5 Tips For Hiking

french-italian-alps-walking-hiking-tour1. A GOOD MAP STUDY – Start your trip weeks or days prior to hitting the trail. You don’t have to have an exact grid coordinates for where you will camp, but knowing the general area will make the entire trip easier and more comfortable. Buying large general maps and detailed topographic maps of the area will allow you to determine the large general area and then pinpoint the area in which you will hike and camp. These maps will show you which trails you can use, bodies of water, terrain features, elevation lines, etc. Just looking over the map for 15 -20 minutes will help you tremendously. Not knowing your cardinal directions and general land features can turn a causal relaxing hike into a survival situation. Although many people might consider it cheating, a GPS is also a great way to prepare for your trip. A GPS can download topographic maps and do most of the work for you, but don’t rely on them. Every form of technology will eventually fail, and it will probably happen when you need it most.

2. STUDY WEATHER CONDITIONS – I can’t emphasize enough how important this step is. Countless times I have watched the weather change dramatically from a sunny day, to dropping 20-30 degrees with a storm rolling in, before you have time to prepare. At a minimum, look at the weather forecast for the days in which you are on trail, but don’t rely on that forecast. Weathermen are the only people in the world who can fail at their job everyday and not get fired, so do your own secondary research. Determine where the weather reader station is located. Sometimes these weather reading stations may be 20 miles away from your campsite and at a totally different elevation. Elevation and terrain play a major role in changing weather conditions. You may be fine camping in 40 degree weather at 10,000 feet nestled in the tree line with zero wind. However, a camper a 1/2 mile away on the other side of the mountain, may have set up camp at 11,000 feet out of the tree line and directly in the path of 30 mph winds. (Temperatures decrease 3.3 degrees when it’s overcast and 5.4 degrees when its clear for every thousand feet gained and the windchill will always drop the temperature.) Also, try looking up old archives and averages of weather in the area for the time of year you will be visiting. This will help you determine if you need to bring that extra layer of clothing or an extra liter of water. By studying your map, choosing a good campsite, and understanding the weather where you are camping, you will be more prepared and comfortable.

3. MAKE A LIST OF ITEMS TO BRING – Everyone has the intention of packing light, but ends up with everything but the kitchen sink. The fist step in taking as little as possible is to buy a smaller pack than you think you may need. If you read a guide book that says you need a 60 liter pack, buy or bring a 50 liter pack. Second, make a list of all the camping, survival, and modern amenities you want to bring on the trip. Third, go down that entire list two or three times and try to remove 2 items each time. Depending on the trip, you can more than likely leave home without several items on your list. You may think it is impossible to leave home without water, food or shelter, right? Well if you plan accordingly you can leave it all behind. Now I’m not saying to run out into the wild with only the clothes on your back and a knife in your teeth, but I am trying to save you from carrying unnecessary pounds. Items like water, food, and shelter may already be on the trail if you use a little ingenuity. Collect fresh water from lakes or creeks and catch fish for dinner ever night!

4. DETERMINE PACK LAYOUT – The perfect pack layout can only be determined by you, and you alone. Once you have narrowed down the exact items for your trip, start mixing and matching where they fit best and try on your pack each time. I have never packed my bag right on the first try. Try turning the lights off and test the difficulty of finding essential items in the dark. Can you find your extra batteries in the dark when your headlamp goes out? Plan for the worst, know your gear, and your backpacking trip will be that much more enjoyable.

Of course there is the tried and tested way to pack, but each person has a different pack, different physical fitness level, skill level and body type. What works for the best hiker in the world may not work for you. Get out and test your pack loaded up before a long hike. I follow the basic routine of lightweight items at the bottom (sleeping bag), heavy items in the middle (tent, water) and medium to lightweight items at the top (camp stove, ground pad).

5. TEST AND MAINTAIN EQUIPMENT – Multiple times on trail I’ve come across someone or been the one with a broken backpack strap, an empty canister of cooking fuel, or a broken tent pole. Sometimes these events can’t be avoided and it adds to the fun/challenge of the adventure. But most of the time, they are due to poor planning, and not testing your equipment prior to getting out on trail. Every essential item such as your CamelBak, cooking stove, tent poles and backpack straps must be checked prior to any hike. Checking your CamelBak for leaks, making sure your stove works, checking tent poles for cracks/bends, and checking backpack straps for wear and tear can eliminate the risk to discovering these issues on trail. Not only is checking and testing your gear important, but maintaining is even more essential. Every time after that long weekend in the wild, I just want to throw my pack down and crash on the couch. But being lazy now, and not taking 30 minutes to air out and clean your gear can spell disaster for your next trip. Items hold in moisture and dirt which can turn into mildew and ruin your gear, costing you money, time and comfort. Rinse out items like your CamelBak and cooking equipment, and dry out your tent and sleeping bag. You will be thankful at the start of your next trip.

