If you really want to know how to prepare for hiking, you’re in the right place. You may find this article long, but if you have patience and read it, you will get all the knowledge you need on how to prepare for hiking. We include a lot of Tips for Beginners in this updated article, to answer the frequently asked questions from our readers.
Being well-prepared and having some knowledge of the route is always very important when you are preparing for your hiking.
It takes a lot of work to visualize our goals when preparing for hikes and treks that may seem challenging. And we are going to talk a little bit about this too throughout this article.
Besides, we must know how to act in the mountain to complete our adventure successfully. Although much of this knowledge comes with experience, it is important to keep in mind some basic concepts that we sometimes overlook.
How to Prepare for Hiking: Tips for Beginners
Plan the Route According to your Difficulty Level
How to Prepare for Hiking: Tips for Beginners. Plan the Route according to your difficulty level. Take into account how long you have been training (or not training), your diet, and your physical condition.
You should ask for advice from other hikers and climbers to plan routes that are within your possibilities.
How to Prepare for Hiking: Is the Hiking Route for My Level?
Take Into Account Your Level and the Difficulty of the Route. We must also take into account things like the physical condition of the companions in the group, the weather forecast, etc … Since you can always have an unforeseen event for whatever reason, we can get to delay the time.
The more information we have about the route we are going to do, the better.
It is always important to leave early when hiking or going on a route to the mountain because if for some reason or any reason that comes to us without us, we expect it can also be done at night.
Nowadays, we can find a lot of information about the mountain routes, on pages like Wikiloc for example, which informs you if the route is circular, information about the slope of the same even the times depending on the speed that we take.
It is also advisable to carry GPS as it can save you from bitter situations in the mountains, right now you can find many kinds of mountain GPS.
Hiking Kilimanjaro, Hiking Machu Picchu, and Hiking Grand Canyon
Hiking is a popular outdoor activity that people enjoy in many places around the world. Hiking Kilimanjaro or Machu Picchu are some of the most popular hiking destinations.
Hiking at high altitudes and long distances can be challenging, but there are ways to prepare for it.
How to Prepare For Hiking Machu Picchu – For hiking the Waynapicchu mountain, we train our bodies indoors by using an elliptical climber machine, combined with different exercises. But the key for us was the elliptical climber to prepare ourselves for the Inca Trail.
Our breathing capacity improved incredibly. And the best thing was that we only dedicated 1 month and a half to our physical preparation (honestly, we didn’t have the possibility to prepare for the trip beforehand as we would have liked).
So we sought to train quickly and in a way, we had never tried before. We bought an elliptical trainer, which was probably the best purchase of our life.
The advantage of an elliptical climber is that you don’t strain your joints, you take care of your back, you protect your lower back, and at the same time you don’t impact your knees. This allows you to train often, every day if you prefer because you don’t need to give your joints a rest. Just give your muscles some rest.
In this article, we will talk about how to prepare for hiking in high altitudes and long distances and what equipment you might need. We will also provide some tips on how to adjust your body when hiking at high altitudes.
Hiking Grand Canyon is a life-changing experience. It can be an unforgettable adventure, or it can be a disaster. The best way to prepare for such an endeavor is to know what you are getting into and how to prepare for it.
These are targets that could be on the bucket list of our readers (Hiking Kilimanjaro is still on ours). However, it is necessary to prepare the body and mind for challenging hiking.
How to Prepare for Hiking Kilimanjaro
Training to hike Kilimanjaro requires both physical and mental strength. First, it’s important for you as you’ll travel between 5-10 km per day for the entire length of the climb. When you’re unable to recover the energy, you need physical reserves.
Nevertheless, a good climber will tell you the difference between strength and endurance in your mind when it comes to a higher climb. Certainly, the situation in Kilimanjaro, especially on peak night! This is the best way of getting ready for your summit.
How to Prepare for Hiking: Decide your Route
Once you know your physical level, think about the hiking you would like to do. The altitude, the weather, and the duration of the hiking are crucial factors.
Look for Companions or Inform Someone Where you Are
How to Prepare for Hiking: Look for Companions or Inform Someone Where you are. Going to the mountain with friends is one of the best options. At least with one person.
