7 Tips For Being Prepared While Hiking

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Not long ago I had the responsibility to teach a group of of 8-yr-old's the Cub Scout Six Essentials for hiking preparedness. The list resonated with me. It is a simple list and covers almost all of the important things to have in your backpack when you're heading out on the trail. It started me thinking about what my essentials are when I'm hiking. Below I'll share a few of my favorite items and ways to make sure you'll be prepared the next time you are hiking.

Tips for Hiking

In my mind, this is the number one thing you need to remember to bring when you're hiking. Especially in Utah and the desert regions of the western United States. Without it you won't make it very far and most likely suffer symptoms of dehydration. The arid climate, high elevations, and warm temperatures can all combine to create serious circumstances if you don't stay hydrated.

Our family choice has been to get each person their own hydration backpack. When the boys turn 3, they get a Camelbak and sleeping bag as their birthday presents. We have always bought the Camelbak Skeeter, but the Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E. would also be good for larger kids. Osprey also makes a good water backpack with a little bit of extra storage space.

Sun Protection
This is a precaution that you will be grateful for taking after you have returned home. Even if you are planning to be hiking in shaded areas, a hat and sunscreen will go a long way towards protecting your skin from uncomfortable sunburn and overheating.

When I first moved to Utah I had the mistaken belief that desert always equals hot. Oh my, how that is not true. If you are planning to leave early in the morning, or be out later at night, it can get pretty chilly! No matter where you are hiking, there is always the possibility of the weather changing unexpectedly, and if your trail takes you near the water, it is reasonable to expect the air temperature to drop there as well.

The key is to keep it light. Good layers need to be easily removable with the expectation that you will be carrying them in your backpack at least part of the time. Personally, I live in a fleece jacket and always have one with me. Depending on where you are hiking, a good windbreaker or waterproof jacket may be more in order. Also consider that while cotton t-shirts are comfortable, they absorb moisture and don't have the best breathability. Look instead for a material that will wick sweat away from your body without becoming soaked if you'll be exerting lots of energy.

I have discovered that preference in shoes for hiking can stir up country-dividing debates. My family prefers to hike in sandals. My husband is a die-hard Chacos fan, my current choice is Xero Shoes (since my favorite Teva sandal was discontinued), and all our kids prefer sandals over having to wear socks outdoors. Why sandals? You don't have to worry about getting them wet. We can trudge right through small streams without worrying about having wet feet the rest of the day. They keep our feet cool, and are extremely easy to clean at the end of a dirty day.

Whether you choose sneakers, sandals, or hiking boots, be sure that they fit well. Your feet should be comfortable, not snug and not sliding around. A blister caused by ill-fitting shoes will ruin even a short hike quickly. If you do choose a shoe that needs socks underneath, be sure to pack an extra pair to change into just in case you do end up in a puddle.

Tips for hiking

Trail Food
What are your favorite trail foods? We almost always have nuts (for salt replenishment and protein) along with us, but never ever leave home without lollipops. We use them as motivators to keep the kids going. Works like a charm every single time!

First Aid Kit
The real test of preparedness comes in the face of something bad actually happening. In ordinary circumstances, the injuries you encounter along the way are not going to be serious and life threatening. A simple first aid kit with bandaids, antibiotic ointment, and some alcohol pads will take care of the little cuts and scrapes the kids (and maybe you) might acquire. My boys feel so important carrying their own mini-kit in a Ziploc bag tucked into the pocket of their backpack.

The newest tool I have added to my hiking preparedness checklist is my insurance company's face-to-face medical services app. On rare occasions, a hiking injury may need more than just a clean bandage. If you find yourself in an emergency, call the appropriate response team right away. But if you just want a professional opinion on how to care for the abrasion, twisted ankle, or bump Little Johnny got while he was running this is the way to go.

From the parking lot, or even mid-hike, you can speak directly with a nurse practitioner or physician's assistant and get peace of mind about what you are dealing with. An app visit could save you hours sitting in an after-hours office and the nominal fee is sure to be less than an urgent care appointment. If it does turn out to need a follow-up visit, the professional you speak with can make it quick and easy to now what to say when you see your regular doctor.

online doctor visit

Hiking has to be one of the simplest outdoor activities to start doing with your family. It doesn't require expensive equipment or special training. All you have to do is indulge a little bit of wanderlust and start walking. A few minutes to prepare for your hike with the items on this list and you'll be off for a wonderful adventure. Enjoy it. Let the kids set the pace and leave behind any need to hurry.  Exercise a little patience-it'll be worth it, and it won't be long before everyone wants to go again!

1 comment:

  1. Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Many thanks for providing these details.


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