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How To Plan Your Hikes

Outdoors

If you want to enjoy your hiking day to the fullest, the planning is key. This is why I wanted to write this blog post on how you should plan, what you need to keep in mind and what resources you can or should be using. If you’re interested in how I plan my trips, where and how I find new hikes and trails, then just read on and I will go over the basics you need for planning a perfect day in the outdoors. The following topics will be covered:

Quick Facts

What To Expect

Ingredients

Finding the right trail

What to wear on your hike

Food and drinks to bring

General InfoS

Safety equipment to always have with you

Other equipment to bring

Further things to consider when hiking

How To Plan

How To Plan Your Hike - The Basics

In this post I will cover the basics of planning a hiking trip ahead. There will be in depth posts coming up in the future for even further advice and gear recommendations. But this should first of all give you an overview on what to consider when planning your next outdoor adventure. 

Pro tip: Thorough planning is key!

Find the right trail 

This is the obvious first step of planning. I usually check the weather forecast to find a region for my hike. And after that it is just the endless scroll through many platforms like outdooractive.com, Bergtour-online.de, bergfex.de, hoehenrausch.de to name just a few. One thing that I have realized over time is that especially the times given on these platforms as well as ratings of difficulty quite often differ from the time it took me and the rating I would have given myself. Another factor to be considered is that the time a hike takes you depends on conditions such as snow, wet/slippery trails or extremely warm weather as well. If you are not a complete beginner when it comes to hiking you know yourself best and I usually find it extremely helpful to just compare elevation gain and length of the hike to previous hikes I have done. Therefore I track my hikes with my Garmin watch for future reference. 

If you are a beginner you should definitely start with hikes of less than 400 meters of elevation gain in order to get used to it and not over do it on your first try. Always plan at least 1.5 times as long for your hike than what is given on any internet platform. This might be too long if you are in overall fit shape, but I’d rather have enough time before the sun sets or bad weather might come up than regret it afterwards. I would also suggest late summer/ early fall as the season to start hiking, since high temperatures will make hiking more challenging and for winter and spring times snowy conditions can make some hikes too risky if you are lacking the experience. 

Since I usually take my camera with me on every hike, I plan some additional time for taking photos and also search hikes for keywords like “great views”, “mountain panorama” and so on. It also never hurts to have a look at photos of the tour. This might also be helpful if you’re looking for clues on how well suited a hike is if you - like myself - are afraid of heights. In case a description ever states that you should not have dizziness issues I research this route for as long as it takes to make sure that it will not bring me into a situation that I cannot come out of by myself - or with the support of my boyfriend - or else I will not go on this hike. This means - know your weaknesses! And don’t ever bring yourself - and possibly others - in any unnecessary risky situation. It is just not worth it, especially since there are always other hikes available for you - trust me. 

Once I have settled on a hike I double check the weather and this time the actual mountain weather forecast and do that until the night before we want to go on that hike. Which leads me to the second topic of this blog post. 

What to wear on your hike

I usually wear one - or during the colder season two - leggings. A sports bra and a tanktop. And then depending on the season either a shirt, long sleeve and/or sweater and then a jacket that will also depend on the season. Bring a top/shirt and socks to change. Last summer I made the mistake of wearing shorts - I know this might not sound like a mistake at first, but scars on my legs will forever remind me that it sure was. So I would always recommend long pants. Always bring rain jacket just in case - and even on a hot summer day this might make sense - as mentioned before, weather can change quickly in the mountains!

The most important part are the shoes of course. Always, always, always wear hiking boots. I also recommend high top ones due to better stability for your feet and ankles. The best would be to go to a specialized store to buy hiking boots. While Internet shopping can of course be more convenient, a large selection to choose from and consultation of a specialist can help you with finding the right boot for you. Everybody has different feet and every terrain needs a different shoe - so a recommendation of my shoes will only do half the work. Also choose quality over price here so you won’t regret your choice after the first few hikes!

