A different kind of wanderlust may be stirring in your travel bucket this fall. You could be inspired to go camping instead of flying to warm beaches or traveling through Europe. You’ll also be doing yourself a favor: Hiking up a beautiful mountain can help you forget about your worries, improve your attitude, and gain a new perspective on life. In fact, research has shown that connecting with nature can help people cope with anxiety and sadness.
Plus, you’ll be able to unplug (sorry, no cliff-side Wi-Fi!) and stick to your digital detox. Getting in touch with nature, like boot camp for the brain, helps you to appreciate its numerous natural wonders, challenge your mind and body in new ways, and motivate you to reach new heights.
But, before you hit the trails, we spoke with JJ Jameson, a senior instructor at REI Outdoor School, to help you get ready for your first adventure.
- Begin on a local scale
“If you don’t have much experience, start small and work your way up to bigger obstacles,” Jameson advises. “A lot of tiny nuances might be ignored when first starting out, so it’s preferable to ease into a low-risk atmosphere than to try for the epic adventure on your first trip.” There are websites for many state parks, trails, and beaches where you can discover maps of various campgrounds and hiking paths. Some of the most popular paths in the country are the Adirondack Mountains, the Appalachian Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail, the life saving hiking hacks are favorable.
2. Make an announcement about your arrival
Before beginning a trek, sign the trailhead register to identify yourself. Your name, length of stay, destination, and emergency contact information are frequently requested. The register is useful not only for safety and planning, but also for letting hikers know who else is on the trail and fostering friendship in the woods is essential to focus on life saving hiking hacks. While out in the woods, some hikers utilize it to share poems, rants, or their ideas.
No matter how “simple” the trail is, it’s also a good idea to share your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member before you go. Do you want to try something a little more out of the ordinary? It’s beneficial to be more explicit. “Give a loved one specific information about your route, and educate other members of your group about the items you’ll be carrying, your waypoints, and your projected finish time,” Jameson suggests.
3. Pack wisely
Whether you’re hiking for a day or months, Jameson highly advises bringing what so many hikers refer to as “The 10 Essentials”. Whether you’re going hiking for a day or months, Jameson recommends bringing “The 10 Essentials,” as many hikers refer to them (see list below). A tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad are among “The Big 3” items on that list. Even day-trippers are advised to have these goods because nothing is worse than being caught in the rain and wind if you’re lost or injured. Purchase an excellent pair of hiking boots that are designed to withstand harsh weather and difficult terrain. Consider bringing a waterproof coat, one pair of hiking pants, extra hiking socks, and gloves (if it’s cold).
Jameson recommends that you familiarise yourself with all of your equipment before leaving for your trip. “Practice setting up your tent, arranging your campsite, transporting or filtering your water, starting your stove, and even utilizing the woods as your latrine (outhouse)!”
4. Prepare your meals ahead of time
Hiking for several hours in a day can be demanding, so hikers should eat well and stay hydrated. “Meal planning can be difficult because you have to anticipate what food will provide you with enough calories and electrolytes well before you eat it,” Jameson explains. To make your meals interesting, he suggests carrying a variety of freeze-dried foods and a few spices.
Small snacks might also help you stay energized. Granola bars, beef jerky, trail mix, fruit leather, and energy balls are just a few examples. Crunchy peanut butter and honey folded into a wrap is one of Jameson’s favorite meals. “The honey crystallizes and gives you a lot of vitality.”
What about a drink? You can bring iodine tablets with you to filter water and make it drinkable so you don’t have to bring canteens. Drink mixes and protein powders are also useful because they dissolve quickly in water. “I never forget to bring coffee,” says the narrator. “You can bring a variety of coffee presses with you,” Jameson explains.
5. Cook with caution
If you’re preparing meals on-site, experts advise doing it during the day (even dinner!) to save time and avoid harm. Before taking your freeze-dried meals into the woods, practise cooking them in a controlled area. Spilling hot beverages and cuts and burns from handling food in the camp kitchen are two of the most common injuries suffered while camping in the outdoors. Make all of your meal preparations on a flat surface with plenty of light.
6. Take everything at your own pace
Assess your fitness level and choose a tempo that feels right for you before you go. It’s advisable to avoid listening to music if you’re a newbie hiker because it can cause you to lose focus on the trail ahead. But don’t let your feet — or, even worse, a foot injury — get in the way of your progress! Before you go on your hike, make sure your hiking boots are comfortable. To maximize comfort and reduce the risk of blisters, bruising, and toe nail damage, try them on with different sock combinations. Twists and ankle and knee sprains are typical hiking injuries, but they can be avoided by using trekking poles for extra support.
7. Keep yourself safe from wild animals
Research what animals are in the area where you’ll be trekking and whether they can hurt you as you plan your journey. Bears, venomous snakes, and insects such as spiders, scorpions, ticks, and stinging insects are among the animals to be aware of. However, keeping your tent door closed unless while entering or leaving it can help limit your chances of being approached by strangers.
“When trekking in bear area, make a lot of noise so you don’t surprise one, and keep all food and aromatic goods (such deodorant and toothpaste) away from your tent site.” According to Jameson.
Cooking your food away from your tent is likewise encouraged, as is removing the garments you cooked in before going to bed. All food, including packaged snacks, cooking utensils, and personal hygiene items, should be stored in a bear canister or bear bag, which you should practise hanging from a tree. Bear canisters should be stored at least 200 feet away from where you’ll be sleeping, according to the usual guideline. Most state agencies publish best practises for storing bear canisters, and park rangers will frequently ask to see them.
Preparation is the key to enjoying your trip. The tips that we’ve shared in this guide will get you started on the right track, so make sure you go prepared with everything you need before heading out into nature. Check out our camping tips section as well for additional advice and ideas!