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13 Tips for More Fun and Safety on Hike!
Higher, further, faster! Are you also one of those adventurers who like to go out into nature and preferably into the mountains at the weekend? Hiking is becoming more and more popular, but it is often forgotten that it is a sport that is not entirely harmless and always requires good preparation.
In addition to the right equipment and a look at the weather conditions, there are more points you should consider before you start. Hiking safety should be at the top of your list! To ensure that you are safe and relaxed on the road, we give you tips for hiking here!
Hiking Tips: 13 practical tips for your next hiking adventure!
Hiking Tips: Here's how to prepare for your hike
Hiking Tips No. 1: Choosing the Hiking Route
Whether it's a leisurely hike through Germany's meadows and forests or a true trekking adventure along the Annapurna Trek in Nepal, your plan always begins with planning the route: How many miles will I cover and what are the trails like? How long will I be on the trail in total, a few hours, several days or even weeks?
It is important to find out in advance about refreshment stops along the route. That way, you can better estimate your food needs. There are some good hiking apps on the market that make it easier for you to choose your route and show you not only the length and altitude, but also the degree of difficulty. In addition to your smartphone, we recommend that you always pack a hiking map. After all, in case of a dead battery, the app of your smartphone will not bring you home!
In addition, the selection of the hiking route should be adapted to your physical abilities and those of your group. For example, if it is the first tour of the year, we recommend that you do not start with a high alpine hike.
Here always applies: Orientate yourself on the strength, experience and endurance of the weakest member in the group!
To get an idea of the level of difficulty, you can use the SAC hiking scale as a guide. This was introduced in 2002 by the Swiss Alpine Club and is divided into six grades. Where T1 is the easiest and T6 the most difficult.
SAC hiking scale
T1 (easy valley trail, yellow):
- wide and easy paths
- with normal behavior there is no danger of falling down
- orientation is possible without problems
T2 (easy mountain path, blue):
- continuous terrace or/and partially steep passages
- danger of falling is not completely excluded
- surefootedness is necessary
T3 (moderately difficult mountain trail, red):
- paths are partly not visible
- exposed passages are possible, but secured by chains or wire ropes
- in some places there is a danger of falling
- good surefootedness and mountain boots are required
T4 (difficult mountain trail, black):
- a good head for heights and surefootedness are urgently required
- a trail is not always available
- the terrain is partly exposed
- glacier passages are possible in the high mountains
- an alpine experience is necessary
T5 (difficult mountain trail, black):
- often pathless with easy climbing sections
- glacier passages in the high mountains with danger of slipping are possible
- very good orientation skills and alpine experience are expected
- the use of ice axe and rope is mandatory
T6 (difficult mountain trail, black):
- almost always pathless with climbing sections up to level II
- glaciers with increased danger of slipping are possible
- a mature alpine experience is necessary
- the use of ice axe and rope is mandatory
Hiking Tips No. 2: Unwritten Rules on the Mountain
In addition to the established rules on a hike, such as hut rest times or guidelines for eating food you bring with you at a hut, there are a number of rules of conduct that you should follow on your hike.
Rules of conduct while hiking:
- take leftovers and packing material back with you
- stay on the marked paths
- do not break off plants or destroy them wantonly
- do not listen to loud music and keep quiet
- always let hikers who are descending go first
Hiking Tips No. 3: Invest in suitable hiking shoes
Stumbling, falling or slipping: It can happen quickly that you step or slip while hiking. The reasons for this are often poor footwear or the wrong assessment of the terrain. With the help of good hiking boots, your foot is relieved and your surefootedness is improved.
When choosing your hiking boots, we recommend that you make sure they fit well. The shoe should not pinch, nor should you feel uncomfortable when walking. In addition, the optimal hiking shoe has a low weight and a non-slip sole. Now you probably ask yourself the question: How do hiking shoes differ from each other and which material fits best to my hike? To help you find the right shoe for you, here is an overview of the individual shoe categories:
Overview of the different categories of hiking boots:
- light hiking shoe
- flexible sole and little cushioning
- for short hikes
- high hiking boot
- mostly firm and stiff sole
- day hikes or multi-day hikes
- for hikes with slight ascent and occasional loose ground
- high trekking shoe
- Cushioning due to thick midsole
- classic for multi-day tours with a heavy backpack
- for hikes in partly rough terrain
- not for hikes in cold temperatures
- heavy high trekking shoe
- very good tread, stiff sole
- for hikes in rough and steep terrain
- for via ferrata and altitudes up to 4000 meters
- Mountain boots made of very robust material
- very good shoe profile, stiff sole
- high dead weight
- the shaft is usually additionally insulated
- for hiking in very steep terrain and on ice
- Expedition boots
- very good shoe profile, stiff sole
- extremely robust boot with removable, insulated inner shoe
- the shaft is usually additionally insulated
- for expeditions, glacier tours as well as extreme mountaineering
After you have found the right hiking boots, you should break them in beforehand on short hikes. You can also wear the hiking shoes now and then in everyday life. In this way, they slowly adapt to the shape of your feet and prevent blisters from forming on your first big hike.
