As you are probably aware, I am a little bit of a fan of hiking. Over the years I have picked up some hiking tips and tricks to pass on to you. Hiking is a fun, easy, accessible hobby that isn't limited to the super fit. Anyone can hike but you still need to be a bit savvy.
Hiking and happiness go hand in hand or foot in boot.
Top 11 Hiking Tips and Tricks
Always tell someone where you are going
This is probably one of the most important things that you need to do before you go hiking. If something happened, you got lost or the weather turns, someone needs to know where you are and what time you are approximately expected back. It is unlikely that something will happen to you but it is better to be safe than sorry. Anything can happen when you go bush.
Check the weather before you go
The weather is very changeable, you may start the day in blinding sunshine but come lunchtime you may as well be in a different season. With the abundance of weather apps at your fingertips, there really is no excuse for not knowing what weather may be in store. Take it with a grain of salt though, the weather forecast is right only approximately 34% of the time.
Pack a backpack of supplies, even if you are only going for a short time
Chuck in some water, snacks, map and compass, GPS, a change of clothes, extra socks, a small first aid kit, some loo paper (you know, just in case), hat, sunscreen and the kitchen sink.
Pretend you are a boy scout, be prepared.
Research where you are going beforehand
Research how long the hike is expected to take, the terrain, fitness level, distance, access and if there is anything you need to be aware of, such as hunters in the area etc. The more you know about your hike the less likely you will be unpleasantly surprised by something unexpected.
Plus if you are super unfit you don't want to be trekking up steep hills for hours on end. Even if you did want to challenge yourself.
Wear appropriate gear
A good pair of hiking boots is one of the best investments you can make. No one likes manky, blistered feet. Breathable clothing is a must. You can quickly overheat when walking and cool down just as fast when you stop. Plus who like pooled sweat sitting on their bodies unable to go anywhere? Wear layers that are easy to peel on and off. Dress for the weather but pack extras just in case. You may need that raincoat or those waterproof trousers after all. (One of my latest hikes I forgot my waterproof jacket and it bucketed down).
Make sure your phone is charged
If you are anything like me you will want to capture the mountains of beautiful scenery nature has to offer. Yes, the pun was intentional. Not even sorry. Plus, even if you don't get reception your phone will always reach emergency services (well, in NZ, I'm not sure about other countries) in case you need them. You don't want to be checking your Facebook, emails or texting your mates while you're out stomping through nature though. That's just bad hiketiquette.
Be present in the moment
Leave your phone in your bag, unless it is to snap a photo. Be present in nature, listen to the birds. Wonder in awe of the beauty around you. Smell the earth and the trees. Feel the texture of the leaves and the bark. If you are hiking with someone, give them your attention without distraction. Unless it is the distraction of the birdsong or another one of natures offerings.
Stamp through the Autumn leaves if you inner child wishes. Sit on the rock and gaze at the view.
Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints
This is a classic hiking saying and for a very good reason. You wouldn't like it if someone came to your house, took your flowers then buggered off, would you? You wouldn't like it if someone came to your house and left their empty water bottles on your lawn? Well, Mother Nature feels the same about her garden. Treat nature with respect yo.
Get local advice on track and weather conditions before setting out.
This probably comes under the research heading but this way, it looks like I have more tips to share. Plus it is still a pretty important tip if you know a local. Locals know the area better than anyone. They will know if there are any detours in place that aren't yet on the internet, they will know the weather patterns. Locals will also know the best way to tackle the track, if it is a loop you have a choice of which way to go first, hit up a local to learn their hiking tips and tricks.
Topographical maps and a compass are essential. Many of the open tops are unmarked and should only be crossed in good visibility.
Lots of tracks are unmarked or very poorly marked, as in you need to be a psychic to understand what the person putting up the markers intended. Common sense will get you pretty far but if you don't know the area well a map is a worthy investment.
If you are hiking somewhere like Dartmoor, England, a map and compass are essential. You won't get far without them. Well, you will get far, but you won't be able to get back again without a lot of luck.
Be aware of park boundaries to avoid trespassing onto private land
No one wants to be chased by an angry farmer.
So there you have it, my top 11 hiking tips and tricks.
Have I forgotten anything you would add to the list? What are your top hiking tips and tricks?
Want more info and resources?
- Department of Conservation - information about various hikes in NZ
- Hiking Adventures, Hiking New Zealand - guided hiking tours
- Ultimate Hikes - another guided hiking tour company
- Kathmandu - Hiking Gear