Nine Good Hiking Habits to Get Into

Map and CompassSome hik­ing expe­ri­ences seem to end up bet­ter than oth­ers, but it nev­er seems to turn out exact­ly as expect­ed (which often­times is when the fun and the dan­ger take place). Still, there are things that you can do to make sure you’re get­ting the most out of your out­door adven­ture. Here are some good habits to get into.

Start Early
While this may sound like a gener­ic tip, it’s real­ly the tip that will ensure that you have the most fun pos­si­ble. Pop­u­lar trails are pop­u­lar for a rea­son and it usu­al­ly means there will be a line full of peo­ple turn­ing what was once an undis­turbed hike in the wild into a traf­fic jam in a for­est. And while peo­ple are about 10x friend­lier when they’re on a trail, you should be pay­ing more atten­tion to the route you’re nav­i­gat­ing than to those you’re try­ing to nav­i­gate around. Plus the more day­light you start with, the less chance that you’ll get stuck on the trail while the sun is going down, which can lead to some sticky sit­u­a­tions if you’re not prepared.

Make a List
Are you the kind of per­son who has for­got­ten where your car keys are right before you’re sup­posed to leave?  How about the kind of per­son who has for­got­ten to bring a water bot­tle on a hike? Yes mak­ing a list is cum­ber­some, but it will ensure you have all the lit­tle things, like your trail snacks (which are of end­less impor­tance), as well as keep­ing you safe. A sim­ple check­list stored on your phone usu­al­ly does the trick.
Keeping your feet dry

Keep Your Feet Dry
There’s a say­ing for many out­door newbs that goes, “your feet are the most impor­tant part of your hike.  When they get wet, you’re done” and it’s good advice. It’s nev­er a bad idea to bring an extra pair of socks and wear hik­ing sock lin­ers, or real­ly thin mois­ture wick­ing socks on the insides of your hik­ing socks.

Bring Rain Gear
Keep­ing the rest of you dry is impor­tant too. In high­er alti­tudes, weath­er can change in an instant, espe­cial­ly so if the weath­er­man called for dry weath­er. Remem­ber — rain­storms will trav­el thou­sands of miles just for a chance to rain on a tent or an unpro­tect­ed human body. Bring­ing a light rain lay­er can pre­vent hypother­mia in extreme cas­es, and if noth­ing else keeps your sweet hik­ing going if the sky decides to fall on you.

Wear a Hat
We’re talk­ing about shield­ing our­selves from the ele­ments, so let’s talk about the sun for a minute. Lots of peo­ple claim they don’t burn — we get that (like me)! But a hat also keeps you cool and keeps your eyes shield­ed from the bright sun.
Learn to read topographically

Learn to Read a Topo Map
A lot of trails are well marked, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t car­ry a map and know how to read it. This goes dou­ble if you are going into the back­coun­try for seri­ous adven­tur­ing. Trees and rocks always look the same so learn how to nav­i­gate around when direc­tion­al­ly confused.

Bring Sur­vival Essentials
Okay, water…check. Trail mix, check.  Do you have a ban­dana though? A com­pass? A knife? Part of the thrill of going out­doors is know­ing that you are nev­er in com­plete con­trol, and you have to live, move, and adapt to the envi­ron­ment. Always pre­pare for the worst sit­u­a­tion, and always tell peo­ple where you’re going.

Be Care­ful on the Way Down
Too many injuries and inci­dents hap­pen on the descent. This can hap­pen for a num­ber of rea­sons:  It can be hard­er on your knees to go down than up, or you’re tired from the ascent and just ready to be done. Keep this in mind, and don’t get hurt on the way down. Take your time and don’t trip over roots and rocks!

Post Hik­ing Goal
It’s awe­some to have some kind of tra­di­tion to reward your­self when con­clud­ing a hik­ing adven­ture (mine is to get a post-hike beer or three). It’s always good to look for­ward to some­thing awe­some, while you’re doing some­thing awesome.