No matter whether you are planning to hike a small trail or want to undertake a 10-day hike like the Huayhuash circuit, you should be well-prepared and have some knowledge of the route you are about to face.
In addition, you must know how to act on the mountain to complete all your adventures successfully. Although most of this knowledge comes from experience, it’s important to keep in mind some basic facts that even experienced hikers forget from time to time.
I would like to share the following hiking tips with you, mountain lover, so that you can prepare all your routes like a hiking pro!
30 Tips to Hike Like a Pro
First: Plan your hike
1. Be aware of your fitness level and the difficulty of the route.
Reaching the lagoon of the Fitz Roy is not as hard as hitting the Cotopaxi summit at almost 6,000 meters, right? Keep in mind the length of time you have been preparing yourself (or the length of time you haven’t been training), the diet you are consuming and your fitness level.
Ask fellow hikers to suggest doable treks.
2. Pick a trail.
Once you know your fitness level, think about a trail you would like to complete. The altitude, climate and duration of the trek are essential factors to consider.
3. Find a buddy (or let others know where you’re going).
Personally, I like to hike with friends (at least one). I think it’s more rewarding to share good moments with a good friend—and it’s much safer in case something happens.
4. Check the weather.
A few days in the rain can totally ruin your adventure. Check the rainy season of the country or region you are going to visit. I find this website to have a pretty accurate weather forecast.
5. Study the map.
Do you know how to read a topographic map? Learn how to read a map and study it before starting your hike. Check the highest passes, camping sites, nearby rivers, biggest peaks and references that can help you orient yourself.
Get your backpack ready
6. Try to go light.
The truth is, very few people manage to go really light, but do your best! Basically, the lighter you go, the better.
7. Bring quality clothes.
I know mountain clothing is expensive, but it’s a good investment if you are getting into hiking. You want to avoid situations like your feet getting wet or your jacket not being warm enough.
8. Don’t forget a raincoat.
It’s a very important part of your gear. It will protect you against water and wind. If you’re doing a high trail, do not forget one.
9. Bring a cap.
It can be a sun cap or a hat depending on the weather.
10. Bring a rain cover for your backpack.
You have your backpack full of amazing gear, but what if it starts raining and you can’t protect it?
11. Try not to wear cotton clothing.
Cotton is heavy and takes a long time to dry. Try to wear breathable garments.
12. Be sure you don’t forget anything.
Check out this list with all the gear and clothing you may need for hiking.
Food and drink
13. Bring compact, light food.
Nowadays, you can find dehydrated, tasty meals for lunch and dinner. You can also bring powdered milk and cereal for breakfast. Again, try to go light.
14. Don’t forget the snacks.
In addition to the meals, bring some chocolate or energy bars to eat during your breaks.
15. Bring extra food.
Once you know how many days it will take you to complete the hike, bring food for one more day (at least). Sometimes, your trip will take longer than planned.
16. Drink water regularly (and plenty of it).
It’s very important to hydrate your body regularly, especially if you are hiking at high altitude.
17. Bring water purification tablets.
Sometimes it’s difficult to find a fresh stream or you might not be sure about the source of the water you’re drinking.
18. How much fuel do you need?
It seems silly, but many people have finished their gas canisters halfway. It’s not pleasant.
Safety first, we don’t want any accidents
19. Take a rest every hour.
You should take a five- or 10-minute break every hour or so.
20. Bring a map, compass or GPS.
21. Beware of low temperatures.
Nights at a certain altitude can be really cold. Be sure you have the necessary gear and a good sleeping bag.
22. Wear sunscreen and lip balm, even on cloudy days.
Protect your skin from the sun and wind.
23. Bring a first-aid kit.
Bring a basic first-aid kit. Try to learn something about first aid. If you don’t find face-to-face courses nearby, you can learn some basics in YouTube tutorials.
Other hiking tips
24. Start with shorter routes.
If you are preparing for a multi-day hike, start by completing shorter routes. Let your body adapt.
25. Pick up all your garbage.
Let’s be clean! 🙂
26. Don’t forget your camera.
Most spectacular places I have seen in my life I have found in the mountains.
27. Stretch from time to time.
Don’t forget to stretch every day. If you can do it several times a day, much better.
28. It’s not a race, so take it easy.
Every person has his or her own rhythm. Don’t try to follow other hikers’ rhythm. Nor do they have to follow yours. Find your own pace, maintain a regular breath and keep going!
29. Even if you think you can’t do it, you can!
There are few other times when we test our limits as much as when we are hiking. Sometimes, we feel like we can’t keep on, but maybe we just need a break. Obviously, if you really think you are not able to finish the trail, just quit…nothing to be ashamed of.
30. Get started!
Pick a nice trail, get your backpack ready and go explore the mountains!