Packing and Planning Your Hike

In order for an extended hike to be both enjoyable and safe, some extensive planning needs to be completed. Besides packing the appropriate gear, it is extremely important to be aware of everything from the terrain of the area to the changing weather patterns to even how long it is expected to take. Whether you are planning a day hike or taking a longer several day trip, executing the hike can be a challenge, even to very experienced hikers. Knowing what to expect before you step foot on the trail will prepare you for any obstacles you encounter along your hike.

Before even beginning planning your trip, you will need to ensure that you are in the right shape for whatever intensity of the hike you have in mind. If you’re planning hiking a steep incline on the side of a mountain and you’ve only walked around your neighborhood, you may want to reconsider your choice of location. Conditioning your body from walking on a smooth, level ground then upgrading to a more intense hike can prepare you for your hiking trip. Also, keep in mind that on the actual hike you will be carrying extra weight, whether it’s just enough for a day trip or a full backpack for a week long adventure. Be sure that you can endure any rough terrain you may encounter and that the extra luggage won’t put too much stress onto you. Hiking is supposed to be about enjoying yourself in the outdoors, not a strenuous workout.

When traveling in a group, it is important to not only consider your own fitness level but to check with the experience of the other hikers. If there are children present or inexperienced hikers you may want to select a mild trail that’s appropriate for their skill levels. If the group is all well experienced, then you can choose a more advanced trail. Picking a trail that won’t be a huge challenge to anyone in your group that it will benefit everyone by being enjoyable instead of an obstacle.

Make sure to know what the weather forecast has predicted for your entire trip, from both the base to the peak of the mountain you will be hiking. Pack accordingly but remember that weather conditions are likely to change suddenly so it is important to be prepared with a variety of gear.

While packing, make sure to bring clothing appropriate for the trail you are hiking and the weather conditions. Dressing and packing layers is the best way to plan your attire, since you can either dress down or bulk up depending on the weather. Bring visors and hats will keep your face safe from the sun, along with plenty of sunscreen. Keeping yourself protected from the sun is very important since sunburns can damper the spirits of everybody for the remaining period of the hike. Depending on where you are hiking, it may also be necessary to pack bug spray to keep away any harmful insects.

Planning for emergencies is one of the important steps to take while preparing for your trip. Everyday a hiker experiences some kind of unexpected interruption while on a trail, whether it’s a bug sting or a cut. Packing along a first aid kit, compass, blankets, a whistle, and plenty of high energy foods along with water are all important things to pack with you on your trip. Many people also bring along their cell phones in case of emergencies but they may not always receive signals, so it is important to not rely on this only. Be sure you have enough supplies to last if the unexpected happens and you get lost. Knowing what can happen along the trip will ensure that you are prepared and ready for anything that comes your way.

After you have completed packing and the planning has been all completed, you need to be sure of how long the hike will take. Beginning your hike early in the day will allow you to enjoy the cool weather before it warms up and will leave you enough time to complete some trails round trip by nightfall. If you are planning a several day trip, be sure to bring along enough equipment and sleeping supplies as well. Before you begin your hike, make sure you notify family, friends and a park ranger of your plans and route. When you return from your hike, be sure to tell them you have returned safe and sound.

Extended hiking trips can be a great way to escape a hectic life, but they require careful planning and packing to ensure that are safe and enjoyable.