If you’re a beginner hiker staring down a 1,000 ft peak, scaling your way to the top can seem unimaginable, especially if you lack the endurance, flexibility, risk management, and ingenuity of a top-of-their-game adventurer. Before making a mountain out of a molehill, realize that you can take your hiking skills to new heights with a few simple steps. Soon enough, you’ll be conquering hikes without a second thought (or multiple rest breaks).
Stay well-fed and hydrated
When you’re performing a long hike, you will burn significantly more calories than a shorter walk. As you pack your backpack, try to pack a little more food than you would need to eat in a day, just in case.
When packing food, consider the length of your trip, the size of your group, and the hike’s level of difficulty. Once you’ve accounted for the critical factors, look for foods that are lightweight, ready-to-eat, and portable. You could go for dehydrated, dried, and even some fresh foods.
Try to get a variety of foods to stay satiated and maintain your nutritional balance. Bring along a multivitamin and some flavored electrolyte beverages as well. You can keep your hydrating drinks cold in a sizable stainless steel cup. With a reusable stainless steel cup on your person, you’ll be able to minimize waste, reduce your risk of dehydration, and enjoy all of your favorite beverages while traversing the nation’s must-see mountain ranges.
Some of the best foods for long-distance hikes include:
- Day Trip: granola/protein bars, fresh/dried produce, canned fish/meat, trail mix, jerky, pork rinds, cheese
- Multi-Day Trip: instant rice/noodles, soup mix, beans, freeze-dried/dehydrated meals
Get the proper equipment
Essential items for a long hike include:
- Bug spray
- Swiss army knife
- First aid kit
- Water bottle with a filter
- Biodegradable wipes
- Rain pack cover
You may need a hiking permit in some areas. If you plan on staying overnight, you’ll also need camping gear.
Cross-train for strength, mobility, and endurance
Hiking has multiple mental and physical health benefits. You can decrease stress, enhance your immune system, reduce depression symptoms, and manage your weight.
Each week, try to incorporate two strength training and three cardio sessions. Strength training can help you carry your backpack along the trail. Cardio will improve your endurance.
If you set up a home gym, you can perform more exercises. Try variations of squats, lunges, bridges, calf raises, deadlifts, cleans, and step-ups to develop your lower body strength.
For your upper body and core, include exercises like pushups, planks, rows, crunches, overhead presses, and mountain climbers.
Cardio can come from biking, running, walking, dancing, plyometrics, or anything else you enjoy. Make sure to stretch to prevent injury, increase your mobility, and aid in muscle recovery.
Plan your route
Don’t just show up at a hiking spot and start walking. If you want to sustain longer hikes, you need to choose a route. Get a map for the area and figure out the distance and elevation. Ideally, look for a path that loops.
Plan to head out early in the morning. Keep your map handy throughout the hike and analyze it thoroughly. If you’re bringing along a GPS, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with it as well.
If you choose a more challenging trail, you might put yourself in danger. You need to stay aware to stay safe. Tell someone about your trip before going. Walk at a reasonable pace to minimize your chance of slipping. Regularly check the ground for anything that could hurt you.
Ensure you look at your map frequently to stay on track. If you get lost, check for a signal and contact 911 or set out a rescue beacon. When you get home, tell someone that you’ve arrived safely.
Before you go
If you want to go on a long hike, you need to buy the right gear, get in shape, plan a route, and stay aware of your surroundings. Hiking is a healthy and enjoyable experience, and you can easily extend your trip in nature with these simple steps.