Hiking is a great way for people to get some exercise while leaving behind the stresses of life. Whether it’s work or school or relationship problems, hitting a scenic hiking trail can help you forget everything.
However, unlike walking on a paved path, hiking is often more demanding and unpredictable. Hence it’s important that you know what to bring along (a walkie talkie, navigation tools, plenty of food and water…etc.) and the dos and don’ts while you’re traversing the trail.
So without further ado, here are 13 essential hiking tips for beginners:
1. Don’t Challenge Yourself Too Much
Make no mistake, just because you can walk 10 miles straight on a paved surface, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to do the same on a hiking trail. The latter is usually more challenging with elevations, descents, twists and even obstacles on the way. As a result it may take more time and energy.
In order to estimate how much time you’ll be spending on the trail, find the total distance and divide it by a speed of 2 miles per hour. Then, you’ll have to figure in an additional hour for every 1,000 feet you gain in altitude.
2. Get To Know The Hiking Trail
Experienced hikers always examine the trail before they set-out, and so should you. Once you’ve got a trail selected, get hold of a map and search online for any reviews and hazard reports concerning it. This will allow you to figure out things like whether the trail loops back or whether you’ll be required to backtrack through it.
You should also try to mark out the safest path on the map and perhaps pick out a scenic location or two that’ll make for great lunch spots.
3. Pack The Right Gear
There are so many potential dangers you may come across while hiking. It could be a sudden, extreme turn in the weather. You could even lose your way. Having the right tools can help you effectively counter these dangers.
It’s more helpful to think in terms of systems instead of individual items when you’re packing. For instance, a navigation system that includes all the essential tools for finding your bearings.
Here are the mandatory hiking gear systems you need to take with you on any trail:
Navigation – this includes a GPS, a physical map and a compass. Don’t just rely on smartphone apps!
Food and Hydration – bring enough food and water to last for an unexpected overnight stay.
Shelter – make sure you bring along a small tent in case you have to camp out for a while before you backtrack. Be sure you have appropriate gear to stay warm in it.
First-aid – this includes things like bandages, gauze, band-aids…etc.
Light – bring along an LED lamp or a flashlight so you can still find your way around if you’re walking through the night.
Insulation – It’s going to get colder the higher you climb, so it’s important to try and retain your body heat.
Communication – a reliable two-way radio for hiking is a must-have. It can help you reach emergency rescue services in a pinch and be alerted to oncoming weather changes.
Campfire tools – if you plan on camping out, you’ll need a campfire to keep warm and even cook your food. This means that waterproof matches, and a fire starter or a lighter can come in handy.
Sun protection – sunburn is a serious risk if you’re hiking in the summer. So make sure you bring along a bottle of sunscreen and maybe a pair of sunglasses too.
4. Travel Light
Long, high-altitude treks can sap your energy fast. Hence, it’s best not to stuff your backpack with too many heavy items. Whenever possible, always pack travel-sized items.
5. Pay Attention To The Weather Forecast
Always stay up to date with the weather, even just a few hours before you set out on your hike. This will let you know what kind of clothes to pack and what extra items you may need to bring along. If the weather is going to be particularly terrible, you should strongly consider changing your plans.
6. Inform Someone Before You Go
It’s very important to share your hiking itinerary with a close friend or family member.
Make sure you establish a ‘worry time’, which is the maximum hours of radio silence that a person should tolerate before he/she alerts the proper authorities.
This way, you can still expect help to arrive if you find yourself in danger with no way to reach anyone.
7. Start Your Hike At The Right Time
If you like hiking alone, then the best thing to do is to start as early as possible. The later you start, the more likely the trail is going to end up crowded.
On the other hand, if you like hiking with other people, check what time is most popular for the trail, and plan to arrive at this time.
Just remember, you might have trouble finding a parking spot if you arrive too late!
8. Dress Properly
You want to dress for comfort, warmth and optimal movement, not to impress other hikers you meet on the way.
That means, first of all, swapping out the sneakers for a good pair of hiking shoes. And don’t forget socks!
While cotton is okay for everyday use, it’s certainly not cut out for hiking. Unlike wool or synthetic fibers, cotton tends to absorb a lot of body heat so you definitely want to avoid wearing cotton socks.
The same goes for clothes too: skip wearing anything cotton. If you’re hiking in cold weather, you’ll want to dress in layers. Base layers are very important, but make sure that they’re not so tight that they cut off blood circulation!
