July 9, 2020

How to Prep for the Perfect Hike

Summer is officially in full swing, which means hiking season is upon us! Although hiking is a widely enjoyed “sport,” it’s not always done correctly.

Here are some tips on how to turn a good hike into the perfect adventure.

Picking the Right Day

Before embarking on your journey, make sure you’re picking the right day for it. Hiking under clear skies in 75-degree weather feels like Mexico in August. If you’re unfamiliar with Mexico in August, it’s an unpleasant level of heat and humidity on anyone’s terms.

If you’re going for a decently long hike, you should start as early in the morning as possible. The sun begins to heat up everything between 11 am and noon, so take advantage of the cooler hours in the morning while you can!

What to Wear

Your outfit is “everything” while hiking. Avoid cotton at all costs; cotton clothing traps in heat and sweat. It’s better to stick with wool or other wicking fabrics and to avoid dark clothing as it absorbs more heat from the sun.

Furthermore, you’ll want to think about your gear: a hat will protect you from the sun, and good shoes will prevent you from developing sore feet. Spending a few extra dollars on quality shoes or boots with ankle support is something we endorse.

What to Pack

Packing for the trails requires a bit of planning. First, you’ll want to find the right backpack. A bag with thick and comfy straps to prevent shoulder or back injuries is lifesaving when you’re taking a long hike. 

Next, you’ll need to fill your backpack with the the necessities: sunscreen, extra socks, and tons of water. Find out how long you’ll be hiking and pack 16 fluid ounces for every one hour you’re out. If it’s an especially hot day, pack double that. For tips on selecting the right sunscreen, keep an eye out for an upcoming blog post! A first aid kit packed with basics like bandages and tweezers is also highly recommended. Don’t over pack your bag. A good rule of thumb is to keep your bag between 10 and 15% of your body weight.

We’ve covered the practical stuff, now let’s focus on bringing items that will add to your enjoyment. Bring a breathable hammock for when you find that perfect tree-filled shady spot to take a well-deserved break. A good book, magazine, or playlist will enhance your experience as you relax and sway in the breeze. Now, the snacks! The average, 160-pound person burns about 450 calories per hour when hiking. Complex carbs, sodium, and potassium-filled snacks are great for re-balancing your electrolytes and giving you sustained energy throughout the day. Some of our favorites include Stinger Waffles, starchy fruits like apples, trail mix, and electrolyte drink mixes.

Listen to Your Body

Heatstroke is a real and relatively common issue. Some warning signs include throbbing headache, dizziness, muscle cramps/weakness, nausea, vomiting, disorientation or confusion, lack of sweating in hot temps, rapid heartbeat, and rapid and shallow breathing. If you’re starting to show any of these early signs, it’s time to hang up your boots for the day. And do not hesitate to call emergency personnel!

So, now that you have the tools, get out there and embark on your perfect hike!

Check out other articles in this issue of the Benefit News by clicking here

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