There are many articles that concern those who take hiking quite seriously. However, there is a vast majority that hikes because they like to do so, during some weekends. They are not “pros” and they are not after every single info about “optimizing” their hiking equipment and such.
They just want to go for a walk through a forest, a canyon or simply by a dirt road. These are called by “the industry” as soft hikers or soft adventurers. Well, usually most start like that anyway before getting fanatic with equipment and such.
This article is for those hikers. The ones that seek soft adventurers or/and are “newborns” at hiking. The tips and info mentioned in this article come from our experience in hiking and our mistakes.
This is just an outlined list to guide you on the basics of soft hiking. Do visit a specialized outdoors store and DO WEAR and move around with equipment you are about to purchase.
1. Boots and/or trekking shoes
I am sure most of you have heard that the top thing you need for hiking is the proper shoe. That is a must indeed. Depeding on the terrain and weather you will need a simple trekking show to special boots. You will soon find out that you can’t have just an all-weather all-terrain shoe. If you wear the wrong shoes you will get blisters, your feet will hurt and you may end up disliking hiking all together. You need to get to a proper outdoors store to buy proper shoes. Do not hide that you are a novice and do decide what kind of terrains you will walk through mostly. Seek advice from climbers or trail runners. When you begin walking shoes are the first thing that impact your experience.
Shoes that are used to hiking, trekking or climbing need to be taken care. After your hiking finishes, clean them up. Let the mud dry and use a brush to remove it. There are even special coatings for boots used in mountaineering. Take care of your boots and they will last for long.
By the way, if you like to run then you need to go for a different kind of shoes.
When you are about to purchase your shoes, wear sports socks or ask the store to provide you with the proper socks that will be used with the shoes.
Finally, avoid sandals or the “open” kind of shoes in any case. You don’t want small stones jumping through your toes, or under your sole skin.
2. How to tie your shoes
You may find this funny but many walk in discomfort because they do not tie their shoes properly. There are specific holes, especially at the top and specific ways to tie shoe laces in order not to loose wild. When you tie the shoes properly the shoe stays firm on your foot without causing pain at/over the ankle area.
Some tie their shoes very tight which causes pain. Depending on how hard the shoe is it needs a proper way to tie that. Additionally, you need to “break into” your shoes before using them on actual hiking.
Tie your shoes as much as you feel they stay firm, without pain and lack of flexibility. When your shoes are new, especially with boots- you will need to tie them not to tight and then slowly tie them a bit more.
Your shoe laces may seem to loosen up some times but that is because shoes get softer as you use them. This is not an absolute rule for specialized mountaineering and snow boots.
2. The socks
Something neglected by many, while they dare to wear regular socks with sports shoes. Soon they find out they get slippery and their toes getting hurt a lot. Preferably choose seamless socks. Depending on the nature of the hiking routes you will do, you may have to seek deeper on the materials and fabric. Do not choose something that will get your feet “boiling”. Feet, up to the level of your crouch get very hot during any kind of walking, while -for example- the upper body is more exposed. Have a 2nd pair of socks, so to change when you finish. Thus, you will avoid fungus cultivation or discomfort when you hike in a cold day.
3. Clip your toe nails
That of course doesn’t apply to hiking only. You need to properly clip your nails, to avoid toe injuries. Keep in mind that during hiking stress is applied on toes, especially when you cope with difficult terrain. This gets more tricky when you go downhill as the foot slides forward. Anything that extends from the foot will stress and bend. On a long walk, even if it is on easy terrain, the same thing will happen.
Do that and you will not end up with pain in the middle of the hiking. You will also avoid the “black nail” case.
4. Use spats if necessary
If you got out on a rainy day or after rain then everything is muddy and wet. By using spats you avoid:
- Ending up with dirty trousers, having the “misses” nagging about it
- Getting wet at calfs, socks and ankles. At a cold day you don’t want that.
