5 essentials to prepare for an autumn hike
The seasons may be changing but that’s no excuse to stay inside! In fact, fall is the perfect time of year to get out and hike your favorite trails before winter hits. Take advantage of the sunshine and check out local trails near you. Whether you’re planning for a long backpacking trip or just plan on spending a day in the mountains, we’ve got you covered! Check out our 5 essentials before hitting the trail head.
1. Layer up
Make sure to check the forecast before you head out on your adventure. Depending on the time and day, there’s always a chance the weather could take an unexpected turn for the worse. To make sure you’re prepared, it’s best to bring layers such as long sleeve shirts, jackets and other heavier clothes along.
When choosing clothing to take with you, items made of wicking material, quick-drying material and insulated material are all good options to have on deck in the case of different circumstances one might face on a hike. No one wants to get stuck in a downpour in the middle of the mountains!
2. Pick the right shoes
If you plan on hiking on some unknown terrain, you're going to need hiking boots. Unlike man-made paved sidewalks, rocky trails with steep climbs and debris can get slippery and unsafe. To ensure you’re able to get a good grip and traction on the ground, it’s best to choose a solid hiking shoe that will grip the ground and protect your feet as well as your ankles during the uphill and downhill climbs. When you’re looking for the perfect shoe, make sure you take into consideration the type of hiking you’ll be doing.
You most likely won’t need a very heavy duty shoe if you’re going for the day and only plan on hiking for a few hours. However, a backpacking trip will require a shoe with stronger ankle support and thicker sole due to the pack you’ll be carrying with you. The options can range from hiking shoes, hiking boots, and backpacking boots. Another factor to take into consideration is the size of the shoe you buy.
Most of the time you’ll want to get shoes ½ size bigger because of the position your feet will be in going uphill and downhill. With the constant rubbing of your toes in the front pocket of the shoe, you won’t want to lose any toenails!
3. Pack a good lunch
One of the most important aspects of venturing out on a hike is to make sure you have proper nutrition, and you’ll want to pack more than you need in case of an emergency. Nutrient-dense snacks are the key to sustain your energy levels during extended periods of exercise.
Make sure your food consists of all three of the macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Getting enough of each macronutrient is really important in maintaining your energy throughout the day. Make sure your food also contains a good amount of carbohydrates in the form of quick-releasing sugars for times when you need that fast burst of energy.
Trail mixes are the easiest (and most delicious!) way to check all those boxes. The nuts provide you with healthy fats, protein and antioxidants, while the dried fruit provide you with quick sugars to power you through. Mixes like our Kilimanjaro, with its dark chocolate chunks that feel like a real treat to reward you for getting to the top of the mountain, or Machu Pichu with its goji berries, dried goldenberries and white mulberries, are great examples of a functional, energizing snack.
Make sure you also pack whole fruit and vegetables to keep you powered and hydrated as you go along. We love to bring some hummus, sandwiches made with whole wheat bread (a classic PB&J is a great mix of carbs, protein, fats and sugars), crackers or energy balls and bars. Bananas are also great because they're a good source of potassium, which can help prevent muscle cramping during and after your hike. The last thing you need on a hike is a cramped leg muscle trekking down a steep hill!
One of the most overlooked aspects of a day filled with endurance is water intake. While the days may be cooler, that doesn’t mean you won’t need to cool off or stay hydrated. Along with an insulated bottle to keep your water cool, you may also want to consider picking up a water filter in case you run out of water - it will allow you to use water from lakes or streams you may come across along your hike to refill your bottle.
If you want to power up your water, drop a tablespoon or so of chia seeds right into your bottle. They’ll give you a boost of fibre, protein, essential minerals and omega-3 fatty acids to keep you powered up. Chia seeds also absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, and they help you regulate body fluid levels as you go. Bonus points if you use our 2-in-1 ProactivChia with the extra added benefits of probiotics!
5. Bring sun protection
The days may be brisk but the sun is still just as powerful! Many people underestimate the power of the sun rays when they’re walking in the woods, in and out of shade. It’s important to remember that even when the sun isn’t out and there’s a strong overcast, you are still getting hit by the sun’s rays every time you are exposed. Even if you plan on staying in shaded areas a majority of your hike, it’s important to remember to slather on the SPF before heading out. This will not only save you time and energy once you get to the trailhead, but it will save you a possible sunburn and increased skin cancer risk as well.
Along with sunscreen, another tool to help protect you from the sun is sunglasses. Whether you’re walking away or toward the sun, the brightness of the light can be brutal and make it harder to pay attention to where you’re walking. Make sure to pack a sturdy pair of sunglasses with you that are tight enough to stay on your face and keep out any unwanted UV rays.
It’s not too late to plan a nice, long day hike or even a weekend camping trip. Take advantage of the decreased humidity and cooler air with these upcoming fall months by getting outside and developing a deeper connection with nature before everything freezes over for the winter. As you pack for your hike, remember our tips and tricks for what to bring as you prepare! Remember to plan ahead and grab your favorite snacks from Prana before you go.
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