Extra Tip: BRING SMALL COMFORTS OF HOME – Each time you step out into the unknown it should be a life changing, learning, and memorable experience you enjoy. If you aren’t having fun then you need to change some things up. You don’t have to live off the land or not shower for weeks to feel like you are one with nature. Small amenities from home can mean all the difference. Items I always pack include a small containers with a few different spices, a lemon for flavoring on fresh caught fish, and a small cup of pre-made buttered rice or vegetables. These items can make a huge difference in your on trail meal. If you have a vice, don’t choose this hike to quit or you will never want to go back. If you are a smoker, addicted to chocolate, or sour patch kids like myself, make sure you bring them along. Smokers just pack out your butts, no one behind you wants to see that in nature and the risk of starting a fire is also a reason to be cautious. Get creative and mix your sweets into your trail mix. Bring some flavored Gatorade or tea packets to mix with the clear fresh mountain water. Whatever your heart desires, bring it with you to make an enjoyable hike into the wild that much more enjoyable.

How to Hike Smart in Extreme Hot Temperatures

Despite the excessive heat warning, it is likely to still experience the outdoors in this hot summer weather. The only thing you need to do is modify your reasoning a little and be aware of safety measures as you hit the trails. Do not allow yourself to be one of those heat drained hikers, take precaution and use the following information to help you hike smart in extreme high temperature.

· Having the proper hiking gears is very essential. Ensure that you wear proper boots to support your feet and ankle.

· Do not hit the trail by yourself, always hike with a friend or family so you can support each other.

· Ensure that you take frequent breaks especially hiking in excessive hot temperature. In the desert where the temperature is extremely hot, it is imperative to take frequent breaks in order to keep your body cool.

· It is important to always look for shelter in order stay out of the sun. Try as much as possible to take advantage of shady spots especially when the clouds starts hovering over the sun. Get out of the sun as much as you can, both on breaks and on the trail.

· Clothing is always personal preference. Hats are very important to bring on your trail to guard against the extreme hot sun. Ball-caps are good but brimmed hats are preferable as it also covers the back of your neck as well as your ears.

· Always plan to set out early in the morning when the sun is not extremely hot and choose short trails in order not to be out too long in the sun. If you really do not want to be hit by the sun, then head out early, so you can enjoy the sunrise and head back before the temperature gets uncomfortable.

· It is important that you bring water on your hike. How much water you bring with you when hiking in the desert really depends on the length, strain of the hike, the day temperature and your thirst capability. It is necessary to bring enough water and sports drinks as it is advisable to drink at least a liter per hour of hiking. Keep in mind that drinking soda or alcohol while hiking will dry you out.

· The best snacks for the trail are ones that will provide you with high energy, such as fruit, granola, peanut butter, bagels, power bars, fruit bars, trail mix, beef jerky, or even candy plus some salty nuts to replenish the salt you sweat out. For longer hikes, bring more protein snacks with you.

· Make sure you eat regularly because your body is functioning tremendously fast and needs to replenish energy quickly. So continue replenishing your body with salty and protein snacks.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9448314

Hiking and Camping Tips – Don’t Make the Same Mistakes

Well, it’s summertime again and that can only mean that for most of us it is a time to get out and enjoy some fun in the sun. Now, while many of you might head to the beach for that annual sunburn, most of us would prefer the fun and freedom of hiking and camping the great outdoors. No matter whether it is waking to the sounds of birds chirping on a crisp mountain morning or the being lulled to sleep by crickets on a starry night. Hiking and camping can be one of the nicest ways to really come to understand the wilderness. You might choose to hike in the mountains or valleys, visiting waterfalls or other famous landmarks and camp in the woods maybe near a river. Either way, just be certain to properly prepare for both and don’t make the same mistakes I have made in the past.

Camping and Hiking Tips

Now, once you determine on a specific site and time you are wanting to begin your hike, you will want to plan on what you need to take with you, how much you will need, and probably most important, what you don’t need to bring with you. Below are just a few simple tips that should prove very helpful.

Probably one of the first items to consider would be the proper footwear if you are planning on going hiking. The correct fit and comfort are vital for successful hiking trip. Based on the location of the hike, you will want to decide the weight, durability, and if you will need them to be waterproof or not. Remember, you will most likely be encountering uneven and rough terrain, so boot selection needs serious consideration, so do your research. In addition to the boots, be sure to bring along extra pairs of good hiking socks. This will not only help avoid you getting blisters, but in the event that your socks get wet, it will offer you some dry backup options.

