Hiking Is Good for Body and Mind
It has a lot of motivators: beautiful and spectacular views, fresh air, and the sounds and scents of nature. As well, as being great for body and mind. Research shows hiking is an outdoor activity which delivering multiple physical and mental benefits beyond scenic and fun, from reducing anxiety to preventing osteoporosis.
Hiking is an incredible cardio exercise; lower your danger of coronary illness, improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, boost bone density, it builds strength in glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, the muscles in your hips and lower legs, and help your weight control.
Boosting Your Mood
Research shows that hiking in a positive way affects battling stress and anxiety,” according to Gregory A. Mill, Ph.D., the American Hiking Society. “Being in nature is a part of our DNA, and we sometimes overlook that.”
Many hiking beginners make a big mistake by picking a track that is either too long or has too much climbing. Begin moderate. A short, nearby hike is best for beginners. Step-by-step works up to trails with hills or uneven terrain. Make sure to get a full overview of the hilly or mountainous hike beforehand. A flat 3 miles/5 km is very much different than a 3 miles/5 km uphill. Even a steep short trip can be excessively challenging. Choose a 3-5 miles/5-8 km hike or even less and minimal climbing.
Plan your hike in advanced. When you have selected a trail, get a map of the area and review reports and data. There are some excellent online resources available including Google Maps, Google Earth, Outdoor Active or Wandermap. Acclimate yourself with the track and map. (In a new blog post for the end of January or start of February 2019 I will look into hiking apps and online services available for outdoor trip planning and navigation).
Check if your selected trail is a loop, or if you’ll need to backtrack or arrange a second car. Be sure to take note of any intersecting one-day where you could potentially make a wrong turn. Follow marked paths and trails. You should also look for a good lunch spot such as a lake or peak with a view.
Bring a Buddy
It’s best not to go hiking alone at first, mainly if is unfamiliar or remote trails. A friend or group can assist you in the navigation and help if you get hurt. When your skill level improves, you’ll feel more comfortable going solo.
Leading up to Your Hike
Before your hike, including a few hours before, you must check the weather. It will give you valuable information regarding how to dress and what you shall pack. It will give you a chance to change plans if the weather is forecast to be awful, instead of getting surprised on the trail. If storms are a possibility, rethink your hiking plan.
Share your plans. “Tell people what trailhead you’re starting at and what time you’ll return — especially if hiking alone — so a friend or family know where to send help if you’re not back on time.”
Hiking Gear – What to Bring for a Day Hiking
To be able to determine what you shall bring for a day hike, use your plan for how far your trip will be, the weather forecast and how remote the location is. As a rule, you must take into consideration; the more remote and more prolonged the hike is, and the harsher the weather is, the more clothing, gear, food, and water you’re going to need.
Your checklist should include the following items:
- Hiking backpack.
- Weather-appropriate clothing -extra clothes.
- Hiking boots or shoes.
- Food for the trip – plus extra food.
- Water for the trip – plus extra water.
- Navigation tools – map and compass are essential.
- First-aid kit.
- Knife or multitool.
- A headlamp – bring extra batteries.
- Sun cream or suntan lotion.
- Insect repellent.
- Matches, lighter, or fire tool.
- Shelter – e.g., light emergency bivy.
Choosing the right size backpack is one of the most important things to consider before you set off. When consider before choosing your new backpack, ask yourself the following questions:
- Where are you going?
- When are you going?
- What will the weather be like?
- How long are you trail going to be?
- How much will you be carrying?
- What equipment will you be carrying?
- What activities will you be doing?
- What terrain will you be covering?
- How strong are you?
Size And Capacity
Regarding the size and capacity of your backpack, the above considerations must be taken a part of your decision for your backpack choice. Preferences and requirements will vary, but the following will give you a good reference point.
1-3 Nights; Backpack 30-50 Liters
If you’re going into the wilds for a short break staying lightweight is recommended to be your priority. You can make the hike very light for your feet and back, cover more ground and avoid unnecessary aches and pains.
Multiday 3-5 nights; backpack 40-70 Liters/Longer Trips
These backpacks are the most popular and cover most eventualities. 40-70-liter packs are very versatile and can A scarf for one-day hikes and overnight traveling. They are also ideal for long-term trips with more to carry than the average vacationer.
Extended-trip (5+ nights; 70 Liters or Larger Backpacks
Long trips of 5 night or more will usually require packs of 70 liters or larger backpacks. These are usually the preferred choice for:
- Winter activities lasting more than one night. Larger packs can more comfortably accommodate warmer clothing, thicker sleeping bags and 4-season tents with heavier poles.
