The world has some absolutely awe-inspiring natural wonders that can only be reached by foot. To witness them with your own eyes, ramblers need sheer grit, determination and a host of hiking essentials.
Hiking is arguably the best way to see any part of the world in all its glory. But being in the great outdoors has many health benefits as well, both physically and psychologically. Nature is a great healer.
Many destinations also offer stunning views, which for some people is an additional reward for their hiking efforts. If you’re a keen photographer, you will have plenty of opportunities to take unique snapshots too.
Whether you’re venturing deep into the forest, touring the valleys or ascending high into the mountains, you should always be prepared. Not only do you need to pack the right hiking equipment, but you also have to be physically, mentally and emotionally prepared for your adventure.
Hiking can be physically demanding. Climbing steep hills or walking long distances will take its toll on your fitness levels. The best way to get fit for walking is by actually walking – so make time in your day to step up your steps.
For your first few rambles out in the wilderness, take a beginner’s route. You can always tackle more difficult trails and environments once you know your limitations. If you live near a hill, build up your fitness levels by walking up it every day.
Be Mentally Prepared
The ability to complete hiking trails requires more than physical fitness. You have to be mentally strong as well.
At the root of any challenge, your mental capacity plays a key part in your survival. Hiking is an endurance sport so you need to have a healthy inner dialogue, especially if you get into trouble or hit a spot of bad weather which makes the environment you are in more dangerous.
If you have a walking buddy, maintaining a positive attitude is easier – providing everyone remains positive. If anyone is negative, it makes the challenge harder for everyone. Upbeat music helps you stay cheerful and energised if you’re hiking on your own.
The clothes you wear (and pack) for hiking make a huge difference and should cater to the most likely conditions. What you need is an outdoor ‘system’ which feels comfortable at all times.
A clothing system consists of a base layer and outer layer, waterproofs and hiking boots or suitable pair of walking shoes that are designed to protect your feet and legs. The materials should be able to cool you down if you’re sweating or keep you warm in the cold.
The base layer should ideally be made from wool, silk or wicking synthetics such as polypropylene. Avoid cotton t-shirts because they collect sweat and if the weather does suddenly cool, it’s harder to keep warm with a wet base layer.
Most hiking gear is made from technical fabrics and specifically designed for being both breathable and waterproof. We recommend buying your hiking equipment from an outdoor clothing specialist.
Pack Sufficient Food and Water
Food and water are the most important things to pack if you’re out for a day’s hike – especially if you’re embarking on a multi-day hike. However, you also need to know how to eat and drink properly.
Staying efficiently hydrated is a skill you need to master – so listen to your body. If you all yourself to get too thirsty, you are dehydrating. When you are in this state it can be easy to drink too much in one go and over hydrate.
Drinking too much in one go is not good either. Too much fluid in your system dilutes the amount of sodium in the bloodstream and can cause hyponatremia.
Because water is the heaviest thing to carry in your rucksack, it’s best to check whether there are any water supplies along the walking trail you plan to tackle. Most of the well-trodden tracks have refill stations.
You should also pack light snacks that provide you with an energy boost. Chocolate bars together with dried fruit and nuts are a good choice. Also, eat a hearty breakfast that is high in protein (for energy) by low in fibre (because you don’t want to get caught short).
The survival kit you pack obviously depends on the route you are taking. It should account for any eventuality you find yourself in. Don’t be afraid to think of a worst-case scenario even though the likelihood of it manifesting is slim. But hiking mishaps do happen.
We have already touched on some of the top five priorities in any survival kit, food, water, clothing. The other two are shelter and signals. A small and lightweight tent or emergency blanket will shield you from the elements. You may also need flares to alert a rescue team should you happen to lose the hiking trail.
Other essentials in your survival kit include typical first aid equipment, map, compass, knife and torch among others. Research comprehensive hiking survival kits that are relevant for the conditions you will be exposed to.
Sweatcoin Walking App
Okay, so our walking app is not an “essential” hiking tool for first-time ramblers but it is a useful tool for walkers of all kinds – any day of the week. And the more you walk, the more benefits you get from it.
The Sweatcoin app counts the number of steps you walk in a day and converts your steps into sweatcoins (SWC) – digital tokens which you can use to purchase merchandise directly from your mobile phone.
We have over 300 partners that offer sweatcoin subscribers incredible discounts on their merchandise. The more you walk, the more money you save. If you go hiking every weekend and walk a lot during the week as well, imagine how much you could save.