Your guide to hiking & backpacking
Your Guide to Hiking and Backpacking"Always be prepared" is the Boy Scout motto. And if you're a hiker, it should be your motto, too. Although hiking and backpacking are relatively safe sports, many situations can, and do, happen that require advance planning and safety precautions. And the best time to prepare for them is before you hit the trails.
First-aid and survival kitsA first-aid kit is a must. Bandages, aspirin or ibuprofen, 2-inch tape for blisters, and personal medications are the basic items you should always keep with you. For longer hikes, include the following in your first-aid kit: pain medication, tape, blister kit, cravats, sterile compresses, self-adhering roller bandage, and a malleable metal splint (to splint fractures).
Another backpacking necessity is a survival kit. Every survival kit should contain the following: map of the area, compass, lighter or matches, flashlight, knife, whistle, signaling mirror, and space blanket or tarp (for shelter). Water purification equipment, either filter or tablet, is also important to carry.
Clothes can make the hikerKnowing what clothing to take is very important when packing for a hike. Hikers need to be prepared for all types of weather, regardless of the time of year. That's why you should layer clothing.
The most important piece of clothing is on your feet. A good pair of hiking boots, that are comfortable and broken in with firm ankle support, are an absolute necessity.
Hiking tips for hiking trips
- Before leaving on a hike, check the weather reports from a reliable source. It's best to check the reports the night before and the day you leave for a hike.
- Be wary of the sun. Cooler temperatures don't diminish the sun's intensity, which is greater at higher altitudes. Sunglasses, a hat, sunblock, and lip balm (with sunscreen) are recommended to guard against the sun's rays.
- Drink plenty of water, and food is also important. You should eat something, preferably carbohydrates, every two hours to provide a steady source of fuel for the muscles.
- Prevent blisters. If you start to feel a hot spot on your heel, take your boot off and examine your foot. If you don't have a blister yet, tape the spot. If you do have a blister, bandage and tape it.
- Choose your location carefully. Avoid trails that are above your experience level. For example, if you're a beginner, don't go on an overnight trip. Instead, begin with a two- or three-hour hike.
- Never go alone. And, always let someone know where you'll be backpacking and when you plan to return.
- Be willing to postpone your trip if you're getting a late start. Hiking in the dark often leads to getting lost or unnecessary accidents.