- Longer trips in the wilderness requiring more supplies and equipment.
- Expeditions in harsh environments.
- Adults with youngsters. Mum and dad are carrying more of the kit.
A common mistake hiking beginner makes is wearing jeans and regular clothes, which will get heavy and chafe when they get sweat-soaked or wet. Wear wicking workout clothes designed for active people, quick-drying and a performance-fabric base layer that won’t chafe.
To make sure your legs don’t get scraped up on bushes along the trail long pants or tights are good.
Mainly, the way you need to dress for hiking relies upon the conditions you plan on hiking in. For a short hike in the heat of summer, you will need substantially less coverage than what you need for an extended hike in the middle of winter. Regardless of the specifics, however, you should wear clothes that wick away moisture from your skin while preventing precipitation from getting you wet. You should also dress in a base, insulating, and shell layer.
Wearing comfortable clothes in layers will make it possible for you to remove or add as and when you need. If you are hiking in where the weather is changeable, pack rain gear.
Avoid cotton; it takes a long time to dry when wet. You should choose clothing made of quick-drying, moisture-wicking fabrics, such as wool or polyester.
Think Of Clothing As Separate Systems
- Next-to-skin base layers should be made of wool or polyester; these are most important in cool to cold temperatures.
- Hiking layers should include nylon and/or polyester pants, T-shirt, sun shirt, sun hat or cap.
- Depending on the weather as an insulation layer you may need a puffy vest or jacket, lightweight fleece pullover, a warm hat, and gloves.
- Rainwear, it is wise to carry a waterproof jacket no matter the weather forecast. If you expect wet weather, bring the rain pants along, too.
Your Clothing Checklist Should Include
- Socks (synthetic or wool) plus spares.
- Waterproof, breathable jacket with a hood.
- Waterproof, breathable rain trousers.
- Fleece or down jacket.
- Fleece trousers.
- Wicking long-sleeve shirt.
- Wicking short-sleeve shirt.
- Quick-drying shorts, pants or zip-offs.
- Wicking underwear.
- Thermal underwear.
- Hat, cap or beanie.
- A Scarf or neck gaiter.
The outdoor conditions can abruptly turn wet, windy or chilly or an injury can result in an unplanned night out, so it’s necessary for you to carry extra clothes beyond those required for your trip.
Your footwear is one of the most essential items you need to choose, and it’s a very personal choice. Invest in quality hiking shoes and socks. Painful feet can ruin a hike. Some hikers prefer supportive boots, and others prefer lightweight trail-running shoes. The terrain you will be walking on can also affect your decision. Light-weight, low-cut shoes may be suitable on maintained trails without a lot of obstacles, whereas boots may serve you better on a trail with rocks, roots, and streams. Make sure your boots or shoes are well broken-in and comfortable for long distances.
Wear wool or synthetic socks, not cotton.
Remember to bring an extra pair of socks as well, mainly if you are going on a longer hike.
Also, pack blister dressings just in case.
For a day hike, you want your food to be fresh and tasty, nutritious, provide energy, and isn’t too bulky and can be carried cold.
The amount of food you bring will vary depending on the distance and hours you are out on the hike. If you know you will be doing 15 miles/ 24 km up and down very steep and rocky terrain; you will need some extra fuel as you will be burning up much more energy than if it was on a nice gradual and soft rise or the flat.
On a day hike, you don’t have to worry about food going bad, so you bring fresh food that you enjoy. If you’re going on a several days trek, it will need another approach such as factors like weight, ease of preparation. I will later-on write a blog post about food for an extended trip.
Listed below, are examples of one-day hike foods. These are common foods seen regularly on the trails, so you should be good to go with them too.
- Nuts – select, e.g., a mix of nuts.
- Almonds – they’re light, easy to carry and provide high energy and nutrition.
- Fresh Fruit – it’s feasible to bring fresh fruit in your day pack for a day hike.
- Dried Fruit – handy, lightweight and nutritious snacking.
- Chocolate/Chocolate Bar – is a high energy booster, which works very fast.
- Jelly Sweets – they will give you a blast of sugar.
- Granola/Cereal Bars – check the nutrition value and go for more cereal than sugar.
- Seeds – Like nuts, you can just take a handful when you fancy and eat them. They are very nutritious, tasty and many varieties.
- Cheese – great on its own or with sandwiches.
- Cold Meats – for none vegetarians there is a wide variety to select from, such as ham, bacon, chicken, turkey, and beef. Like the cheese enjoy it as it is or use it in sandwiches.