- Getting your shoes wet
5. The trouser
Many discussions happen around the “trousers” thing. In general avoid shorts if you plan to hike through plantation, forests in general or in places with lots of sunshine, or with cold. In general, avoid shorts.
Avoid sweat pants and any kind of long trousers that are for gym or for sitting on your couch watching TV. You will get sweat in them and they will double their weight.
Avoid jeans for the same reason, and ladies… need to avoid skirts of any length of course.
Using long trousers may seem like something not comfortable on a hot sunny day but the trousers will protect you from sun. As with not using sandals, long trousers will protect you from bites of almost everything that bites or scratches. That alone is a reason to wear them.
Temperature, terrain and having lots of uphill or not, play a significant role on what to chose for trousers. Many do the mistake to think that in a cold weather they need to wear warm trousers. That is far from the truth. As feet are moving and support your body, a lot of heat is generated at that area. You will get sweat. If you wear warm trousers that are not suitable for soft hiking but are best for mountaineering or snow conditions then you will suffer, lose lots of water from sweating and such. So you need to find out some details about the hiking route. For example the nature of the terrain, the altitude differences & how many stops you will do. You don’t want to stay still with your lower body completely or partially wet. If you do so, you will feel the slightest breeze totally freezing you.
There is a variety of fabrics to choose from. We found out that depending on the weather there are options with fabrics that even if they get wet, they dry very fast.
There are elastic trousers which are very comfortable if in the root you need to do lots of leg raising and in general if you need and want to be very comfortable as you move. They are not “lycra pants” or such.
You will want them to be wateproof. There are different materials and combinations for such too.
There are convertible pants where you can unzip half of them and they transform into shorts.
It is good to have trousers that have more pockets but keep in mind that you also don’t want to fill your pockets with lots of things as walking feels bad then. You also don’t want to have trousers with big wide pockets when you walk through plantation as you get tangled.
Finally when it comes to the color of your pants, the rule is simple. Light colors repel light and thus heat, dark colors attract it. Choose accordingly.
6. Holding the trouser up
That is a detail we have encountered and discussed with many. You see, when you walk for many hours, then you sweat and your feet get more firm. You also tend to lose a bit from your waist as the whole movement and exercise makes it bit thinner.
Then, you may notice that your trousers are getting a bit loose. You need to hold them up. To avoid having to pick your pants/trousers up all the time (which gets uglier when you carry even a small backpack) wear a belt with a pin.
If you find them, wear suspenders. That is going to hold your trousers up without putting extra pressure in your waist (belt does that).
It may sound a bit “extreme” but, trust us, the case is to enjoy a long hiking and not nagging to yourself.
We are talking about the ones that keep your “jewels” in place, either be a man or a woman. After some hours of walking the only thing you DON’T want is a sweaty underwear twisting at places it was not before you started.
Avoid thermal underwear unless you plan to hike on snow under extreme cold, otherwise you will suffer from sweating and extreme heat.
You need to wear a shorts elastic type of underwear that stays in place while walking for long. Women are more flexible in this area but the rule is valid for women too. They need to avoid the “thong/string” type, or hiking will become very uncomfortable and even painful.
Better to also have a pair to change after completing the hiking, especially if you have a long trip back home.
Proper underwear will allow you to hike in a comfortable way and you will avoid lots of “redness” and irritations “down there”. OK, we think you got it.
Conclusion regarding what a soft adventurer needs
We will continue with a post for the upper body needs. The thing is to enjoy your hiking trips without suffering or risking catching a cold or having an injury.
Either being a soft adventurer or a moderate or a hardcore one, there are some basic things to have in mind that affect comfort.
Comfort which in many cases affects your mood and therefor if you get nasty you tend to lack of attention. The latter can lead to injuries.
So, the thing is to have fun. We hoped we helped you a bit through our experience. Stand by for part 2 regarding the upper body things a soft adventurer needs to know.
Have fun, people!