Hiking is a great way to get outside and into nature either solo or with friends. There are also some seriously amazing physical and mental benefits to being outdoors. Like most outdoor activities, hiking can be much more enjoyable with careful planning. There can be a lot of components to hiking that may seem daunting if you are new to it all. This guide has some great tips and ideas to help you plan your next trip.
Also, check out our blog post on the Top 5 Hiking Spots in and around New York City for trail inspiration!
1) Food & Drink:
Having the right kind of sustenance and enough calories will fuel you during your trip and provide some wiggle room in case your hike ends up running longer than planned. Granola bars, dried fruit, and nuts make for great snacks. Sandwiches with nut butters, jellies, or hummus make for more of a filling meal.
Bringing enough water is also extremely important for staying hydrated. According to REI Co-op, you should bring half a liter of water for every hour of moderate level activity at moderate temperatures. Depending on the activity level and temperatures, this amount should be adjusted.
Hydrating beverages like recoup's Pineapple + Coconut are also great to bring along with water or to have post-hike. Recoup's beverages promote hydration and muscle recovery through ingredients such as organic ginger and tree water. Recoup is also all-natural with nothing artificial.
2) Navigation Tools:
A trusty map and compass are always reliable tools to bring with you if you know how to use them. It's also a good idea to store them in a waterproof pouch. If you don't know how to use a map and compass, there are plenty of options for GPS phone apps including GAIA GPS and AllTrails.
Unless you have a map of the area, be sure to take some pictures of the trail map at the start of the trail and plan your route. Make sure you can read the details from your pictures. Check if you have reception and use google maps to drop a pin where you started/parked.
3) Protection Against the Elements:
Even if it's cloudy, it's always a good idea to wear sunscreen and a hat. If the skies are clear, bring along some polarized sunglasses so you can look at the views without any glare.
Weather can change quickly during your hike. Bring along an extra layer, even if the weather is warm. If you are hiking at altitude or during the cooler months you may want to pack a lightweight down insulation jacket.
Depending on the climate you are hiking in, you may also want to bring along a rain jacket such as Patagonia's Torrentshell.
4) Sturdy Footwear:
Be sure to wear footwear that supports your ankle and has good traction. You don't need to invest in expensive hiking boots if you don't hike too often, and if you do buy new shoes, be sure to break them in before venturing out on a full day hike. We are fans of trail-running shoes which have enough support to carry you through the trail, but are more versatile and comfortable for frequent wear than hiking boots. Check out the Arctery'x Norvan LD 2 shoes.
Having a small first aid kit will give you peace of mind on your hike. There are many options out there that are light in weight and won't take up too much space in your backpack.
Know the risks of the area: bears and rattlesnakes can be prevalent in some areas of the Northeast, so do a little homework. Most trail heads will have signs if there are particular dangers but you should know how to react in case you encounter something.