Anatomy of a Day Hike

So you want to go on a day hike….

If you’ve read my blog, you know I do a lot of hiking, but what you don’t read about is what goes on behind the scenes. Below, I’ll walk you through the steps I take to prepare for a day on the trails.

  • Terrain: Boulders, ice, gravel, paved, steep, flat? There are various types of terrain and different footwear options for each. Do some research on the trail you will be hiking and then decide on which footwear suits that terrain. From trail shoes to mountaineering boots, there are different levels of footwear. I recommend stopping by your local outdoor store (I love REI) to get fitted for a pair that suits your needs. Depending on the terrain, you may want to opt for a pair of trekking poles. I find they really help on steep or rocky terrain.
  • Weather: Hot, cold, rainy, windy? Check the weather before you start preparing for your hike.
    >Warm weather: Let’s face it, you’re gonna sweat. I love the wicking technology that “wicks away the sweat” and is fast drying. I go for a wicking/SPF top, hiking shorts, wicking socks, bandanna to wipe away the sweat, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, appropriate footwear.
    >Cold Weather: Layers, layers, layers. I still recommend wearing a wicking shirt as the base layer. I typically go with a long sleeved “cold gear” specific wicking top. Next is my insulating layer; I like to go with a fleece. For my outer layer, I absolutely recommend a water-PROOF not water-resistant jacket, it will make all the difference if you get caught in the rain or snow. On the bottom, I again go with cold gear pants layered under a thicker pair of hiking pants. On the feet, I go with a thicker pair of wicking socks and waterproof boots. Don’t forget the accessories! A fleece lined hat, gloves, and a scarf top off the ensemble. I also like to take an extra pair of socks and an extra layer or two, it’s always better to be prepared in case the temperature takes a plunge.
  • Essentials: I like to keep a list of my hiking “essentials”. These are the items that I take with me regardless of the distance, duration, weather, or terrain of the hike. Keeping a list handy helps me ensure I never forget anything.
    >Directions: Whether you have a gps system or map and compass, make sure you know where you’re going! Also, let a family member or friend know your plans for the day and what time they should expect you back. Check in with them upon returning so they know you are safe.
    >Water: The most important item on your list. I typically take a hydration pack- a backpack that has a bladder inside to hold the water and a tube that comes out the top to drink from. It is so important to make sure you are properly hydrated. Take enough water for you hike and monitor your intake throughout the day. It’s not a bad idea to take a water purification system with you in case you run out of water and need to drink from a local source.
    >Food: Food is essential to keep you going. You will be burning a lot of energy while hiking all day so bring plenty of food and snacks including protein.
    >Sun Protection: Protect yourself from those rays! Sunscreen (don’t forget to reapply), sunglasses, hat or visor, SPF clothing.
    >First Aid: I recommend picking up a pre-packaged first aid kit- they have everything you need and in smaller quantities than buying everything individually. Insect repellent typically is not included in first aid kits so make sure you grab some. I love the insect repellent wipes with deet. They are portable, easy to use, and effective- again, I bought mine at REI. Another addition to your first aid pack- TP. Let’s face it, you will eventually have to go and having TP with you will make it way more comfortable to do your business. I also recommend taking a plastic zip lock bag to put your used TP in (leave no trace- take out what you take in).
    >Emergency Kit: Personally, I always have a whistle, lighter or waterproof matches, multi-tool, cell phone, compass/map and some sort of flashlight.

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