Big Hiking No-Nos

Lone hikerHiking is easy, right? It’s just glorified walking. How could you possibly make a mistake while hiking? If you think that hiking is “glorified walking”, you’ve probably never been hiking before. Sure, it’s basically walking, but hiking can be as tough and challenging, or as easy and enjoyable as you want to make it. Hiking can be a one-mile walk in the park, or a a six-month backpacking trip along the AT (which has you walking through several parks).

Since hiking isn’t as easy as walking to and from your car on the way to the gym or the grocery store, there are some mistakes that inexperienced hikers make. But if you’re inexperienced, how are you supposed to know what not to do while hiking?

Hopefully, this guide will help you out with that. Avoid making these 10 hiking mistakes next time you get out on the trail

Hiking in brand new shoes. Some boots and shoes claim to be good to go right out of the box, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to take a brand new pair of shoes on the trail. There could be hotspots, or your shoes might not fit properly which can cause blisters. Make sure you wear your footwear around a bit and get familiar before taking on a long stretch of trail.

Hiking in flip flops. If you don’t want to wear big, bulky hiking boots, fine. Just don’t go to the opposite extreme and wear flip flops while hiking. Sandals don’t afford the cushion, support, or protection that you need on the trail. Hiking in flip flops is like being overzealous with the sriracha. An unpleasant experience that will end in tears, regret, and disappointment.

Not telling someone where you’re going. This isn’t like running out to grab milk without leaving a note, or forgetting to take a message when somebody calls. If you get lost while hiking alone, and nobody knows where you are, you’re decreasing your chances of being rescued.

Not carrying enough water. Most people don’t carry enough water when they hike. Running out of water won’t necessarily be fatal, but it can be. Don’t take the chance.

Underestimating the hike. If you’re hiking for a challenge and you want to push your limits, by all means hit the trail without doing your homework. If you want to go for an enjoyable jaunt through the woods, make sure you’re prepared. Check the terrain and the difficulty rating, and train or prepare accordingly. Also be sure to give yourself enough time to complete the hike. The average hiking speed is 2-3 miles per hour. This doesn’t account for steep grades and rough terrain.

Wearing the wrong clothing. Dressing too hot or too cold can create issues on the trail. Wear layers and make the most out of synthetic materials that wick away moisture and dry quickly.

Not checking the forecast. It’s sunny outside as you’re driving to the trailhead, therefore it will be sunny until you finish your hike. This logic is flawed. Check what the weather will be like for the entirety of your trip before leaving your house.

Leaving the trail. This can mean trouble for a number of different reasons. Leaving the trail increases the likelihood of losing the trail, which increases the likelihood of getting lost. Going off trail also increases your impact on the environment. Stick to designated trails and preexisting camping spots.

Simply walking. It’s easy to set cruise and go into auto pilot, but that’s also a great way to get lost. Pay attention to your surroundings and make efforts to constantly be aware of landmarks and trail markers. Looking up after walking for an hour only to realize you have no idea where you are or how you got there is a pretty terrible feeling.

Packing more than you need. It’s a good idea to carry a little extra food and water, but you can leave the kitchen sink at home. If you want to pack lighter, figure out what you actually need to take, and leave the luxuries at home.

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