5 Mistakes to avoid when hiking
When you are new to something, there will always be things that you could do better. With hiking this is no different. I remember my first hike, where I made ALL of the below mistakes and more!
But because it was my first time, I didn’t know better…
I want to share with you the 5 most common mistakes that beginner hikers make and how to avoid them.
One of the most common mistakes that new hikers make is that they overpack big time! I agree that when you are going on an overnight or multi-day hike, you need a lot of things. But you would be surprised about how little you actually need.
Of course, we all want some luxury items to make our hike more comfortable, but often there are items in our backpack that we will never even use during our hike.
A tip to avoid overpacking:
Step 1: Lay out all the things you want to bring. That will already give you an idea about what needs to fit in your backpack. Next, divide them into three piles
Step 2: Divide all your items into three piles. A pile for must-have items, a “maybe” pile and a pile of items that you could do without.
Step 3: Forget about the third pile.
Step 4: For each item in the “maybe” pile, ask yourself why you need it and if you could do without for the duration of your hike.
Step 5: Select a backpack that is right for your needs so that you can’t pack too much. For the best recommended backpacks at the moment, check out this article.
2. Hike your own hike
The key to a good hike, is to listen to your body and hike your own hike.
Not everybody has the same hiking pace. Many people are either trying to catch up with their hiking buddies, or have a faster pace but want to stay with their hiking buddies. It’s not always easy, but it is best if you walk at your own pace and also take breaks when you feel the need to.
You will more likely avoid injuries and enjoy your hike when you do this. Also, it will increase your chances of actually finishing a thru hike, because you listen to what your body is capable of, instead of pushing your limits.
Tip: If you and your hiking buddy have a different pace, try to agree on a location for the night and wait for each other there, instead of trying to keep up with each other. This will decrease your chances of frustration!
Tip 2: It is not about the speed of your hike, it is about the experience. Enjoy it!
3. Cotton kills
It is so important to wear the right clothing when you are out hiking. It can make or break your hike.
You might have heard the saying “cotton kills” somewhere in the hiking community, and it basically means that cotton doesn’t protect you from the elements and it doesn’t dry easily when wet. I don’t want to go into the nitty gritty details about why cotton is bad for you, but it is best to avoid it.
To get the right clothing for your hike, you need to understand why different materials are being used for different circumstances. For example, a base layer will protect you from losing body heat, while also wicking away moisture. A down jacket is a good mid layer for when it’s dry.
Tip: Apply a layering system and carry a good base layer and a warm fleece or down jacket.
Tip 2: Always carry a rain jacket. Even if it doesn’t rain, it will act as a warm layer in cold weather.
4. Set realistic goals
It is easy to overestimate your capabilities and underestimate the trail. But you need to set realistic goals to make it enjoyable, and for your own safety as well.
Tip1: Look at your level of fitness and know what your body is capable of. On a thru-hike, start small and build up your mileage over time.
Tip 2: Research the trail and decide whether it is suitable for your level of fitness.
A lot of hikers underestimate the trail and end up exhausted or injured because they pushed themselves too hard. A little research can go a long way.
5. tell someone where you are going
Whether you are a solo hiker, or going on a group hike, it is always recommended to let someone know where you are going before you set off.
There is always a possibility to run into some problems. And when you do, it is good that someone is aware of your itinerary and can sound the alarm when you don’t turn up.
At least when you get lost, emergency services will know where to look for you. So…it will also increase your chances of survival when something grim does happen.
Tip: Make arrangements with someone about raising the alarm when they don’t hear from you before a certain time.
Tip 2: Consider carrying a PLB or two-way communication device, such as a SPOT GPS tracker, Garmin Inreach Mini or similar. Depending on where you are, you might be able to loan a PLB for free, for example NSW, Australia. A lot of places also offer PLB hire for a fee.
To find out more about things to do before you go on a hike, check out this video.
***Did I miss anything in this article or would you like to add something? Please use the comment section below or send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will see what I can do***