Guide to Trekking

Doing different activities can often require different training and vastly different clothing and equipment.  This page is to offer some advise if you are going to do some trekking, but are new to it and would like some advise.

Please be aware that this help page has not been written by a professional nor has it been checked and verified by a professional to be correct.  This page has been written by somebody who had never done trekking before and things that they have learnt while surfing the internet and doing trekking for the first time.  Some online and high street shops may be mentioned, this is only so that you will be aware of where we purchased things, it is no way endorsing or recommending them.

Training

One of the most important things do to is to train for the event.  It isn’t just about making your legs stronger, it is also to help your heart and body in general get used to doing exercise.
It can be very easy to turn up to an event and believe you can do it, if your body isn’t used to doing this sort of event, you could pull a muscle or even worse!

It doesn’t mean you have to join the gym or go out running each day.  There are a lot of common sense steps you can do to get yourself ready.

  • It can take your body from several weeks to three months to see a significant improvement in your fitness level.  It is always best to start now rather than next week!
  • Focus on leg strength by doing as walking, swimming bike riding and other activities that will help your legs.
  • Lunges, squats, and calf-raises are all good exercises you can do at home.
  • If you have access to a treadmill, set it to a higher incline is also great preparation.
  • Your rucksack is a great training tool as you can put in some full water bottles to help your shoulders get used to the weight.  You need to get your calves and back ready for the weight you’ll be carrying on a hike. Walking up and down the stairs with your pack is also great training
  • Spend a few minutes improving your balance as it can prevent injuries on your trip and give you more stability when you hike. Try standing on one foot for 30-60 seconds at a time (longer if you can manage) before switching to the other foot.
  • Try doing some test short walks, then progress to uneven short hikes all the way to more adventurous hikes.  Get your self prepared for your main event.

Return to top


 

Footwear

One of the most important things you need is proper fitted hiking boots.  If you try to do a proper hike wearing trainers or other shoes, you will potentially end up in a lot of pain through blisters.

You don’t have to spend hundreds on a good pair, just make sure you get advise from a professional hiking shop over your feet sizes and what would be best for you.  If your boots are too tight it may cause issues as your feet will swell due to the heat and this will not allow your feet to move.  If your boots are too loose, your feet will move around too much and will cause blisters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During a long walk/hike, shoe lases can come undone.  Some people like to double knot, I like to double twist my laces so they don’t come loose (see pic below).  You do this by literally twisting the shoe laces around each other twice or more times before you knot them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to top


 

Feet – Socks

Getting socks that fit right will help keep your feet comfortable on hiking trips.

Cushioning / Padding: Depending on personal preference and footwear the amount of cushioning a sock has can help with impact abrasion and warmth.

Fabric: Look for something that will offer good thermal properties such as Merino Wool and Polyester.

Fit: Your socks need to be snug enough so they don’t wrinkle or bunch up but not too tight, as this can restrict blood flow and this can make your feet feel cold and uncomfortable.

Hiking socks are rarely made from a single fabric, but rather from a blend that creates the right balance of comfort, warmth, durability and fast drying. These are the most common materials you’ll find in hiking socks:

  • Wool: Wool is the most popular hiking sock material and the one that our footwear specialists recommend above all others. It regulates temperature well to keep your feet from getting sweaty and it provides cushioning. Another plus is that wool is naturally antimicrobial so it tends to retain smells less than synthetic fabrics. These days most socks are made of merino wool, which is essentially itch-free compared to older types of ragg wool socks. And most wool socks use blends of wool and synthetic materials for better durability and faster drying.
  • Polyester: Polyester is a synthetic material that insulates, wicks moisture and dries quickly. It is sometimes blended with wool and/or nylon to create a good combination of warmth, comfort, durability and fast drying.
  • Nylon: This is another synthetic option that is occasionally used as the primary material. It adds durability and can help improve drying times.
  • Silk: A natural insulator, silk is comfortable and lightweight, but not as durable as other options. It’s occasionally used in sock liners for reliable moisture wicking.
  • Spandex: Many hiking socks include a small percentage of spandex. This elastic material helps socks hold their shape and keep bunching and wrinkling to a minimum.

 

There are four main sock heights you may see:

  • Anklets/No Shows: These shorty socks provide very little protection against skin-to-boot abrasion, so they should only be worn with low-cut footwear, like trail-running shoes or light hiking shoes.
  • Ankle: Slightly higher than no-show socks, these will usually cover your ankle bone for a bit more protection. They are good for low- to mid-cut shoes and boots.
  • Crew: This is the classic height for a hiking sock. Crew socks typically land a few inches above your ankle bones to protect against abrasion with boots that have high cuffs. There’s no reason you can’t wear crew socks with low-cut boots or shoes, just know that the extra coverage could be warm on a hot day.
  • Knee-high: You’ll only find a few options in the knee-high category, and they’ll probably be for mountaineering. High socks protect against abrasion that big, burly boots can cause around your shins and calves. The coverage can also help keep your lower legs warm when you’re climbing through the night and crossing glaciers.

