Everyone has a personal preference for how they want to hike. Many enjoy the camaraderie of groups, while many others relish the solitude that comes with hiking on your own.
Both have their benefits, and it’s really up to you how you’d like to hit the trails.
Hiking in groups allow you to learn from more experienced hikers and also enjoy the conversation and observations of other people.
Hiking solo provides you with some peace and solitude for reflection and enjoyment of nature. You can take as long as you like, go at your own pace and enjoy the scenery as much as you want.
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Each to their own!
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things to keep on top of while out on the trail. The amount of water you should bring with you truly depends on the weather and the length of your hike, however 2-3 litres is quite often adequate.
You don’t want to bring too much water as this can make your backpack heavy. You also don’t want to bring too little water as this can cause dehydration.
A good idea would be to bring a water filtration system, or water purification tablets, which allow you to drink water from streams and rivers should you find yourself with a water shortage problem.
Having an organised backpack is an incredibly useful hiking tip to have, as it allows you quick and easy access to everything that you need.
When you remove something from your pack, make sure to put it back in the exact same place so that you don’t disrupt the organisation.
Always remember to bring the 10 essentials for hiking as they can be real lifesavers on the trail!
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The onion layer method of dressing for hiking is an invaluable hiking tip.
Rather than wearing one thick, waterproof layer to keep yourself warm and dry, wear many small layers with one waterproof jacket on top.
Wearing many layers allows you to regular your heat, whether it’s too hot or cold. The onion layer method gives you a lot more control over how hot or cold you will feel.
Fuelling up is a vital part of hiking and yet another invaluable hiking tip. Having enough energy is hugely important so that you can keep hiking throughout the day.
A large breakfast of porridge and fruit is ideal. Try to stay away from any fried foods as this can contribute to dehydration.
Snacks on the trail are also important, providing you with immediate boosts of energy when you’re waining. Trail mix, nuts, chocolate, dried fruits and energy bars are all excellent examples of small, quick and energy-filled snacks.
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Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace is a practice that everyone should observe when on the trail. Some of the best hiking advice you can get is:
“Leave nothing except footprints”
This not only applies for not leaving food or rubbish behind, but also for not leaving any marks on trees or damaging other structures.
When you leave a trail, no one should ever know you have ever been there.
Don’t Get Burnt
Sunny days and cloudy days can be equally problematic when it comes to sun burn. You may not realise it, but clouds can let a certain amount of UV rays through and can lead to an uncomfortable and skin-damaging sunburn.
Sun cream, a sun hat and sun glasses can make for a skin-healthy and safe hiking experience. These are often the items which people forget the most, so take heed of this bit of hiking advice!
Pick The Right Boots
Hiking in the right boots can make the difference between an enjoyable stroll and a painful trudge. Hiking boots that don’t quite fit, either too big or two small, can cause painful blisters as the boots rub against your feet.
Similarly for socks, it’s a good idea to wear socks that don’t move or slip against your feet as this can be another source of blisters.
Strong ankle support is a must for your hiking boots. This provides protection against twisted or sprained ankles on uneven ground.
Check The Weather
Checking the weather is vital for your trip planning, as it gives you a good insight into what clothes to bring.
It can also tell you that a storm will be coming in the evening, so you can aim to have your hike finished before the bad weather hits.
Share Your Plans
Sharing your hiking plans with family or friends when hiking solo is a good safety precaution. Tell them where you’re going, how long you expect to be gone for and ring or text them when you get back off the trail.
Leaving a map of your planned route in your car window is also a good idea, so if you get lost people will have a reference point of which trail you took.
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We regularly hear the phrase “boots on the ground” in relation to the military, and it’s for a reason. While scruffy hikers and their brightly coloured packs may contrast starkly with the military’s crew cuts and drab camouflage, those who’ve spent time in the Army or Marines are particularly accustomed to spending a great deal of time pounding the ground with their own two feet. The well-known television personality Bear Grylls utilised his military experience to pass on survival training and skills to the rest of the world. As a former Army Officer I’d like to convey a few hiking tips of my own relating specifically to how you can hack your way to a more comfortable and successful hiking adventure.
Pack light and pack smart
When you have to carry heavy radio batteries and extra boxes of rounds, you soon learn to pack light and pack well. First off, jettison all unnecessary packaging from your food and any other perishables. It’s a stark lesson in recycling once you realise how much both military rations and civilian hiking snacks are enveloped in far too much plastic and cardboard. It’s also of benefit to challenge the traditional wisdom on hiking packs. Mountaineers and trekkers almost always carry the typical tall, thin rucksacks. My collection does contain one of these from the New Zealand brand MacPac, and it’s brilliant in many scenarios. Nonetheless I still cannot shake my preference for an old Army pack with its roughly square shape and modular assembly. Instead of having only one large top-access compartment, it can be set up to contain anywhere from three to ten compartments, pouches and zippered sleeves. I always find the large, second main compartment with bottom and side access to be the perfect place to quickly roll up and store any damp overnighting gear such as tents, sleeping bags and bivvy bags. Plus the pack has an extra wide waist belt to take the load off your shoulders. The use of multiple external pouches also makes for quicker and easier access. Traditional packs often see hikers rummaging around for ages trying to find something buried deep underneath piles of equipment. And of course the basics still apply when it comes to how you pack your bag: Heavier, rarely used items at the very bottom and pushed forwards near your spine.