Dabbling in Jet Lag
I love nature, the outdoors, and, of course, hiking. In fact, I have hiked all over the world from the depths of the jungle to heights over 6000 meters. I have had lots of adventures from the hike to Song Kol in Kyrgyzstan to the Laugavegur Trek in Iceland and climbing Chachani in Peru. Each experience has added to my repertoire of hiking knowledge.
So, I have put together a comprehensive list of my best hiking tips to help you during your next hiking adventure.
My Best Hiking Tips
1. Pack Light
You will never need everything you pack. Remove half and thank me later. Carrying excess clothes and equipment is exhausting. We have all packed that shirt or pair of pants that we never wore. If there are no showers, do you really need that big bottle of soap?
Hiking for several days can take its toll on your body and having extra things to carry will only add misery. If you ever hesitate about an item, chances are you don’t need it. So, save yourself the hassle and just leave it at home.
2. Always Carry a GPS
Nature can always take a turn for the worst, or a trail that should have been marked is not. Perhaps you took a wrong turn, and now you’re lost. Having a GPS can really help in these situations.
There are several apps and devices that can help. I always download maps.me before hiking. It works offline, and it has most trails already on the application. As an added bonus it sometimes highlights camping sites and clean sources of water. It is important to check the trail on maps.me before you head out. There are a few cases where the trail disappears on the application and it is better to know that ahead of time rather than in the middle of nowhere. Aside from that, it is great for hiking.
3. Wear Good Hiking Shoes
This is probably something you don’t want to skimp on. Walking several hours per day can be exhausting for your feet, knees, and back. Save yourself from injury and invest in a good pair of shoes. Granted it depends on the terrain of where you are hiking, but I found Aku Superalp Goretex boots to be excellent with all terrains. They are waterproof, they support my ankles, and absorb the shock of walking on hard surfaces.
4. Carry a Water Purifier
Water is our most precious commodity. This valuable resource is not always available, and finding clean water can be difficult. Having your own filter ensures that you will be able to at least purify water.
I, personally, use Grayl water bottles for filtering. I have used it to clean water from streams and rivers where animals were grazing and I never had any problems. Another popular brand is LifeStraw. Another plus to carrying your own filter is that you will be helping our planet reduce plastic waste!
5. Bring Hand Warmers
Hiking in winter conditions or at high elevation? Finding methods to keep yourself warm, especially at night, can be difficult. If you are like me and are cold all the time, you have probably tried everything.
The solution: hand-warmers. You might be surprised, but I don’t use them for my hands. In fact, I use them at night. I put them in my socks, and they heat both my feet and my sleeping bag! I rarely need them while I am hiking as my hiking gear keeps me warm. In cases where I have needed to warm up while hiking, I can usually use the hand-warmer from the night before.
6. Don’t Panic
Took a wrong turn? The map was wrong? Got dropped off at the wrong location? The trail was marked incorrectly? We’ve all been there. It is important to remain calm. If you are prepared you will be fine. Trust your instincts, and, if you feel in danger, turn back! It is easier said than done, but remaining calm and taking a few deep breaths will allow you to think clearly.
7. Take a Lot of Pictures
Nature is absolutely beautiful. The striking landscapes and contrasting colors are always impressive no matter how many times you hike. Whether you are a photographer or not, capturing your experience is priceless. You may only travel to these places once in your lifetime. Pictures are timeless, and you will have them forever.
8. Carry Hand Sanitizer
While it is useful to clean your hands, I actually carry hand sanitizer to clean cuts and blisters. A solution of alcohol will also do the job. You don’t want a blister/cut to get infected while you are out in the middle of nowhere so it is important to carry a disinfectant.
9. First Aid Kit
Ever get a blister while hiking? Or cut yourself on a bush while trying to find the trail? The last thing you need while hiking is an infection. I don’t carry a full first aid kit, but there are some essentials that can really help.
A few Bandaids, tape, and scissors can be useful, and help you tend to an injury before you get to a doctor. If you do get an infection or a fever, a survival blanket can be useful. See my next tip!
10. Space/Survival Blanket
Carrying a survival/space blanket seems to depend on the hiker and the type of hike. Most of the time you will have a wonderful hike, and nothing will happen. But every now and then there is a torrential downpour, you get sick, or you get an infection and have a fever. Having a survival blanket can literally save your life. It can also be used as an insulator when the temperature drops at night.
11. Waterproof/Fast Drying Clothing
Having waterproof/fast drying clothing is essential. You will never be able to be 100% sure about the weather, and, if a storm arrives, it is better to be prepared. If you get caught in a torrential downpour, having clothes that are waterproof and fast drying will make your hike much more enjoyable.
12. Invest in a Quality Hiking Backpack
The two most important pieces of hiking equipment are your hiking boots and your hiking backpack. So, it’s important to invest in a backpack that is comfortable, durable, and functional.
I, personally, use the Deuter Aircontact Trekking Backpack (50 + 10 SL). It’s lightweight, comfortable, and holds every I need it to. And, as proof of its durability, I’ve been using it for the past 7 years!
13. Hike Your Own Hike
Never let someone else prepare your hike. More often than not this is a beginner’s mistake. There are 5 key questions you should ask yourself before setting out on any hike.
1. What’s the terrain?
2. Where can I fill up on water and other supplies?
3. What’s the weather like?
4. Where can I find help in case of an emergency?
5. Do I have all the necessary equipment?
You should be able to answer all of these questions. A small amount of research before any hike can make the difference between an enjoyable hike and a miserable hike.
14. Be Physically Ready
Hiking is a very physical sport, so it’s important to be in shape. I’m not saying you need to be a marathon runner. But going for a hike should not be the only physical fitness you’ve done for the year.
Hiking can be very strenuous on your legs, knees, and back. So, it’s important to protect your body against injury. A small amount of exercise and stretching before your hike can go a long way.
15. Have Fun
This is my most important tip. Have fun. Hiking is meant to be fun. It is an adventure in the outdoors. Whether you go alone or in a group, hiking gives you a chance to explore the outdoors, and learn something about yourself. Enjoy your time, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Even when the hike was challenging or I was freezing or drenched from the rain, I enjoyed the outdoors and appreciated the beauty that is nature. Hiking Piton des Neiges is just one of many examples where this was the case for me.
Bonus Tip: Hike More!
Hiking is a great way to explore our world and learn more about your destination. It gives you a chance to visit villages that you may have missed if you did not go on a hike. You can meet interesting locals and enjoy a part of the country that many others would probably skip. You can also capture some pretty amazing pictures.
If you are planning your next vacation, why not look for a hike? Even with a day hike, you can see some pretty cool things.
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Read About My Hiking Adventures
Hope you found my hiking tips useful. Here are some of my hiking adventures, where you can learn how I came up with this list!
- Getting Lost in Kyrgyzstan: Hike to Song Kol
- Climbing Chachani: Peru’s 6000m Volcano
- Trekking to Ciudad Perdida: Colombia’s Lost City
- Searching for Dinosaur Footprints: Hike to Maragua Crater
Have questions about hiking or how to plan your next hike? Need some inspiration for your next hiking adventure? Send me a message in the comments below!
Interested in more travel tips & tricks? Check out my other posts for more travel tips.