For a walk or a hike, it is better to be well equipped. Our advice for dressing properly, finding the right shoe and especially not forgetting anything.
In summer or winter, hiking is the most pleasant way to discover a landscape, a region, a flora and fauna in detail. Follower of “slow travel” or seasoned sportsman, here are 10 smart tips to hike safely in the mountains.
1. Choose The Right Hiking Shoes
The main thing is already to find the right shoes. Essential elements to check— grip on the ground, foot support, waterproofing, wicking perspiration, comfort and cushioning. And of course, you have to start by defining the use you are going to make of it.
For a short hike or a leisurely walk, you must prioritize comfort. Generally in thick canvas, the recommended shoes have a low or mid-high upper and are quite light.
For more uneven terrain (trek, off-road), choose shoes with a mid-high upper and a notched sole. They offer very good foot support and excellent cushioning. In addition, they allow the feet to breathe well.
Finally, the mountain hikes in wetlands or snowy, opt for shoes with high upper, very waterproof.
When you buy your shoes, do your fittings in the evening, when your foot is a little swollen, tired and sensitive (what it will be during a hike!)
2. Choose The Right Socks
Walking with unsuitable socks can encourage the appearance of friction and blisters. Avoid low-end sports socks, without a preformed heel or acrylic.
Cotton is soft and resistant but does not wick away perspiration well, just like wool (which is warmer though). Not recommended if the hike lasts all day or even several days. Cotton/polyester fibre or wool/polyester fibre
blends are a good compromise.
If your hike takes place over several days, obviously take several pairs of socks with you. And a very practical tip: remember to sleep with the socks that you will wear the next day. They will be dry and warm to start the day.
3. Choose The Right Clothes
Hiking professionals advise to wear 3 layers of clothing on the upper body:
- An “undergarment” worn on the skin, that is to say, a T-shirt or a shirt made of synthetic fibres. The objective: absorb and evacuate perspiration. So avoid cotton.
- A second layer to conserve heat: sweater, fleece jacket, sweatshirt … Fleece fibres allow the body to breathe better and are lighter than wool.
- A raincoat. Forget the traditional windbreaker, not very breathable and quickly permeable. The ideal is to equip yourself with a jacket in GoreTex ® or a comparable material (certainly a little more expensive than windbreakers “coated”: count 120 euros minimum).
- Pants. Jeans are to be avoided. Rather opt for pants or cropped pants in elastane, “water repellent” (so that the water flows rather than penetrates) and reinforced at the buttocks.
4. Equip yourself with a backpack
The first question to ask is that of volume. There is no point in cluttering up by opting for a bag that is too large.
The bags with a capacity of 30 to 40 litres are suitable for a short hike (day or 1/2 day).
For walks longer than a few days, it is better to take a bag of 50 to 70 litres.
If you are leaving with a small bag, make sure it has sufficient padded shoulder straps to avoid pain. Bags over 35 litres are all equipped with this type of suspenders, load reminder straps and a padded waist belt. Generally, the height of the back can be adjusted.
Then, you choose the one that offers the best organization of storage. : side, front pockets, exterior or bottom compartments.
Regarding the weight that a hiker can carry, it is generally estimated that the maximum load of the backpack should not exceed 20% of the weight of the carrier.
4. Think About Food & Drinks
During physical exertion, the body draws heavily from its reserves. Hence the importance of regularly replenishing the body with carbohydrates. During the hike, do not hesitate to take breaks to refuel.
To do this, put cereal bars, fruit pastes, sugar, cartons of condensed milk or dried fruit in your bag.
Obviously, your body will also need to be hydrated. The ideal is to drink 500 ml per hour, taken regularly every 20 minutes (150 to 200 ml or 5 to 6 sips). You can alternate water and energy drink. Avoid cold water, which can hurt your stomach.
5. Take Walking Sticks/Poles
More and more walkers are equipping themselves with poles. What are the advantages? How to choose them?
Trekking poles find their use on uneven paths. Downhill, they allow the hiker to relieve his knees. When climbing, they help to better support the weight of the backpack, to distribute the load. It is advisable to use 2 sticks and not just one, to promote body symmetry and avoid back or joint pain.
On flat ground, sticks are not necessarily essential. In addition, they also allow the upper limbs of the body to work (arms, chest …)
Admittedly, poles can be cumbersome when you pass places where you have to help your hands to climb. Hence the importance of choosing retractable or foldable poles, which can be stored in the backpack (and not rigid poles, more recommended for Nordic walking, on slightly uneven terrain).
To choose the length of the sticks, here is an easy operation: your size x 0.7. Regarding their composition, the ideal is obviously carbon. Negative point: it’s quite expensive. Fibreglass can be a good compromise between quality and price.
Finally, when you buy your sticks, make sure that the handle is well suited to your hand. Use rubber or cork-rubber alloy handles for better comfort. Avoid plastic, which makes you sweat.
6. Consider Wearing GPS/Compass
A map and a compass
With a map and a compass, there’s no risk of losing you … or almost! Compasses with a single plate are positioned directly on the map. Their reading is favoured by a magnifying lens incorporated.
This instrument cannot replace the correct reading of a card. But it is still very practical. A GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver exchanges radio signals with at least 3 satellites dedicated to the system. The coordinates of a point are obtained by measuring its distance from the satellites (on average between 10 and 12 satellites) and by applying the principle of triangulation. Altitude, latitude and longitude are thus calculated with extreme precision (10 meters maximum margin of error).
The National Geographic Institute offered maps, it is now expanding its activity by also offering DVDs and hiking GPS.
For the High-tech Internet user: hiking GPS
7. Carry a First Aid Kit
In the event of an incident, it may be useful to have a first aid kit. The essential elements to have on you: a disinfectant, a lot of dressings, eosin, elastic sticky tape (Elastoplast® style), a pair of small scissors, tweezers (to remove splinters), a soothing ointment against insect bites, arnica cream, painkillers.
In addition, people who follow a specific treatment, asthmatics, diabetics or those who are allergic must take their usual medication. You can also provide a survival blanket.
8. What To Put In Your Bag
Write a checklist a few hours or days before the start of the hike. This will keep you from forgetting anything.
To leave serenely on a day, check that you have thought of putting this equipment in your bag (and print this list):
- A hat or cap
- A raincoat
- suit – a fleece sweater
- Cereal bars, dried fruit, sandwiches
- A trash bag
- At least 1.5 litres of water
- Walkie talkies
- Walking sticks
- A map and a compass
- A mobile phone (charged) + power bank
- A pocket knife
- A flashlight with batteries
- A first aid kit
- A topo -guide, a map, a compass, or even a GPS
- Paper and a pencil
- Spare shoelaces
- Toilet paper or paper towels
- A camera
If your hike lasts several days, also consider:
- A tent, a mattress and a sleeping bag
- Spare socks and clothes
- Food for several days
- A stove
- A lighter or matches
- A toiletry bag
10. Final Checks
Check your insurance
Every year, rescue teams intervene hundreds of times for accidents during hikes. No one is immune to worry. Before leaving, you must, therefore, check whether your insurer covers the costs related to a possible accident during a hike.
Check the weather
Hiking can quickly turn into a nightmare if the weather conditions are bad. Thunderstorm, torrential rain, fog to cut with a knife… To know what awaits you, think about consulting the bulletins on the Internet or by phone.
Also, be sure to check out 8 Travel Essentials To-Do List