If you have a yearning to head out in to the wilderness on a day hike, you have come to the right place. Being prepared for a big day walk, is the difference between being immersed in an adventure that you enjoy, versus hating every minute of it! Here are a few things to consider when planning your next adventure on foot:
- Train/hike in your gear in the weeks leading up to your big walk. Wear comfortable, well fitted trail shoes/trail runners or lightweight hiking boots or walking shoes with a good, grippy Vibram sole. “Good fit” means you have some space at the front of the big toe, even with a good pair of merino hiking socks on; your toes don’t hit the front of the shoes when you are on a steep incline/descent; your feet don’t slide in and out at the heel. Good quality socks (no cotton) that wick away moisture, coupled with a pair of hiking shoes that have been fitted for you, can make ALL the difference and prevent debilitating blisters.
- Research the climate/weather/trail difficulty and trail notes and maps before you go. Be prepared to change your plans if the weather conditions do not look favourable for being out there all day. Know where there are access points along the route in case you need to exit before the end point. Don’t just look at the number of kms but also the gradient of the trail and how many climbs there are. Kms become A LOT slower when you are climbing a steep ascent or having to slow down to get down a steep rocky/scree descent. Your speed/kms per hour are also affected by extreme weather conditions – like humidity, heat, rain or cold. The trail conditions will affect this too – so read up on the latest trail updates. All these need to be factored in to your timing. Rather start out earlier in the day and allow an extra couple of hours on top of your estimated time on trail. You can always spend some time at the end enjoying a rest if you finish earlier than expected.
- Your daypack should be around 30 litre capacity.
You should have between 2-4 litres of water depending on the climate and your own needs – some people sweat alot and others drink more.
Take some electrolytes to alternate with drinking water, especially if it is a hot day. Find out where there are water sources on route (and if the water is suitable for drinking or needs to be treated) just in case.
Take enough food that you can snack on small bites every 45 minutes to an hour.
A mixture of sweet and salty, fruit, and dried goods, but not foods that sit heavy in your stomach.
First Aid kit, including stiff bandage, strapping, wound care, snake bandage, eye wash, eye drops, band aids, personal medications and asthma treatment if required.
Head torch (even if you think you won’t be walking in the dark, many people have underestimated their walking time and been stuck out in the dark.)
Pack layers of clothing, depending on climate but always expect in the mountains that the weather can swing between extremes.
Always carry good quality rain gear, Gortex or similar jacket and pants, gaiters if necessary, that you have pre-tested in the rain and cold.
Carry a blister kit – special blister plasters, tape or foot fleece that you have tried in training.
A small towel if you intend to swim on route.
Lip balm, suncream and sun hat and shirt.
Bandana to protect your neck, also can wet and use to cool yourself when it is hot.
Sealable, eco friendly bag to carry out rubbish including vegetable matter.
- Tell someone where you are going: log your route plans at the National Park if required. Pay for the relevant National Park permits if required before you go.
- Know your own ability. Don’t overestimate how fit you are, or how agile. This is why training on trails in the lead up to your hike is so important. It helps you to gauge your fitness/agility so you are better prepared for the challenging terrain you may encounter. When estimating how long it might take to walk a trail, add in breaks. Read blogs and other trail notes and info on the planned walk to gauge time on trail.
- Never walk alone.
- Carry a Personal Locator Beacon if you are in remote areas with limited access or know you will be out of mobile phone range.
- Use walking poles: practice with these in training. They can reduce the impact on your lower limbs significantly and also help with endurance – imagine your legs doing all the work, vs spreading some of the energy expenditure to your arms and upper body, especially when you need a push to get up a big incline.
- Immerse yourself in the wilderness and enjoy the freedom that comes with this: take photos on your phone, but the rest of the time, try to clear your mind of scattered thoughts and worries, Instead become curious about the surroundings, focus your attention on nature, breathe the fresh air, stretch during your breaks.
- Allocate one person in the group to be responsible for time keeping, and one to be on maps/route/navigation. Don’t be too proud to acknowledge if you aren’t making good time or you aren’t sure of the route. Make decisions to turn around and go back, or rework your plans for the day, before it’s too late.
Being prepared for a hike makes ALL the difference and also gives you the opportunity to be immersed in nature, rather than struggling through the day with ill-fitting gear, or feeling unfit and unable to enjoy the experience. Just like any goal, the journey to get there is just as important as the destination. As always, leave no trace: take all your rubbish with you, be respectful of traditional land owners, historical sites and all flora and fauna. Step lightly, and take nothing but photographs.
Find out more trek tips on how to Get Trek Ready HERE.