Hiking Tips No. 4: The basic equipment for your hike!
For your hike in easy terrain, the choice of clothing is not quite as relevant. The situation is different for hikes in steep terrain and multi-day tours. Here you should pay attention to functionality and an optimal fit. We recommend that you pack as little as possible for your hike and use lightweight materials for clothing and equipment.
Nevertheless, you can't avoid packing a few items in your backpack. The following list gives you an overview of the basic equipment for your next hike. Of course, on a multi-day tour, different items belong in your backpack than on an easy day tour.
Reading tip: You can get a detailed packing list for your next hike here!
Basic equipment for hiking:
- Backpack (size and weight adapted to your plan and condition)
- Hiking or mountain boots* (already broken in)
- Rainwear* and functional clothing
- Hiking sticks*
- Headlamp* (fully charged)
- First aid kit (complete) with a small bivouac sack
- sufficient drinking water and snacks
- Smartphone* (with full battery)
Hiking Tips: How to hike the right way
Hiking Tips No. 5: Dress according to the onion principle
As already mentioned, we recommend that you equip yourself with functional clothing for your hike. Once you've bought them, all you have to do is use them to their fullest potential!
The best way to do this is to use the so-called onion principle: the onion principle and the right functional clothing ensure that you stay dry and warm on your hike. As the name suggests, the onion principle is about combining several layers of clothing. Depending on temperature and effort, you decide which materials are comfortable for you. This is divided into the three-layer principle:
First layer or baselayer
- lies directly on the skin
- keeps you warm and dry
- mostly underwear, socks, T-shirts and shirts
Second layer or midlayer
- Intermediate layer: depending on the activity
- serves as insulation
- several layers are possible
Third layer or outer shell
- serves as protection against rain, snow and wind
- allows excess moisture to escape
- mostly rain jackets and pants as well as softshell jackets
How many layers you use at which temperature and hike, we can not tell you in general. Since your temperature sensation differs from that of your hiking partners, it may well be that you are still running in a T-shirt while others are already putting on a fleece jacket.
It is best to try out for yourself what is comfortable for you. Basically, we can tell you that at the beginning of your tour you should wear less and even get a little cold. If you are already warm at the start, you are definitely wearing too much! And don't worry, after a few meters you will certainly warm up!
Hiking Tips No. 6: Use hiking poles
In addition to hiking boots and clothing, good hiking poles belong to the basic equipment of every hike! Especially in steep terrain or on tours with a lot of luggage, you can reduce the pressure on the joints and muscles with the help of hiking poles. In addition, the poles help you in rough terrain to keep your balance and save your strength. It is practical that you can easily adjust the hiking poles to the right length using the locking system. Uphill, you should shorten the pole length depending on the steepness of the slope. If the poles are in your way in rocky terrain, you can easily attach them to the outside of your backpack.
Hiking tips 7: Take enough breaks and walk slowly at first.
However, the right equipment is no guarantee that you won't twist your ankle and injure yourself while hiking. Especially if you walk too fast or if you are tired, your surefootedness will be affected enormously. Therefore, always make sure to take regular breaks during your hike and always start your tour at a moderate pace. Only after about 30 minutes your muscles are warm and the risk of injury is reduced!
Hiking Tips No. 8: Pack your hiking backpack properly
The things you need in your backpack for your hike depend on the type of hike you're doing. For example, if it is a day hike, you will need less equipment than if it is a multi-day hike. The same applies to hikes in flat terrain and high alpine tours.
As a general rule, a trained hiker can carry about 20 to 25 percent of his or her body weight over a longer period of time. So, in any case, do without unnecessary weight! As a rough guide, you can weigh your backpack once. For a multi-day tour, for example, the scales should not show more than 12 kilograms.
Rules of thumb for packing your hiking backpack:
- Pack heavy equipment at the bottom and close to your body.
- medium-weight gear goes on top and on the outside
- light equipment belongs either in the bottom compartment or at the very top
- stow small items in the lid compartment
Always try to attach as little equipment as possible to the outside of the backpack - an exception is of course your water bottle!
Hiking Tips 9: How to adjust your hiking backpack and wear it properly
After packing your backpack for a trip, you need to adjust it to fit you. Following the rule: the weight is carried on your hips and not on your back, you should take a closer look at your backpack. Your hips will carry about 75% of the weight, while your shoulders will carry the remaining 25%. Therefore, the optimal adjustment of the backpack is very important!
