Get the most out of your hike
-- by Chuck Fitzgerald
Hiking is one of life’s great joys. Fresh air, nature, exercise and good friends. It’s difficult to imagine anything better – if you’re prepared. When you’re not prepared properly, it’s difficult to imagine anything worse. If you hike a few hundred yards around your neighborhood or a few hundred miles around the backcountry, use these tips to get the most enjoyment out of your hiking experience.
#1: Plan your trip. You can plan too little but it’s tough to plan too much.
#2: Get in Shape. Put yourself in the best possible position to enjoy your sport.
#3: Check the weather forecast. Any weather different than you expect can turn a good hike into a not-so-good hike.
#4: Dress for success. Layer your clothing and be very sure of your footwear.
#5: Have the essentials. Your planning will help with this. Take only what is essential and get the lightest gear you can afford – especially for longer hikes.
#6: Plan to be out longer than you think. If you think three hours, plan for six. Four days, plan for a week.
#7: Prepare for the worst. Know first-aid and CPR.
#8: Use of food and water. It’s okay to ration food, but don’t ration water. If you are thirsty, drink. Decision making skills drop drastically when you are dehydrated.
#9: Slow down. If you are hiking only for exercise, you’re missing the best part. Nature is all around, slow down and pay attention. You’ll be rewarded many times over.
#10: Take a friend along. Like most things in life, sharing your hiking passion with someone you care about is awesome.
There are literally thousands of great places to hike in North America and dozens of quality websites to learn more about the sport. Check out our on-line education center or connect with a local hiking club for hikes in your area – but in any case it is up to you and only you to get the most out of your hikes.
Chuck Fitzgerald is the owner of Arizona based BackCountry Toys, an online specialty store with the “Best Gear Out There” and dedicated to helping outdoor enthusiasts to “Get It Right The First Time” with timely educational information. Please visit http://www.BackCountryToys.com to find great gear and to receive the Fact & Tips e-newsletter, "FreshAir"; (800) 316-9055.