Hiking is the art of traversing natural landscapes on foot. Hiking trails can be found in all sorts of different terrains and vary in length and difficulty making hiking a fairly easy activity to get into. Embarking on a hiking journey is a rewarding experience that combines physical activity with the therapeutic benefits of being outside in nature. With a little planning, including choosing the right trail, and investing in a few pieces of gear, like sneakers and a backpack, your new hiking hobby can be an outdoor outlet of happiness for years to come.

How to Prepare for a Hike?

From gentle nature walks to epic mountain treks, there’s a trail for every fitness level and desire. The first step in starting your hiking journey is selecting an appropriate trail for your timeframe, season and fitness level. Start with trails labeled as easy or beginner-friendly to build confidence and stamina. Err on the side of shorter, well-marked hikes to prevent over exhaustion and confusion while you’re gaining experience and familiarity. Also consider factors such as trail length, elevation gain and terrain difficulty all of which should be outlined on maps and trail descriptions. 

Preparing for your hike will be dependent on the weather, season, length and difficulty of your upcoming adventure. Investing in the right gear is crucial for a comfortable and safe hiking experience. Luckily hiking is a relatively inexpensive activity and doesn’t require much gear. You’ll want weather-appropriate clothing like moisture-wicking layers, a hat, sunglasses, and protection from the elements. Consider a well-fitted backpack so you can carry these layers along with other essentials like water, snacks, a first aid kit, navigation, hiking sticks, etc.

Here are a few things you’ll need to have ready before you hit the trail:

  • Footwear: Invest in sturdy, comfortable hiking shoes or boots that provide good ankle support and traction. Break them in before a long hike to avoid blisters.
  • Layers: Choose breathable, moisture-wicking clothing that dries quickly and adapts to changing temperatures. Don’t forget a waterproof outer shell for unexpected wind or downpours.
  • Sun protection: Pack sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses to shield yourself from harmful UV rays.
  • Hydration: Pack enough for the entire hike, considering the weather and your exertion level. Don’t forget a reusable water bottle or hydration pack and some electrolytes.
  • Snacks: Pack high-energy snacks like nuts, bars, and dried fruit to keep your energy levels up during the hike. 

Navigation in hiking is a critical component ensuring you don’t get lost, so download/bring maps and get an idea of your route before starting off. The preparations and decisions you make beforehand will largely determine the kind of hiking experience you’ll have, so take the time to prepare and plan ahead.  

close up of the bottom of a pair of hiking boots while someone walks on a rocky trail

How to Break in Hiking Boots?

Whatever style you do choose, start with a quality and functional sneaker or boot you can depend on. Just like vehicles, hiking boots are where the rubber meets the road, providing ankle support, protection from rocks and scratchy plants and sticky grip during explorations in diverse terrains. Do yourself (and your companions) a huge favor and always make sure your boots are properly broken-in before hitting any trails. This includes wearing them around the house and for short walks to be sure that they fit correctly, provide the support you need and feel good.   

These boots are meant for walking, as they say, but not if they hurt your feet! Ensure there’s ample room for your toes and proper arch and ankle support. A good fit at purchase lays the foundation for a smoother breaking-in process. Always keep in mind the specific terrain and style of your hikes, whether there is pack-weight, and if light or heavy duty boots will be needed. Heavy duty boots offer the most support at the expense of being clunkier and stiffer with less mobility. In contrast, lower profile boots offer a lighter experience with increased mobility at the cost of less support. Also consider if waterproofing is needed. 

Breaking in your hiking boots molds them to the unique contours of your feet, preventing blisters, hotspots, and discomfort during hikes. Patience and a gradual approach are key to achieving a good fit without causing unnecessary foot stress. Remember, you don’t have to actually hike to break boots in, you can gradually wear your boots for everyday use to accomplish the break in process slowly over time. Practice hiking in varied terrain and weather to get accustomed, gradually increasing the duration and intensity. In addition to improving the fit of your boots, you’ll also improve your hiking. 

Join our passionate outdoor guides for your next hiking adventure. We cover all the logistics to ensure you have a safe and satisfying experience. Give us a call at 720.242.9828 or contact us to learn more about our custom outdoor programs.

Comments are closed.