One of the greatest ways to enjoy the outdoors is hiking. Trails can take you through beautiful areas and can showcase the most spectacular views. Small streams, waterfalls and wildlife are also common. The scents and sounds of nature are all around. Hiking provides time for reflection and can be very relaxing. Walking is good exercise and is a good way for families to spend quality time. Learning and sharing along the way makes for a very enjoyable outing.

Hikes can range from very short trails to extremely long adventures over mountains and through the backcountry. Day hiking is most popular and offers a wide choice in trail length, difficulty and destinations. Overnight backpacking can be quite challenging and requires more extensive planning and preparation. The following will provide some useful information that will help you plan a safe and enjoyable day hike.

The list of essential items to bring along when hiking is short and sweet. Regardless of the length of the hike, a chief objective for most hikers is to reduce carry weight – which translates to packing the bare minimum number of items you’ll need.

For hikes that last a few hours to a single day, skip the toiletries altogether. Water, of course, is always a necessity. No matter how light you’re trying to pack, bring multiple 16 ounce water bottles with you. In terms of food, bring high calorie, energy dense snacks like beef jerky, trail mix, and oat-based snack bars. They’ll give you the fuel you need without weighing you down and sapping your energy. Regarding survival equipment, bring at least two different fire starting materials (in case one fails), a GPS (or map and compass), and a good utility knife at minimum.

Hikes lasting multiple days aren’t all that different from an intra-day hike. You will, however, want to include a few additions. First, bring basic toiletry items – namely a toothbrush, toothpaste, and bar of soap. Food and water, as one could probably infer, should be multiplied according to the additional length of the hike. Survival equipment, on the other hand, can remain roughly the same as shorter hikes.

Before setting foot on the trail, the number one precautionary rule is to let several people know where you’re going, and exactly how long you’ll be there. Update them promptly if there’s a change in plans. As mentioned before, bring along a GPS or map, especially if you’re headed to a relatively unfamiliar area.

On the hike itself, you can expect to eventually wear out. For even the most zealous starters, there will come a point where fatigue and muscle failure takes hold. Don’t be frazzled by it, as it’s a familiar feeling to many avid hikers. Take frequent breaks in hilly terrain, and generally make an effort to enjoy your surroundings. By taking it slow and allowing yourself to fully appreciate the experience, you’ll really improve the quality of your hikes.

An Outdoor View… – A collection of articles focusing on hot topics, things to ponder and activities to consider

Day Hiking Checklist

Day Hiking Tips and Safety

Sharing your Adventures

Buying Hiking Boots

Leave No Trace

How to Use a Compass

Getting Lost in the Wilderness

Hiking with your Kids

Hiking with your Dog

Hiking Gear

Scavenger Hunts

State and National Parks

Trail Database

Planning Tools




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