After being sat on our sofas in lockdown for a good portion of the past year, a lot of us are itching to get back outdoors and have a much anticipated breath of fresh air. With some restrictions still in place in certain areas, one-day hikes could be a great option for us to get our outdoor fix. Here are some of our top tips for getting into hiking:
Practice makes perfect
Understandably, our stamina might not be up to scratch after the year we’ve had. Plunging straight into a strenuous hike could be dangerous, so we recommend building your strength up prior to visiting the peaks. Try walking on flat surfaces to start with, gradually adding more distance on each time. You can then build up to more tiring routes on uneven surfaces to get the practice in for those mountainous paths you’ll soon be walking on. Once you’re ready to hike, going on a familiar route first is always a good idea so you can get your body used to enduring the activity, but on a well-known path. Then when you’re ready, you can challenge yourself with more difficult hiking routes and dare to adventure somewhere new.
Go with a friend
It can be dangerous to go hiking alone, especially in the warmer months. Going with a friend is recommended, preferably someone who’s also a keen hiker like yourself. Not only is this safer, it’s the perfect opportunity to get your endorphins pumping by socialising, whilst exercising. Hiking with a friend also means you’re less likely to be using technology, which increases mindfulness. However don’t get too distracted with talking that you forget to watch where your feet are going, stepping on a root or slipping on a rock can cause twisted ankles and other injuries, so be careful. If you want to go the extra mile with safety, simply let someone know where you’ll be hiking and what time you expect to be finished by. If the worst was to happen, this increases your chances of being found dramatically.
Plan your outfit
It’s important to wear sensible clothing when hiking, especially in certain weather conditions. Ask yourself what the worst case scenario is in terms of weather for your chosen route and pack for that. For mountainous hikes, the weather at the base can differ from the summit, so keep this in mind. Workout items are a good choice as they’re specially made for being active. Leggings or trousers are perfect for keeping your legs protected from sharp bushes you may pass on your hike. It’s vital to be prepared for the temperature to fluctuate, so long sleeve tops are ideal as they protect you, but can also be rolled up at the sleeve if the weather gets too warm. On the other hand, we also recommend packing extra layers, hats and gloves in your backpack for if the temperature drops.
Get your footwear ready
The footwear you choose to wear depends on what you feel comfortable in and the terrain you’re going to endure. Whichever pair of shoes you go for need to be good quality, sturdy and waterproof. If you’ve bought new hiking boots or trainers in lockdown and plan on wearing them for your next adventure, we recommend wearing them numerous times beforehand. Not doing so can cause blisters which will make your hike extremely uncomfortable, so make sure you pack some blister plasters just to be on the safe side.
Pack the essentials
The beauty of hiking is that in most cases, you don’t need any fancy equipment. But preparation is still key and this applies to what you take with you. A good idea is to take a lightweight bag with only the essentials, as any unnecessary extra weight will require more strength and energy to carry. First and foremost, packing a first aid kit is vital, as you never know what could happen to you or a fellow hiker in need that you meet along the way. Another important factor to mention is that dehydration, especially in warmer temperatures and in direct sunlight can be dangerous. So pack more water than you think you need and stop regularly to keep yourself hydrated. In areas where you’re walking in direct sunlight, it’s important to keep yourself protected, so pack sun cream with a high SPF, sunglasses and a protective hat. In terms of food, dense snacks are the perfect item to take with you on a hike, as they pack in the energy and calories into a small package. Nuts, energy bars, bananas and granola are all great examples of healthy snacks that are perfect for hiking. For navigation tools, it’s sensible to have a mixture of online and offline tools to accompany you, as you never know when your devices may decide to not work. We recommend packing a GPS device with loaded maps, a smartphone with offline maps, a guidebook and a trusty map with a compass. Remember to fully charge your electronic devices before heading outdoors and keep your smartphone on airplane mode to preserve the battery. Finally, pack a torch or headlamp for those instances where the light isn’t great or where your hike has overrun into the evening. This can help prevent injury from stepping on uneven surfaces, roots or rocks.
Take it easy
It can be tempting to speed off when first starting a hike, but you don’t want to over do it and burn out part way through your journey. Start with hiking at a comfortable pace so you can conserve your energy, which is especially important if you’ve got an extra walk back to your base once the hike is over. Not to mention if you do walk too fast, you’ll miss out on the chance to take in the natural beauty that surrounds you. Hikes often include wildlife that you wouldn’t usually see in everyday life, so take a moment to breathe in the fresh air, look around you and absorb every moment.
Ready for your next challenge? Take a look at our trips to book your next guided adventure.