- Salami – can also be very good on its own. It provides energy and nutrition. A chunk of salami and a chunk of cheese is an excellent combination.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs – contain a lot of protein and is suitable for long-term energy. Eggs can also be added into sandwiches or mixed with vegetables, nuts, cheese, and seeds to make a nice veggie salad if you don’t eat meat.
- Main Meal – for a hike day trip usually it will take place at lunchtime. Here you can combine rice or pasta or salads and, e.g., sandwiches.
It’s Important To Bring Water With You For A Day Hiking
- You will need to replace the fluid you lose to sweat.
- It helps keep you more alert.
- Flush waste products out of your body.
- Not getting enough water can lead to discomfort.
- Bringing too much water can slow you down.
How much water do you need?
One liter water every two hours is a good rule of thumb based on active hiking people and my own experience hiking year-round and in a wide range of climates; if you’re actively hiking, you should drink about 1 liter (32 ounces) of water every two hours. You might need more depending on the temperature, humidity, and body weight. From this, you can estimate what you’ll need to carry if you can’t refill on your route.
How Do You Calculate How Much Water To Bring?
Get the time estimate for your hiking route from a guidebook or use some of the online hiking services. If you only have a map, then calculate your total hike distance. Divide your hike distance by your pace in miles or km per hour. Usually, it will typically be somewhere between 2 or 3 mph/3.22 kph or 4.83 kph.
Use this estimate example; hiking 3 mph/4.83 kph on a flat trail, and route distance 9 miles/14.5 km, you should bring 1.5 liters. It is fairly accurate.
Does It Have To Be Water?
No, it doesn’t need to be water, you can drink any non-alcoholic fluid. You can drink tea or juice if you prefer, or add an electrolyte mix to your water to make it taste better.
Refilling Water On A Hike
You can refill using a natural water source like a stream or lake, but it’s best to filter or purify your water by using backpacking water filters like the Katadyn BeFree or Sawyer Squeeze that lets you filter the water before you drink or store it. By being able to refill using natural sources, it will allow you to increase the distance you can hike, improve your self-reliance. Use your map to spot where water will be along your route.
Knowing where you are and where you are going is the key to making the most of your hike. A combination of electronic navigation and a hard copy map is a good course for hiking beginners.
Start with a print of the hiking guide and map. In the event of rain, toss the paper map in a zip-lock bag. Read the tour-guide, study your map, and get insights into what to expect. Make sure you know where the landmarks are. For example, you will need to know; “In a mile, I have to make a right turn at the junction.” Having this in your head keeps will keep you aware of the next move.
Modern-day navigation tools include five essentials for your adventure in the Great Outdoors: a map, compass, altimeter watch, GPS device and personal locator beacon (PLB). For hiking beginners, maps and compass are the most essential tools to understand and be able to use correctly. Electronic devices and apps can follow when you get more advanced, your hikes get more prolonged and deeper into Mother Nature.
- You should bring a topographic map on any trip that includes anything more than a short, impossible-to-miss footpath or frequently visited nature trail.
- A compass and map-reading knowledge is a vital tool if you get disoriented.
- Several smartphones, GPS devices, and watches include electronic compasses; however, you should bring a standard baseplate compass as a backup, and it weighs next to nothing and does not rely on batteries.
- A GPS device allows you to find your location accurately on a digital map. Those explicitly designed for outdoor travel are often built rugged, and they are weatherproof. Another option is to use a smartphone with a GPS app. Take into consideration that most phones are more fragile so you will need to protect it with a case. Keep in mind that these gadgets and mobile phones run on batteries, so you’ll need to monitor your battery power and carry extra batteries or charges, e.g., solar chargers.
- An altimeter watch is an advantageous navigational extra to consider bringing along. The watch uses a barometric sensor to measure air pressure and/or GPS data to provide a close estimate of your elevation. This information helps you track your progress and determine your location on a map.
- A personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger are gadgets which can be used to alert emergency personnel if you need help in the during your hike. Activated in an emergency, they will provide your position using GPS and send a message via satellites. A PLB or satellite messenger can be your crucial backup to have in case something goes awry; furthermore, they will work in remote locations where a cell phone cannot be counted on to have a signal.
It’s crucial to carry and know how to use the items in a first-aid kit. Pre-assembled first-aid kits save you the guesswork of building your own. To suit individual needs, many people personalize their first-aid. Any kit should include treatments for blisters, adhesive bandages of various sizes, several gauze pads, adhesive tape, disinfecting ointment, over-the-counter pain medication, pen, and paper. Nitrile gloves should also be included.
The length of your hike and the number of people involved will have an impact on the contents of your kit. It’s also a good idea to carry some a first-aid guide for how to manage medical emergencies.
Knife Or Multi-tool
Knives are handy for food preparation, gear repair, first aid, emergency needs, which makes them essential for every outing.
