Experimentation is part of any hiker’s learning process; that’s why being appropriately prepared is so essential. That stated, there are a few usual errors that you can totally avoid, if you take your time, think clearly and plan ahead. Below are 5 of the most typical mistakes novice hikers/trekkers make, plus some recommendations on how to avoid them.
- Not bringing along the bare essentials
You should have a checklist of the minimum amount of gear you need to bring on every single hike. This checklist should include, water, a little food, some high strength rope, waterproof matches, first aid kit, and a flashlight.
Why do you need all this stuff? Just in case. Just in case something goes wrong and you end up needing to sleep outdoors. Just in case you get lost and it gets dark. Just in case you take a fall and wake up in an unfamiliar area and need to patch yourself up. Safety should always comes first, and all the stuff I listed above is reasonably lightweight and not hard to carry.
For flashlights, I recommend you read this review of the Fenix LD22. This is my flashlight of choice – it’s light, durable, and uses AA batteries.
If you’re the type of person who needs high horsepower on all your electronics, you might also want to read this site’s Nitecore TM26 review. It’s an absurdly powerful flashlight that still manages to be portable – and while we don’t necessarily agree with your life choices and suspect you may be compensating for something if you buy it, it is a very suitable flashlight for taking hiking.
- Inappropriate Footwear
Repeat after me: Sandals, Flip Flops, and anything that aren’t hiking boots or trainers are not made for trekking. Bad shoes = bad experiences. Do not go on a hike without appropriate footwear – at the very least, you should be wearing trainers, and if you plan to hike often, it’s probably worth thinking about buying some proper hiking boots. Wearing the wrong shoes will lead to blisters, scratches, and potentially even sprained or broken ankles. Don’t do it. Wear shoes that are A) comfortable, B) protective, and C) durable.
- This goes together with number 2. If you recognize there’s a cold wave or a rainstorm coming, you need to prepare for that and bring the appropriate rain gear and jackets and all that. Even if you don’t anticipate the weather turning bad, it’s probably wise to try and bring at least a light rain jacket with you so you’re prepared for poor weather whilst on your hike. Your clothes are your first line of defense against hostile environments, and that includes bad weather and other similar problems that you might encounter. Always have something long sleeved on hand in case you need it (bringing long pants/cutoffs might also be wise).
- Not staying hydrated
You should never be in a situation where you feel dehydrated. There’s just no reason for it. Keep up your water intake throughout your trek and make sure you bring a surplus of water on every single hike. I’ve known so many morons who don’t bring enough water and end up dehydrated – on a day-trip, no less. Keep up your water intake, and if you ever feel faint or weak, take a break and drink some water. dehydration is extremely dangerous and a very real risk when hiking – so bring enough water, and drink enough water.
- Know where you’re going and let other people know too
Don’t be that guy or gal who goes on a hike without telling anyone and ends up disappearing for ever. Firstly, you should always know your exact route – it’s easy enough to get lost when you have a trail planned out – don’t think that you can just wing it out there. You’re not Bear Grylls, and if you get lost and you can’t find your way back to civilization, you will probably end up dead.
Also, make sure that people know exactly where you’re going – so in the event that you do end up getting lost, your friends or relatives can pinpoint exactly what route you planned to take and emergency services can find you. If nobody knows where you’re planning to go, nobody will be able to help you when disaster strikes, and you’ll end up being a skeleton out in the middle of nowhere or eaten by bears or something.