In high altitudes, a windbreaker or a fleece hoodie is most appropriate. You should bring along a warm beanie as well, because we tend to lose most of our body heat through our heads.
9. Watch Where You’re Going
Sprained ankles are the most common injuries with hikers. It’s very easy to get distracted by breath-taking scenery on the way, possibly causing you to step in the wrong spot and twist your ankle. Therefore, always watch your feet, especially if there are tons of trip hazards like rocks or roots.
10. Take Your Time
A lot of first-timers start their hike at a really explosive pace and have all of their energy drained halfway through the trail. If you hike this way, you’ll lose tons of body heat very quickly which can make things really uncomfortable.
Always remember: hiking isn’t a race. Take your time, take in the scenery and most importantly: conserve your energy.
11. Don’t Litter
Hiking trails are for everyone to enjoy, so make sure you don’t dump things like candy wrappers or other waste on the way. Some trails will have garbage bins, but you should still bring your own trash bag for the trip.
12. Learn Proper Hiking Etiquette
Hiking etiquette can prevent you from making a total fool out of yourself or annoying other hikers. Here are a few important things that you should know:
· Always make way for those who are going uphill
Greet other hikers with a simple “hello.” You may want to have a quick chat with back trackers to find out what lies ahead.
Avoid talking too loudly to your friends or on the cellphones.
If you’re going to be listening to music, put on a pair of headphones.
Avoid taking unofficial short cuts; stick to designated paths
If you feel like you’re lost, the first thing you need to do is to stop and consult your map. If you figure out where you are, start backtracking until you come across a familiar spot.
Backtracking almost always works, but on the off chance it doesn’t, try yelling out ‘HELP’. If no one answers, it’s time to take out your phone and call emergency services. If you’re out of cellphone range, then your long-range walkie-talkie should help you reach someone.
When the hiking season comes around, it can be quite tempting to throw a few things into your backpack and hit a trail. However, hiking is more than just walking and needs proper preparation. The above tips should help you make the most of your experience and keep you safe on your trek.
A backpack hunt can be a great way to get in touch with nature and turn a hunting trip into an explorative adventure. However, you need to bring the right gear for a hunt like this to have a comfortable and successful time. Below are 10 pieces of gear that you absolutely need to have on your next backpack hunt.
1. The Right Backpack For The Hunt
This seems like an obvious choice but choosing the right backpack is essential. It’s still important to address, though, because nothing is going to ruin your hunt like a backpack that’s uncomfortable or difficult to wear once it’s full.
Needless to say, not just any backpack will do. There are a few main things you want out of a backpack.
First, it should offer enough support and room that you aren’t struggling too much even after you’ve filled your pack.
Additionally, it needs to be durable. If you’re halfway through a backpack hunt only for one of the straps to break, that’s going to make the rest of the hunt much more difficult.
Keep in mind that a smaller pack, like a pistol range backpack is not necessarily what you will be needing. Since you are going to be hunting wild game, don’t forget to consider that if your hunt is successful, you’ll be carrying your game in addition to what you brought with you.
2. Your Rifle and Scope
If you’re hunting with a rifle, it goes without saying that you need to bring that rifle with you. But, what’s important is that you remember to bring the accessories that go with that rifle as well.
One piece of equipment that you’ll want to invest in regarding your rifle is a scope. The main reason you’ll want to do this is that it helps enhance your vision on the field.
You can get a much clearer picture of what’s happening when you take a shot rather than trying to squint and rely fully on your natural eyesight.
When it comes to scopes, though, you have a lot of options. This can make it a little intimidating to try and find something that works for you and fits your gun. Luckily, there are plenty of resources like OutdoorBest.com that will help you with taking these in and finding the best scope for your rifle. (Just be sure it’s mounted properly and sighted in!)
When you’re going on a backpack hunt, it isn’t all about what you carry. In addition, you also have to think about what you’re going to wear.
First, make sure you have the warm hunting clothes you depend on during the season. This includes gear like insulated pants and a parka if necessary.
However, you’re also going to want to be prepared for inclement weather which means rain gear goes in your bag as well. The last thing you want is to be caught in the rain only for you and your gear to get soaked through.
It’s a good idea to invest in waterproof and water-resistant gear rather than just throwing a flimsy rain poncho into your bag. It’s also a good idea to bring an extra pair of shirts and paints just in case.
