Living in Calgary, Alberta Canada I am fortunate to live within a short drive to the Canadian Rockies. There are so many outdoor activities to satisfy anyone’s interests and skill levels. One of my favourite summer (and budget friendly) activities is Hiking. As I prepare to head out to the mountains this weekend with some friends, I thought this would give me a good opportunity to share with you my routine for hiking:
- Invest in a good day pack. I got mine from MEC a few years ago and it comes with enough room for food and supplies, lots of loops to attach items to (compass, whistle, etc.) and zip-up pockets to store loose change, bandaids, lipbalm, etc. The benefit of my pack is that the waist belt is designed to rest on the hips. This allows the hips to absorb all the weight and not your back. Here is an example of the one that is similar to mine and very affordable. There are many varieties so I suggest heading over to MEC and trying them out and speaking with one of their outdoor enthusiast sales associates for proper fit and price point.
- Hiking Boots. I got mine at MEC as well and the great thing about them is that they were designed by women for women. I wore them on a 7 hour hike after I purchased them and not a single blister. Non-cotton socks are also recommended as they allow your feet to breathe which is key for long hikes.
- Breathable clothing (again, no cotton), layers are key in the changing weather in the mountains. I usually wear a tank top, a fleece zip-up hoodie and carry a waterproof jacket with me and I wear pants that zip off at the knees to turn into shorts. Versatile and multi-use items are imperative so you’re carrying less and are ready for any condition that the mountains throw at you.
- Lots of water. I have a roll up 2L water bag similar to this one. It’s clear thin plastic with a long drinking nozzle. When it’s not in use it folds down flat. When you’re ready to head out, fill it with water the night before the hike. Place it in the freezer. In the morning, it will slide right into your day pack. This is great as the nozzle allows you to sip throughout the hike which is key and it’s hands-free. The other great thing is that it keeps all your snacks cool as well (chocolate for instance).
- Snacks. The staples I always carry with me are the following:
- apple slices/bananas/oranges in a clear ziploc bag (you can re-use the bag for the peels of the oranges and bananas);
- trail mix;
- granola bars (or make your own healthy cost effective granola bars from this great all natural Canadian website: ifoodreal);
- cheese and crackers;
- chopped up veggies in a ziploc bag;
- peanut butter on rice cakes;
- beef jerky;
- Essentials. Map of the trail, compass, whistle, bug spray/bear spray (hopefully no one ever gets close enough to use it), sunscreen, ball cap, sunglasses, gloves (for rough terrain, cold weather), headlamp/batteries, small first aid kit, matches, swiss army knife, small travel sized kleenex, watch, trekking poles and the most important item; your camera to take pictures of your adventure and potentially frame them in your home afterwards. Really it’s bragging rights of such an accomplishment.
This all sounds like a lot of stuff, but it’s all a lot of little items. They tuck neatly inside your day pack (this is why pockets on the day pack is so important). Other than the day pack and the proper footwear, the rest is free. Grab your gear at any time and you’re ready for a free, outdoor activity full of cardio, fresh air and adventure. Invite some friends, join a hiking group like Meetup.com or even bring your pets if the trail allows. Always check the weather forecast to properly prepare and stock up on essential clothing you’ll need and take amazing pictures.
What hikes have you been on that you recommend? Any tips and tricks you want to share? I love hearing suggestions and happy hiking!