Combine Exercise and Adventure With a Hiking Vacation
Much of the time when we take a vacation we end up overindulging and putting on a few pounds. If you’re a health conscious person who enjoys active sports and the outdoors, you might want to consider taking a hiking vacation. Hiking is budget friendly and allows you to spend time in nature, something which has been shown to have a variety of health benefits. Hiking allows you to observe a variety of birds and other wildlife in their natural habitats, and gets you away from many of the stressors of modern life like traffic, noise pollution and crowds. Best of all, hiking routes can be adapted for just about any level of fitness.
Whether you’re an experienced hiker or new to the sport, for health and safety reasons there are some items you need to make sure to take with you every time you hit the trails. See below for some packing tips you can use for your next hiking vacation.
Bring Appropriate Hiking Shoes or Boots
The type of hiking shoes or boots you need to wear on your next hiking trip will depend on the terrain you will be crossing as well as the weather. Is it mostly flat? Will you be climbing a mountain or hiking on trails with a lot of rocky outcrops to cross? Will there be snow or ice? Each of these requires different footwear.
If you will be hiking mostly on level trails free of rocks or ice, a good pair of trail shoes should be fine. For longer hikes, especially those where you will be carrying a heavy pack, a sturdy pair of hiking boots will give you much more support.
Whatever hiking footwear you choose, it’s a good idea to pick a shoe or boot that is waterproof. If you will be hiking in icy conditions, you might also want to pack a pair of crampons so you don’t get stuck or suffer a dangerous fall.
Always Dress in Layers
Even if it’s the height of summer and a beautiful day, the weather on top of a mountain can change from warm to cold rapidly. Rainstorms can develop seemingly out of nowhere. Dressing in layers will help keep you warm, dry and comfortable no matter what the weather decides to do during your hike.
At a minimum, you should pack a t-shirt or tank top in case it gets warm; a layer made of a moisture-wicking material such as merino wool; a water resistant jacket with a hood, and extra socks in case yours get wet. Other smart clothing ideas include a sunhat and zip-off hiking pants that can be converted to shorts.
Pack a Map, GPS and Compass
This might seem obvious, but it’s essential that you have an accurate map of the area where you’ll be hiking, even if you’ve been there before and think you know your way around. Forests and mountains change appearance according to the seasons, so a location you know can look completely different depending on the time of year.
In addition to a map, you should also carry a handheld GPS unit and a compass. Also be sure that you know how to use your compass in case your GPS breaks or loses its signal.
Bring Food and Water
Even if you are only going on a day hike, bringing along food and water is a very good idea. It doesn’t take long to get dehydrated while doing vigorous exercise like hiking, especially when the weather is warm. Hiking while you’re hungry or have a low energy level can be dangerous and isn’t much fun. Food in the form of energy-rich snacks such as nuts, dried fruit, cheese sticks and peanut butter will not only keep you from getting hungry, these foods can boost your energy level, electrolytes, and blood sugar if you start getting worn out, helping to make your hike more enjoyable and helping you to keep going until you get to your end destination.
Pack Important Safety Items
No matter how long or where you plan to hike you should always pack essential safety items such as a flashlight or headlamp (in case your hike runs longer than expected and it gets dark before you return); matches or a lighter for making a fire in the event of an emergency (a fire is also a good way to make a signal in the event that you get lost); and a whistle, which is a more effective way to call for help than yelling because your voice can wear out quickly (whistle in three short bursts).