Hiking trips: explore the world on foot
There are many benefits to taking a hiking trip: you can experience nature up close, get your heart rate going, and give yourself a mental detox. If you need a break from city life and your regular routines, a hiking trip is the perfect choice.
Multi-day hikes are particularly good for unplugging and going deep into nature, but even a half day trip can leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated. Whether it's a leisurely afternoon walk over mountain meadows, a challenging summit ascent, or an ambitious long-distance hike, anyone can find a hiking trip that suits them.
There are five different types of hiking trips:
- Short trips: between 1 – 5 hours
- Half-day trips: 5 – 6 hours
- Day trips: 6 – 12 hours
- Multi-day trips: several day trips in a row
- Extended trips: a distance of about 100 kilometers or more. Extended hikes include pilgrimage routes such as the Appalachian Trail in the U.S. or the Camino de Santiago in Europe.
Some companies offer various multi-day and round-trip hikes where your luggage is transported separately. These hikes are particularly suitable for beginners, less experienced hikers, and older people, but even more experienced hikers can benefit from the convenience of being able to travel with only a small amount of equipment.
What equipment do I need for hiking?
The market for outdoor equipment is huge and a bit overwhelming to navigate. For a basic day hike you won't need much, but a longer multi-day hike often requires more equipment.
The most important thing to consider before starting a hike is footwear. Be sure to wear shoes that are sufficienty worn in, as hiking in new shoes often equals painful blisters. While trainers are usually suitable for easy hikes on even terrain, the more difficult and irregular the terrain, the sturdier your shoes should be. Ankle-high hiking boots will help protect against ankle injuries.
Pirate tip: Always buy hiking boots one size big! When you walk for a long time, your feet tend to swell, meaning your normal size can quickly become too small. In addition, hiking socks are thicker than regular socks, because they are reinforced for your weak spots and provide extra protection against bruising. For this reason, it's best to try on hiking boots with the socks you plan to hike in. Keep in mind that hiking boots are considered "worn in" after about four weeks of hiking or 50 kilometers.
After you've found the right shoes, it's time to move on to proper attire. Of course, the clothes you need depend largely on the season you'll be traveling as well as the region, but there are still a few basic rules. While hiking you should dress in three layers: the base layer, the mid-layer, and the outer layer. If you coordinate your layers correctly, you'll be comfortable no matter the weather.
- Base Layer: Merino wool t-shirts are best suited for your base layer. Unlike cotton, wool keeps you warm even when it gets wet. Synthetic fabric t-shirts are also an option, but those who are on the move for several days should be aware that synthetic fibers begin to smell faster than merino wool.
- Mid-Layer: The best choice is a fleece jacket with a zipper that can be worn open or closed.
- Outer Layer: Either a down jacket, a windbreaker, or a raincoat, depending on the season and the climate.
There are plenty of practical hiking backpacks for day trips, many of which have a capacity of about 20 liters. The longer the hike, the heavier and more complex the equipment will be—and the more important it is to have a good backpack. Your backpack should sit correctly on your back and provide freedom of movement.
Pirate tip: What good is the most expensive, high-quality backpack if it's not properly adjusted to your body? It's best to buy a backpack in person, so the experts in the store can give you advice on how to use the backpack correctly and adjust it to your body.
When it comes to packing, less is more. You will have to carry everything you pack in your backpack all the way to your destination. You should carefully consider what is truly useful and what may be unnecessary. Here are the things you should definitely pack for your hiking trip:
- A change of t-shirt, socks, and underwear
- Rain pants and/or raincoat (optional: rain cover for your backpack)
- Sunscreen and sunglasses for sunny weather, gloves and a hat for cold weather
- Walking stick
- GPS, map or compass
- Water bottle or hydration system
- Snacks and emergency food (energy bar)
- First aid kit
- Pocket knife and lighter
- Duct tape and safety pins for emergency situations