Before beginning any hiking or backpacking adventure, preparations should be made and precautions taken to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Regardless of the level of experience of the hiker, there are steps that should always be followed before setting out.
Choose Your Destination
A hiker should take several factors into account when choosing a hiking trail. Personal health should be one of the key factors taken into consideration. This will help determine the length of the trail someone s able to safely hike as well as the type of terrain they will be hiking in. While young hikers in perfect health may be able to handle long hikes over rough terrain, older individuals may be better suited for shorter excursions with more level walking surfaces. Experience levels should also be taken into consideration regardless of age since there are young healthy individuals who just don’t have the proper level of experience to handle more difficult trails. Climate preferences should also be factored in since most people have a specific preference between warm or colder weather.
Choose Your Gear
Always consult a professional hiker when attempting a hike for the first time. There are several places to find people willing to share their knowledge and experience such as equipment supply stores, hiking trail employees, or local hiking enthusiasts groups. Being able to pack the proper gear is still an essential part of the preparations. The ideal backpack is the first piece of gear to be chosen. It should be comfortable, especially for extended wear, durable enough to deal with trips in potentially rough terrain, and roomy enough to store the needed equipment for your trip. Many experienced hikers will often have a minimum of two packs, one reserved for shorter hikes and another for longer hikes where more gear may be needed. Next, consult a professional and do the proper research to determine exactly what gear you will need to carry based on the destination, climate, terrain, and length of of the hiking trail. Also, ensure the products being purchased are from a reputable manufacturer and designed to last if exposed to harsher environments. Proper gear is one of the most substantial investments a backpacker will make, but it can also make the difference in crisis situations. Also, if quality products are purchased initially, replacement items will not have to be procured after just one or two excursions.
Choose Your Guide
Even the most experienced hikers will often travel in groups or at least in pairs, especially when trying out new hiking trails. For those individuals just getting started, be sure to choose an experienced guide as a companion for at least the first two or three hikes. These can often be found through local hiking groups or outdoor enthusiasts clubs. A knowledgeable guide is not only better prepared for unexpected situations that may arise, they are also able to pint out some of the more unique aspects of the hiking trail along the way that many beginners may miss.