It is always more rewarding to share good times with a friend, and it is also much safer in case of an accident.
How to Prepare for Hiking: Check the Weather for Hiking
How to Prepare for Hiking: Check the Weather for Hiking. A week in the rain can ruin your adventure. Check when is the rainy season in the country you are going to visit.
Before going out on a hike, I would recommend learning about How to dry hiking boots quickly and effectively to go back to the trail ASAP.
Study the Map Well for Hiking
Study the Map Well for Hiking. Can you read a topographic map? To be prepared for hiking, I encourage you to learn how to read a map and study it before heading out to the mountains.
Check the highest passes, places to camp, nearby rivers, big peaks, or references that can help you orient yourself correctly.
Prepare your Backpack, Try to Go Light for Your Excursion
Prepare your Backpack, Try to Go Light. Basically, the lighter you go, the better.
Going lighter is the first step to achieving your hiking goal. However, going light is not easy. Also, it is always advisable to balance your backpack weight properly. I encourage you to read our article and learn How to Pack a Hiking Backpack Diagram
Don’t worry, we have all sinned of being heavy at some time or another.
The truth is that few of us manage to go light, but it’s something we have to improve little by little.
How to Prepare for Hiking: Wear Good Clothes
I know that mountain clothing is expensive, but it is a good investment if you start to get into the world of hiking.
A pair of hiking boots that are too hot or a jacket that doesn’t keep you warm can give you a hard time.
When it comes to equipping ourselves for the mountain, there is a theory (by the way very effective) which is the three layers.
Let’s continue reading about How to Prepare for Hiking, how to choose clothes for hiking, and layers.
First Layer – Hiking Clothes
The first layer is clothing that is attached to the body. That is, you can not put anything under this layer to do its function, as if it were our second skin.
In winter: the ideal is a thermal or compression T-shirt, which is well attached to the body, and always made of elastic, synthetic, and breathable materials so that sweat disappears quickly.
If we use other t-shirts made of other types of materials, they will get wet, will take time to dry, and may even affect our health.
In summer: a technical polyester T-shirt will suffice.
Second Layer – Hiking Clothes
The second layer is used to insulate us from the cold. In other words, it does not heat us directly but retains the heat given off by our body.
In winter: the ideal for this second layer is, as mentioned above, synthetic materials, but natural materials such as wool can also be used.
The advantage of synthetic materials is that even when wet, they keep the heat and take less time to dry. On the other hand, wool keeps more heat but takes longer to dry, which is a disadvantage when hiking.
In summer: the same garments and the same materials as mentioned in winter.
Third Layer – Hiking Clothes
Third Layer – Hiking Clothes. This layer is one of the most important, although there can be a great diversity of garments depending on the weather conditions.
Third Layer – Hiking Clothes. The function of this layer is waterproofing, breathability, and avoiding the cold.
In winter: there is a wide variety of garments in the so-called third layer, such as windbreakers, softshells, Gore-Tex jackets, etc…
These three are the most important, we will describe them below.
Windbreaker: Windbreakers are garments that, as the word itself names it, cut the wind. Because if it rains a little more, then the account will pierce us, and we will get wet. The advantage they have is the price because there is much difference with a jacket.
Jackets: the third layer jackets are the most powerful as there is a great variety in the market. They are waterproof jackets with great breathability. We can find jackets with different types of waterproof membranes.
When choosing a jacket of this type we have to pay close attention to all the processes when making the garment, so as not to be unpleasant.
Softshells: this type of jacket is a mixture of the two previous ones but without being one hundred percent effective in any of them, i.e. the outer fabrics of the jackets are windproof, and the inner part is usually the polar fabric that also gives warmth but is less breathable.
In summer: we can use any of the above-mentioned garments both in winter and summer, but in summer having to resort to a third layer, with a windbreaker would be almost enough.
In conclusion, the theory of the three layers is that taking into account the function of each of them we will know in each situation depending on the weather conditions what to wear and what not to wear, and if not do not worry that the time and experience will tell everything.