First open the shoulder, hip and chest straps as well as the position adjustment straps and bend forward slightly, now you can adjust your hiking backpack correctly.
This is how you adjust your fully packed backpack for a perfect fit:
- Place the hip belt exactly in the middle of your hip bones.
- close the buckle and tighten it comfortably
- tighten the shoulder straps (shoulder pads should fit snugly against the shoulder)
- adjust the height of the shoulder straps until it suits you
- use the position adjustment straps to find the optimal positioning of your backpack
- close the chest strap
Extra tip: It is best to get a second person to help you adjust your hiking backpack, this often works better and faster. We also recommend loosening the straps of the shoulder belt during your tour to relieve the strain on your shoulders. The same applies to your hip belt! Just give it a try: Your muscles will thank you!
Hiking Tips No. 10: How to eat and drink on your hike
Sufficient food and drink is essential to maintain your concentration and performance while hiking. Find out in advance if there are any huts and water sources along your planned tour. We advise you to do this not only on a map, but also online, because not all huts are open all year round.
If there are no refreshment stops on your route, you should plan accordingly more weight for food and drink. As a rule of thumb you can calculate with 2-3 liters of water per person and day. If you cross water sources on your route, you can pack less water. In addition to sufficient liquid, nuts, dried fruit and muesli bars should always be included in your backpack. After all, you never know if you will spontaneously change your route or if the selected hut will be closed unexpectedly.
Hiking Tips No. 11: Always Keep an Eye on the Weather
On any hike, you should keep a constant eye on the weather. Check the weather conditions for the corresponding time period in advance.
It's also important to keep an eye on the weather app and the sky during your hike. Especially in the mountains, the weather can change quickly! While one moment there is sunshine, within a few minutes a rain front can build up in front of you. Depending on the extent to which the weather change affects your safe progress, you need to consider whether you should interrupt your tour or perhaps even abandon it altogether. The following always applies: Turning back on the mountain is by no means considered a defeat!
In addition to rain, fog and sunshine, you should also consider the prevailing conditions on the mountain. Some peaks are not freely accessible at all times of the year. It may well happen that one or the other peak is covered by snow until May. If you are planning to hike or stay overnight in the spring, you should check the conditions before you go.
If you do need to camp overnight, always carry a bivy sack in your backpack. This is basically similar to a normal sleeping bag and is also equipped with some extras. The purpose of a bivy sack is to give you protection from wind and rain in emergency situations. In addition, the bag ensures that it does not get clammy inside.
Hiking tips: How to behave in emergency situations
Hiking Tips No. 12: How to behave during a thunderstorm on the mountain
As already mentioned, in the mountains a sudden change of weather often happens quickly and unexpectedly. If a thunderstorm is already forecast for the day of your hike, you should think carefully about whether you actually want to start the tour. In such a case we recommend to postpone the hike to a later date.
If you are already in the mountains and you are unexpectedly surprised by a thunderstorm, you should follow a few rules. Ideally, you should be in the immediate vicinity of a (shelter) hut. Unfortunately, it may well be that you are far from a shelter. In this case, we will give you a few tips on how to behave in the event of a thunderstorm in the mountains.
Here's how to behave during a thunderstorm in the mountains:
- leave exposed areas
- seek refuge in caves only if there is a distance of half a body length to the entrance and the ceiling
- avoid free standing trees
- seek shelter in hollows or less exposed terrain
- assume a crouching, huddled position on an insulating pad (e.g. backpack) and keep both feet side by side
- remove metal objects like glasses, knives etc. from your body
- the best protection is offered by huts or, in case of need, a bivouac.
Try to stay calm and not to lose your nerves. Stay in your shelter until the storm has passed.
Hiking Tips No. 13: How to behave in case of mountain emergency
We hope you don't get into a mountain emergency, but if you do, some tips are extremely helpful. Basically, an emergency situation on the mountain is no different from the procedure in the valley: In the first step, you should always provide first aid! Once you have done this, the second step is to call the emergency number.
This information is important for the rescuers:
- Where exactly did the accident happen?
- What happened?
- How and when did the accident happen?
- What type of injury and how many injured are involved?
- Who reports the accident and what is the recall option?
- How accessible is my location (landing facilities for helicopters)?
Even if you are in an emergency situation, it is important that you remain calm and do not leave the injured person alone until the helpers arrive. At best, you should speak to the person.
Hiking is not a walk, but it is the best way to discover the world!
Every hike has a few dangers, but with the right preparation and our hiking tips, you can minimize the risk. When choosing a hiking route, make sure that it really suits you and your hiking partners and be sure to invest in good equipment!
In addition to sturdy hiking boots and good hiking poles, a suitable and properly packed hiking backpack is also important. In addition, keep to the rules and always inform yourself about the current weather situation, and nothing will stand in the way of your hiking happiness!