Next on the, ‘what to bring list’, should be a good backpack. Based on the number of days you intend on hiking will largely determine the size and scope of the pack you will need. If you are camping along your hiking route, then you will need a larger pack that can accommodate not only your clothes, but also you tent and sleeping bag, food and cooking stove/utensils, and water and other necessities. If you are this during the colder months, you will need to plan for additional winter gear and garments. If it is the rainy season, then proper raingear would be a must.

Avoid The Same Hiking Mistakes I Made

Let’s dive into some of the specifics on what we covered above:

    • If you plan on camping through your hike- Get a good quality tent. Be sure to consider the size and quality. You will want a good rainfly. Don’t make the mistake I made once and get a tent based on how it looked ‘cool’. You want function over fashion any day. You also will want a small tarp to place under the tent to help keep the tent floor dry. You can also use this as a rain cover should you get caught in a storm during your hike. A roll of duct tape and some seam sealer are always good to have should your tent form some leaks or a seam split. I learned that the hard way.
    • For sleeping at night, a good sleeping bag and a roll to lay it on is great idea. Be sure to decide on what best fits your needs. Each bag is rated for various temperature conditions. The pad is to roll out under the under the sleeping bag to not only provide some comfort, but to create another moisture barrier. If you bag gets wet, it almost impossible to dry it out during your hike.
    • For cooking food, you will need a small camp stove and something to ignite a fire. Generally, you want to refrain from starting an open fire as it can be prohibited in many national and state forests. Be sure you have a cooking pot, skillet, utensils, plates, and a good knife. Of course some zip-lock bags are great for not only storing food, but also rain proofing important items.
    • For the food itself, planning out each meal is key. Bringing items like cereal, powdered milk, granola for breakfast and heat and eat freeze dried meals for lunch and dinners. Remember that weight is an important consideration, so bringing a lot of canned foods, may tend to weigh you down. Of course you will need plenty of water and a refillable container that you can use along the way. Don’t forget the water purification tablets either, again, learned that the hard way as well.
    • As for general miscellaneous equipment, a compass, some light rope, a can / bottle opener, a signal mirror, and a first aid kit are very important. Extra batteries are a great idea as well, if you have devices that require them. Just be mindful about the added weight
    • Finally, clothing will need to be considered. If you are changing elevations, the weather can change quickly as well. What started out in the 70 and 80’s can quickly turn into the 40’s and below, especially as the sunsets. Don’t get caught without the proper sweaters or blankets. Likewise, in the heat of the day, having a good hat and sunscreen can prevent you from getting too much sun or even dehydrated. I also strongly recommend a good pair of sunglasses. Yea, you guessed it; I forgot those too.

Now that you are armed with these basic hiking and camping tips, my hope is that you don’t make the same mistakes that I have made. If you plan appropriately and are well-equipped, your experience should be safe and enjoyable. So, no more excuses, get out there and take on the great outdoors and have a blast doing it.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9452610

Health Benefits Of Hiking Outdoors

Most people know hiking is good for their body and health in general but what they may not know is just how beneficial is it. So if you intend to go hiking this summer by yourself or with family and friends keep in mind that hiking the outdoors has lots of benefits such as, fresh air, enjoyable sights and noises and sounds of nature. Also keep in mind that hiking, like exercise, is good for you as it is considered a great cardio workout that may do the following:

  • boost your mood
  • boost bone density
  • exercise the whole body
  • improve your blood pressure
  • improves blood sugar levels
  • build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
  • control your weight
  • improve balance
  • lower your risk of heart disease
  • lower risk of colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung and endometrial cancer
  • reduces depression and
  • improve better quality sleep.

Kids also get lots of the same benefits like adults do. For instance, hiking help kids benefit from the following:

  • recuperate cardio-respiratory
  • muscular fitness
  • enhance bone health
  • decrease the possibility of becoming overweight
  • decrease the possibility of developing risk factors for type 2 diabetes
  • decrease the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease
  • promotes better sleep
  • reduces the risk of depression and high stress and inability to learn and concentrate in school.

Therefore, by familiarizing yourself, friends, family and your kids to hiking, you are aiding them choose a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, hiking drills virtually every part of your body, it nurtures your imagination and generates responsiveness in your eyes and ears and the rest of your senses. Remember that you do not have to be in great shape to start hiking. In fact, people who are not so active can still enjoy nature by starting off with easy hikes before stepping up to steeper hikes that will drill the body more. Exploring nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, work, and daily routine will let you relate to nature in a manner that it generates inner peace, serenity and total wellness. So what ever location you have picked to hike with friends and family this summer, keep in mind that the great outdoors can be challenging, however, just relax and look forward to your adventure in order to fully enjoy the unique experience such as fresh air, enjoyable sights, noises and sounds.