1) Practice makes perfectBefore going on your first journey, we suggest practising at home. Try out your tent in your backyard. There’s nothing worse that spotting a raincloud too late and not even knowing how to set up your tent. Trust me, I’ve been there. Also make sure that all your essentials are in working order – flashlight, compass, sleeping bag or mat and so on.
2) MinitripBefore going for an overnight hike, try out a short 1 day hike. Make the trek as diverse as possible, hike on some steep hills, go through a thick forest trail and maybe even a swamp trail? You’ll get a better understanding of what your fitness level is and what you really like.
3) ResearchThink you’ve found the perfect place for a hike? In order to avoid nasty surprises down the line, we suggest doing a bit of research. How difficult is the trail, what’s the weather forecast, are there any wild animals that you should be aware of and if so what to do if you encounter one?
4) Fight the hungerSince you’ll be carrying everything you need the entire time, it’s best to pack the lightest dinners possible (Sorry grandma, your yummy raspberry jam in that huge glass jar stays home this time!). Choose foods that are freeze dried and require only a bit of water to prepare. If you need your daily dose of caffeine, the quickest and the most lightweight option is instant coffee. I know, I know.. yes, it’s instant, but there are some good products out there. If you like sweet coffee with milk, why not try Nescafe’s 3-in-1? For snacks I usually take a few energy bars and dried fruit.
5) How many litres is your backpack?For those who haven’t yet decided on a backpack, the main bit to consider is the size and capacity. For weekend trips anything from 35 to 50 litres will do and for longer trips around 80 litres. Note: the size marked on most backpacks is for the torso length, not you’re height. There are so many great outdoor clothing companies out there – look what’s near you and read a few reviews to find the perfect brand for you.
6) Grab a friend!Do you know someone who is already a bit more experienced? No? Have a look at your Facebook feed, is someone posting cool pictures from remote locations in your home country? You might have just stumbled upon a hiker! It’s much more fun to go together with a friend and share the experience and get valuable tips from hiking veterans.
7) “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”Please try and conserve the beauty of the wilderness by not leaving anything that wasn’t there behind. Odds are you won’t find any cleaners in the wild. Try and be as tidy as possible. Pick up absolutely everything that doesn’t decompose easily.
8) Hello, hello?!Worried that you might get lost? Remember this simple acronym: S-T-O-P. Stop, think, observe and Plan.
9) Wait, don’t go yet!A very important point to remember – always tell at least 1 friend where you’re going. You wouldn’t want to be in a situation where you are completely lost, with no signal and no-one knows even that you’ve left the house!
10) Don’t forget to enjoy the trip.Take a trip that’s suitable for you. There’s no point in going on a 5 day mountain climb if the only thing you remember is sore muscles and bruises. Hike at your own pace and set reasonable goals, if any. Sometimes it’s good to just go without a definite plan and trek as little or as much as you feel like at that time.
Did we forget to mention an important tip? Leave a comment below!