To make the hiking experience more pleasant and enjoyable, here are some tips that every hiker must know. Click on the pictures below or scroll down to read more.
Backpack & bladder
Shoes & Boots
High altitude sunblock
Plenty of carbs, night before
Maps & directions
Backpack & bladder
Having a good backpack makes it so much easier to hike and lets you enjoy the moment without having to worry about carrying your water bottles or your food etc. Choosing a backpack that is neither too big nor too small, that holds a water bladder, enough compression straps for your jackets, something that is affordable and durable can be a challenging task. More often than not you will have to compromise on one or more of these factors. Click here to see my suggestions on the Hiking Gear page.
Shoes & boots
Look for three things when you buy your next hiking shoes – comfort, cushion and grip. There should be enough cushion to not hurt your knees while running on the trails. Outsoles (the part of the shoes that touches the ground) should provide sufficient grip to be able to walk on rocks on a steep slope so you don’t have the feat of slipping. Grooves on the outsole help prevent slipping if there is some loose gravel on the rocks. Legs expand throughout the day, so it is best to do your shoe shopping in the evenings.
Even though boots are heavier than shoes in general, they provide ankle support making them suitable for use on trails where there is a chance of rolling your ankles. Boots also usually have a harder insole (the part of the sole that touches your leg) so it is a good idea to get gel insoles (you can get them at REI or even on Amazon). If you are hiking on hard snow or ice you can even get the Kahtoola microspikes (you can get them from REI) to improve traction. Click here to see my suggestions on the Hiking Gear page.
Hiking poles & microspikes
Hiking poles help shift some of the strain from your knees to the arms. They provide extra support on rocky terrain and extra grip while hiking on ice. You can find a decent pair for around $30. in addition to this, microspikes provide all the grip you need while hiking on ice on a moderate slope.
Altitude sickness affects everyone irrespective of age, gender or genetics. You cannot prevent it all together, however there is something you can do to reduce the chances.
Symptoms of altitude sickness : Difficulty sleeping, dizziness, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, rapid pulse (heart rate), shortness of breath with exertion. Please note this is different from HACE and HAPE, click here to read about HACE and HAPE.
To reduce the chances of getting altitude sickness, take frequent breaks, do not gain elevation rapidly (especially if you are driving to a high altitude before hiking), sleep well the night before, drink plenty of water, train well before the hike so your body is comfortable with the level of activity.
Note : Consult your physician before following any of the following advice. Ibuprofen usually helps with altitude sickness. Each tablet’s affects last around 4 to 6 hours (do not take more than 6 tablets in 24 hours), and it takes about 1 hour for the table to start acting. So time it based on when you might need them. Altitude sickness usually caused above 8,000 ft. most of the ibuprofen tablets are acidic and can give you a heartburn, so it is a good idea to take a acid reducer tablet along with them.
Carrying food with high caloric value and electrolytic drinks to replenish your body minerals is very important. Nuts such as peanuts are high in calories, inexpensive and easy to pack. If you like you may carry trail mix, boiled eggs or baked potatoes with some salt and pepper to munch along the way. I am not a fan of food with preservatives, so I try to make my own snacks. My favorite drink is homemade salted lemonade, its fresh, without added preservatives, helps replenish Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium
that you lose when you sweat. Freeze it the night before, so the drinks are still cold when you are hiking. As an alternative, you may also try Gatorade or other electrolytic drinks.
You will not regret spending time training, it makes hiking more enjoyable and boosts your confidence. Work your way up to bigger hikes gradually, do not start with a 15 mile, 10,000 ft hike. Keep in mind walking 4 miles at sea level is not the same as walking 4 miles at 10,000 ft, it's so much harder as you gain altitude plus you will be carrying a backpack that weighs few lbs. Consider hiking in the weekends and running a couple of times during the week. Keeping track of distance and pace of running helps to estimate how
to adjust your training schedule while planning more strenuous hikes.
Have you ever rolled your ankle and suffered for days before you could get back to running or playing sports? There are many different remedies but what works for me is soaking my feet in a tub of water and ice for as long as I can right after a run or a hike. It helps keep inflammation in check even if you do not feel the pain right away. You may use ankle braces to provide support and help your ankles recover faster.
Always call and ask the ranger station if there are bears in the area and if you need to carry bear spray. I have hiked for a year before buying my first bear spray. I never needed it, that doesn’t mean that was the smartest thing to do, I just got lucky. You don’t want to test your luck this way. Grab one from the local REI, know how to use it before you need it. I like to keep mine in the side pocket of my backpack so it is handy. Bear spray just deters the bear but it’s not enough to stop it. The best way is to hike in
groups and make noises so you don’t surprise the animals and they stay away from you. Click here to see my suggestions on the Hiking Gear page.
High altitude sunblock
Just because it is cooler at higher altitudes you are wrong if you think the sun’s rays are weaker there. In fact, it is the other way, with every 1000 meters (3280 ft) of elevation gain the UV rays become 10% stronger. When you are hiking to higher altitudes use sunblock that is strong and use it multiple times. It’s not just about getting tanned or getting sun burn but also to try to prevent skin cancer. Click here to read more.
Plenty of carbs the night before
Your body needs carbs to perform energy intensive tasks such as hiking. Your body uses carbohydrates to supply the energy needed, hence consuming plenty of carbohydrates the night before will ensure your energy levels throughout the hike are high.
Maps & directions
Do not rely entirely on electronic devices. While smartphones are great with all the amazing features, you cannot expect the batteries to last all day or to have mobile phone reception up in the mountains. Carrying printed copies of directions and maps is highly recommended. Investing in a GPS device is something you won't regret, they connect to the satellites directly without the need for data network. Click here to see my suggestions on the Hiking Gear page.
It is not much fun if you lose your way in the wilderness and your phone dies. You can find a battery pack (power bank) that has a solar panel on it for less than $40 on Amazon. Charge your battery pack before you leave from home and let it charge all day when you are hiking. Click here to see my suggestions on the Hiking Gear page.