Whether you’re a serious backpacker, a weekend warrior or have never set foot on a hiking trail, there’s something to be said about stepping away from the craziness of life to get back in touch with nature.
If you close your eyes, you may picture a day hike as sunlight streaming through the trees and chirping birds landing on your finger. But never mistake a day hike for a leisurely stroll. It can last a major portion of the day and may be technically challenging. You have to be prepared.
Don’t hit the trail without reading these 4 tips to make your next day hike the safest, most comfortable, injury-free and all around best hike yet.
Let’s get you set on the right path for your next day hike.
4 Tips to Dominate Your Day Hike
Find a Trail Near You
Before you set out for a day hike, you gotta pick the perfect trail for you! Take into consideration all the factors when making your pick—mileage, difficulty level, elevation change and estimated time to complete. All Trails and Hiking Project are two popular apps to check out. Don’t skip doing your hike homework. Trust us, a five-mile hike with huge elevation changes feels a heck of a lot different from one with little-to-no elevation change.
Wear the Right Shoes
Boots are a hiker’s best friend. If they’re the right boots, that is. The difference between wearing the wrong shoes and wearing good ones on your hike can make or break your experience (not to mention the skin on your feet – ouch!). Find a shoe that has a supportive and protective sole that also has good traction. REI explains how to choose the best hiking boots here.
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Hydrate on Your Hike
It’s always important to stay hydrated every day and especially when hiking. Carry about 1 liter of water for every two hours. But keep in mind this can vary based on weather conditions, time of year, your pace and the difficulty of the hike.
Carry These 18 Essentials with You
You can become one with nature for the day, but be sure to leave no essentials behind! Even though it’s a day hike, you still want to be safe and prepared for any scenario. Anything can happen. On average, it takes emergency responders an additional hour to reach a victim for every 15 minutes of hiking away from a trailhead parking lot. Keep these items in your backpack:
- Map and Compass
- Sunscreen and Sunglasses
- Good footwear
- Light Sweater or Jacket
- Rain Jacket
- Headlamp and/or flashlight with extra batteries
- Vaseline Coated Cotton Balls
- First Aid Kit
- Snacks (Nuts, Dried Fruit, Bars)
- Duct Tape
- Knife or multi-purpose tool
- Safety Pins
- Toilet Paper & Trowel
Remember, before you head out on a hike, leave your trip plan with a trusted friend or relative, even if you’re going with other people. Tell them where you’re going, the trails or route you plan on hiking, where you’ve parked your car and when you expect to return.
Here’s some bonus tips for your next hike: 3 Things to Avoid at All Costs when hiking in Arizona.