With many people taking to the streets for vital fresh air and exercise we thought it useful to source some advice for those who may be considering expanding this activity (whenever lockdowns ease) into some serious hiking.
So ArmaSkin invited John Feeney, the owner and main guide of The Hiking Society to provide some advice for new hikers.
If you’ve only ever been a casual walker where your typical trail has been around your local streets & reserves, the step up to a 10km hike might seem a little daunting.
And that feeling would be completely normal too.
But the good news is that I’ve got you well and truly covered for how to approach it so not only will you be safe but, and most importantly, you’ll enjoy yourself at the same time.
Let’s Get Adventurous
Whilst I’m sure walking around your local streets & reserves has its benefits, it really doesn’t compare to the type of scenery and enjoyment you’ll get from hiking a trail in a forest or national park.
Regardless of where you might live, there’s bound to be a hiking trail at least within an hour’s drive of your home.
So jump onto your computer and start researching nearby hikes that are approximately 10kms.
Platforms such as Google, Facebook groups, blogs and forums are excellent places to start your research and I’m confident you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Now that you’ve found an ideal trail for your 10km hike, it’s time to start thinking about the sort of gear you’ll need.
There are a few essentials that you will need but it’s important to remember that you don’t need all the latest gear to go for a day hike.
Honestly, it’s not necessary.
You could almost certainly get away with a backpack, drink bottle, a decent pair of runners, and sports clothes.
Because you could easily go and spend hundreds of dollars on hiking gear that you might not use all that much if you end up not enjoying your hiking (I reckon that probably won’t be the case though!).
To summarise, the essentials are:
- A backpack
- A good pair of runners
- Drink bottle/s – you’ll want to bring at least 2 litres of water with you
- Outdoor exercise appropriate clothing – leave your jeans and anything cotton at home.
If the point is to get out there and try something new for the first time, then you don’t need much by way of gear to do that.
Lastly, a map of where you are going would be especially handy to give you an idea of the trail.
At the very least it’ll give you that all-important direction in the event that the trail has few signs or no information board at the trail head.
You may not end up using it but it’s one of those pieces of gear that is handy to have with you even if you don’t use it.
Food & Water
If you’re going to be doing a 10km hike, which should take you anywhere between 2-3 hours depending on the terrain, it’s always a good idea to take some food with you.
This might include lunch but will almost certainly always include a variety of snacks.
And you can make it as creative or as simple as you want.
Some examples of what I like to bring with me on day hikes include Snickers, peanut M&Ms, fruit, Paleo bars etc.
They’re easy to carry, lightweight and full of calories to ensure your energy levels are where they should be as you hike your way around the trails.
With regards to water, and as I mentioned before, my general rule of thumb is to take at least two litres.
It might seem like a bit much for 10kms but I’ve always held the opinion that having too much water is better than having too little.
Also, if you happen to be hiking in reasonably hot conditions, you’ll almost certainly need two litres at the least and perhaps more.
As this is your first 10km hike, it’s probably a good idea to ensure you are safe at all times or that the area you are going is free of any obstructions.
Our governing body for the outdoors here in Victoria is Parks Victoria and they are readily available with any information about the trail conditions etc. that you might end up facing.
Secondly, it’s always a good idea to let someone know where you are going, approximately how long you’ll be gone for, and when you should return.
It might seem like overkill but in the off chance that something happens to you, at least there will be someone who can contact local authorities should you not return when you said you would.
The above four sections are probably a baseline of what you need to consider when going on your first 10km hike.
As you can probably tell, there is a little bit more thought that goes into it when comparing to walks around your local streets & reserves.
But with all this preparation and planning, the most important thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy yourself out there.
When hiking a trail, you’ll find a new appreciation for the outdoors that your local suburban walk could never provide you with.
John Feeney is the owner and main guide of The Hiking Society; an adventure company that offers the best guided hiking tours in Victoria.