How to Prepare for a Day Hike
Being Physically Prepared
Going on a Day Hike is a lot of fun but it's necessary to be physically prepared; this means training for at least three months in advance.
Start by going for hour length walks, then increase the distance gradually. Hiking can be strenuous so it's best to practice walking in areas with uphill as well as downhill gradients so that your body can adjust to this type of terrain. Most outdoor hikes have some strenuous activity involved.
After two weeks of practice start carrying a backpack filled with some miscellaneous items such as jackets, spare clothing and a water bottle.
If you work out in a gym or do some other form of exercise this is an added advantage. If not, consider looking for an exercise programme on the internet or using a DVD and get your body in shape.
Once you're fit and ready decide where you are going to hike then start collecting the necessary gear. Preferably hike with one or more people in case of injury. There are some who like the solitude of hiking alone; if this is the case make sure you have a charged cellphone with you and let others know where you will be walking.
One of the most important items to take with is water, at least 2 litres of it. You might like to take an energy drink with as well. In cold climates a flask of tea or coffee is a welcome relief when stopping to rest. However don't take too much, it's a day hike so you don't want to overload with unnecessary items, you want to enjoy walking; not slogging along with a heavy burden.
Other Items To Take With
- Food - sandwiches and energy bars
- First Aid Kit - bandages, gauze, tape, ointments, painkillers, insect repellant
- Hiking boots or strong Walking Shoes
- Small or Medium-Sized Backpack
- Light-Weight Clothing
- Rain suit
- Hat or Beanie
- Map & Compass
- Space Blanket
- Pocket knife
- Matches or Lighter
- Toilet Paper
Before embarking on a Day Hike it is advisable to eat a good breakfast to give you energy for the day. Get a good night's sleep, there's nothing worse than going on a long trek when one is suffering from lack of sleep.
If the weather isn't freezing it is advisable to hike in shorts and wear sports or proper hiking socks. If it's sunny weather you tend to get hot walking especially when encountering uphill terrain.
Clothing should be light, cotton T-shirts or golf shirts are ideal, you want to avoid heat rash if possible. Some say cotton clothing isn't a good idea because it dries slowly. Visit hiking outlets and purchase the right clothing if you would rather not wear cotton items.Take a fleece top or jacket and long pants or track-pants in case of cold weather.
Try to have someone in your group who has hiked the area so that you don't get lost; study maps of the area beforehand. If possible walk on a trail that has markers and use your compass and map if necessary.
Stop for rests, eat an energy bar, drink liquids and have a lunch break. Put your feet in the water if you're in an area with a river or lakes, or even have a swim.
While walking keep your eyes peeled for snakes and spiders etc, especially if you're up front; snakes might be lying in the pathway. Also be aware of overhanging branches in areas where there are trees and bushes. Read up on poisonous plants, learn to identify them and avoid coming into contact with them.
If there are no facilities for trash remember to take a packet with to put any papers or rubbish in and take it home with you for disposal.
Don't walk too fast, you and your companions want to enjoy your day in the wilderness; be considerate to one another.
Start fairly early so that you can walk at an even pace and have time to enjoy the outdoors. Turn back or take a return route when you know it's time to; you don't want to be stuck trying to walk in the dark if the sun sets.
It is not advisable to drink from streams unless you have some water purification tablets.
Taking binoculars with is only necessary if you want to do some bird watching or for viewing nature. Definitely don't take too many items with.
- The best thing to take with you (and it's not a material object) is common sense. These tips don't have to be a list of do's and don'ts, using ones common sense goes a long way. For instance you can be creative and think of other food to take with, or games to play while walking. An example could be counting how many of a certain bird species each person sees along the way.
Have You Done Some Day Hikes?
The views and beliefs expressed in some of the advertising here are not necessarily those of the author.
© 2013 David Edward Lynch