Basic knives may have only a single foldout blade. More elaborate knives or multitools include features like one or two flathead screwdrivers, a can opener and/or a pair of foldout scissors. The more complex your needs are the more options you may want from your knife or tool.
A multi-tool is an ultimate toolbox on the go. Although a pocket knife can handle many mobile situations, there’s nothing better than bringing a multi-tool. The appropriate multi-tool can offer a solution that will make quick work of unexpected jobs, solve minor problems, or get you out of a tight jam with minimal hassle.
In addition to a knife or multi-tool, a small gear repair kit can get you out of trouble, and the more remote you are, the more critical your kit becomes. Typical items include duct tape, cordage, fabric repair tape, zip ties, safety pins and repair parts for a water filter, tent poles, stove, sleeping pad, crampons, snowshoes and skis.
“Life is Better Out There – When You are Prepared”
Being able to find your way at night time through the wilderness is essential; therefore you should always have some form of light with you. Most outdoors travelers prefer a headlamp because your hands are kept free for all types of tasks, whether you are cooking dinner or holding trekking poles. Remember always to carry extra batteries.
Always pack and wear sunglasses, sun-protection clothing, and sunscreen. If you don’t it can result in sunburn and/or snow blindness in the short term and potentially premature skin aging, skin cancer, and cataracts in the long run.
Quality sunglasses are vital to protecting your eyes from potentially damaging radiation. If you’re planning extended travel on snow or ice, you’ll need extra-dark glacier glasses. Your sunglasses must have quality lenses which block 100 percent of ultraviolet light (UVA and UVB). Groups should carry at least one pair of spare sunglasses in case someone loses theirs or forgets to bring them.
Being outdoors for long hours can expose you to ultraviolet rays, which is the cause of sunburn, premature skin aging and skin cancer. Using sunscreen is recommended to help limit your exposure to UV.
Health experts advise choosing a sunscreen with the following:
- Using a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, though SPF 30 is recommended for extended outdoor activity.
- The formula must block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Apply the sunscreen generously and thoroughly to all exposed skin.
- UV rays can reflect from snow and water so don’t forget to get spots like the underside of your chin and nose.
- Depending on many factors (time of day, sweat and more), you should refresh your sunscreen several times during the day.
- Also, don’t overlook SPF-rated lip balm.
Mosquitos are annoying insects for outdoor enthusiasts of all types, worst case they can spread diseases. Whether your adventures are hiking, cycling, camping or kayaking, you have undoubtedly spent a night or two swattings at these buzzing pests and coating yourself with itch-relieving creams. But while many consider mosquitos a fact of outdoor life, you don’t have to let them ruin your trip. As you will find mosquitos nearly anywhere in the Great Outdoors and in some countries, there is the risk of infection with mosquito-borne diseases, it is, therefore, essential that you bring mosquitos repellent.
Matches, Lighter, or Fire Tool
In case of an emergency, you will need to be able to start and maintain a fire. Many people, use a disposable butane lighter. Matches are also suitable as long they are waterproof or stored in a waterproof container. Matchbooks from your local supermarket are not to be trusted for wilderness use as they are too flimsy and poorly constructed.
Firestarter is an element that helps you to jump-start a fire and is indispensable in wet conditions. The ideal Firestarter ignites fast and sustains heat for more than a couple of seconds. The options include dry tinder tucked away in a plastic bag, candles, priming paste, heat “nuggets” (chipped-wood clusters soaked in resin). Where firewood is not available, e.g., above the tree line and/or on snow, it is recommended to use a stove as an emergency heat and water source.
To protect you from wind and rain you should always carry some type of emergency shelter in the case you get stranded or injured on the trail. The options include an ultralight tarp, a bivy sack, an emergency space blanket (which packs small and weighs nearly nothing). It is crucial that you understand that your tent only is your emergency shelter if you at all time have it with you. A -tent left behind at your camp is not sufficient.
While on a trail, you will keep fit as well as enjoy the beautiful views of the wilderness. Regardless of the destination and track, you choose for your hike, you are bound to have a great time.
“Life is Better Out There – When You are Prepared.”
About the Author
Finn is the Editor at FlashPortals.
He is an entrepreneur and business executive with more than 27 years’ experience in the Internet, software and property industries and twelfth years of expertise in director positions in tourism, including sustainable tourism destination development in Southeast Asia.
Since 1975, I have founded, led and invested in several Danish and international companies, developing and implementing large projects with multi-national corporations and governments. The Danish Government has invested in some of his companies and projects.
His Pan-Asian and Worldwide business networks are far-reaching.