Learn the tips and tricks for trail hiking with these long-distance hiking tips. It includes general hiking tips as well as what to do in different terrains and weather. When you go hiking, to get the most benefit, incorporate navigation training.
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- General Hiking Tips
- Find Your Pace
- Maintaining Your Hiking Pace
- Taking Breaks when Hiking
- Hiking with a Pack
- Beware of the Environment
- Specific Long Distance Hiking Tips
- Hiking Uphill
- Hiking Downhill
- Off Trail Hiking
- Crossing Water
- Hiking in Hot Weather
- Hiking in Cold Weather
- Mountain Hiking
- Hiking in the Desert
General Long Distance Hiking Tips
Find Your Hiking Pace
Your pace is how fast you walk. Develop a pace that you can maintain for a long time without requiring a break.
Take a series of 5-minute walks and concentrate on maintaining pace length and speed. Find a pace that raises your breathing a little but does not make you sweat.
Walk a known distance at this pace, e.g., from your home to the corner store, and time how long it takes. Make the walk between 15 and 25 minutes. Repeat the same walk daily until you are covering the distance at a consistent time. This is your steady pace.
Maintaining Your Hiking Pace
This is mental. Sing a song in rhythm with your steps, count your steps, breathe in time with your steps, etc.
Use slow, deliberate, deep breaths from your stomach. On flat ground use a 3-2-3 breathing rhythm. Inhale for 3 steps, e.g., right, left, right, then exhale for 3 steps.
Taking Breaks when Hiking
Use breaks to stretch, refuel your body, go to the toilet, and fix any problems with yourself or your gear.
Unless having a meal, keep breaks short to prevent your muscles from stiffening up.
Hiking with a Pack
Carry your pack with your legs. Fasten your hip belt and adjust your shoulder straps so the bulk of the bag’s weight rests on your hips.
Beware of the Environment
Hiking is an outdoor activity. Watch out for dangerous plants and animals. Protect yourself from the sun. Don’t freeze, overheat, or dehydrate.
Specific Long Distance Hiking Tips
Before ascending refuel your body and keep some snacks and water handy for during the climb.
Take smaller steps to maintain your pace. Avoid obstacles that need large steps.
For very steep ascents zigzagging will reduce the gradient, but adds distance.
Use a two-to-two breathing rhythm, i.e., inhale for two steps and exhale for two steps.
If your pack straps are constricting you, loosen them.
Keep your center of gravity over your legs, i.e., don’t lean forward or back. Stay light on your feet and keep your leg s little bent as you plant it. Tightening your pack will improve balance.
You may get tired from the ascent, but pay attention to your foot placement.
If very steep, stand side on and lower yourself down one step at a time. Zigzagging will help to slow your pace.
Off Trail Hiking
Look for the path of least resistance. Check your bearings often and do not rush. If possible, do not strap things to the outside of your pack.
Triple waterproof your gear. Take your hiking shoes and socks off and keep them dry.
Wider crossings usually bring shallower water, especially where ripples begin. Ripples also indicate rocks or faster flowing areas. Crossing downstream of larger rocks has less current and often an even floor.
Keep slow moving water below mid-thigh and fast-moving water below the knee. Plan where you will place each step. Face a little upstream and slide your foot forward through the water.
Use a pole on the downstream side. Place it firmly, make sure it is stable, and lean on it as you step forward.
Note: Water that is deep and/or fast may pull at your poles.
If you are crossing with your pack on your back undo your hip strap and remove one shoulder. If floating your pack across, have a tether as a back-up.
If swimming across, start upstream of your exit point.
If you get swept downstream in rapids, float on your back with your feet downstream to absorb crashes. Use your hands to steer and work your way toward shore.
When in a group put the strongest, biggest hiker on the upstream side.
Hiking in Hot Weather
If possible, hike in forest land that follows a stream, or has stream crossings. Mountains are cooler than the valley.
Use electrolytes in your water at half the strength of the recommended directions. Eat salty snacks while hiking.
Break more. Blisters will occur faster in the heat.
Wear loose-fitting clothes. Polyester is better than cotton.
Hiking in Cold Weather
Use the layer system. Use thermals. Avoid cotton. Cover/uncover your head to regulate heat.
Avoid sweating. If you start warming up, slow down. When you do sweat, take off layers and replace them during breaks.
Start your hike a little cold. If after 20 minutes of hiking you are still cold, add layers.
Use sunscreen and lip balm.
Eat small amounts often and continue to rehydrate.
Be aware than tubes from hydration packs can freeze.
High altitude hiking is trekking at an elevation that may affect your body. Some people get affected as low as 7000 feet.
Adjust your pace. Take deeper breaths and smaller steps. Perform two-to-two or one-to-one rhythmic breathing to adjust to the thinner air.
Use sunscreen and sunglasses.
Be aware that the weather can change fast.
Hiking in the Desert
Don’t count on finding water, even if it’s marked on your map.
Watch for distant storms and beware of flash floods.
Wear light clothes that cover your whole body. Use sunscreen, sunglasses, and insect repellent.
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I hope you got some good hiking tips from this article. By applying the above hiking techniques you will increase endurance, reduce the chance of injury, and have a more enjoyable experience.
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