Whether you’re off on a long hike with a group of friends or a shorter walk with the family it pays to be prepared and take hiking safety seriously. That’s why we’ve pulled together our favourite hiking tips and hacks – so you can head off for a day in the hills in the knowledge that you’ve got everything under control.
1. It’s all in the planning
While it may seem wildly romantic to be completely spontaneous and head wherever the mood takes you, in reality that’s a recipe for disaster. Heading into the hills, or across the moors, without a plan will leave you at risk of getting lost, particularly if the mists roll in. Always choose your route in advance and consider the abilities of everyone in your party.
As a general rule, a moderately fit adult will be able to walk two miles per hour with a reasonable sized rucksack, but you’ll need to add an extra hour for each 1,000 ft of ascent or depending on the type of terrain. In terms of hiking tips for beginners this may seem fundamental, but it’s always better to learn from the mistakes of others. Why not print out one of our walking routes to get you started?
Take note of the time of sunset and make sure you don’t find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere after nightfall (unless that’s what you intended.) And always take a map and compass, never rely solely on your mobile or GPS – reception can’t always be found and batteries have a tendency to run down fast when you need them most.
Remember to tell people where you’re going, so that if something happened and you couldn’t get in touch, they’d know where you’ll be. Hiking safety must be taken seriously, even if you think you’re only heading out for a short walk.
2. Organise your rucksack like a pro
When it comes to hiking equipment hacks this has to be our favourite. Invest in a set of dry bags. Whether you choose different sizes or different colours for different items, these will revolutionise the way you organise your kit bag. Think red for your first aid kit and tissues, green for dry clothes and blue for your lunch for starters. Not only will you be able to lay your hand on whatever it is you’re looking for without too much rummaging, if it starts to rain all your belongings will stay nice and dry too.
While we’re talking hiking gear hacks, always make sure you keep a dry set of clothes in the car. When you finally make it back after a drenching there’s nothing better than putting on a nice cosy hoodie.
3. Get the fit of your hiking boots right
One of the most common causes of pain when hiking is ill-fitting hiking boots. That’s why this sits at number three in our hiking hacks.Have a read of our blog, how to fit hiking boots for an overview of what to look for when you’re buying boots and always make sure you break them in by wearing them around the house before you head out on the trails.
Keep your toenails short so they’re not pressing on the front of your boots and causing discomfort. And if something in your boot doesn’t feel comfortable, make sure you stop and deal with it as soon as possible to prevent developing blisters later on.
And classic hiking tip for beginners – take dry socks in your bag with you. You’ll be grateful for them if your feet get cold and damp later in the walk, and if your boots start to rub, a double layer can keep the pain at bay until you get back.
Shop men’s hiking boots, women’s hiking boots and kids’ hiking boots.
4. Don’t dismiss the idea of walking poles
You don’t have to be elderly or a professional explorer to use walking poles because they actually have lots of benefits. Steadying you when the terrain is rough or you’re heading downhill, taking some of the pressure off your legs, hips and knees and even improving your posture and making it less likely you’ll suffer an injury. But not just that, walking with two poles can actually means you get an upper body workout from your hike too, and what’s more, you’ll burn more calories.
Check out our Nordic walking blog for how to get the best out of your walking poles.
5. Don’t let the bugs beat you
While it’s known that a DEET-based repellent is most effective for warding off biters, if you prefer to avoid harsh chemicals there are other more natural remedies you can try. Or why not try making your own repellent using citronella, peppermint, lavender or eucalyptus, all of which are disliked by mosquitoes. Try applying the scents to an oil and using on your skin – you may need to experiment to find what works for you.
And shake off your outer layers of clothes well to make sure you haven’t picked up any bugs that you might carry back to your tent.
6. Don’t forget to enjoy the view
When you’re walking, particularly if you’ve hit a tough patch and you’re finding it a struggle, it can be tempting to trudge along looking down at your feet or fixating on that next peak. Make sure you stop regularly and look around you, see how far you’ve come and marvel at the landscapes around you.
Don’t forget to look behind you once in a while – when you’re heading up a hill, sometimes that’s where the best views are. Take time to pause and enjoy the experience. A few deep breaths while gazing at the world that’s opening up beneath you can be good for the soul and make it all worthwhile.
7. Hiking food hacks for when you’re out all day
One of the most important day hiking tips is to make sure you’re carrying the food you need, plus emergency snacks and no more. Too much food can quickly fill up a backpack, making it unnecessarily heavy to carry. Choose high energy foods that you can snack on throughout the day, rather than things that take up space for limited energy reward – like sandwiches.
If you must take that packet of crisps (and if you’re likely to suffer with cramp it may be a good idea to carry salty snacks), make sure you open the bag, remove the air and then use a tag or elastic bag to reseal it. That way it’ll take up half the space in your kit bag.
Make sure you carry enough water with you for a full day in the hills, and if it’s a warm day consider freezing one bottle of water ahead of time so it can defrost in your pack, keep your lunch cool and offer you a refreshing drink when you need it most.
Whether you’re a true beginner or walking pro, our hiking hacks will help to get you through even the toughest of climbs. Wherever you’re going, make sure to enjoy your time in the great outdoors.
You’re all set, but are the kids ready to ramble? Gear up with our range of children’s outdoor clothing’.