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Even when the weather is nice, it’s a good idea to wear a waterproof, windproof jacket. You never know when conditions are going to take a turn, and a good windbreaker goes a long way toward keeping you dry and comfortable. If rain is a possibility on the day of your hike, you might also consider carrying a rain poncho.
During wet weather, wearing hiking pants is a good way to keep your legs dry when you walk. These pants tend to be more durable than slacks or jeans, as well as more water resistant. Hiking or rain pants protect you from rain, puddles and any mud or brush you may encounter on your favorite nature trail.
Cold weather can make a long hike much less pleasurable. The best way to keep warm during a hike is to wear insulated or thermal clothing that keeps your body heat in and the cold out. A wool sweater is a good choice because it is well insulated and more water resistant than a cotton shirt. In particularly cold weather, thermal underwear is great for staying warm, although harder to take off than a sweater, should the weather take a turn for the better.
Backpack and Bags
Whether you’re hiking down trails or through an urban setting, you need something to carry all your gear in. If you don’t plan to take much with you, a smaller belt pouch or messenger bag will usually do the trick. But, if you’re planning a longer hike, it’s best to carry a backpack. While a school-style book bag holds plenty of supplies, a hiking bag is the recommended choice. Among other things, it’s designed with better storage capabilities and added comfort in mind.
Even if your bag doesn’t seem too heavy at first, carrying it for prolonged periods can really wear out your back, arms and shoulders. If you’re walking with a heavy load, make sure you take frequent breaks to give your shoulders a rest. If you’re carrying a messenger bag that only goes over one shoulder, switch sides frequently so that both sides of your body share the burden.
GPS and Navigation
In this day and age, many people already carry a GPS with them at all times. Even a basic navigation app, such as Google Maps, can be indispensable – both walking around the neighborhood and through the woods. Provided your cell phone has service, determining the best path to your destination can be as simple as a single tap. However, for routes that take you deep into nature, it may be best to travel with an actual GPS. A device designed for hiking typically has a much longer battery life than most smartphones, especially if you use your phone to play music on the trail.
Not only can a smartphone act as a guide with the proper GPS app, many other apps also offer other useful services to hikers. MapMyWalk serves as a GPS, calorie counter and route planner, all in one. In addition to tracking your progress on each walk, MapMyWalk stores data from hikes you’ve taken in the past in order to let you see a clear picture of your fitness progress.
Not only can you save data from previous walks, you can also share the information with your walking-enthusiast friends (to compare everyone’s progress) and post achievement notifications on your favorite social media sites. This brings a social aspect to your walks without the need to locate a walking group in your area.
Of course, MapMyWalk isn’t the only app out there that’s useful to fitness junkies. There are countless pedometer apps available as a free download, many of which offer unique designs or features. Not only that, services like Google Fit or Samsung’s S Health provide a free way to plan and track your fitness journey. No matter which path you choose to explore, the use of an additional tool to track your progress is a great motivator that will no doubt keep you walking for years to come.
Food and Drink
Whenever you go out for a walk, be sure to bring plenty of water with you. If you don’t stay hydrated, you can end up suffering from the effects of fatigue or even heat exhaustion. While any water bottle will do, there is a variety of bottles designed with hiking in mind that are durable and lightweight. If you’re planning a trip that’s going to last more than a day, it’s probably a good idea to pack a water filter or water purification tablets too.
As far as food goes, you want to pack non-perishables that won’t weigh you down. This is especially true with longer walking excursions. Experienced hikers recommend eating lots of carbohydrates and proteins, which provide fast energy and keeps muscles healthy. Dehydrated foods are ideal, because they are easier to carry. Many walkers dehydrate and package their own trail snacks at home. It’s a much cheaper alternative to store-bought brands. It also greatly reduces packaging waste.
Remember, what you bring along with you can vary greatly from one walk to the next. If you’re taking a walk through your neighborhood, you won’t need much more than a good pair of shoes and a bottle of water. But, it doesn’t hurt to think about the addition of walking-related accessories. Choose from a variety of different fitness tools to help you get the most out of your walking workout. For example, weights and resistance bands are popular choices. Both are user-friendly and won’t break the bank.
For Your Safety
If you live in an urban or suburban area, your best bet for a free walking route is likely the sidewalk or shoulder along the streets of your town. It’s crucial when walking near traffic to always be aware of your surroundings.
If there’s sidewalk available along your route, make it your first choice. Only walk along the shoulder of the road when there is no other alternative. If you must travel along the shoulder, make sure you walk facing traffic. That way, you can see cars approaching you and have time to react should any of the drivers not be paying attention.
Make sure you apply sunscreen before you set out on your journey, and bring extra along in case you need to reapply it. It doesn’t take long for sunburn to develop. You’ll definitely regret it the next day if it does.
Believe it or not, even on a cloudy day, as much as 80 percent of the sun’s UV radiation makes it through our atmosphere. That being said, look for a sport sunscreen, or at least one that’s sweat resistant. Pay close attention to how often the label indicates you need to apply the product and follow the instructions to a tee.
Stinging or biting insects are a common problem along the trails, especially in the seasons that bring on great hiking weather. The best way to keep the bugs at bay is to use insect repellent, whether it’s an aerosol spray or lotion. It’s important to bring along enough insect repellent for everybody, especially if you’ll still be hiking at dusk.Other Details
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