Everything mentioned in this theory of the three layers can be carried out both in mountain pants and in gloves and hats.
Try Not to Wear Cotton Clothing
Try Not to Wear Cotton Clothing. Cotton is heavy, and it takes a long time to dry. Try to wear breathable clothing.
Footwear for Hiking Excursions
How to Prepare for Hiking – Footwear for Hiking Excursions. Depending on the type of hiking we are going to do, the weight we are going to carry, the conditions of the terrain, the slope, the weather, and many other factors, we will choose between one or the other.
There are rigid high boots, semi-rigid boots, and hiking shoes. It is very important to know when to choose each type, otherwise, our feet will take their toll.
How to Prepare for Hiking – The hiking shoes are the most recommended in routes for either one or several days, we have two types of shoes. With Gore-Tex and without Gore-Tex.
You should always be informed of the weather and the state of the route. Since if we are going to have sunny days and the route is a mountain trail or grass, we will certainly choose hiking shoes without Gore-Tex. When the day is over, your feet will thank you.
On the other hand, we recommend Gore-Tex shoes on rainy days to avoid having wet feet from the first hour.
In the same way, if we would wear Gore-Tex on a sunny day and the route would be too long, we would end up with scorched feet. And if we talk about hiking for several days, it would take its toll on us to continue the next day.
That’s why the right choice is very, very important, when you are preparing for hiking.
Hiking Shoes – Semi-rigid Boots
On the other hand, we have semi-rigid boots. In which we would follow the same criteria as to when choosing whether with Goretex or not as with hiking shoes. These boots have their pros and cons.
As for the pros, they are more robust, they support your ankles, which is very important in the event of a bad step in the mountains, and they have a better grip.
The cons are that they are heavier. You have to be well prepared to wear this type of boot for a long time because at the end of the day you will feel its weight.
Hiking Shoes – Rigid Boots
Hiking Shoes – Rigid Boots. Finally, we have the rigid boots that are already high boots for the high mountain. These boots are only to be used in low temperatures and with a lot of snow, as they are also prepared to be able to use crampons.
This type of boot is very rigid, so it is important to use them only when necessary because it is very heavy and a bad use would ruin the day.
It is very important when buying hiking boots not to make the mistake of wearing them the same day you go hiking, to avoid sore feet, chafing, etc…
It is always advisable to use them for at least a few months so that the footwear can get used to our feet. Also consider that if the trekking is long, you will need up to 1 size bigger because your feet will swell a lot.
When choosing the size of the footwear, we must also know that they should not be too big or too tight, as they will rub when climbing or descending.
Feet are the most important tools in the mountain!
How to Prepare for Hiking – Always Bring a Hat to Your Hike
How to Prepare for Hiking – Always Bring a Hat to Your Hike. It can be a visor for the sun or a hat for the cold mountain nights.
Bring a Rain Cover for Your Backpack
Bring a Rain Cover for Your Backpack. You have your backpack well-equipped, but what if it starts to rain, and you can’t protect it?
How to Prepare for Hiking: Prepare your Backpack
How to Prepare for Hiking: Prepare your Backpack. The first thing to consider is what kind of hiking we are going to do, the duration, weather conditions if we will sleep in a tent or a shelter, and if we can have water along the way.
Depending on all the above mentioned is where the size of the backpack comes in.
For 4-day hiking in normal weather conditions, a mountain backpack of between 30 and 35 liters should be enough, assuming that we sleep in a shelter and it is not necessary to carry a tent, sleeping bag, etc…
The lighter the backpack the better. Because if we carry it loaded with unnecessary things or materials, our back and shoulders will take their toll.
Check that you are not Forgetting Anything for your Hiking Excursion
Look at this complete list with all the materials you might need for a hiking trip.
After putting all the equipment in, we will start with the small details, such as:
- Hydration system: It is advisable to drink water every half hour of the route. Being always well hydrated is essential, and even more so on those hot days in the mountains. Camelbacks are very common, and most of the backpacks nowadays are already prepared with space for it.
- Sunscreen: As we climb in the mountains, the radiation is higher, when walking in the snow increases and therefore sun protection, defense mechanisms such as sunscreen are essential.