You also need to invest in a good pair of boots. These will help keep your feet safe and dry as well as comfortable. While your boots shouldn’t be old, it’s a good idea to wear a pair that’s already “broken in.” There’s a lot of public hunting land out there to be explored, and you don’t want to have to accommodate for blistered feet while you’re hiking your way through it.
This is an important piece of gear to remember. Anytime you’re going on any type of outdoor excursion, no matter how much risk is involved, you’re going to want to keep a well-stocked first-aid kit on hand. This will allow you to take care of anything like a scrape from a fall or take urgent methods to help get a more seriously injured party member to help.
There are two parts to making sure your kit is as useful as possible.
First, you need to have the right supplies. A well-stocked kit has more than just a few spare bandages and antibacterial wipes. It should be much more comprehensive including items like non-latex gloves, antibiotic ointment, gauze, tweezers, and more.
The Red Cross has a handy checklist of what should go in your kit. You should go back through this checklist before every outing.
Secondly, those supplies are only so helpful without the knowledge to use them. It’s a good idea to study up and make sure you have a first aid guide in your kit to help you out.
5. Hiking Poles
Hiking poles – also referred to as trekking poles – are a must for a backpack hunt. This is because there is a lot of hiking involved in backpack hunting and you want to be as smart and safe as possible.
Hiking poles can help take some of the pressure and impact of steep hiking off of your legs and knees. These poles are also praised for keeping your hands raised rather than at your sides which is better for circulation. This improves your stamina.
While there are a number of other benefits to go on about, another one of the biggest things that hikers often call on their hiking poles for is balance and anchoring in tough conditions. This is particularly useful in backpack hunting since you’re carrying a large pack that could throw your center of gravity off, especially when you’re carrying large game back.
6. A Knife
A knife is a must have on a backpack hunting trip. While there is some debate over whether a fixed blade or folding blade is the best choice, there’s no debate that having a knife on hand can be a lifesaver.
Of course, a knife comes in handy for standard tasks like field dressing your game, but knives are one of the most versatile tools to keep in your pack and can help with anything from first aid to preparing your nightly meal.
Because your knife is so important, it’s a good idea to keep a sharpener handy too. This way you don’t end up having to struggle with a dull knife. There are plenty of handheld models, so you don’t have to worry about losing a lot of storage space by taking it along.
7. Gear for Sleeping
Without a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and tent, your hunting trip will probably be pretty short-lived. If you’re going backpack hunting and plan on staying a while away from hotels and homes, you’re going to need to be just as ready to camp as you are to hunt.
While you’re choosing your camping gear, remember that the general rule of thumb that you’ll want to follow is to travel light. After all, whatever you want to bring will be on your back most of the time. That’s why it’s a good reason to lean towards lighter, simpler tents rather than an excessively expansive or luxurious tent.
8. Food and Water
Once you have your shelter accounted for, you’re going to need to consider your other basic needs: food and water.
First, let’s look at water. This is one of the most important things you put in your bag because your body can’t operate in top condition without it.
It’s crucial to keep plenty of water on hand because you aren’t guaranteed to find a fresh, clean water supply while on your trip. It’s also a good idea to keep a way to purify water on hand. Iodine tablets or small, handheld water purifiers are popular among campers and hikers.
As for food, you have a lot of different options as to what you can bring to eat. You can rely on all of your campfire favorites including everything from made-for-camping freeze dried meals to your favorite coffee, as well as non-perishable snacks like trail mix and granola bars. As you learn your way around backpack hunting, you can get creative and find out what unique campsite meals you love.
9. A Source of Heat
Whether you’re cooking or just staying warm at the end of the night, you’re going to need a way to get a fire started on your campsite. Matches and a lighter are good to keep handy but it’s also a good idea to have a fire starter kit on hand. This way, you won’t have to struggle trying to get started from scratch without help.
Don’t forget that you have to make sure any campfire you set has to be put out safely before you pack up for the night. It can go a long way to study up on or even keep a copy of the USDA Forest Service steps to extinguishing a campfire.
10. Game Bags
When you’re going to be carrying game long distances, you need a reliable way to do so. Your best bet here is to invest in game bags to carry your game in after you field dress it. This will help you make sure that it makes its way from the spot you took it down to your dinner table back at home.
Backpack hunting can be a unique and rewarding experience but you need to be well-prepared. So whether you’re after elk, mule deer or other big game, having basic essentials like these, you can be more prepared for what is hopefully a successful backpack hunt!