Are you an avid hiker? Or maybe you’re new to hiking and looking to learn the ropes? Then you’ve stumbled into the right place. We have a love of the outdoors and all of the wonderful activities that revolve around the world outside.
In this article, we’ll walk you through some important tips for year-round hiking so you can be prepared, safe, and enjoy your time in the great outdoors.
Preparation tips for hiking
One of the most important steps when going on a hike is preparation. The better prepared you are for your hike, the safer you’ll be and the more fun you’ll have. Your preparation might look different depending on when, where, and how long you’ll be hiking. Here are some important tips to help you prepare no matter what your hike looks like.
Always check the forecast and trail conditions
First, you’ll want to know what the weather and trail conditions will look like during your hike. This can help you determine what equipment to bring, what to wear, and whether or not the hike is going to be safe enough to engage in.
The last thing you want is to be surprised by a downpour of rain or snow while you’re out on a hike and not have the right shoes and jacket to properly protect yourself.
You can usually do a quick Google search of the area you’ll be hiking in for trail conditions and weather forecasts. Facebook groups for the area are another great way to stay informed.
Pack plenty of water
Water is essential for any hike. Here is a few good rules of thumb to bear in mind when planning how much water to bring:
- As a general rule, bring at least 2 cups of water for every hour that you’ll be hiking (that’s per person).
- If it’s going to be hot and humid during your hike, double that and bring at least 4 cups of water per hour.
- If there’s a reliable water source on the hike (running stream or river), you can bring a water filter and pack enough water to get to the refill point.
- Know your own level of thirstiness. If you tend to get thirsty when active and know that you’ll need more water, then bring more.
- If you’re hiking in cold weather, bring an insulated water bottle with room temperature or even warm water. Cold water will only make you feel colder during your hike.
Purchase and pack proper safety gear
You should always be aware of the type of equipment and safety gear that your desired hike requires before venturing out. Research the hike that you want to go on and see what other people recommend for gear.
A beginner hike that only lasts a couple of hours is going to require less gear than a multi-day backpacking trip. And depending on the season, location, and terrain, you’ll have different gear requirements, so make sure you take the time to research and purchase what you’ll need.
Here are some general recommendations for safety gear that you should keep on you for a day hike during any part of the year:
- First aid kit
- Sun protection (yes, even in winter)
- Emergency shelter
- Extra food
- Extra water
- Extra layers of clothing
- Good hiking shoes
- Supportive backpack to carry everything
Some people also like to carry a gun for extra peace of mind, particularly if they are hiking solo or for an extended period of time where predatorial animals are known to wander. If you have a firearm that you want to take with you on your hike, just make sure you exercise proper gun safety and are aware of the state and federal laws for the area that you’ll be hiking in before you carry it.
Let someone know where you’ll be
Always let someone know where you’ll be and how long you’ll be gone before you leave on your hike, even if you’re only going out for a few hours. If something were to happen, then someone would know your general whereabouts and can seek help for you.
Summer hiking tips
We have several summer-specific hiking tips that you should be aware of as you plan and trips in the summer. Whether you are going on a long or short hike, these tips are important for any warm-weather outings.
We cannot stress this one enough. It’s not enough just to bring plenty of water on your trip, but you should make sure you’re actively hydrating throughout your hike. It’s also a good idea to drink a lot of water leading up to your hike.
Wear loose-fitting, sweat-wicking clothing
Make sure you’ll be comfortable on a warm summer hike with clothes that allow for a breeze and help wick sweat away from your body. Avoid cotton and choose light-colored clothes that won’t retain as much heat from the sun.
Wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen. If you’re going on a long hike, bring sunscreen along with you so you can reapply as needed. If where you’re going is particularly bright and not very shaded, you may consider bringing sunglasses too.
Start your hike early to hike during the coolest part of the day and before the sun is at its high point.
Plan around shade and water
Plan your summer hikes around shade and water to prevent the risks that come with hiking in the heat (sunburn, heatstroke, dehydration, etc).
Know the signs of heat stroke
If you’re hiking in severe hot temperatures, take all of the precautions you can and make sure you know the signs of heat stroke. Those include:
- Slurred speech
- Profuse sweating or hot, dry skin
- Very high body temperature
If you suspect heat stroke in yourself or any member of your hiking party, call 9-1-1 and cool them down as quickly as possible with wet cloths, water, and fanning of the air.
Winter hiking tips
For all you winter hikers who prefer cold-weather adventures, keep these tips at the front of your mind for any winter hikes you plan.
That’s right, it’s still important to hydrate in the winter. Take and drink plenty of water throughout your winter hikes to avoid dehydration.
Dress in layers
This tip is crucial. Having layers of insulating clothing will help you regulate your temperature throughout the hike. You may find that you warm up quickly as your body gets moving, so having a thin layer below your top warm coat will allow you to take the top layer off without freezing. And on the other side of that, if you are hiking a summit, the higher you go, the colder it gets so you’ll want more layers to keep warm as you go.
Take an experienced friend
If you’ve never hiked in winter conditions before, take someone along with you who has. Hiking in the winter is very different from hiking in the spring, summer, and fall, particularly if there’s snow and ice on the ground. Having someone who’s familiar with safety protocols can help prevent serious incidents.
Bring the right gear
Hiking in the snow or around ice requires different gear than hiking in dry conditions. Make sure you have the proper gear for the type of winter hike you’ll be engaging in, whether that’s snowshoes, microspikes, or hiking staffs.
Keep your electronics warm
If you have a phone or GPS for navigation or a camera for taking pictures, keep them as warm as you can to ensure a longer-lasting battery. It wouldn’t be ideal to get to your viewpoint only to find that your camera or phone has died.
How to dress for various weather conditions
We’ve touched on this a little throughout the article, but let’s dive a little deeper into how you should dress when hiking in various weather conditions year-round. Wearing the proper clothing is going to make your hike much more comfortable and enjoyable, plus it’s crucial for safety on your hikes.
How to dress on hot weather hikes
During the summer and when hiking in warmer temperatures, the most important thing is to wear light, loose-fitting clothing that helps wick sweat away from your body. If you wear clothes that cling to your body when you sweat, that could cause you to overheat, and it’s uncomfortable. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you plan what to wear for warm weather hikes:
- Choose light colors. This will help reflect the sun’s rays, rather than absorb them, keeping you cooler.
- Find clothing with open vents. Some shirts, pants, and shorts are designed with zippered vents that you can open to improving airflow.
- Choose clothing with a UPF rating. UPF-rated clothing is guaranteed to provide protection against the sun. Common ratings you might see are UPF 15, UPF 30, and UPF 50+.
- Cover up. If you are particularly vulnerable to sunburns, you may consider wearing long sleeves and pants. Choose loose-fitting, ventable clothing so that you can stay as cool as possible.
- Choose the right socks. Wear wool or synthetic socks that fit your feet well. Socks that are too big can wrinkle up and cause blisters.
- Wear a hat. Hats can help protect your scalp, face, and eyes from the sun’s ray. And if you’re looking for a good everyday hat that you can wear while hiking, check out Liberty Safe’s hat collection.
How to dress on cold weather hikes
When you’re hiking in cold weather, the most important thing your clothing should do is help regulate your body temperature to ensure you don’t freeze. Keep that in mind as you prepare for your winter hikes. Here are some helpful tips for making sure you have the right winter hiking clothes:
- Wear layers. When you layer for cold-weather hikes, you should have three main layers: a base layer, a mid-layer, and a shell layer. The base layer should be something like a long-sleeve shirt that wicks moisture away from your skin. Your mid layer should insulate warmth, but be thin enough to fit under the shell layer. Something like a heavyweight zip-up hoodie could work here. And the shell layer should keep wind and moisture out. A rain or snow jacket is a good choice for that final layer.
- Avoid cotton. Cotton takes a long time to dry when it gets wet, and that could leave you cold and miserable. Choose wool and synthetic materials instead.
- Cover your skin. Wear gloves, long socks, a neck gaiter or facemask, and a winter hat or beanie to cover any places where skin may show to avoid frostbite.
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing. Clothing that is too tight, like the cuffs of sleeves or gloves, socks, or even leggings, can cause poor circulation which increases the risk of frostbite. Wear clothes that fit properly.
- Wear gaiters on your boots. Keep snow out of your boots with gaiters around your ankles if you’re going to be hiking through deep snow. They also help keep in some warmth.
Best ways to store your safety gear
There’s more that goes into hiking than just the hike and the gear. You also need a good place to keep all of your hiking and safety gear when the day is done. Here are some tips for properly storing your safety gear:
- Designate a space. Find a space in your home, shop, or garage that you can dedicate to your hiking gear. This will make it easy to find and gather whenever you want to venture out on a hike.
- Use vertical space. If you don’t have a lot of space, go vertical to create more room. You can use a portion of your closet or a dedicated closet for hiking gear, depending on how much you have. Hanging shoe or cube organizers are great for storing and organizing small hiking gear and clothing.
- Pre-pack your bags. Keep your bags pre-packed to store your hiking gear and have everything ready to go for your next hike.
- Store valuables in a locked safe. If you have a gun for safety or an expensive camera or drone that you take on hikes, store those in a home safe for added protection when you aren’t using them.
Get the best gun safes at Liberty Safe
For the outdoor adventurer who needs a safe place to store hunting rifles, handguns, or even just expensive gear for your hikes, Liberty Safe has you covered. We have devoted our efforts to create the best home and gun safes on the market. With certified fire protection and security features to protect against pry attacks, you can rest assured that your belongings will be protected in a Liberty Safe. Find the best gun safe for your home today!