Summer and the warmer months of the year are the perfect time to plan an outdoor walking adventure. Long or short, day or overnight, near or far – a successful hike in a stunning location can help to create amazing memories to share with friends and family alike.
Whether you’re planning a well-trodden river walk, following a popular national trail in the UK or challenging yourself on a worthwhile fundraiser, pre-planning your walk is important. When it comes to excitement, anticipation and wanderlust, it’s easy to forget the essentials and preparation is key to ensuring that you have a safe and enjoyable trip.
There are countless points to consider when packing your bags, and making a list of things to remember can really help. And, even better, is having an alternative checklist to remember all those things that are often overlooked.
What to consider before your outdoor walk
You’ve got the hiking boots, the backpack and a map or the GPS coordinates of the area you’re going to explore. You’ve planned your route and you know where you’re going. But, what else should you think about before taking off on your outdoor adventure in the UK, or if you’re heading abroad?
Make the most of your long summer walks by considering what you might miss when you’re packing and could catch you out or even disrupt your trip. Before you go on your outdoor adventure, it’s a good idea to tick off the following:
- Do you have all the supplies and equipment you’ll need for your trip?
- What kind of outdoor walking footwear will work best for you? Do you have the right clothing?
- Have you thought about insect repellent, sunscreen or other protective items?
- What about binoculars if you’re going rock-climbing, or walking up mountainous areas and climbing peaks?
- Have you packed any swimwear if you’re planning to dive in or dip into hidden waterfalls and streams?
- If you’re taking your dog or youngsters along, have you considered all their needs?
- Are there any last-minute medical appointments that relate to your trip?
- Should you consider getting a remote phone charger or other charging devices so your phone doesn’t run out of battery power while you’re away from civilisation?
Alternative summer hiking checklist
What do you need to book?
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s worth checking if you know exactly what to book. Just getting to and from the location, and accommodation may not be all you need to book.
You may be required to book a guide, a hire-car, or even certain activities while you’re away. Make sure you don’t get caught short and have to find something on the spot. That can become expensive in no time at all.
Research the route
It is always a good idea to research your walking route to make sure it’s appropriate for you and anyone else you are going with. The route should be appropriate for the least capable member of your team.
If you have mobility issues or someone with you does, have you researched wheelchair-friendly walks? Don’t just assume everyone is as fit and able as you, and know your own abilities. Do some practice walks beforehand if possible or train in a nearby gym to boost your fitness levels.
Check your equipment
When you’re in the planning stage of your trip it is not only sensible but your responsibility to check your equipment. You may not have used it in a while or noticed any damage by the end of your last trip.
If you need to buy anything while you’re away that could get expensive, or you may not be able to buy what you need there and then! Make sure that the equipment you plan to take is in good condition, suitable for the location you’ll be walking in and safe. If you find it’s not then you may need to go shopping or worse, cancel or change your intended route.
What do you need to buy?
If you are no stranger to hiking trips then you may already have a lot of the equipment you need. But, as we mentioned above, check it as you may need to buy new equipment if your old stuff is in bad condition.
If you’re new to hiking then here are a few things you may want to buy.
- Any special equipment you might need – maps, compasses, GPS devices, etc.
- Remote phone-charging equipment
- Food, water and snacks; think of your dietary needs
- Binoculars if you’re climbing peaks
- Maps and guidebooks of the area you are going to
Vaccinations and being fit for travel
If you’re hiking overseas, make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. You may not need to get any vaccinations, especially if you are not going far from home. But, it is something you should look into and double-check that you are fit to travel, whatever your age or destination.
If your walk is a long one, and you’re taking children with you, it is sensible to check that you have the right medical supplies and that you have kept any key or routine GP, dental or eye appointments. If you’re prone to sensitive teeth or have an uncomfortable tooth that has been niggling for a while, see a dentist before your trip. You might also want to check you are well stocked when it comes to contact lenses or prescription sunglasses.
Look after your feet
When you’re walking in the great outdoors, it’s important to make sure your feet are taken care of especially if you’re planning a lengthy trip. Blisters and soreness can be common if you aren’t prepared for the long-distance walking that hiking requires. They can also make continuing and finishing a target hike very uncomfortable so it’s crucial to be prepared.
Here’s how to prepare your feet to stay healthy and happy as you walk:
- Make sure you have comfortable shoes that fit well
- Pack good quality socks that absorb sweat and moisture (keeping your feet dry)
- Include a few extra pairs of socks especially for longer walks
- Make sure you have plasters or tape to cover any blisters or cuts.
First aid kits and emergency contact info
If you’ve ever found yourself in an emergency situation, you know how important it is to have a plan and be prepared for the worst-case scenario. While you’re out walking around this summer, make sure you have the following things on hand:
First Aid Kit: When you’re packing or shopping for your outdoor walk, make sure you have bandages and other basic first aid supplies that are recommended for walking trips. You never know when you’ll need them!
Water: It’s always good to have some water with you when you’re out on a walk – it can help keep you hydrated while also helping if anything happens (like if someone gets injured and needs immediate medical attention).
Emergency Contact Info: Make sure that your emergency contact info is always readily available – and don’t forget to update it if anything changes (for example, if your phone number changes).
Whether you are going abroad or not, travel insurance is a good thing to have. It can be a lifesaver if you get sick or hurt while travelling.
Travel insurance covers you for medical expenses, lost baggage and even cancellation fees if your flight gets cancelled. Make sure that the policy covers your specific needs before purchasing it. Also, find out what kind of coverage they provide and how much it will cost.
Pack the correct clothing
The best way to make the most of your long summer walks is to buy and pack layers of clothing that are suitable for the weather and terrain that you are hiking in.
When packing for a hike, it’s important to think about what kind of weather you might encounter on your trip. If it’s going to be hot and sunny, it’s best to pack light layers that can be easily removed if necessary. This way, even if you’re sweating at first, you won’t get overheated later on in the day when the sun goes down.
Similarly, if there could be rain or wind during your trip, make sure your clothing is waterproof and windproof! You don’t want to get caught unprepared by surprise rainstorms or gusts of wind while walking around outdoors – it can be dangerous!
If you are going to be swimming in any lakes, streams or waterfalls you may want to make sure you have swimwear that you can pack.
Check the weather reports
Think of the season and time of the day that you’ll be doing your walk, and buy appropriate clothing. Check the weather report before you go – and if there’s a chance of rain, throw on some rain gear. If it’s hot out, take water with you, and consider wearing light-coloured clothing. And, if it’s late at night or early in the morning, bring a flashlight (or wear one).
You may also want to follow weather advice for the location you are in. Hiking up mountains in the fog or other adverse weather conditions can become dangerous quickly.
Preparation is key! It doesn’t matter if you’re going on a hike, a guided trail or holiday walk or taking a walk around a well-known National Park, it’s always good to be prepared. While it is good to be safe and responsible, it is equally important to enjoy the walk and activities you are doing – a balance of indulgence and preparation will allow you to maximise your enjoyment.