A good hike can be so many things. Not only is it incredible exercise, but it’s also meditative, restorative, and all-around pretty fun. But no hike is worth taking without paying a little attention to what actually makes for a good hike.
What to wear for mountain hiking
The magic word when it comes to hiking is…anticipation. Anticipating the weather, anticipating the terrain, anticipating the unexpected. Layering can help take the anxiety out of all of that and allow you to go with the flow when it comes to a good day on the mountain.
When you take a layered approach, you start to see that your wicking tee shirt is meant for when the sun gets hotter and the lightweight coat is perfect for a pop-up shower. Layering means you can spend hours outside and not be surprised when day starts turning to night and there’s a chill in the air.
Additionally, of course, you’ll want to have proper footwear (and socks, but we’ll get more into that later). You can use a lightweight trail shoe or a leather hiking boot depending on the terrain and what your goals are for the hike. You’ll want a sturdy sole that has traction knowing that you could encounter rocky terrain, sandy terrain, and even slippery terrain.
Hiking boots or shoes should fit well but should not be too tight as you want to have optimum circulation and comfort when out for a day of hiking.
And now on to the accessories, we tend to think that a good pair of waterproof socks are essential when going out on a hike. Not only are they comfortable (no plastic baggies here folks,) but they also prevent blisters, keep you dry, and prevent not only water, but also mud and sand, from penetrating your sock. And comfortable feet on a hike are worth everything.
They’re also quite economical. Wearing a durable pair of waterproof socks actually helps you extend the life of your worn or old hiking boots or trail shoes. Waterproof socks give you security knowing that any water you encounter won’t permeate your socks. Because let's be honest, new kit is expensive, especially new boots.
What to pack for a hike in the mountains
Now that you’re dressed for a hike, let’s talk about what else to bring. Obviously, a backpack is something that you’ll want to bring on any day hike where you’ll be out longer than a half-hour or so. But, you’ll want to pay attention to how lightweight your pack is on its own and when it’s full of your supplies. Believe us, you’ll be thanking us if you can avoid any back or shoulder pain.
Inside your backpack, you’ll want to have a good supply of water and if you’re going on a longer hike, perhaps even a water filtration system so you can get more fresh water after you run out of your initial supply.
You’ll also want to pack food. Trail mix is called trail mix for a reason. It’s easy, portable and packed with nutrients that keep you satisfied and energized while on the trail. Looking for a good recipe? See below for our tried and tested Sealskinz Trail Mix. Protein bars and fruit (apples for example) are also handy to have on a hike.
A first-aid kit is a must-have for any adventure. Whether it’s a scrape or a sprain, being prepared goes a long way.
If your phone isn’t going to work, it’s always a good idea to have some sort of navigational backup like a compass or map depending on where you’re going. You’ll also want a knife of some sort or a multi-use tool. These tools come in handy for everything from cutting through pesky brush to tidying up an annoying hangnail.
How to train for a mountain hike
The beauty of a mountain hike is that you get to experience various scenery and terrain on your adventure. This also means you’ll want to be physically fit enough to encounter these variations in landscapes so that you can safely take it all in.
Having a strong core and leg muscles will definitely make your hike easier. Core stability will help with balance when you’re on rocky land and if going up moderate to major elevation changes, leg strength will make all the difference.
Various exercises such as plank, bicycles, and crunches will help with core strength while squats, lunges, and endurance training (biking, running) can help with stamina and lower body strength.
Is mountain hiking good exercise?
Mountain hiking is incredible exercise. Not only does it actually help to improve core and leg strength (the exact things you want to work on to go on hikes,) it also is good exercise for your mind as well.
You can burn a lot of calories while hiking, although it varies based upon your weight and the steepness of the climb, otherwise known as the trail grade. The steeper the climb, the more muscles you have to use to complete the hike. However, duration plays a key role in calories burned during a hike as well. You can go on a short and steep hike and burn as many calories as a long flatter hike.
Either way, hiking is great exercise and a great way to spend time getting fresh air and taking in nature.
Our top 5 mountain hiking tips
1. Plan your route
Many parks and hiking trails have designated trails and maps that you can use to plan out your route. You’ll want to think about how long you want to go in both minutes and miles and find a route that fits your criteria for that particular day.
Planning your route will also help you to see if you’ll encounter water (remember those waterproof socks!) or rocky terrain so that you’re properly prepared.
2. Tell people where you’re going
Once you’ve planned your route, make sure to tell someone other than who will be accompanying you on your hike. On the off chance that there is an emergency or unexpected change in weather, you can be sure someone knows where you are and come to get you help if needed.
3. Take a flashlight
Be prepared for weather that approaches quickly or staying out later than planned by having a light source. It can be used for the obvious, seeing in the dark, but also to shine a light if you needed to draw attention to yourself.
4. Stay hydrated
Dehydration can come up quickly, especially in the summer months. Stay hydrated and make it a point to take in some water every mile or so. Staying consistent will avoid dehydration which can lead to all sorts of not-so-great things in the outdoors.
5. Know your limits
Choose a hike and a route that works for you and your expertise level. If you’re just starting out, plan a shorter hike on flatter terrain. This is a good time to test your kit and make sure your footwear doesn’t cause any issues or your pack isn’t too heavy. You can always go up from there. But, knowing your limits can create a much more enjoyable hike than being stranded on a rocky ledge you weren’t prepared for which is definitely not so fun.
Time for a hike
All this hiking talk has got us ready to check over our kit and plan our next hike. And, you’re ready for that too so have fun, stay safe, and get out there no matter what the weather has in store.
That recipe we promised
Sealskinz Trail Mix
- 105g cup toasted cashews (toast in the oven at 180C for approximately 10 minutes)
- 115g cup toasted peanuts (toast in the oven at 180C for approximately 10 minutes)
- 110g raw sunflower seeds
- 85g cup unsweetened, unsulfured golden raisins
- 85g cup unsweetened, unsulfured dried cherries
- 85g cup dark chocolate chopped (we prefer 82%)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp sea salt (preferably pink Himalayan)
Toss all ingredients together and store in baggies for easy use.
Hint: If you like extra sweetness, feel free to toss with some maple syrup (2 tablespoons should do it) or honey and spread it out on a baking sheet until dry before bagging it up.