How to Prepare for Hiking – Full Guide

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 for how to prepare for hiking.

Being well prepared and having some knowledge of the route is always very important.

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

Ā Planning the Route

Take Into Account Your Level and the Difficulty of the Route

Take into account how long you have been training (or not training), your diet, and your physical condition. You can ask for advice from other climbers to plan routes that are within your possibilities.

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, which 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, in 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.

How to Prepare for Hiking: Decide your Route

Once you know your physical level, think about hiking you would like to do. The altitude, the weather, and the duration of the hiking are crucial factors.

hiking mountains decide your route

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.

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.

Study the Map Well for Hiking

Can you read a topographic map? 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.

study the map

Prepare your Backpack Try to Go Light for your excursion

Basically, the lighter you go, the better. 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 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.

First Layer Clothing

This is the layer 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, 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 Clothing

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 Clothing

This layer is one of the most important, although there can be a great diversity of garments depending on the weather conditions.

The function of this layer is waterproofing, breathability and to avoid 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 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.

wear good clothes

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

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.

Hiking Shoes

The hiking shoes are the most recommended in routes for either one or several days, we have two types of shoes. With Goretex and without Goretex.

 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 Goretex. When the day is over, your feet will thank you.

On the other hand, we recommend Goretex shoes on rainy days to avoid having wet feet from the first hour.

In the same way, if we would wear Goretex 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.

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.

Rigid Boots

And 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.

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!

footwear for hiking boots trip excursions

Important, a Hat

It can be a visor for the sun or a hat for the cold mountain nights.

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

The first thing to consider is what kind of hiking we are going to do, 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.

We will keep everything in the order in which we can use things before others.

how to prepare for hiking prepare your backpack

Check that you are not Forgetting Anything for your Hiking Excursion

Look at this complete list with all the material 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. Camelbaks are very common, and most of the backpacks nowadays are already prepared with space for it.

Sunglasses

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

Visor

Gps locator

Multipurpose knife

Head flashlight

Passport or ID: Very important all personal documentation.

Travel insurance

Cash

Nylon rope

Food and beverage

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.

compact food 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

You must hydrate your body constantly. Especially if you are hiking at a high altitude.

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

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

You can make a stop of 5 or 10 minutes every hour or as your body asks for it.

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

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

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 basic concepts in youtube tutorials.

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:

Don’t start any tour if you are not sure 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.

Other 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.

short routes

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

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

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

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.

hiking family friends route excursions