Multi-day hikes are a great way to escape the city and the rigours of everyday life. Connecting with nature day and night can be truly invigorating and boasts a number of health benefits.
But a multi-day hike should not be taken lightly. Remember, you are exposing yourself to the elements. If you’re not prepared you could be putting yourself into life-threatening situations.
Fitness and endurance is a serious consideration. You may be fit enough to lift weights at the gym three times a week, but does your level of fitness translate into a four or five-day hike?
In this article, we explore some of the most important ways to prepare for a multi-day hike. If you’ve planned the journey well, you will enjoy a more pleasurable walk.
Before heading out on a multi-day hike, you need to get into shape. Are you able to walk over challenging terrain for up to 8-hours a day?
Your level of fitness will be determined by the route you’re taking, the weather conditions you are likely to endure and the distance you will need to cover each day. On top of all that, don’t forget you will be carrying a backpack.
To build up your fitness, you need to prepare your body and mind. Try to replicate the conditions you will encounter during your trekking experience. During the weekends leading up to your hike, go for longer walks carrying a backpack 10 pounds heavier than the backpack you expect to take with you.
You should also be hitting the gym as often as possible to work on your core. Hiking in nature puts a lot of pressure on your legs, hips, waist, lower back and abdomen. Whenever you get a chance, take stairs instead of elevators and escalators, and climb them two at a time.
In addition to strength, endurance training should take a central role in your build-up preparations. The purpose of endurance training is to ensure your body is up to tackling the course without causing too much pain and discomfort.
Determine the distance, or how many hours you expect to be walking every day – back-to-back. The continuity will take its toll if you are not prepared.
Before you go on your hike, walk as far as you can each day with the time you have available and at weekends, go for a 7-8 hour amble on Saturday and Sunday. This will enable you to determine how your body reacts.
Understand How Much Water Your Body Needs
Water intake is critical during a multi-day hike. You want to ensure you are properly hydrated but don’t want to over drink as this can cause cramp. The general recommendation is around half a litre per hour in moderate temperatures and a litre in intense heat or higher altitudes.
Learn how much water your body needs. If you naturally sweat a lot, you will need a higher water intake. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes. If they are not replaced with a sufficient quantity of water, fatigue and muscle pain will set in sooner and prevent you from comfortable reaching your daily goals.
Also consume water economically. Don’t chug it down, take small sips regularly. When you feel thirsty you are beginning to dehydrate. Research your route and determine where you can refill your water supply and also take sports drinks that replenish sodium and potassium.
What to Pack for Multi-day Hikes?
Knowing what to pack is determined by the location. Research the area in which you will be trekking and take advice from people that have experience walking the same route.
Your destination will determine your choice of clothes and equipment. You can find a detailed list here, but in general, multi-day hiking packs should include a first-aid kit and plenty of nutritional snacks. Also, pack a plastic bag you can use to stash used food packaging.
Take food with you that is light and will stay fresh (or in one piece) over the course of your walk. The best type of snacks includes dried fruit, granola bars, nuts, dried beans and bananas.
Pack a good selection of clothes so that you’re warm enough at night, but not sweating too much during the day. Moisture-wicking fibres help to soak up sweat so you are not uncomfortable or at risk of hypothermia whilst clothing with vents help to keep you cool.
Before embarking on a multi-day hike, mental preparation is as important as physical training. Not worrying about potential dangers you may encounter is a good place to start. If you panic when faced with the first challenge, it will ruin the day.
You will also have to cope mentally with the physical demands, aches and pains, swarms of insects, intense heat, sleeping rough, feeling sweaty and dirty and missing home. If you don’t like to give up your creature comforts, stick to single day hikes.
A four or five day hike will inevitably cause blisters, inflammations and an irritable plantar fascia (the arch on your foot). Even when you’re patched up with first aid, you will probably have to endure a day or two of discomfort.
The ability to divert your attention away from pain will make your hiking experience more pleasurable. Because the alternative is to focus on how uncomfortable you feel and lose sight of the wonderful nature around you. The ability to divert your attention is a mental toughness that can serve you well in other areas of your life as well.
Download the Sweatcoin app
If you’re taking your smartphone on a multi-day hike, why not download the sweat coin app and trace your daily steps. For every 1000 steps you take, you earn 1SWC which can be exchanged for merchandise with one of our partners. Every step counts.