Whether you’re taking a short hike with the family or are planning on a longer trek, your comfort is key. Read on for our tips on how to stay comfortable while hiking to ensure that a chill or wet feet don’t ruin your day in nature.
First step: the right footwear. Depending on what terrain you will be hiking, some lightweight sneakers may suffice, or you may want to get into some high tech boots. When hiking short, easy trails without much elevation, a sneaker will do the trick. Lightweight sneakers feel great, but they can be a bit of a drag if you encounter weather changes, streams, or challenging terrain.
Your solution? Hiking boots. They are usually structured to keep in warmth while repelling water and supporting your feet and ankles so that even the most challenging of terrain feel breezy. We always recommend breaking in hiking boots before taking them out for a spin to ensure your feet stay comfortable the whole time. Also, be sure you’re wearing your correct size, as hiking boots that are too big or too small can cause blisters.
Right after shoes, the right socks are almost just as important. There are so many kinds of women’s and men’s socks available, so how does one choose? For warm weather and light hiking, a simple pair of sports socks will do just fine — nothing beats the awesomeness of hiking socks. Hiking socks have added weatherproof technology and thickness that makes them ideal for long hours spent on your feet outdoors. There are different grades of hiking socks depending on weather and terrain, so make sure you choose the right ones for your hike.
The right insulation can make or break the comfort level of your hike. On fall or winter hikes, having insulating layers can help you enjoy the outdoors for even longer. Thermal shirts and long underwear are going to be your best hiking companions when taking on the outdoors in cooler temperatures. They are super lightweight, often made of a silk or wool blend designed to effectively keep body heat in.
Like the right pair of shoes, the right jacket can make or break your hike. One of our top choices for hiking in cooler temperatures or for long hikes is packable jackets. Packable jackets are lightweight enough to be packed into a small bundle without compromising on function and warmth. They are easy to carry in your pack and just as easy to take out when some sudden gusty weather comes through or when the sun starts to set.
When choosing a jacket, some things you want to keep in mind are function, weight, and level of insulation. For some hikes, a simple windbreaker might do just fine, or you may want to have a waterproof down jacket to stay dry and warm. Raincoats and ponchos are also useful for hiking in the spring or fall when the temperatures aren’t too chilly.
It’s important to stay hydrated on a hike. While this is especially important in the warmer months, it is also imperative to drink water in the cooler months, too. Feeling parched on a hike is no fun at all, but even more, not staying hydrated while hiking can contribute to sorer muscles later on. Sip water during your hike to keep that lactic acid moving so you don’t cramp up and feel achy the next day. Rather than carrying a small water bottle with you in your hands, we recommend taking a larger bottle and carrying it on your back. Take a lightweight backpack and put in it whatever items you need for your hike, including your water supply.
Last, but not least, remember that layers are key. Layers will give you the flexibility to air out or to insulate, depending on the weather. Again, think lightweight items that are easy to carry in your pack. A great lightweight layer item that can make all the difference is a packable down vest. Materials such as silk and cashmere are easy to take on and off, plus they are light enough to fold up and carry around in your pack.
Planning is key to staying comfortable on your hike, regardless of whether it is a small stroll on a nearby trail or a multi-day expedition to your local mountain range. Gear up with some of these suggestions to stay comfortable every step of the way.