Preparing for Your Hiking / Trekking Trip
Hiking and trekking requires an immense amount of strength to do. While beginners may stick to low laying routes and only mildly steep ascents, advanced hikers and trekkers go for distance and over high passes where stamina and strength come first and foremost.
There are numerous ways to train and prepare. Walking and jogging are excellent ways to train, but the single best pieces of exercise equipment are the stair stepper or elliptical machine. Improving your leg strength are what these machines do best, even more so than walking. Spend half an hour each day on these and you will be much better off during your hike. Exercise bikes are helpful as well.
The better shape you are in and the more practice you have hiking long distances and mountains, the better your trip will be. The purposes of your trip are to explore a new location, experience that location, and test the limits of your strength. Extreme pain and soreness are just wasting your time and money.
When hiking at high altitudes it is wise to spend a day or two just doing easy walking to acclimatize. Otherwise a day into your trip you might start feeling the effects of altitude sickness - nausea, headaches, and vomiting - which can abruptly cut your trek short.
The idea behind packing for a hiking trip, especially if you don’t have horses, mules, or alpacas to carry your pack, is to keep it as light as possible. The heavier your pack, the more tired you will get and the more energy you will burn. New technologies have allowed fabrics and gear to become lighter and warmer, making hiking easier and easier. Contrary to what many believe you don’t need pricey sweaters and shoes from the North Face or Patagonia to be able to hike. Take one look at a Sherpa or mountain guide in the Andes and you’ll see that they are wearing simple shoes and clothes. However, the high tech gear can give you an advantage by weighing less and keeping you warmer.
Top of the line equipment is never cheap in any sport, though. You can now find quality hiking gear and equipment all over the globe, although prices tend to be higher outside of the western world. You will find the same equipment, the same brands, and the same services as your favorite shops back home in many cases.
Your backpack is your best friend while hiking. In it you have everything you need to survive. The lighter and the smaller the better. This is a general theme to hiking. You hiking shoes or boots are equally important. You need a sturdy pair that can live through the elements and stick around for the long haul. If hiking in tropical conditions where stream crossings are frequent a good pair of Velcro strapped rubber sandals go a long way. Tents, or sometimes hammocks or just mosquito nets, vary greatly, but as long as you are comfortable and can carry it you should be fine. You sleeping bag needs to be warmer than the outside conditions. Even if yours is thick, in minus 20 degrees you need a bag that can withstand the cold.