Hiking is one of the favorite pastimes for outdoors people all over the world. While day trips are fun, long distance hikes offer an adventure that is unparalleled. Long distance hikes usually span over several days or even several months. Before you pack a bag and hit the trails, you need to be prepared for what long distance hiking entails. Here are a few tips to get you started!
Do Your Research
Long distance hikes shouldn’t happen without lengthy research beforehand. Research the type of hike you want to embark on. This will allow you to plan to be away from your job and loved ones for days, weeks or even months. Research doesn’t just include the trail. You also need to plan for the types of gear you will need, the amount of food and water you will need to bring and any protection measures you might need to take.
Get in Shape
Planning your hike will also require you to understand your physical endurance. If you want to do a thru-hike, or a hike that covers thousands of miles like the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail or Continental Divide Trail, you will need to work to prepare your body for months beforehand. Even a weekend trip covering 30 miles requires a significant amount of endurance. So be prepared.
Prepare for the Worst
From mental and physical fatigue to dangerous wildlife, have a plan for the worst outcomes. If you cross a bear, know what to do depending on the type of bear. If you become mentally exhausted, have a set of activities to perform to replenish your spirit. The same goes for physical exhaustion. You may even want to schedule specific stops along your route that will allow you to get in touch with loved ones.
For long distance hiking, you must set daily goals. Whether you are taking a weekend trip or challenging your body with a thru-hike, know the trails well and set specific daily goals. Falling behind could take a toll on your body as well as your expenses. Plus, you need to know how much food to take with you.
Get Your Gear
Long distance hikes mean you will need to take supplies with you on the trail. From food to shelter to water and more, make a list of the most important items you will need. A quality backpack that offers support is crucial. Look for a pack with a waist belt, adjustable shoulder straps and a sternum strap for added stability. For long trips you’ll need a large pack that has at least 70 liters of storage space. You need space for all of your gear, but you also need a pack with elements like odor protection and rain resistance in mind. You will also need a tent, kitchen supplies, food, water, clothing and maybe a book to read. Don’t forget a lighter!
Lose Some Gear
You don’t want to lug an incredibly heavy pack for miles upon miles. Only take the necessities with you on the trail. Think about what you will actually use during your hike and also think about substitutes for heavier items. For instance, instead of packing gallons of water, you could take water treatments and get water from local springs and rivers.
Dress for Success
You will need to dress in layers during your hike, especially if temperatures will fluctuate during the day and night. We recommend sweat-wicking clothing. Know that cotton tends to absorb sweat and stay wet for extended periods of time. If you need rain gear, consider Carhartt’s Storm Defender gear. Not only will this protect you from getting wet, it can also protect against mosquito bites. Don’t forget your hiking boots. You need your feet during this adventure, so be sure to choose the proper boots for your feet. Some hikers like the protection of a boot that rises above their ankles, others prefer a lightweight trail running boot.
We hope we have helped you prepare for the best of times as well as the worst. Good luck on your long distance hike!