- Complete toiletry bag
- GPS locator
- Multipurpose knife (What is a Victorinox, multipurpose knife)
- Head flashlight
- Passport or ID: Very important, all personal documentation.
- Travel insurance
- Nylon rope
- Food and beverage
How to Prepare for Hiking – Compact Food for Hiking
How to Prepare for Hiking – Compact Food for Hiking. Nowadays, they sell many dehydrated preparations that serve as lunch or dinner. For breakfast, powdered milk and cereals are good choices.
Don’t Forget Snacks
How to Prepare for Hiking – Don’t Forget Snacks. In addition to meals, take some energy bars or chocolate bars to eat during a stop.
Keep a Small Extra Supply
When you know how many days you will take to complete the hiking, take food for one more day (at least). Sometimes, you may take longer than planned.
How to Prepare for Hiking: Drink Water Regularly
Drink Water Regularly. You must hydrate your body constantly. Especially if you are hiking at a high altitude.
Carry Purification Tablets
Carry Purification Tablets. Sometimes it is difficult to find a fresh stream, or you may not be sure of the source of the water.
Calculate the Gas you Need
Calculate the Gas you need. It seems silly, but more than one of us has run out of gas halfway through hiking.
Think about safety, avoid accidents
Make Rest Stops Every Hour
Make Rest Stops Every Hour. You can make a stop of 5 or 10 minutes every hour of trekking or hiking, or sooner as your body asks for it.
How to Prepare for Hiking: Carry a Map, Compass, or GPS
How to Prepare for Hiking: Carry a Map, Compass, or GPS. Carrying a map is essential if you are going to complete a multi-day route. You can also carry a compass, a hiking watch, or even a GPS.
Beware of Low Temperatures
Beware of Low Temperatures. Be prepared for lower temperatures during the night.
Nights at certain altitudes can be very cold. Make sure you have the necessary equipment and a good sleeping bag.
How to Prepare for Hiking: First Aid Kit
How to Prepare for Hiking: First Aid Kit. Carry a basic first aid kit. Try to learn something about first aid. If you do not find classroom courses nearby, you can learn some useful concepts regarding the Best Survival First Aid Kit Step by Step.
In terms of safety we can add certain rules that, although they are based on having a bit of common sense, it never hurts to remember them.
Here are the safety rules when you are preparing for hiking:
- Don’t start any tour if you are not sure if you will withstand the level of difficulty.
- Take the right gear. Even if you’re on a difficulty 1 trail, don’t forget to bring water and a snack.
- Notify the park ranger if the difficulty of the trail requires it.
- Find out about dangerous animals in the area.
- Calculate the duration of the trip, taking into account that the outward and return journeys may have a different duration, depending on the inclination of the trail.
- If the trekking lasts several days, and you have access to natural water, carry a water purifier to avoid carrying extra weight during the whole trip.
- If it is your first time on a difficult hiking trip, make sure you go with an experienced guide.
- When the trail is not well-marked, resort to your GPS or compass and map. Don’t trust your intuition: play it safe.
How to Prepare for Hiking: More Tips
How to Prepare for Hiking: Start With Shorter Routes
If you are preparing for a big ride, start by completing shorter routes. Let your body adapt.
Don’t Forget Your Camera
Don’t Forget Your Camera. Many of the most spectacular places are in the mountains. Capture those moments for a lifetime.
Stretch from Time to Time
Stretch from Time to Time. Don’t forget to stretch every day and if you can several times a day, even better.
It’s not a Race, Take it Easy
It’s not a Race, Take it Easy. Everyone has their own pace. Don’t try to go at the pace of other faster climbers. They don’t have to keep up with you either. Find your own pace, keep a steady breath and go for it!
How to Prepare for Hiking: Keep in Mind the Hiker’s Philosophy
How to Prepare for Hiking: Keep in Mind the Hiker’s Philosophy. Hiking is an experience that connects you with nature. There you see the weakness and smallness of man in front of the imposing landscape.
Only we can make these places remain as they are. Take care of the environment!
Save the waste to throw it in authorized places, and avoid making fires in areas prone to fires.