Mountain hiking is the gift that keeps on giving and the lesson that keeps on teaching. No matter how many times you hike a mountain – be it Everest or Kilimanjaro or Teide – there are still so many things you discover and learn along the way.
From ways to pack effectively, the best kind of walking boots and the best time of year to go hiking in different climates and countries, it’s obvious there’s just so much that goes into being a knowledgeable mountaineer. So, without further ado, here’s what you need to know about mountain hiking before your next adventure.
- Endurance is key
Maybe you’ve already figured this one out, but maybe you haven’t. Basically, your endurance is key to your mountaineering success.
Hiking mountains takes a lot of mental and physical persistence, so it’s important that you practice testing yourself and pushing yourself to the limit. The longer you spend at the gym, or the harder you push at the gym, the stronger your endurance.
It’s important to be able to persist when mountain hiking because it often gets tough up there. You need to physically handle the strain on your body when you’ve been going for six hours, and mentally handle the pressure of any negative self-talk when hiking.
- Packing smart is easy
The number one packing technique for hikers and travellers is always to roll clothes to make more room. It’s a good tip, but it doesn’t necessarily make life any easier or your clothes any drier.
If you’re heading somewhere with the chance (or certainty) of rain or snowfall, you should buy a dry bag. In fact, you should buy a few dry bags seeing as they are so handy for organising your stuff and keeping it dry.
A dry bag is basically just a waterproof bag, secured with a clip lock after you’ve rolled the top of the bag to get rid of the air inside. It will prevent your clothes (particularly underwear and socks) from getting wet, as well as camera batteries, chargers and power banks. That’s what we call a packing hack.
- Freezing nights aren’t always necessary
When mountain hiking in colder locations, it’s easy to fall into a trap of pitching the tent in somewhere ‘protected’, like a valley or meadow. But, actually, that’s a bad idea – and it’ll leave you freezing.
Pitch up on the flattest surface that is above any valleys or meadows, but below the next considerable ascent. This way you won’t be freezing (especially if you position the smallest side of your tent towards the wind) and are in a good position to start the next day’s hiking.
And to add an extra level of cosy, drink something hot before you sleep.
- Always pack sunglasses
Sure, we might have just been talking about rain and snow, but sunglasses are actually pretty important when mountain hiking. Oh, and you should also pack sunscreen just in case.
Although it might not be very warm up there, the sun still exists – and it still likes to get in your eyes when you’re hiking up a particularly tricky patch. Up in the mountains you expose yourself to high intensity UV light rays and a multitude of bright reflections from snow and glaciers. All of this can damage your eyes and your health, sometimes making a hiker dizzy and suffering from temporary blindness.
We recommend investing in a good pair of sunglasses designed for adventure trekking and hiking. They’re usually funky colours and not the kind you’d see advertised by Gucci or Chanel. But then again, who ever saw Coco Chanel mountain hiking?
- Bring extra food
One very easy mountain hiking mistake that is often made is not bringing enough food. It is vital that you can provide the fuel necessary for your body to keep on climbing, but it’s just as important to be able to provide for the smaller refuelling requirements.
You’re working your body harder than usual by making it hike a mountain, so it naturally gets hungrier. Pack extra food in the form of snacks, like some nuts, dried fruit and maybe a couple of packets of your favourite sweets.
Happy hiking! We hope this tips will inspire your next journey.