Food and drinks for your hike

Always bring enough water. For one person I recommend at least 1.5 to 2 liters. Especially during the warmer season enough water intake is the most important. Staying hydrated helps your concentration and your muscles as well - both is important when hiking. During colder months I usually also bring a bottle of hot tea which is great for a longer break on the top. Hot tea will make you warm up and help you enjoy the views just a little longer than without it. For long hikes in the summer I would recommend an extra bottle of water - because better safe than sorry! Another tip is to always go with insulated refillable bottles - not only will they keep your drinks cold or hot but you are also doing something good for the environment. 

For food this might just depend on what you like and what you want to carry. It’s important to have enough so that you don’t have to go hungry and can reboost your energy in case you are getting dizzy - which shouldn’t happen if you plan your trip right - but there can always be unforeseen circumstances, so always be prepared. I usually take 2-3 whole grain sandwiches, some fruits like apples, bananas, peaches etc. and one or two granola bars. Make sure your diet on a hiking day is well balanced and healthy. 

Safety equipment to always have with you

You should always have a basic first aid kit with you on a hike. A scratch can always happen fast, especially on stony terrain. A disinfectant spray, band-aid and bandage should be the minimum you always have with you. Besides that a rescue blanket, disposable gloves and wet wipes can also be helpful.

A basic kit like the one pictured here can easily be ordered online or bought at every outdoor sports retailer.

If you want to enjoy your hiking day to the fullest, the planning is key. This is why I wanted to write this blog post on how you should plan, what you need to keep in mind and what resources you can or should be using. If you’re interested in how I plan my trips, where and how I find new hikes and trails, then just read on and I will go over the basics you need for planning a perfect day in the outdoors. The following topics will be covered:

If you want to enjoy your hiking day to the fullest, the planning is key. This is why I wanted to write this blog post on how you should plan, what you need to keep in mind and what resources you can or should be using. If you’re interested in how I plan my trips, where and how I find new hikes and trails, then just read on and I will go over the basics you need for planning a perfect day in the outdoors. The following topics will be covered:

Also always know the number to call in case of any emergency where helping yourself is not possible anymore. In Germany you can always call 112 or specific numbers depending on the region you are hiking in. For further information visit the DAV website.

However good gear like hiking boots and a few more gadgets I will list in the following can also help prevent incidents or accidents, so that no first aid will be needed. 

What else to bring 

Besides what I have gone over already, there are a few more things that might be good to keep in your backpack. First of all a headlamp and flashlight are always in my backpack. We often go hiking for sunrise or stay somewhere until sunset, so a headlamp is frequently needed. For this I also always pack additional batteries just in case one of our lamps dies - hiking with just one headlamp can be very frustrating, I’m speaking from experience here haha! 

During winter hikes or when I am expecting snowy or icy conditions, I also always take snow chains for some added safety and comfort. Hiking poles are also a great addition in winter conditions or can help in situations where you don’t feel too comfortable with trail conditions. However, I would recommend to also go regularly without poles to train your surefootedness. 

In the summer sun screen and bug spray are important assets when hiking. Keep in mind that the sun is stronger the higher up you are in the mountains. Especially, when hiking through grass and bushes in high risk tick regions and are wearing shorts, bug spray is important to use.

Further things to consider when hiking

What do you want to experience? I usually don’t like to hike on crowded trails. Since COVID-19 this has become an even bigger concern and also problem on the most well-known Bavarian trails. So when searching for a new hike to try out, I also look for clues on how well visited this hike is. This is often added in descriptions of hikes on the platforms I mentioned above. Besides that there are also books and guides for lesser known and frequented hikes. One of them is pictured above. 

If I still want to check out a place that is usually busy I try to go on weekdays or for sunrise in order to avoid uneccessary crowds and have a more quiet experience for myself. I mostly like sunrise hikes for just that and also for the soft and golden colors the morning light paints nature. This is also great in case you want to take some extra special photos on your hike. 

After all, don’t forget to enjoy your hike to the fullest, bring your camera (even if it’s just your smartphone) and have a great time on your own or with your friends or family. 


Pro tip: After all, don't forget your camera!

I honestly hope you liked this blog post and found some helpful resources here. In the future more blog posts will be coming with in-depth guides to some of the important topics I mentioned here.

If you have any questions or other remarks, feel free to leave a comment below. I'd love to chat with you!

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April 23, 2021
                                       
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