Hiking is the best! Nick and I love hiking together so much that we tend to build our vacations around the hikes we want to go on. Some of our best memories are from being out on the trails. Besides cooking and eating, hiking is probably my favorite thing that we do together. This might sound kind of cheesy, but I feel like we always become so much closer when we are out hiking. There is nothing like being out there, just the two of us, or the feeling that you get when you arrive at a place that took hours to get to.
Over the years, Nick and I have figured out how we like to dress for hikes and have certain things that we like to bring with us. I guess I talk a lot about the hikes we go on, because my friend Holly, who blogs at Faith, Hope, and Baseball (one of my favorite blogs!), recently asked me for some hiking tips and suggested I write a blog post about it! So thank you so much for this awesome suggestion, Holly! I am going to try to share with you all the best tips I have learned for staying safe while hiking. I am by no means an expert, but I will share with you what I do know!
How to prepare:
Research, research, research! I can’t emphasize this enough. Go on the official websites, look at lots of pictures and maps, and check out reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor. You need to know what you are getting into and if the trail conditions have changed.
In Hawaii, rain and wind can drastically change the ability to get to a trail, and sometimes trails close for maintenance. So, I always do research before I go, even if I have been to a trail before. Sometimes, when I go to research the pictures of gorgeous hikes I find online, I find out that they are illegal or that you need a permit or something like that, so I can’t do it. So it’s really essential that you do your research, know exactly how long the trail is, if you will be in the shade or the sun, where to park, etc.
What to wear:
It really depends on the weather where you are hiking, the weather, and how long your hike is. Don’t make the same mistake I made on my very first hike in Yosemite National Park with Nick! Since we were in California in May, I didn’t think much about the weather and didn’t bring a jacket. Well, it was snowing on top of the mountain we were going to, and I had nothing to keep myself warm. We went into all of the shops in the park, but there were no jackets. Nick, being the gentleman that he is, gave me his jacket, which I wore until we got out of snow and rain. I felt terrible!
So yeah, don’t be like me. Check the weather and be prepared for anything!
So when it comes to clothing, layers are the key to being comfortable while hiking. If you have a sweatshirt or jacket, you can always take it off once you start to warm up. It’s always a good idea to bring a light rain jacket, too. I really like this shirt because it has SPF.
In Hawaii, it’s pretty much always hot so I like to wear shorts or leggings, a sports bra, a tank top, hiking socks, and hiking shoes. I like moisture-wicking fabrics with SPF best.
But in general, when it’s not so hot, I like to wear long pants or leggings because they protect you better from the sun and bugs and from getting scrapes. I don’t like wearing jeans when I hike because they don’t dry quickly if it starts to rain, and they don’t really give you the same freedom of movement. Nick and I both just invested in hiking pants for our trip to New Zealand – I can’t believe we never had them before! We went to REI’s website – Nick got these. I can’t find the exact pair I bought but it was something like these. We tested them out the other day and we were both very comfortable and happy! They repel water really well too.
Good hiking shoes are critical for certain hikes. How stylish do I look in these hiking boots?! But seriously, these give me such great support and have great traction. You might want to invest in hiking boots if you are going to do hikes that go uphill or are longer than a few miles. I can wear these for miles and miles and my feet don’t hurt!
You also need to have good socks to go into your hiking shoes. Now this is going to sound crazy, but on long hikes I wear two pairs of socks. One pair is a lining, like this pair. Over the lining, I wear thick wool hiking socks like these. My current favorite pair are these from SmartWool. Wearing two pairs of shocks helps prevent blisters.
What to bring:
What you need to bring depends a lot on where you are, the weather, and how long your hike is. These are the things I pretty much always bring with me, no matter how long the hike or where I am.
For a very short trail, you might not need everything on this list. Do your research, check out this list, and then bring what you think you can carry and will need. Obviously you don’t want to be too bogged down with stuff on a long hike but it’s really important to be prepared, know where you are going, stay hydrated, and protect yourself from the sun.
I really like REI’s article about the 10 essentials for hiking because it also explains why they are so essential. I also like their Day Hiking Checklist because it is very extensive and you can kind of pick from there what you think you would need if you are going on a very long, full day hike. You obviously don’t need everything but if you use this as a guide from longer hikes you should have everything you need – and hopefully a few things you won’t need, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Next week I will be posting some tips for staying safe out there on the trails!