Hiking can be an absolute thrill, a strenuous challenge or an absolute nightmare. Let’s avoid the nightmare, take the challenge at our own desire and take every trip to its maximum. Here’s our advice on how:
# Pack Right
Even on short hikes you don’t want to be left high and dry (or wet and cold). Make sure you have weather appropriate clothing, a backup map for navigation, food, water and toiletries. If you are heading up a mountain or a particularly vast stretch of countryside, it’s always wise to have emergency shelter in the form of a lightweight tube tent (bivvy bag) and a sleeping bag. It's also wise to pack sun cream, even if it’s not that warm outside. If you are exposed to the sun all day, particularly at altitude, you can end up burnt.
# Plan Right
On a lighter note, many hiking routes are going to be littered with B&Bs, pubs, museums, historic sites and of course, other hikers. This doesn’t mean it’s unnecessary to take the emergency essentials, but it does mean you can have lots of fun planning your route. Before your trip take some time to check out where you’re going to stop off along the way - ‘ok Google’. You can also ponder over whether you’re going to cook amongst the elements, or pop into a quaint pub for a roast dinner and a pint of ale or a glass of red. But, always pack snacks and some emergency grub.
# Hike Right
Don’t attempt the full route of the Pennine Way for your first hike, it’s not going to work. Take things at a slow pace and build up your routes, as well as the altitude and weather conditions you are undertaking. This is going to provide more of a rewarding hiking trajectory as you move from pathed countryside and woodland trails to more challenging mountain routes. Most importantly, leave no trace. This means that when hiking and camping amongst mother nature, leave her as you found her. Take a spare bin bag or two in your backpack so you can take any rubbish left over from your trip.
Take in the Appmosphere
# Snap that
If you own a pro camera by all means bring it along, but these days it's more likely you’ll be armed with a smartphone. While hiking is a time to switch off from social media, it doesn’t mean you can’t get some great snaps to upload later. Pictures or it didn’t happen.
# GPS Trackers
GPS tracking apps such as Relive tracks your hike, cycle or run and creates a 3D video with timestamps and stop offs where in which you can add photos that pop up in the final animation. The app can be a great keepsake from a day-long or weekend hike, visualising your journey with occasional pop ups of beautiful views or mountain top selfies.
# Heart Rate Monitor
The vast range of wearable heart rate monitors that sync to your smartphone devices can be a great addition to a hike. You can even leave the phone at home if you really want to switch off, but better just to power down just in case it’s needed for emergency. Most heart rate monitors will track your steps and heart rate along the trek regardless of whether your phone is switched on. Over time you can see visualisations as your treks become more challenging, and statistics as your body becomes more climatised to traversing the wilderness.
Don’t Get too Out Your Comfort Zone
# Hiking Boots
Hiking boots are named so for a reason. They are waterproof, provide good ankle support and a decent pair will keep see you through many hikes. Just make sure you take care of them by giving them a good clean after each hike and using appropriate waxes and sprays to waterproof and maintain the boots.
Even on a sunny day the weather can take a very quick turn for the worse. Always pack your waterproofs. More importantly, ensure your backpack is waterproof. it's also advisable to have some waterproof cover for your electronics, extra layers of clothing and, of course, your food!
# Keep in Contact
Always make sure you let people know where you’re going. As well as the more entertainment or fitness orientated applications on your smartphone, you can also use apps such as Familonet or Glympse to keep an eye on loved ones and vice versa.