking, and got right back on the trail. My second hike was a wonderful success. And so have almost all hikes after that been!

Oh, by the way… I also run a Weebly blog called Hike Lust. I am experimenting with multiple platforms to see which one I like best.

If you are planning on taking a hike, please have a look at the checklist below, which will teach you how to prepare for a good hike.

Hiking Checklist

Hiking boots

good-pair-hiking-bootsThese are the most important hiking gear that you will ever take with you. If you don’t have a good pair of solid boots, then you are going to be sorry. For my first hike, decades ago when I was still young and naive, I was hitting the trail on a pair of 5 year old, trodden down sneakers. Back then I thought I was invincible. But mother nature sure ended up kicking my behind.

Since there is plantar fasciitis in my family, I developed a nasty case of that. Hiker’s plantar fasciitis is the worst non lethal condition in the world, although it certainly does make you wanna kill yourself. Because as a hiker, you are constantly placing a strain on your poor feet. If you don’t make sure you are wearing protective footwear, then you are going to be sorry you ever hit the trail in the first place.

You will need to buy good hiking boots, which will protect your feet, but all the while still give you enough flexibility that you can still move around freely. The soles of your boots will have to be flexible. They need to be able to roll along with your feet’s natural stride. You will also need really good support from the insoles. For sufferers of “policeman’s heel”, it is important that the insole has a really great heel cup. Because this is where most of the pain comes from when your plantar fascia becomes inflamed.

Emergency Shelter

232194_14998_XLOn the trail, it will often happen that you are surprised by a whole lotta bad weather, coming seemingly out of the blue. This one time, I was out on a sunny trail and the forecasts had been fairly generous towards the sun. However, a thundering lightning storm came out of nowhere, turning a sunny day into a stormy one within the span of 15 minutes.

Lesson learned… bring a tarp, a tent, a bivy or a reflective blanket, or anything else that could protect you from mother nature’s ruthless elements.

Hydration

Obviously, you’re going to require some bottled water if you are going on a multi hour or even a multi day hike. Those lakes might look pristine, but trust me when I tell you that you can’t drink from them. I’ve tried and regretted it all the way to the bathroom.

Nutrition

Water is most important for survival. But who wants to go hiking on an empty stomach when you can easily bring some food with you? Bring food and make sure it’s enough to last an entire hike.

Repair kit and tools

Let’s say you’ve brought a stove for making food, but the stove breaks. What are you going to do now? If you are packing a stove, might as well pack a repair kit as well. That thing will break down one day. You could also stand to bring a knife or a multi tool. You never know when it will come in handy.

Fire

Camping Camp FireYou don’t want to be shivering cold on your first hike, do you? Let’s say you are unable to make it back to a base camp, then you are going to have to light a fire. Don’t bother trying to do it with sticks. That takes practice. And even then, you’ll be exhausting your arms really quickly. Bring matches or a lighter. When the night falls, you’ll be happy you did.

First-aid supplies

Well, duh. Let’s say something bad happens to you. You take a fall and you get a big chafe across your leg. Don’t you want to be able to put something on there? Bring a few bandaids and some skin cream to keep your chafed limbs soft and supple. If you’re especially prone to accidents, then you might even want to bring splints in case you break something. That has never happened to me, but if you’re going rock climbing… everything can happen.

Illumination

sku_184800_1Yo dawg, I heard you like fires. So I lit a fire so that you can more easily light a fire.

If only it were that simple. If you are going to want to light a fire, odds are you are already covered by a blanket of stars. It will help to have some light so that you can see what you’re doing while you are lighting your fire. So bring a flashlight or a headlamp. Bring two if you’re afraid it might fail. Also bring extra batteries in case you run out.

Insulation

Even on sunny trails, it can get cold at night. For this reason, you will have to bring gloves, a hat, pants, a vest and a jacket. Anything to keep you warm helps.

Sun protection

img_5061Too many people underestimate how hard it is to be out in the blazing sun for hours on end. You can’t always find a shady spot to rest when you are out on the trail.

Some trails go on for miles through wide open areas, with no tree in sight. For that reason, you’ve got to make sure that you can protect yourself from the sun at all times, any way you can.

So bring sunglasses, lip balm and sunscreen. Some people also like to wear a cap to protect their scalps from the blistering heat.

Navigation

Quite obviously, you are going to have to bring some tools with you to help you navigate the trail. Be sure to bring a map, preferably one that is in a protective case. Paper maps have a habit of getting all torn up in your backpack. They become hard to read in due time, especially if you can’t manage to keep them dry.

A compass also helps. And you’ve got to learn how to use it, too. Otherwise, it’s pretty much worthless. You can optionally bring a GPS or an altimeter. The GPS will tell you your exact position, same as your car’s navigation does. The altimeter can tell you how high up you are. This can also help in determining your own position on the map.

Conclusion

There are plenty of other things that you need in order to turn your hike into a successful one. But a guy can only braindump so much info at a time. I will definitely be back later to expand this list, or maybe to write a whole new blog post altogether. Writing about hiking sure is fun, but actually hiking is even more fun. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find out which trail I will be hiking next.

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