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Hiking Las Vegas Blog
Hiking Preparation Tips
The amazing thing about hiking is that it really can be for everyone. There are as many ways to hike as there are places to hike through. This could be anything from a series of gentle rolling hills and countryside to scaling the toughest up-mountain trails. What distinguishes a hike from a simple walk isn’t really clear. At the easier end of the scale, they sort of blend into one another. It is probably best to define a hike as a constant walk – not running or jogging – across a terrain that is in some sense challenging. But then again, making it from your house to your car on a snowy day while clearing the snow out of your path with a big snow shovel might count as making it through “challenging terrain”, but we’d hardly call that a hike. Perhaps we should also specify that a hike must be in some sort of a nature and must last longer than a typical walk.
But definitions aside, a hike is also something for which you should always prepare. Hikes can very often be relaxing experiences, but you will nearly always be venturing into areas that can be potentially dangerous. This is usually because you are far away from immediate help, should anything happen, and that there will typically be some degree of physical exertion involved. However easy and relaxing you expect your hike to be though, you really should always prepare. There is a hike out there for all fitness levels and hiking has often been described as “low-impact workout”. But it is a workout all the same, so you should treat it as such and prepare your body too.
Preparing for a Hike
As mentioned, hiking offers all sorts of benefits and is truly a multifaceted experience. There are the well-known health benefits, from managing your weight to dealing with problems such as hypertension and stress; there are social benefits, as hikes are often undertaken in company; and there are, of course, the spiritual benefits of immersing yourself in the beauty of nature. And for such a multifaceted activity, it is no surprise that the preparation for a hike is multifaceted too. There are many areas to cover, beyond the aforementioned safety and physical preparation.
The most obvious area of hike preparation is naturally the packing. Depending on how long you expect to be on the trail for, you will need to pack all manner of clothing, equipment, and food to sustain you throughout the hike. And precisely what type of clothing, equipment, and food to bring will depend very much on what type of hike you are going on and where you are planning to go. You would need quite a different set of equipment for hiking around the Norwegian Fjords as you do for hiking around southern Spain.
And speaking of where you plan to go hiking, it is important to remember that hiking preparation also requires a route plan. What distance are you going to cover? How long can you expect to be on the trail for? This is an especially important part of the preparation that hinges on all the other things. Your fitness, what you pack, and what you wear will all determine what your route is, how often you expect to stop and, in certain circumstances, where you will stop for the night. You should always take care to let someone know about your hiking plans ahead of setting off – this will simply bring some extra peace of mind if you are worried about getting lost or being found if, heaven forbid, anything should happen.
Hiking Tips and Advice
With all of that in mind then, here follows a list of some of the most useful hiking tips to consult before setting off. All these tips are absolutely essential for beginners. However, even if you are a more experienced hiker, it is still important to keep them in mind. This is simply because while you may be experienced in hiking more generally, each new hike can bring with it new challenges that you might not have experienced before, especially if you like to push the boundaries and take on more ambitious routes each time.
What to Pack
A good principle to keep in mind when deciding what to pack is to only pack what is necessary. Remember, you will be carrying everything you pack with you, so you want to make your load as light as possible. That said, you need to properly identify what “necessary” actually is in your case. Going without certain equipment or supplies just to lighten your load can lead to problems when you are on the hike. Here are the essentials that you will require (in adequate amounts) for every hike:
This could be anything from the traditional map and compass set-up to simply the GPS on your smartphone. It is advised that you bring both, as either can potentially fail you where the other could back you up.
And before you pack this vital supply, make sure you define adequate. Consult your route plan, consider your hours on the trail, and make sure you bring enough. The trick is to hydrate well before you set off and then to sip water continuously throughout the day. Remember to err on the side of caution – it is better to bring too much than too little.
The same approach applies to packing your food, but you might also want to consider pitstops and what types of meals you can get there. It is good to have energy-rich snacks when walking and a full meal when you stop for the night. Energy bars, chocolate, and things like that are ideal for snacking on the go.
What to Wear
Naturally, what you wear depends on the temperature wherever you are hiking. Whether hot or cold, however, be sure to pack enough underwear and socks for the whole trip – these are things you will want to have fresh each day. You can probably get away with only one jacket and pair of pants – you don’t want to over-burden yourself.
Generally speaking, you can work up a sweat when hiking, regardless of the temperature. Therefore, it is a good idea to pack breathable clothes. As far as footwear is concerned, you will want something well aerated but also durable. Trainers or sandals are not ideal. To prevent blisters, lace up boots as tight as possible to avoid chafing and therefore blisters.
Consider Your Fitness Level
If you either overestimate your level of fitness or underestimate the difficulty of the hike, then you could be in for either an uncomfortable experience or, worse, a downright dangerous one. One thing you do not want to happen is to become exhausted miles from your stop. Be sure to pick a hike that is right for you. And remember, hiking has something for everyone.
Branch Whitney is the author of Hiking Las Vegas and creator of the 52 Peak Club where members hike to the best 52 Peaks around Las Vegas, NV