Hiking is one of those activities that offers the kind of quiet reflection and physical exertion that not many others can match. Getting back to nature and challenging yourself at the same time has a sort of majestic element, where each view is earned by hard work. However, preparing for a long-distance hike can be a challenge. Working out what to take and what not to take can be a long and arduous task that even the most dedicated hiker will procrastinate on. The next time you embark on a long-distance hike and need to know how to prepare, see if the below considerations can keep you on track.
All about the storage
Deciding what to bring is only the first step towards preparing yourself for a long-distance hike. The next step is to make sure you have the right equipment to carry it all. Finding the perfect backpack is the toughest task when preparing. Take your time to do your research here, you’ll thank yourself later. Look for things like reviews from other hikers, material strength, and any design flaws which may restrict what you can pack. The right backpack can be as important as the right pair of shoes. Comfort should be high on the priority list, ask some friends to try their backpacks to compare brands and styles.
Research the terrain
Doing research is a great hiker’s point of difference. Examine the maps, land trails and also the potential troubles you may run into. Preparing is about identifying all the risks and putting appropriate mitigation in place. If there are dangerous animals or plants in the area, you will want to make sure you take the necessary steps to protect yourself. Take your time to develop an emergency plan including alternate routes and additional maps.
When you are planning out your food stores be sure to examine the energy content of the foods you choose to take. Look for slow release energy sources that will help fuel you over a longer distance. Options that fit comfortably in your backpack are also ideal and will mean you can store more than is necessary, just in case. In addition, look for short burst energy sources for those emergency situations where you may need a quick pick me up. Flavoured drink tubes, like the ones those long-distance runners use, are also ideal as emergency energy sources.
Long-distance implies that at some stage you will either need to or want to rest for a period. Making sure you have the necessary rest items required is crucial. Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, you might need some warmer clothes and a sleeping bag. In the cooler months, you can often get away with packing light and simply using a sleeping mat. Preparing for the active sessions of the hike are critical, but rest is what will ultimately lead to success. Be sure to pack the essentials for those rest periods on your hike.
Preparing for the long-distance hike isn’t all about what you will take or what you will eat. A very important part of the preparation process is to develop an emergency plan. Included in that plan will be letting key people know where you are going, for how long and agreeing a time frame to alert authorities if you aren’t in contact. In addition to family, be sure to let local rangers or emergency services know your planned path. In the unlikely event you get lost or in trouble, you will thank yourself for being prepared.
Long-distance hiking can provide clarity of self and the future. It is a unique experience that will leave you wanting to plan the next adventure. Don’t get caught up in the hike just yet, make sure you take the time to prepare and plan thoroughly. Use these simple tips to make sure you are fully prepared for your long-distance hike.