 

Return to top


 

Feet – Blister Prevention

Blisters can be caused by burns, allergies and skin conditions, but the most common culprit is friction. When you have enough friction in a focused spot, cell damage occurs. The fluid inside a blister helps protect and heal the damaged tissue. Red fluid found in a blood blister simply means that capillaries in the area of the blister have also been damaged.

Several factors make blisters more likely to happen:

  • Pressure: A tight spot in your boot or a wrinkle in your sock can create a friction pressure point.
  • Direct friction: Any place where a shearing force grabs the skin. That might happen inside your boot heel. Eventually the epidermis (upper skin layer) separates and fluid enters the space, causing a blister.
  • Moisture: Sweatier skin is softer skin, which is more susceptible to damage when friction occurs.

 

To prevent blisters, follow these guidelines:

1. Make sure your boots fit and are broken in properly: To avoid pressure points, slippage or both, the foundation of blister prevention is getting the right fit when you buy your boots. Once purchased, you will need to break in your shoes by wearing them for short 1-2 hour trips like weekly food shopping.  You must never go for a long trek in your new shoes before you break them in.

2. Wear proper socks: When hiking, the number one rule is to avoid cotton, which retains moisture. Go with synthetic or wool instead and make sure they fit properly (too big and you can have wrinkles; too small and you can create pressure points and sock slippage).

3. Change to dry socks: Fresh socks get your feet back to the same low moisture level you had at the beginning of your hike. They can also come in handy if your socks get soaked during a stream crossing.  I personally change my socks every 2-3 hours to make sure my feet are as dry as they can be.

4. Deal with hot spots quickly: Pay close attention to how your feet feel as you hike. The minute you sense an uncomfortable spot, stop and take your boots and socks off. If the area is even slightly red, then dry it off and apply your preferred form of protection. Many companies sell blister kits that include a range of products for both treatment and prevention. Blister prevention kits might include:

Tape: Studies suggest that inexpensive “tear-to-size” paper surgeon’s tape is effective and has a gentle adhesive; kinetic tapes also work very well; cloth and synthetic medical tapes are additional options.  Zinc Oxide Tape is a very good option, but they can be a little too sticky meaning harder to remove at the end of the day.

Blister bandages with pads and gels: Products like 2nd Skin can be used on both hot spots for prevention and for blister treatment.

Moleskin: The classic cut-to-size blister-coverage product is durable and sticks well; similar products do the same thing but go by different names.

 

I use Vulkan Zinc Oxide Meditape which is Non-Stretch.  I buy two different sizes, 5 cm for the heel and sides and 2.5 cm for my toes.  These rolls come in anything from 5m to 15m long.  This should not cost much, I buy mine from Amazon for £3.50 each & each roll will last many, many hikes.

***BE WARNED ***
The first time I put tape all over me feet, I never thought about my hairs.  I learnt a big lesson that evening when I took it off as most of my hairs came away with the tape.  I now shave (or at least trim) all the hairs on my feet to make sure it doesn’t hurt as much as it did that first time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trim your nails!

Long toenails are a very bad thing to have.  They will rub against your shoe and will cause a lot of pain.  You need to trim your nails so that only a little bit of white nail is showing.  Be very careful when doing this as the last thing you need is to cut yourself!  If you have sensitive nails, you can always put some tape over the top of the nail and down under your toe so they have more protection.

 

Return to top


 

Trousers/Shorts

There are several styles of hiking trousers and each is suited to different climates and conditions.

Hiking Trousers
Hiking trousers are sturdy, all-round trousers for hiking, backpacking, camping and all sorts of other outdoor pursuits. Typically, these trousers will be comfortable-fitting and made with quick-drying materials to wick sweat away from the skin and keep you dry. They will have a relaxed fit for ease of movement and a flexible fit to allow you to scramble with ease. The trousers will also be made from hardy material to help them endure the physical obstacles of a day on the move.

Softshell
Softshell is a lightweight, flexible material that is designed to be waterproof and highly breathable. Softshell trousers will feel great on and offer you a full range of movement. These trousers will generally be lighter in weight and are ideal for maximum comfort when out walking for the day.

Convertible Trousers
Convertible trousers are very similar to hiking trousers, with the primary difference being that the legs can be removed to turn the trousers into shorts that generally sit above the knee. These trousers are a really versatile choice as they can be used throughout the year by alternating shorts and trousers. They’re easy to change so you can even remove the legs part-way through a hike.

