Top 7 Most Common Mistakes When Hiking

Top 7 Most Common Mistakes When Hiking

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Whether sporty and ambitious or more sedate, outdoor fans and nature lovers of all ages enthusiastically put on their hiking boots. Those who are new to hiking tend to make unpleasant mistakes on their first tours. To enjoy the fun of hiking unclouded, there are a few golden rules to follow. Above all, you should avoid the 7 most common mistakes when hiking. This way, hiking in nature will be a pleasure for you and not a frustration.

1. Inadequate preparation

How can I prepare for hiking?

If you start hiking without careful preparation, you may experience unpleasant surprises along the way. You should not start hiking without thoroughly informing yourself about your hiking destination from a good hiking guide and equipping yourself with a hiking map and/or GPS device. Especially in unfamiliar terrain, you will otherwise easily lose your orientation.

Top 7 Most Common Mistakes When Hiking

By getting relevant information before you start, you will be better prepared for particular difficulties and bumps in the terrain. This includes, in individual cases, taking along hiking poles that provide safety. You should also know about the weather in the hiking region at the time you have chosen to travel. For example, you will need waterproof rain pants and weather jackets of high quality for expected precipitation.

Not planning the hiking route carefully

Even if the length of the hiking trail looks short on the map - pay attention to the contour lines, arduous passages on mountain ridges and the location of the destination! This will help you avoid a supposedly short mountain hike turning out to be an energy- and time-consuming adventure. Stop again and again to determine your position with certainty.

2. Overestimating oneself and one's capabilities.

How do I correctly assess a hike?

Beginners in hiking in particular often tend to overestimate themselves in terms of the limits of their endurance and fitness. For example, tours lasting hours in the mountains or even in the high mountains can become a problem for inexperienced hikers or those with health problems.

Those who have never been on a demanding trekking tour should not try their hand at summiting the Himalayas for the first time. Also, hiking as a recreational sport is not necessarily about breaking records and being the fastest to the finish line. Hike in several stages and take regular breaks. It also makes sense to practice as a beginner with a smaller tour in manageable terrain, for example in a German low mountain range. There you will learn your strengths and weaknesses as a hiker and gradually venture on more challenging tours.

Even if you exercise regularly, the demands that an extended mountain hike places on your body are much greater. At alpine altitude the air is thinner, every movement requires more energy. You will feel this clearly, especially beyond 3,000 meters of altitude. Your heart and circulation are working at full capacity, and you will tire more quickly. So take it slowly so that you are still fit for longer tours in high alpine areas. To relieve the strain on your joints, it is best to use hiking poles when going downhill.

3. Wrong equipment and backpack packed too full

Top 7 Most Common Mistakes When Hiking

What is the right equipment for hiking?

Precisely adapted equipment is the be-all and end-all for a relaxed and stress-free hiking vacation. For example, you need to be more comprehensively equipped on a mountain tour in a lonely area far away from civilization than on a busy hiking route with special infrastructure

Make yourself a tally line of what you absolutely need on your hiking tour and what is rather superfluous. Useful, easy to carry and helpful for contact with the outside world are GPS device and iPhone (do not forget the solar charger!).

A small first-aid kit and sewing kit is recommended on longer tours in the wilderness, the sunscreen you should have with you on every hike. Whether you carry binoculars and a camera depends on your ambitions during the hike. In any case, make sure your backpack is not too full and back-friendly.

4. Wrong clothing and footwear for hiking.

What is the right clothing for hiking?

Simply wearing shorts, a T-shirt and sneakers or sandals may be fine for jogging in a city park, but it is completely unsuitable for a hike. Jeans are also not necessarily the ideal clothing for hiking.

Functional clothing adapted to the weather and the season in the hiking region should always be in your hiking backpack. Also remember that depending on the continent, country and altitude of the hiking area, there can be extreme temperature differences during the day and at night.

With high-tech functional clothing such as rain jackets with windproof collars and hoods, you are on the safe side in terms of clothing, supplemented by a breathable softshell jacket, functional shirt and hiking pants, as well as headgear that protects against sunlight. If heavy downpours are expected in your hiking area, waterproof rain pants are indispensable.

1. mistake: wearing the wrong or ill-fitting hiking boots
If there's the one really unpleasant thing about hiking, it's water or blood blisters caused by pressure and/or friction. Hiking boots should fit like a glove, neither too tight nor too loose, so you don't have to worry about blisters and swelling on your feet. For demanding trekking tours, even with scree in the terrain, you should choose hiking boots that go above the ankle.

2. mistake: save money when buying suitable hiking clothes
Starting the mountain hike in cotton jeans and a T-shirt is not a good idea. The cotton fabric soaks up sweat, chafes and in cold winds at altitude, it sticks icy cold to the skin and muscles, which cool down quickly: Muscle tension and colds are then pre-programmed. Treat yourself to hiking clothing made of functional textiles, which you can wear on top of each other according to the temperature using the onion principle. If you are hiking above 3,000 meters above sea level, pack woolen mittens and a hat that covers your ears.

5. Taking too much and the wrong food and drink with you

Top 7 Most Common Mistakes When Hiking

What is the right food for hiking?

It is better to leave your beloved thermos of coffee, black tea or cocoa at home when hiking, even if it is difficult. Ideal are water bottles with water, apple spritzer or unsweetened herbal teas, which you can refill on the way if necessary. When it comes to provisions, you should also avoid fatty foods and foods that strain the circulation.

Healthy energy sources in the form of fruit such as apples and bananas are perfect, as are energy bars for the road. This way, you won't get tired and listless during your meal break on the way, and you'll be full of energy when you reach your next destination.

6. Not paying attention to the daily weather.

Let's assume that you are not a meteorologist, so you can't really interpret cloud formations. Before starting your mountain hike, you should therefore visit the official weather site on the Internet or call for information. Local innkeepers and hut keepers are the second source of information you can use, even during your hike! Will the weather stay like this? Does the increasing wind mean that a thunderstorm is imminent? Are the black clouds coming from the other side of the valley? Ask these questions once too often rather than too little. Adjust your clothing to the current weather and always carry rain gear that reaches your lower legs.

7. Getting a late start

Mom taught us that being on time is important, and this rule definitely applies to hiking. It may not feel like a big deal to show up at the trailhead at 3 p.m., but you may regret that decision later when you’re stumbling back to your car around midnight. This mistake is costlier in high-elevation states such as Colorado. Thanks to the high alpine environments, nasty lightning storms frequently move in above the tree line around lunchtime or early afternoon. If you are hiking above the tree line when one of these storms rolls in, it can be very dangerous. Many people have been struck by lightning. There is a general rule in mountainous areas: get off the trail by lunch. Of course, in order to do so, you are going to have to get an early start in the morning.


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