A simple and a bold statement to make right off in the beginning itself – Trekking is hard work. The sooner you accept that the closer you will be to grasping and acknowledging the amount of preparedness it takes before you pack up a few belongings and show up at base camp. A trek is a whole lot of physical activity and dogged conditions that you’re going to be putting your body through, something it isn’t used to coping with on a regular basis. Sure, there are plenty of trails and hikes that aren’t that taxing, and with a little bit of pushing you could pull through the trip but then why do that to yourself? Isn’t being well prepared with proper trekking tips a better idea? Trekking without preparation, training, and practice becomes more of an uphill task than it already is. In order to be able to traverse through the panoramic of terrains, you will have to put in that work too.
Treks are generally categorized as easy, moderate and difficult. While the technical terminology may vary, but the meaning does boil down to these three simple words. No matter which one you choose, you’re bound to get tired….even on an easy one, yes. For those testing out waters, of course, will be opting for an easy trek, but know that even an easy trek will take its toll on you if you aren’t fit for the physical activity. Let’s discuss a few areas to work on which will help in the long run, or rather the long trek.
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Trekking Tips: The 9 Golden Principle for Every Hiker
Tip #1: Taking the First Step
Its never too soon to start training and conditioning yourself. If your trek is planned a year later too, you can easily begin to build on your strength and fitness levels gradually. This will give your body ample of time to adapt to the changes in the demands from it.
Also starting out early means you won’t overdo it, reducing the risk of injuries. Speaking of injuries, should you still find yourself facing one, you’ve provided yourself with enough time to recover unless of course, it’s a very serious case.
Read all about Trekking Basics for Beginners!
Tip #2: Do the Walk
The best way to train for a long walk is obviously done some long walking. Begin with shorter distances, gradually building up to the actual trek distance you will be covering. Also, alternate your days, in the beginning, later on, you can move on to everyday sessions, since you’re trek isn’t going to be on alternate days, so this will help you prepare for relentless back-to-back walking. You should be able to comfortably walk for 4-6 hours before your trek.
Another thing to take care of is the way you’re walking. While it does nothing for your day to day activities, walking over 150 km on varied terrains will enhance the effect of the slightest of defects in your stride leading to a painful repercussion. Ensure that your heel touches the ground first and rolls over to the toe in a propelling motion. The correct way of walking will also reduce the chances of tendon pulls and shin splints. Also keep in mind to level your shoulders, avoid slouching and hold your head up.
Tip #3: Building Leg Strength
In addition to walking you should also be focusing on building up your leg strength. This especially comes into play if the trail you’re attempting mountain trekking or the distance of the trek is super long. Gym exercises such as weighted squats or lunges, leg presses, and bodyweight squats will help in this.
Also include some exercises which will build upon your overall strength, postural strength, and pelvic stability. A well-designed training program that helps develop all this and more, will not only prevent injuries but also build your capacity to deal with difficult situations on the trek.
Tip #4: Factor in the Terrain
While you’re putting in the walking and training hours, it’s important to train with similar conditions that you’re going to be dealing with – which means try and mimic the terrain that will form the major part of your trek. At no point of time, you’re going to be dealing with asphalt or flat surfaces, especially in the case of mountain trekking, so there’s really no reason to be training on those surfaces all the time.
On a side note among the tips for trekking, it’s also a good time to break into those hiking shoes you bought. The condition of your trekking shoes is of utmost importance. It’s best to have shoes which are sturdy with a good ankle grip, and aren’t wearing out in parts – another bad experience is your shoe falling apart in the middle of a trek.
Combining shoes with the wrong type of socks are also a ruining factor. Opt for materials which have seat wicking properties, such as CoolMax. New shoes always need breaking in, possibly even wear the socks you intend to use during the trek, and definitely, don’t expect to be wearing your shoe brand new from the box on any hike.
Tip #5: Bearing the Load
While most of the time you wouldn’t be carrying the main backpack, but a daypack is still loaded enough to weigh in on your energy levels. The choice of a backpack too factors in the list of tips for trekking and should be chosen with careful consideration of all the items it can carry as well as come with a good accompanying comfort level.
The best would be to opt for one with adjustable waist and chest straps to enable you to position it correctly on the back, also external compression straps are an added advantage that restricts your load from shifting. While training, carry your backpack along maybe with some chocolate and Gatorade with it, maybe even pack it with additional solid weight making it slightly heavier than what you plan to carry on the trek – that way the actual trek will feel like a breeze.
When packing your backpack for the actual trek, place your bedding right at the bottom. Heavy gear such as crampons, boots etc. should be packed near the back, and you can place your clothes on these items. Keep your jacket or raincoat at the top since you’ll need quick and easy access to these. Frequently used smaller items such as a torch, sunscreen, shades etc. can be easily packed in the multiple pockets of the bag.
Tip #6: Correct Fuelling
Eating well and keeping yourself hydrated is an extremely crucial topic in any trekking guide that you’ll pick up. Dry fruits, oatmeal bars, chocolates, nuts, jerky etc. are all good and quick sources of protein and energy. In order to accustom your body to digesting while trekking, ‘eat on the go’ is a good practice to put in while preparing.
When it comes to water, well on a trek, nature is the best provider. There are generally plenty of streams and rivulets which are a great source of fresh water, and it’ll taste way better than any filtered water.
Tip #7: A friendly support – Walking/Trekking Pole
A helpful advice among many trekking tips is that a trekking or a walking pole could make the world of a difference to your trekking experience. Studies have divulged that a trekking pole can save you almost up to 30% of your energy consumption and can bring the body weight borne by the legs down by 8kgs on an incline and 5kgs on flat ground- now isn’t that something?
Acting like ‘extra legs’ it helps reduce the load on your thighs and knees especially during the steeper places or in case of an injury. Usage of a trekking pole will also help you take longer strides. Make sure the one you choose of course is lightweight and use it during training to learn how to make the best use of it.
Tip #8: Medicine Kit/First Aid Kit
When traveling in a group, it’s likely that the trekking guide will be carrying medicinal supplies for everyone. That shouldn’t stop you from carrying your own supply of medicines and other first aid items. Go for a thorough medical check-up and learn about any pitfalls in your physical conditions so that you are well prepared for them.
Apart from equipping yourself with every necessity of first aid, arm yourself with the knowledge that accompanies it as well. Learn the basics of situations that you might have to deal with while on the trek.
Tip #9: Fit to Go!
These are just a few trekking tips for beginners, which can be put to good use by almost anyone. The more prepared and fit you are before leaving, the easier and more enjoyable your trek will turn out. Therefore, its simplicity in itself that you’re in good shape and ready with the proper essentials. While scrutinizing and utilizing the best trekking tips and tricks is one way to go don’t forget to enjoy your trip as well.
Also, read Common Mistakes made by Beginners!
Sure, walking is going to be taking up most parts of your waking hours, you’ll still be left with plenty of downtime to relax, and take in everything and being nervous or tense about following every rule in the book shouldn’t interfere with your experience. Being Forewarned is being Forearmed….so prepare well and enjoy your trek.