One of the best things you can do for yourself to ensure an amazing hike is to spend some time preparing. Preparing for your hike is a surefire way to make sure you have a pleasant adventure. It minimizes the chances of something going wrong, and keeps you a little safer at the same time. Here are 10 ways to prepare for your hike.
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1. Give Yourself Time to Prepare
Planning the logistics of a hike isn’t usually difficult , but it does take some time to do it right. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare, especially if it’s a distance away and travel will be required.
2. Up Your Fitness Game
Use this prep time to maintain or boost your current fitness level. You don’t want to get to your destination only to find out that you can’t complete it! Sarah over at MissAdventurePants has a great free webinar, 5 Simple Steps to Your Longest Hike Ever, to help you out with this.
3. Check Permit Requirements
Some trails require permits, either for using the trail itself or for overnight camping. Check with the proper authority to find out permit needs and how to apply. Keep in mind that some permits have a limited application period, and some are hard to get. If you’re unsure how to find this information, I usually just search for “trail name site:.gov” without the quotation marks to pull up the agency in charge’s site.
4. Read Your Maps
You should have a good idea of what your trail “looks” like before arriving. Look at your map and make sure you know the route you will take.
Look for possible sources of water near the trail. Water can dry up quicker in hot or dry environments. Finding more than one possible source is a good idea.
Use it to find possible campsites. If the trail doesn’t require camping at established sites, you can use your map to find flatter areas (with awesome views!) where it’ll be possible to pitch a tent.
You can also use your map to estimate the time it will take you to finish, or to reach a campsite.
5. Plan Your Gear
Now that you’ve looked at the lay of the land, you can better decide what gear you’ll need.
Is it a rocky terrain? Sturdy hiking boots with ankle support may prevent twisted ankles.
A dense forest trail? If you’re into hammock camping at all, a hammock may be easier to set up than finding a root/rock/tree free area for a tent.
No matter what gear you choose to take, make sure you have your 10 essentials with you. These things really do increase your chances of survival in a bad situation. I’ll never stop telling you to have them with you on every hike 🙂
6. Test Run Gear at Home
This step has personally saved me some troubles on my hikes. I bought a new water bladder and it had a pretty bad leak in it upon arrival. It was a trusted brand and I could’ve just packed it and not thought twice about checking it first.
Set up your tent/hammock and sleeping set up. Check your gear for holes, broken zippers, missing stakes, working stove, etc. It can save you a headache later on.
7. Plan Your Food
Decide on how much food you’ll need for your hike. If it’s overnight, you’ll need a little more detailed of a plan. Plan to bring enough food to keep you fueled.
- For single overnights I like to bring (this is for a morning start)
- A snack/breakfast that I usually eat before I even reach the trailhead
- Another snack
- Breakfast- I like simple easy breakfasts- Carnation Instant Breakfast mix is great and inexpensive. You can get a box of 22 packs for under $10!
- Another snack and possibly lunch depending on how long the second day will take.
8. Fill Out a Hiking Itinerary
A hiking itinerary is your trip plan. It tells things such as your trailhead location and when you plan to start and end your hike. It aids in emergency situations and you should always leave one with someone responsible.
I created a printable hiking itinerary template for you, or you can read my DIY Itinerary information here.
9. Set Up Transportation
Before: Is the trail a considerable distance away? Figure out your method of transportation. Are you driving? Check your car’s vitals before hitting the road. Flying? Buy your ticket if you haven’t done so, and be sure to ask about what gear is allowed on carry-ons and what be in checked luggage.
After: Does your trail end somewhere that’s not the starting point? Unless you want to backtrack the whole trail, make sure you have arranged for transportation back to your vehicle. Some trails have shuttles and some will require you to find your own way. Rideshares, friends/family, and public transportation are all options.
10. Check Current Conditions
Check the current weather conditions for your trail. You don’t want to arrive and find out that a heavy rain rolled through and now it’s flooded or impassable.
Also be sure to check for any advisories for the trail/area. Weather warnings, wildlife information, and road/trail/bridge conditions are usually noted at the top of official trail web pages.
Have you ever had a hiking mishap that could’ve been prevented with better planning? Leave me a comment or shoot me an email.
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