22 Things to Know Before You Go Hiking

The best way to make your hike enjoyable is to plan ahead. On the trail, you’ll want to make smart choices and rely on yourself. Here are some smart tips that can make your trip fun.

Tips to Keep You On Track

Never hike alone. You need to have a partner in case you have an accident. Know how to get to your destination, which may mean buying a map and carrying a compass to you can find it. Along the way, you may need to refill your water supply. Know where to find water, something that should be marked on a map. Also look at the weather forecast and wear layers that you can remove as you’re hiking.

Tips to Keep You Safe

Your safety on the trail is your own responsibility. Stay on the trail and don’t take shortcuts on switchbacks. Know your capabilities. It’s best to be conservative on your first hike. Altitude, climbing and heat can make hikes that much more difficult. Also keep your medical conditions in mind when you’re planning a hike. Knee and back problems, heart conditions, diabetes, asthma and other medical conditions can be amplified with exertion and weather conditions. Consider hiking poles to take the stress off your knees and thighs. You should also keep your backpack as light as possible. Water and food should be the heaviest items in your backpack.

Tips to Save Your Energy

Hike at a pace where you can talk while your walking. Know when to take a break. Stop once every hour for 10 minutes. You should eat and drink more than your normally do, and be sure to eat before, during and after your hike. Make sure your snacks are filled with carbohydrates and salt. The carbs will give you energy while the salts keep your electrolytes in check. Take your trash with you. Don’t leave your litter on the trail. Drink before you are thirsty. For every hour of hiking, plan to drink half a quart to a quart of water.

Tips to Finish Your Hike

Plan to take twice as long to hike up a hill as it takes to get down. Give hikers going uphill the right of way. Plan to end your hike before sundown. If you do end up hiking in the dark, bring a flashlight with extra batteries.