Hiking 101

Hiking through Enchanted Rock outside of Fredericksburg, Texas

Going on a hike soon and don’t know what to expect or can’t remember all of the things you need to bring? Don’t fret! Below your will find some tips about hiking prep and packing so you will have all of the tools you need for an awesome trek!

Pre-hike prep:

  • Pick a trail – Most trails are rated for their difficulty and length. Before you head out on a trail, check the trail’s website to see how long the trail is, the average time to complete the trail, the elevation change, and the level of difficulty, to ensure the trail meets your hiking goals.
  • Find a map of your trail – Most parks and trails will have trail maps available online. Print out a map before you go so that you have directions if the trails are not clearly marked or in case you lose cell signal.
  • Research where to park, park entrance fees, and park hours before you go. Some parks open at a certain time but, due to popularity, close once they hit capacity. Most hiking trails will tell you the optimal hours to arrive at the park. Additionally, while more and more parks are taking cards, some are still cash only, so be prepared to pay the park fee either way so you aren’t turned away at the gates!

What to bring on your hike:

  • Packable backpack – A good bag to carry extras is essential to any trip. A packable backpack fits easily into any suit case or car pocket, has supportive, padded straps for comfort, and has extra pockets for water bottles and other necessities you don’t want to hold by hand. My backpack (shown below) folds up to be about 5×6 inches:

  • Water bottles – Swell or Hydro Flask bottles are great. Not only do they look cool (no pun intended), they keep your water cold for hours and hours so you can be refreshed while in the heat.
  • A hat and UV protected sun glasses – Make sure your sunnies stay on when you tilt your head back and forth. You will be looking at the ground a bunch so you don’t want a pair that constantly slips down your face.
  • Hiking boots – Along with a good pair of socks, shoes are the most important part of a hike. Invest in a good pair with support, ventilation, and decent grip. REI is a great place to go try on boots with some expert help, but you can find a bunch of options on Amazon with rave reviews. If you are going on a hike and can’t buy a new pair of shoes right now, wear sneakers with a lot of tread and ankle support.
  • Hiking socks – Investing in a decent pair of socks will prevent painful blisters down the road. REI has comfy and soft hiking socks that come with either high and low tops and will keep your toes warm without blister discomfort. If you are still nervous about blisters on a long hike, check out BodyGlide. I use it when I go on long runs (8-20 milers) and it prevents blisters wherever you feel a chafe. Also, if you are going into grassy areas, wear higher socks and long pants so you don’t get dirt, bugs, or poison ivy on your legs.

  • Protein bars for extra energy – No one wants to hike on an empty stomach! If you are going for over an hour, bring a healthy snack, high in protein and  / or healthy carbs, to pick you up. My favorite are Quest bars, especially the white chocolate raspberry and cookies and cream flavors, almonds, and apples.
  • Bug spray – A must if you are a mosquito magnet like I am!
  • Band aids or a small first aid kit – Target has a bunch of travel sized first-aid kits with a little of everything you may need.
  • Camera / phone for pictures – Don’t forget your selfie stick! You may also want to bring a portable phone charger just in case.
  • A light and comfortable jacket – Just in case it gets cool
  • Umbrella – Check your local weather before you go to make sure you don’t have any rainy surprises!

Have questions? Feel free to comment them below. If not, happy hiking!

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