The start is what stops most people.

Walking on GR 65 towards Saugues. (Camino de Santiago)

Walking on GR 65 towards Saugues. (Camino de Santiago)

Going outdoors gives me a feeling of freedom, an opportunity to empty my head, an escape from the everyday life. But it wasn’t always this way.

Sun is shining, nothing planned for the day, okay let’s go walking. We put on our sneakers, grab the car keys and off we go. Time for a ramble at a popular spot I have read about in a magazine…

As most of the people, who like to hike, we had to learn by trial and error. The weather can change, you can lose track of the trail, you can get hungry, you can get an injury. Fortunately those mistakes are mostly with no consequences, but sometimes they could have been.
This probably sounds familiar, to avoid this I can only recommend to be prepared. Some research on the world wide web about the region, a decent guidebook, topographic maps, alternatives and possibilities to shorten your hike. These are all things that need to be considered. If you prepare your trip I am sure you will enjoy it.

Besides a good preparation you also need the following items before heading out.

  • Water. Drinking water  is a necessity . Staying hydrated is the most important, when you are thirsty it is mostly too late. Try to drink at least half a liter every hour. If possible every 15 minutes a few sips.
  • Food. It is possible to hike a full day without food, but it’s a lot more fun if you can take a break at a beautiful spot and have a snack meanwhile. Simple snacks like a trail mix, snickers, dried fruit or some energy bars should give you enough energy.
  • Boots or shoes suited for hiking. Make sure they fit well. Watch out for hot spots that may cause blisters, and always start with several short hikes if you have new shoes.
  • Day Pack. Try to get a back pack that fits your supplies. If possible with a hip belt to ease the load on your shoulders.
  • Rain clothing. Staying dry is the key to a comfortable hike.
  • Warm clothing. A polar fleece or wool are more than welcome when the temperature suddenly changes.
  • Small first aid kit. This should include a few band aids, antiseptic cream, antiseptic toilettes, needle, suture or strips, second skin, aspirin or other pain-reliever, a safety-pin and tweezers.
  • Toilet paper. No need to fertilise the plants when hiking, but it is better to be prepared. Stay away from water sources and the trail. Try to leave no trace. If possible dig a cathole or try to cover it with enough natural materials. Burn the toilet paper (if safe and allowed) or take it with you.
  • Topographic Map or decent guidebook. Stay on the trail
  • A Swiss Army knife or similar tool. Hopefully, you won’t need to use it during your adventures, but it is something essential in a variety of situations. Always carry one with you on hikes. In my opinion, besides a first aid kit, a pocketknife is the one of the most important things.

Taking these tips into account will help you through your first hikes, bad experience can discourage you from hiking which would be a shame.
I will publish a packing-list for day hikes and long distance hikes soon.

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