Walking through the mountains, surrounded by nature, wild animals, and all their benefits, is a relaxing, calming experience that helps us disconnect from the world.
It is clear that the purity of the mountains provides us with many health benefits, apart from the exercise we get while walking through them. Being in contact with nature helps reduce stress and tension, allowing us to think clearly while connecting with it and ourselves.
At RRAT's, we want you to have the best possible experience on your hikes, so in this blog, we will provide you with 10 essential tips for a safe mountain hike.
1. Dress in layers
Whether you go in summer or winter, it is crucial to be prepared for potential temperature changes.
There's no need to wear very thick clothing; it's better to wear several thin and technical garments. They take up minimal space and dry quickly. This will prove invaluable if it starts raining or if you break a sweat, as you won't have to worry about walking in wet clothes.
Furthermore, it's advisable to avoid loose-fitting clothing, as loose garments can compromise the technical capabilities of the fabrics and increase the likelihood of snagging on branches. Opt for well-fitting clothes that provide mobility.
2. Use the right footwear for the occasion
Although it may not be immediately apparent, wearing optimal footwear for easy or challenging hikes can make a significant difference in the short and long term. For a leisurely walk with minimal difficulty, we recommend RRAT's Y-Gravel sandals. However, if you plan to tackle technical and rugged terrain, your best choice would be RRAT's Y-Mountain mountain sandals.
Both sandals have Vibram soles, the pioneering brand in technical soles for the mountain. These soles provide exceptional grip and traction on the terrain, durability thanks to their high quality materials and comfort due to their adaptability to footsteps.
3. Walking sticks
Poles are an excellent tool on complex walks and descents to help us unload some of the weight from our joints, in addition to helping us with stability and giving us extra momentum on climbs.
However, it's important to remember that using hiking poles correctly is not just a matter of grabbing them, leaning on them, and walking. If not used correctly, all the weight could shift to the wrists, potentially leading to injury.
For flat terrain, the poles should be held at a 90º angle to the ground. The grip should be without pressure, in a relaxed manner, allowing the handle to swing a little. It is not necessary to grip the cane tightly every time.
If your pole is adjustable, it's a good idea to shorten it by 5 or 10 centimeters when ascending. On the other hand, when descending, you should extend the length of the pole.
4. Short steps on climbs
Taking short steps on climbs is a good method to avoid getting overly tired before reaching our destination. It is not necessary to go extremely slowly, but we must avoid accelerating the pace and maintain a constant pace throughout the walk, appropriate to your abilities and physical condition.
There is no rush to get to the top, so take your time, breathe deeply and enjoy the views that nature gives you.
5. Change your support position
It's common for our legs to start feeling discomfort after prolonged hill climbing, so taking occasional breaks is always a good idea.
Periodically adjust your foot position and stride can help engage different leg muscles and prevent overstraining the calves. Slight adjustments, like tilting your feet, can help distribute the load to other muscles and provide immediate relief to the overworked areas.
6. Use backpacks with lumbar support
No matter how many backpacks we have at home, a backpack with lumbar support will be much better than one that only supports the shoulders. Allow yourself to enjoy the walk!
Although it may not seem like it, backpacks equipped with extra support in the lumbar and/or hips help the weight of your backpack to be distributed and not fall all on the shoulders. If you also store all your essentials well and distribute the weight, you will forget you're wearing it.
There are many types of backpacks with this type of fastening, so choose the one that suits your needs and have fun on your adventure.
7. Stay hydrated
Hydration is crucial on all hikes, so it's essential to have your drink readily accessible at all times. The best option is to carry a water bottle that allows you to drink without the need to remove your backpack.
Regarding the type of drink, you should always carry at least a liter and a half of water, and if the walk is going to be long, we should carry an isotonic drink to replenish electrolytes, fluids and energy. This allows the body to recover much faster. However, we must combine isotonic drinks with a balanced diet and adequate hydration before, during, and after physical exercise.
8. Snacks always on hand
Many of us have encountered the dreaded energy drain at the most inconvenient times during a hike, often when we're halfway through or approaching the final stretch. Would you like a tip? Carry small snacks with you, such as energy bars, nuts, or some fruit.
These snacks will provide you with an extra boost of energy, enabling you to power through and reach your destination.
To avoid the need for lengthy stops and rummaging through your backpack, it's best to keep your snacks like your drink, easily accessible, either in your pants pockets or in an outer pocket of your backpack.
Of course, if you're planning an all-day hike, we recommend taking a break for about 15 to 20 minutes to enjoy a light meal that provides energy, such as a sandwich and fruit.
9. Protect yourself from the cold and the sun
Hikes with “extreme” weather in winter or summer can be a fundamental factor when it comes to enjoying our adventure. So we must protect ourselves from cold and heat adequately.
If what we are going to do is a walk in summer, we cannot forget to put sunscreen all over our body, especially on the face, neck and shoulders. Likewise, a cap or hat to protect us from the sun and ultraviolet rays will be your best ally to avoid burns, sunstroke or heat stroke.
In winter, it is also advisable to wear a cap or hat to protect ourselves from the cold, as well as light gloves, a neck gaiter to protect the face and neck from the cold, and thermal clothing.
In case you wear your RRAT's in winter, be sure to bring thermal socks with you to keep your feet warm.
10. Short stops for better performance
We are not saying that you cannot stop to rest or contemplate the wonderful landscape that surrounds you, but that it is preferable to make small stops and, when you do, whether to eat or rest for a while, that they do not exceed 15 or 20 minutes, since that later it may be more difficult for us to pick up the pace we were at.
After these 10 tips to make your hike safe, do you feel ready to start a new adventure?