By Adria Saracino
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or are looking to rediscover your natural self, hiking is a great way to get out of the gym and experience some fresh air. But it’s not as simple as heading to the mountain and skipping up the trail. Even on the most beautiful days, there are health and safety issues to keep in mind. Here are our top tips for making your day hike one to remember…in a good way!
Take friends and stay safe
There is no better way to reconnect with old friends than on the trail. And it’s safer for you, too. Who would want to mess with friends telling raucous stories? This holds true for both people and animals. Talking is a constant, low-threat way to cue animals that you are present. Be silent and chances are you will alarm an animal by sneaking up on him. This could be particularly dangerous when you consider animals like bears and cougars. Hiking experts suggest making non-threatening, constant noise when in the outdoors, which can be difficult if you are by yourself.
If you decide to hike solo, make noise every once in a while, such as by singing to yourself. Also, fill out trail report cards before your hike and make sure to tell friends and family where you’re going (bringing a cell phone doesn’t hurt either).
Even on the easiest trails, hiking can really work up an appetite. If left unattended, you could end up with low blood sugar, which may result in dizziness, nausea, and a sense of confusion (or death if it gets too far). Pack quick and healthy calories in the form of dried fruit and nuts to munch on while hiking, and a nice hummus or peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a relaxing lunch break. Make sure there is a variety of carbs and protein in your meal. This will ensure you are getting the nutrients you need to power you through the hike.
Water is of course very important to bring along, as well as drinks with electrolytes in them (think sport drinks) to ensure you are replenishing your salt supplies. Three quarts per person is about right for one day, but if it’s hot you will need more. Also, if you are going on a long and/or secluded hike, always bring extra water in case you become lost. It may be a pain to carry at first, but if you are hydrating correctly your pack will get lighter as you go.
Remember, it’s always better to over rather than under pack food and water in case you get lost or hurt.
Wear the right gear
As you’ve likely noticed, women’s bodies are different than men’s. Search for a backpack that’s built to support, not punish, a woman’s curves. Your hiking boot should also be tailored for your body, as well as your intended use. You will need a boot with a high, sturdy ankle if you’re going to be carrying a heavy pack, while a more flexible boot will suffice for shorter, less intensive trips. Test your boots out on sample courses at big outdoor stores like REI, and utilize the sales person’s expertise.
Another must have is a flashlight. This will prove invaluable should the hike go too long and you need to navigate a root-filled trail. I recommend a 5.11 Tactical flashlight, which is manufactured for public safety officials like cops and firefights. Flashlights like these made for professionals are best because they are built with durability and safety in mind.
You also want to make sure to protect your eyes from sun damage. Make sure to pick up polarized sunglasses that can help reduce glare. Look for “100% UVB/AVA” labels in order to protect your eyes from damaging sunrays.
Don’t forget to pack plenty of extra layers, especially if you are hiking from the warmer base of a mountain to a snow-capped peak. Go for moisture wick shirts and pants to keep the chill away, a warmer jacket or sweatshirt, and a thin, waterproof outer layer to guard against the rain. For cold hikes, go for a thin under sock and a thicker one for cover, with several extra packed in your daypack in case your first pair gets wet. With more people on the trail than ever, there are many stylish options for every piece of clothing you’ll need.
With these tips in mind, you’re sure to have a heart-pumping and safe hiking trip!
This post was written by a guest contributor. About the Author:
Adria Saracino is a blogger and hiking enthusiast. She’s been hiking all over the world, including Washington State, Spain, and Australia. When she’s not researching the next best trail, you can find her writing about style at her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.