Do a Dress Rehearsal
During training, carry a pack that'll be similar in weight to the pack you'll take on your hike. Train with the shoes you'll wear on your hike--broken-in shoes are best for blister prevention.
Rather than toss a bunch of things into a pack at the last minute, think about what you'll need on a particular hike.
Be a Camel Plenty of water is essential on a hike to prevent dehydration, but be aware that each quart weighs 2 pounds. "If you're hiking for three hours or less, you can usually carry the water you need," says Galati. "Otherwise you'll need some sources on the trail." Learn where they are ahead of time.
Consider Carbs The more strenuous the hike, the more carbs and fat your body will use. "All of us have enough fat already to go on an all-day hike," says Galati, "but we don't necessarily have enough carbs in our systems for a hike." Here are some options to carry along:
- Fruits are carbohydrates easily broken down into fuel by the body.
- Energy bars can provide complex carbohydrates, fiber and lasting energy. Read the nutrition label and choose bars that offer a blend of complex carbs, protein and fat to be sure you can replenish your needs.
- Trail mix--usually a mix of nuts and dried fruits, breakfast cereal and even chocolate--provides a mix of simple and complex carbs, protein and some fat.
Layer It Putting on garments made of wicking fabrics will keep the warmth in and sweat away from your body. Adding and removing layers when you need to can help regulate your body temperature throughout a long hike that has varying elevations.
Think Safety Here's a checklist of the basics:
- Bring a first-aid kit in case you get a scrape, splinter or are stung by an insect.
- A thermal blanket--about as big as a man's wallet when folded--can keep you warm in an emergency.
- Be aware of potential bad weather the day of your trip and reschedule if necessary. A ranger station is usually up-to-date on trail and weather conditions, so be sure to check in when you arrive.
- Tell someone where and when you're going, and when you'll return. And don't forget your cell phone!
- Bring along any trail maps and a compass if you'll need one. A GPS can be helpful on longer hikes.