Hiking is an activity of moderate difficulty, which involves walking across long distances, usually on trails or roads. The duration of the activity varies between short half-day programs and longer itineraries of more than 20 days. It is usually an activity that allows groups of different sizes.
Hiking and trekking are two terms that are sometimes used interchangeably. The difference between each of them is usually the duration of the specific activity. Hiking is associated with shorter programs, while hiking is used to describe longer programs of a week or more.
Hiking is also a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and history of a country or area. Longer programs will take you to experience local communities and sample unique local food. Hiking is where the trail meets people, and mountain sports meet cultural adventure.
Hiking is not just walking. That is why the role of mountain guides is essential for a safe and interesting hiking experience. They will know the state of the different trails and roads, establish the best itineraries and determine the safety of each one of them. This includes knowledge about the flora and fauna in the area, how to interact with and respect it.
What equipment do you need?
This will depend on the duration of the program, and especially if it is an evening program or not. Generally you will need:
- Two different pairs of shoes: one pair of sturdy and waterproof walking shoes, and one lighter pair (slippers or sandals)
- Rain and windproof jacket and pants
- Hat or cap
- 35- or 40-liter backpack (you generally need to bring your own gear, unless it’s a longer hike, in which case there are sometimes chargers)
- Water bottle
- Walking sticks
- Preparing for an outdoor trip is a big part of the adventure. For a first hike, even if it’s short on a nearby trail, one should always be prepared. Simple mistakes can cause major problems while you’re hiking. So from what you carry to the food and equipment you bring, everything needs to be thought through correctly.
To ensure a smooth first hike, avoid these common hiking mistakes that beginners often make:
Choose the wrong backpack
Many first-time hikers make the mistake of choosing a backpack just because it’s lightweight, and that’s it. A good package has a great impact on your hiking adventure. You need to consider size and fit, quality and usability.
When choosing a hiking backpack, consider the weather, season, length of your trip, and the distance you go.
Wearing the wrong clothes
You are thinking, it is only a day walk and you should not think much about what you are going to wear, wrong. A short or long walk, proper clothing is important to ensure comfort on the road. Cotton fabric, even light ones, dries a little from sweat (or rain). This increases the risk of hypothermia.
Opt for absorbent fabrics instead of polyester and wool. Don’t forget to wear comfortable socks and shoes too!
Do not bring a first aid kit.
The outdoors is accident prone and if you’re a novice at hiking you should come prepared in case of medical emergencies, be it a scratch, splinter, allergy, or snakebite. Pack an appropriate first aid kit for the duration of your trip and the size of your group. If there is an item you don’t know how to use, be sure to learn beforehand. Safety must be your highest priority.
In fact, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Before your walk, you need all the energy you can get from a healthy, balanced meal. Opt for fiber-rich foods and protein to keep your metabolism going and energize it. Smoothies, yogurt with fruit and granola or some eggs are good examples.
Always choose a path that is right for you. If you are a beginner, first walk on easy trails, preferably with a guide. Control your pace and rest when you’re tired. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with the other hikers.
Save yourself the trouble – avoid these common hiking mistakes!
Daniel J. Smith is a survival expert. Having lived life outdoors since she was very young, she loves to share her experience of camping, hiking, traveling, motorhome living and many more. He has also started his own company called OutBright, which will soon sell products that cater to campers, hikers, travelers, and all adventure-loving outdoorsmen.