1. I scream, you scream, we all scream for SUNSCREEN!
This is a no brainer, but who doesn’t need a friendly reminder to slather on the SPF nowadays? Don’t forget to reapply!
2. Carry Trail Mix for Sustained Energy
When it comes to sustenance, trail mix is a staple item for hikers. But many pre-made trail mixes may contain lots of sugar and salt that don’t really help you when it comes to your energy levels. Instead, make your own! It’s fun and easy to play with different trail mix combinations. Choose raw nuts with lots of protein like almonds, cashews and pistachios. For some sweetness add dried cherries, goji berries, blueberries or dates. Raw cacao nibs are also a great way to include chocolate minus the processed sugar.
3. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Another “no brainer” tip here, but hey, we are only human and sometimes we forget to drink water. Not only do you want to avoid dehydration which can make you physically sick, hiking can be a serious workout and you want your body to perform at it’s best.
4. Carry Fire, Light & Whistle For Safety
Having the tools to create fire to make sure you always have warmth and that you can be seen in case of an emergency is a good idea no matter the length of your trail hike. A headlamp is an extremely useful tool for lighting your way for when it gets dark. Also carrying a whistle in your pack will be helpful in case you are stuck in a situation where rescuers need to find you and you don’t have any light or fire.
5. Use the Buddy System
It can certainly be a great personal experience to hike on your own, however, it’s highly recommended that unless you’re a seasoned expert in camping and hiking, always take a buddy with you on the trails. You never know what or who you may encounter and having a buddy is a great way to stay safe.
6. Leave No Trace
It’s important to preserve our trails and keep animals and other hikers out of harms way. So when you’re hiking the trails, make sure that any garbage that you may produce is taken with you and disposed of in proper receptacles or taken back to camp with you to dispose. Also, look, but don’t take! Make sure that you preserve the historical and environmental integrity of our parks by appreciating everything that you see in front of you and not taking home any souvenirs. Photos and memories are sufficient.
7. Keep Pets on a Leash
Who doesn’t love a companion on the trails? It’s fun to let your pets roam free, but on the trails, it’s proper etiquette to keep your pet on a leash. Also remember to pick up after your pet! Remember, pets should “leave no trace” as well.
8. When Nature Calls, Use the 200 Ft. Rule
When ya gotta go, ya gotta go! When “nature calls,” make sure to dispose of human waste in catholes that are dug 6-8 inches deep in the soil at least 200 feet away from any water source. The same practice goes for your pets’ waste!
9. Layer Up
You never know what kind of weather is going to hit you while you’re walking the trails, so prepare to layer up! Light layers that can be removed and easily carried around the waist or in a pack will help you keep cool, warm, or dry no matter the weather you encounter. Consider layers that wicks moisture away from your body will also help you stay dry and comfortable.
10. Wear Appropriate Footwear
This ain’t no fashion show, people. Hiking trails can be a serious workout and should be treated as such. You wouldn’t play soccer without proper cleats and shinguards or skydive without proper training and gear would you? Well, it seems simple enough, but you should be wearing the proper footwear when you’re hiking the trails. Trail shoes are great for those hikes where you are not carrying heavy packs or on difficult terrain. Hiking boots will offer more support for those more advanced trails and when traveling with heavy packs.
For more in-depth tips on hiking the trails this month visit: http://www.americanhiking.org/gear-resources/tips-for-your-next-hike/