We’re all guilty of a few of these hiking mistakes and to be fair, some are not the end of the world but some can be quite dangerous, so here’s how to avoid a few hard-learned lessons.
1 Bringing too much stuff
We’re all guilty of overpacking and believe me when you have to carry all your stuff, for hours, up mountains, you will question the wisdom of packing even the lightest thing. On one of days during my Laugavegur trek I saw a jeep carrying some hikers packs, just when I really wanted to throw mine over the cliff so I wouldn’t have to carry it down. And that was when I had pared it down as much as possible. Use a checklist, load up your pack and do a test run just carrying it around for the day, then discard what you don’t really need.
2 Wearing the wrong footwear or new footwear
At best the wrong shoes will show in your face as my mum says. At worst you will have blisters, raw bloody patches and even injury. To say nothing of being miserable and not enjoying yourself. When buying hiking shoes think of the terrain and weather you will be using them in. Rough ground and colder conditions mean studier, heavy boots. Warmer climates require lighter shoes. Always go shoe shopping at the end of the day when your feet are most swollen. The best outdoor shops will let you return boots that aren’t comfortable so long as you haven’t worn them outside, so test them around the house to wear them in and remember to pair them with the socks you will be wearing too.
3 Not checking the weather forecast
And again and again. And just because it says it’s going to be sunny doesn’t mean it’s going to stay like that. Bring layers and waterproofs just in case.
4 Being super optimistic about how distances you can cover
I am completely guilty of this, even now. 5km of mountainous terrain is going to take you much longer than 5km on the road. And that’s assuming you’re following a decent trail and know where you’re going. Especially in the winter when you have much shorter days allow extra time so you’re back to your finish point in good light.
5 Not being prepared for emergencies
The weather can change, your GPS might fail, you could have an accident and twist your ankle. Make sure you have the appropriate gear, backup navigation, a first aid kit, you’ve left your plan and estimated times with someone at home and you can contact rescue services if you need to. Hopefully, it will never come to that but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Any tips you’d like to share? Let me know!