We’ve seen all the amazing pictures on social media, the stunning scenery and heard all the great adventure stories, so why not take the plunge and get involved in hiking!
Hiking can be a great solo sport or something to do in groups and offers so much more than walking on the flat, it’s a great way to get outside, digital detox and destress while burning some calories. Then there’s that feel good factor of putting in that hard graft uphill walking to finally reach the top of what ever trail or mountain you are on.
In terms of exercise you are walking on all different types of surfaces, there can be rock, dirt, mud, loose gravel, grass and what ever else mother nature can throw up. The nature of these surfaces means you will use different stabilisation muscles within the body, much more than you would walking on road or pavement.
Most trails will also include inclines which will also engage different muscles than flat surface walking. The natural obstacles mean you will build better balance and a stronger core to support your legs as they move in different directions. So all in all hiking will can give you a more effective overall workout.
So what to you need to start hiking??
Firstly hiking is accessible to most fully mobile people so you don’t need much apart from the basics.
The first thing to remember is that you are walking on very different surfaces than grass or road so you need different shoes. All hiking boots or trail running shoes have deep rigged soles which help with grip when walking up or downhill on dirt and loose or wet rock. So don’t rock out with a pair of normal running shoes as they will make you a lot more accident prone on a hike! And you are in wet conditions then make sure they are waterproof as there’s nothing worse than walking in wet feet.
When is comes to the rest of the gear you wear it really depends on your budget and most importantly mother nature.
Stick with the advice “always be prepared’, as the climate at the top of a mountain will be very different to the conditions at the bottom. We recommend a few layers with a water and windproof outer shell, bring a warm hat and remember you are going to be a lot warmer walking uphill than walking downhill.
Food and Drink
Depending on the length of your hike you should alway bring some form of sustenance . If your hike is more than 2 hours, pack a bottle of water and some food. And remember even in cold conditions you will sweat going uphill so stay rehydrated.
Things to watch out for
As we said above conditions at the bottom and top of a mountain can be vastly different so be prepared. It could be a nice sunny and warm day at the start of your hike so you’re thinking maybe shorts and a tee shirt. Wrong.
The higher you get the colder it gets and hight and valleys can bring in all sorts of nasties such as very strong winds and dense fog, so dense that you might not be able to see 20 yards in front of you. So always dress appropriately and if you are going on a hike that has no set trails bring a compass.
Don’t jump in at the deep end
If you have never been on a hike before don’t start with a 20k trail with a 1000 meter incline! If you are not used to hiking then take it slow and chose something easy to start with. You will use different muscles walking up and downhill on dirt or loose rock so bear this in mind and get ‘hiking fit’ before you take on a 4 hour + trail.
And last of all – enjoy it. It’s not a race so take your time and soak up some of the best scenery mother nature can offer. Hiking is also a great opportunity to take a digital detox so turn off the phone but remember to take some snaps!
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