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How to Plan and Prepare For A Hike

When we become more advanced at any skill it’s easy to release the mindful thoughts about what it takes to get to the trailhead.

I was reminded of this recently when an incredibly sweet reader reached out to me on Instagram and asked how I planned and prepared for my hikes.

So today I’ll be walking you through exactly how I choose my hikes and what steps I take before my feet reach the trailhead!

Finding Your Hike

The first thing I do is think about my personal capabilities and what I feel comfortable with.

If I haven’t been hiking in a couple of months I’m not going to head out and bag an eight-mile hike right off the bat.

I also think about whether or not I’ll be hiking alone.

Whenever I plan to go out by myself I always choose trails that are more heavily trafficked so that if something were to go wrong my chances of getting help are higher.

Finally, give some thought to what the terrain is going to look like this time of year and how that might affect you. If you live in a place where the trails will be slick with ice a 3-mile hike all of a sudden seems a lot harder.

Once I’ve taken into consideration all of these factors I head to my favorite hike-finding site of all time!

Alltrails. Alltrails lets you find hikes in your area and then adjust based on things like:

  • Hike length
  • Elevation gain
  • Hike shape (out & back, loop, end to end)

Additionally, alltrails Pro lets you download your chosen trail and record your stats during your hike!

Hiking Prep

The next thing I do is figure out exactly what I need to pack for the hike. Check the weather to get an idea of how you should be dressing and what to expect!

You can always find the following in my backpack:

  • Snacks
  • Water bottle (I have a Nalgene that I love!)
  • Sweater
  • Journal
  • Trekking poles
  • Camera (you don’t need this, I just like to have mine)
  • Extra pair of socks (you just never know)
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • ID, Health insurance card, Credit card, Cash (ya never know)
  • First aid kit

If you’re wondering what types of snacks to bring or how many I’ve written a post on my favorite RXBars and Trader Joe’s snacks that you’re welcome to check out for ideas!

As for how many- I try to pack about 100 calories worth of snack for every mile I cover.

I know you burn way more than that when hiking, but after I get out of the woods I typically have a big meal!

The Night Before

I like to lay out the clothes I’ll be wearing next to my daypack the night before as I’m usually up before the sun on hiking days.

If it’s cold I’ve got a handy guide of layering here.[

After that I make sure that my bag is packed and whatever water bottle I’m taking with me if full and in the fridge.

I also make sure to download my Alltrails guide and the route from my home to the trail head so that when I lose service I can still find the trail!

Finally, I charge EVERYTHIG!!! Phone, charging pack, camera I want all of it at full capacity!

The Morning of Your Hike

Whenever I wake up all that’s left to do is put everything that’s been charging into your pack and grab your water bottle!

So that’s what prep looks like for me.

Hopefully this post helps some of you newer hikers feel more prepared and encourage you to get out there!

Question: What do you wish you had known on your early hikes?

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