5. Wrap up
Clothing is your protection against the elements and thin layers are best. Pack a microfleece (the lightest you can find), good quality waterproofs (jacket and trousers) and a hat and gloves if you’re somewhere cold or at altitude, and don’t forget the suncream and a sun hat if it’s going to be hot.
A thin scarf is great for covering up against the sun, sitting on, drying yourself off with and a number of other things that make it an essential.
6. Stock up
If you’re walking in a remote area you’ll need to bring everything, including water and food, with you. Pack ingredients to make sandwiches (don’t forget a knife), nuts and chocolate as energy-giving snacks and a Camelbak hydration pack filled with water. Soluble vitamin C tablets can be added to water for an extra burst of energy.
7. Get in shape
Think you can walk 15 miles in one day because it takes you 20 minutes to dash to the train station each morning? Think again.
Walking for a sustained period through rough terrain is an entirely different game. So if you’ve booked the Inca Trail start with a hike in your local park and work up to build your stamina.
8. Grab a pole
Walking poles split opinion, but most serious walkers carry one – and swear by it. A pole gives you an extra limb, one that you can use for additional balance, or simply to check out the depth of puddles or just how thick that undergrowth is.
9. Respect the mountain
How often do we hear about someone being rescued from Ben Nevis or the Rockies? Never forget that the mountain is king and cares not a jot for you, the hiker.
Always check the weather locally before heading out and don’t start ascending those peaks if it’s closing in or a storm is en route. Wrap up warm, and take a whistle and a torch, these will be invaluable if for some reason you do need to attract attention.
10. Get appy
There are dozens of apps out there for hikers, but one of our favourites is Endomondo. Tap the play button as you start walking and it will monitor how far you walk, what your elevation gain or loss is and log your route on a map. It will even tell you how much water you should drink and how many calories you’ve burned.
11. Get high safely
Some of the world’s best hikes (the Inca Trail, the Annapurna Circuit) take place at altitude and this is not something to take lightly. Altitude sickness can kill, and it may start with a simple headache or nausea. If you feel mildly hungover, short of breath even when resting, or dizzy, seek help immediately and descend as far as possible. There is no cure apart from descending, so never try to push on.
Altitude sickness can usually be avoided by acclimatising slowly, so spend a couple of days resting at altitude before walking. Drink plenty of water too and avoid alcohol too.
12. Bring batteries
For everything. That torch, your camera, your mobile phone. Check and charge everything fully before you head out and bring spares. For your phone, which could turn out to be your lifeline, pack the MiPow Power Tube 3000. It has an integral cable and can charge your phone more than once. It will also sync with your phone, making it beep if you accidentally leave it behind.
Compare flights, book hostels and hotels for your trip, find tours and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.
Top image © Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock