16 Things to do Before a Hike

16 Things to do Before a Hike

When we talk about going hiking, there’s a lot of chatter about “being prepared”. But what exactly does that mean? What things should you do before a hike?

Over the years I’ve developed a bit of a routine before each hike. Keeping this simple checklist in mind makes sure that I stay safe on the trails. AND it also makes sure that I have fun since I’m much less likely to get so tired that I don’t enjoy it or end up soaking wet in a rainstorm. Read on for my recommendations for things to do before a hike.

Hey there: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support. -Taryn

Table of Contents

Find Some Hiking Buddies

In general, hiking in a group is better. For starters, it’s more fun. But safety is the real reason it’s better to hike with friends. You can help each other if someone gets hurt. And it’s less likely you’ll have a negative animal encounter since wildlife tends to stay away from groups. (Read more about bear safety if you’re worried.)

In general, the ideal group size is four. That way if someone gets hurt, one person can stay with them while the other two go for help.

But when hiking, it’s not really “the more, the merrier”. Large groups are difficult to keep together on the trail, can be loud and disruptive to other hikers, and have a greater impact on the environment. Leave No Trace and many land management agencies recommend 10 or 12 people as the maximum group size.

While groups are ideal, hiking alone can have its own rewards. I do hike by myself sometimes, but I’m really careful and only do it on easier hikes. Here are my thoughts and tips on hiking alone.

Research Trail Options

Do some research and pick a trail to hike. This means more than scrolling through Instagram and picking somewhere that looks epic. Look at trail websites, blogs and park websites. Pick up a guidebook.

Find out some key pieces of info about the hike: How hard is it? How far is it? How much elevation gain is there? Make sure you choose a hike that is within the abilities of you and your group. If you’re just starting out, pick easier hikes, then work up to harder ones.

Make Sure You Have Enough Time

Accidents happen when you’re rushing or trying to hike at night. Make sure you have enough time to complete your hike.

Research how long it usually takes people to hike, then add in a bit more time as a buffer. Don’t forget to look up how long it will take you to drive there. And check what time the sun sets. You don’t want to be caught out after dark.

Read Up on Local Regulations

In many places, rules and regulations are in place to protect the natural environment and make sure all users have a positive experience. Check park websites to find out if you need a reservation, permit or park pass. Find out if any areas are closed and if dogs or campfires are allowed.

Check Trail Conditions

There’s nothing worse than getting halfway up a mountain to be stopped by snow. If you research the trail conditions ahead of time you have a higher chance of having fun. More importantly, you’ll have a much higher chance of staying safe and avoid getting lost. The first principle of Leave No Trace is plan ahead and prepare, and checking trail conditions is an important part of that.

These days, there are a LOT of places to check trail conditions. Try Instagram, hiking groups, and park websites. I’ve got a whole post about How to Find Trail Conditions with more info.

Young hiker walks through mud on the West Coast Trail

We knew it would be really muddy on the West Coast Trail so we came prepared with waterproof boots and gaiters. Photo credit: Reid Holmes

Get the Weather and Avalanche Forecasts

Find out if it’s going to rain or snow and how cold it’s going to be. Then pack clothes to match the weather. If you are going hiking in the mountains, keep in mind that the weather in the city isn’t the same.

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If you hike in winter, make sure you check the avalanche forecast on avalanche.ca (Canada) or avalanche.org (USA). If you don’t have avalanche training, you should probably stay out of avalanche terrain if the forecast is anything except low.

Dress for the Conditions

In general, it’s a good idea to wear moisture-wicking and quick-drying clothing when hiking. This means choosing polyester, nylon or merino wool clothing and avoiding cotton, which soaks up moisture. Dress in layers so you can add or remove clothing as the temperature changes. (Read more about what to wear hiking.)

Even if you’ve checked the forecast, the weather can change fast. It’s a good idea to have an extra warm layer and a rain jacket in your pack just in case.

Take Care of Your Feet

The secret to happy hiking is happy feet. Wear hiking boots or trail runners that fit you and grip the trail. Prevent blisters by wearing wool-blend socks or pre-taping problem areas. And don’t forget to cut your toenails. (For a whole list of anti-blister techniques, check out my Blister Prevention Tips.)

Pack the 10 Essentials

Bring a backpack to carry your gear. Make sure you pack the 10 Essentials. These are 10 safety items that you should always have with you on every hike:

  • headlamp,
  • food and water,
  • warm clothing,
  • map or other navigation aid,
  • fire starter,
  • first aid kit,
  • emergency shelter,
  • sun protection,
  • knife,
  • communication device

Read my post about the 10 Essentials for full details.

Female hiker wearing a backpack on a trail near the ocean in Narawantapu National Park in Tasmania, Australia

Hiking in Narawantapu National Park in Tasmania, Australia. I keep most of the 10 Essentials in my backpack all the time so it doesn’t take me long to get ready to hike.

Avoid Getting Lost

Make sure you stay on track by bringing a trail map and a copy of the trail description. If you choose to bring electronic copies on your phone, make sure you have a USB power bank as backup. A GPS or GPS app is also a good idea.

Pack Snacks… Lots of Snacks

Hiking makes you hungry. Make sure you pack enough food for your trip. It’s a good idea to bring more food than you think you’ll need.

I always keep a few extra bars in my backpack. That way I have emergency food if the hike takes longer than we thought, if someone gets injured and we need to wait for help or if a friend forgets their snacks.

It’s also a great idea to leave some snacks in the car. Nothing tastes better after a long day on the trail than some nice salty potato chips!

Bring a Garbage Bag

Plan ahead to reduce waste. Bring a garbage bag to carry out everything you brought with you. That includes organic waste like apple cores and banana peels. (Read more about organic waste in my post about Why it’s Important to Leave No Trace.)

You can also use your garbage bag to pick up any trash you find. It’s great to leave the trail better than you found it!

Fill Up a Water Bottle

Bring a water bottle or hydration reservoir. Dehydration is no joke. In general, about 2L of water is a good amount for a day hike. HOWEVER, if the hike is hard or it’s hot out, you’ll need much more.

Find out if there are creeks along the way, then bring a filter or water treatment tablets. Giardia (a.k.a. beaver fever) is also no joke.

Check Your Gear

Make sure your gear works and you know how to use it. You don’t want to figure out how to use your GPS for the first time at the trailhead. Double-check the contents of your first aid kit before each hike. I always find something I’ve run out of like bandaids or painkillers.

And make sure your batteries are charged. Phone battery, GPS battery, headlamp battery, camera battery… we carry so many electronics these days! Make sure you aren’t forgetting anything: use my simple backpacking gear checklist.

Be Prepared to go to the Bathroom

Everybody pees and poops, but none of us talk about it. Find out if there are toilets on the trail and try to go to the bathroom before your hike. I always pack toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and a small trowel in my pack just in case. (For more info on going to the bathroom outside, check out my post about Leave No Trace.)

Leave a Trip Plan

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do before going on a hike. Tell a friend where you are going and when you expect to be back. That way, someone will know to look for you if you get lost or injured. Adventure Smart has a great trip planning app and online form.

So there’s my list of things you should do before a hike. It may sound like a lot, but honestly, I find the pre-trip research fun. I also keep my daypack partially packed with most of the 10 essentials and my bathroom kit so it doesn’t take me long to get ready. How many of these steps are you already doing before each hike? Tell me in the comments.

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22 Things to Know Before You Go Hiking

Photo Credit: Peter Morgan

The best way to make your hike enjoyable is to plan ahead. On the trail, you’ll want to make smart choices and rely on yourself. Here are some smart tips that can make your trip fun.

Tips to Keep You On Track

1. Never hike alone. You need to have a partner in case you have an accident.

2. Know how to get to your destination, which may mean buying a map and carrying a compass.

3. Along the way, you may need to refill your water supply. Know where to find water, and have that marked on your map.

4. Always look at the weather forecast ahead of time and wear layers that you can remove as you’re hiking.

5. If you have a four-legged friend, check if dogs are allowed on the trail. Everywhere has different rules about being on/off leash.

Tips to Keep You Safe

6. Your safety on the trail is your own responsibility. Stay on the trail and don’t take shortcuts on switchbacks.

7. Know your capabilities. It’s best to be conservative on your first hike. Altitude, climbing and heat can make hikes that much more difficult.

8. Keep your medical conditions in mind when you’re planning a hike. Knee and back problems, heart conditions, diabetes, asthma and other medical conditions can be amplified with exertion and severe weather.

9. Consider hiking poles to take the stress off your knees and thighs.

10. Keep your backpack as light as possible. Water and food should be the heaviest items you pack.

11. Invest in a good quality backpack that fits your style and body type.

12. Hiking boots are always preferred to gym shoes, but wear them in first so you don’t get blisters.

13. Sun glasses, sunscreen, bug spray and a basic first aid kit are always good to carry with you.

Tips to Save Your Energy

14. Hike at a pace where you can talk while your walking and know when to take a break.

15. Stop once every hour for 10 minutes even if you don’t think you need a rest.

16. You should never hike on an empty stomach. Be sure to eat before, during and after your hike.

17. Make sure your snacks are filled with carbohydrates and salt. The carbs will give you energy while the salts keep your electrolytes in check.

18. Always carry your trash with you. Don’t leave litter on the trail.

19. Drink before you are thirsty. For every hour of hiking, plan to drink half a quart to a quart of water.

Tips to Finish Your Hike

20. Assume it will take twice as long to hike uphill as down.

21. Give hikers going uphill the right of way.

22. Plan to end your hike before sundown. If you do end up hiking in the dark, bring a flashlight with extra batteries or a headlamp.

5 Best Things to Prepare Before Going Hiking: A Guide for Beginners

If you’ve watched any nature documentaries on television or YouTube, then you’ve probably come across the phrase “going on a hike.” It seems like an ideal activity for anyone with an affinity for the outdoors and a love of exploring new places. So what is it about hiking that makes it so exciting? And why should you start doing it?

What to Prepare Before Going Hiking

Photo by Andrei Tanase

Hiking is one of the best ways to appreciate nature. The great outdoors is also known as a sanctuary — which means that they are neither disturbed nor man-made. This explains why hiking is a perfect way to connect with Mother Earth.

You see, the great outdoors helps us unwind and get rid of stress while reconnecting with our past and future selves through introspection and self-reflection. But before you head out on your next hike, there are a few things you should do to prepare. This beginner’s guide will tell you what you need to know to make sure your hike is safe and enjoyable.

Choose the right hiking trail

Choose the right hiking trail

Photo by Krivec Ales

When it comes to choosing a hiking trail, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, consider your fitness level and choose a trail that is appropriate. Secondly, take into account the weather conditions on the day you plan to hike. And finally, factor in how much time you have to complete the hike. Once you have considered all of these factors, you can narrow down your choices and pick the perfect trail for your hike.

What to wear on a hike

What to wear on a hike

Photo by Josh Willink

Assuming you have all the necessary gear for your hike, it’s now time to start thinking about what to wear. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your outfit for a hike.

First, consider the weather and temperature. You’ll want to dress appropriately for the conditions you’ll be hiking in. If it’s cold, you’ll want to layer up. If it’s hot, you’ll want to wear light, breathable fabrics.

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Second, think about the terrain. If you’re hiking on rocky trails, you might want to wear shoes with good traction. If you’re hiking through streams or over snow, waterproof shoes or boots might be a good idea.

Finally, don’t forget about comfort. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so make sure your shoes are comfortable and your clothes aren’t too tight or restrictive. Also, consider bringing a hat or sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.

10 Things to pack for a hike

10 Things to pack for a hike

Photo by Bich Tran

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, it’s always important to be prepared before heading out on a hike. Here are a few things you should always bring with you:

  1. A map of the area. Make sure you know where you’re going and what the terrain will be like.
  2. Plenty of water. You’ll need to stay hydrated, especially if you’re hiking in hot weather.
  3. Snacks or a meal. energy bars, trail mix, and other lightweight snacks are great for keeping your energy up during a hike.
  4. Appropriate clothing. Depending on the weather and the type of hike you’re doing, you’ll need to dress accordingly. Be sure to pack layers so you can adjust to changes in temperature.
  5. A first-aid kit. This is essential in case of any injuries or medical emergencies.
  6. A flashlight or headlamp. You’ll want to be able to see in the dark, whether it’s for evening hikes or early morning starts.
  7. Sunscreen and insect repellent. Protect yourself from the sun and bugs while you’re out on the trail.
  8. A whistle. This can be used to signal for help in an emergency.
  9. A hiking stick or poles. These can help with balance and stability on uneven terrain.
  10. Your cell phone. Bring it along in case you need to call for help, but be sure to keep it turned off to conserve battery life.

How to stay safe on a hike

How to stay safe on a hike

Photo by Oriol Segon Torra

If you’re new to hiking, or even if you’ve been hiking for a while, it’s important to know how to stay safe on the trail. Here are some tips:

1. Tell someone where you’re going

It’s always a good idea to let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. That way, if something happens and you don’t return when you’re supposed to, someone will know to come looking for you.

2. Stay on the trail

It may be tempting to wander off the trail, but it’s important to stay on marked paths. Not only will this help you stay safe, but it will also help protect sensitive areas of the environment.

3. Be aware of your surroundings

Pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of potential hazards. This includes things like slippery rocks, steep drop-offs, and wildlife.

4. Don’t hike alone

It’s always best to hike with at least one other person. This way, if something happens, there’s someone there to help.

5. Be prepared for emergencies

Bring a first aid kit and be sure you know how to use it. If you have a cellphone, bring it along in case you need to call for help.

By following these tips, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable hike.

How to hike the right way

How to hike the right way

Photo by Pranavsinh suratia

There are a few things you should know before you hit the trails. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, preparing for your hike is essential to having a safe and enjoyable time. This guide will help you get ready for your next hike, so you can focus on enjoying the outdoors.

Before heading out, check the weather forecast and make sure you have the appropriate clothing and gear. Layering is key – you want to be able to adjust to changing conditions. Be sure to pack plenty of food and water, as well as a first-aid kit. And finally, let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.

Once you’re on the trail, take your time and pay attention to your surroundings. stay on marked trails and be aware of potential hazards, such as steep drop-offs or slippery rocks. If you’re hiking with others, stay together – it’s easier to spot potential problems when there are more eyes on the trail. And most importantly, enjoy yourself! Hiking is a great way to appreciate nature and get some exercise at the same time.


Now that you know what to prepare before going hiking, it’s time to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!

Hiking is a wonderful way to exercise, clear your mind, and connect with nature. With a little preparation, you can ensure that your hike is safe and enjoyable. So grab your hiking gear and hit the trails!

Source https://happiestoutdoors.ca/16-things-to-do-before-a-hike/

Source https://www.iexplore.com/experiences/hiking/22-things-to-know-you-go-hiking

Source https://saga-holiday.com/hiking/

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