Waterproof Overtrousers
When the rain starts falling, you need an extra layer of defence to prevent moisture from saturating your trousers. Overtrousers are pulled on easily over your trousers in a matter of moments to provide an instant layer of waterproof protection. These trousers will generally stow away in a small bag so you can keep them on hand until they’re needed, as wearing them when it’s not raining will lead to overheating.

 

 

Hiking Trousers or Tights?

When out hiking, the temperature can get increasingly colder as you go more uphill. Given the varying temperature and the likelihood of some very strong winds, we wouldn’t advise you to only wear tights or even gym leggings.

Hiking trousers that are somewhat windproof and hopefully waterproof are recommended, and to ensure that you are kept warm we would suggest some base layer bottoms. Acting as a ‘second skin’, base layers are designed specifically to be quick wicking and sweat-absorbing to prevent dampness and ensure your comfort when hiking.

So not only will they be thicker than tights but they will provide unique benefits that tights do not!

 

Below is an example of Convertible Trousers.  I personally love these and wear them when I trek.  I wouldn’t recommend these though if it is not a warm to hot day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waterproof trousers

It is possible that you could start your trek in bright sunshine, and then a few hours later the heavens open and you get soaked.  Some waterproof trousers will pack away into a stuff sack no bigger than an apple, while others aren’t designed to be packed down at all. It’s worth bearing in mind what you need them for; if you only want them as a backup just in case you get caught out with the weather then it’s quite important that they compress, don’t take up too much space, or add a huge amount of weight to your pack. When you are planning to wear them all day, you don’t need to worry about whether they pack down or not because durability and outright protection take priority.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to top


 

Underwear

If you are doing a short trek such as 10 mile or less, then you probably don’t need to worry too much over buying special trekking underwear.

Material:
Hiking underwear should be made of a comfortable material which doesn’t cause rubbing or chafing. Furthermore, it should be also breathable, moisture-wicking and quick-drying so that it efficiently maintains your body’s natural temperature. To achieve these qualities hiking underwear is normally made of natural materials such as Merino wool or synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon. Elastane might be added to these fabrics for better stretch and comfort while a small percentage of nylon fibers is often added to Merino wool fabrics for better durability.

Many hikers face a dilemma whether to buy Merino wool underwear or underwear made of synthetic materials. Merino wool underwear has several advantages in comparison to synthetic underwear – it is naturally antimicrobial, pleasant to the touch (not itchy like ordinary wool), provides warmth even when wet (soaked with sweat or rain) and offers better breathability. Also note that Merino wool underwear is not only suitable for cold weather as Merino wool can be knitted into very thin fabrics which are suitable for warm summer days. However, synthetic underwear is less expensive and more durable than Merino wool underwear. Furthermore, it also dries slightly faster.

Flatlock seams:
Hiking underwear should have flatlock seams because they offer great comfort, unlike normal seams which can chafe your skin by rubbing against it repeatedly.

Antimicrobial:
It’s a great advantage if hiking underwear is antimicrobial. This means your underwear will remain fresh after days of use. Some materials, like Merino wool, have natural antimicrobial properties. Other materials, like polyester and nylon, are usually treated with antimicrobial agents such as Polygiene to provide antimicrobial properties. Antimicrobial treatments will, however, get washed out eventually.

 

 

Return to top


 

Tops

The one thing that most people agree with is not to wear cotton clothing as it does not dry and does not keep warm in the rain.  If your hike is only a short one (i.e. 5 hours or less) then cotton should be ok to wear, but it is better to wear something built for trekking/sweating in.  If it is going to be a cold day, go for wool or a fleece instead.

If you are doing an event for us and it is planned, we may offer you for free one of our  Vests or T-Shirts which are sweat-wicking and breathable technical running tops. You can buy these directly from us here: https://www.alpha1.shop/24-exercise-tops

Our tops are the same the top professions use in different sporting events and we think they look good as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

(photo taken at TrekFest The Peaks in 2018)

If you are going to wear a Technical T-Shirt, you need to make sure you have backup warmer clothing in your backpack.  It may start out as a great hot day, but it might end up raining and up some maintains it can be very damp and cold.  Keeping a Micro Fleece (like the below image) in your pack can be a life saver it the temps go low.  You don’t need an expensive one, you should easily be able to pick one up for less than £15 online.  The tops are good as you can keep them un-zipped for a little warmth or zip them up for real comfort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last thing to consider is a rain coat or mac.  If it rains, you want to make sure that you can stay as dry as possible as the last thing you want is to hike while soaking wet.  The only issue with loading more items into your pack is the weight and also the size of everything.  Are you planning for 1 big hike and no more, or are you wanting to do hiking from time to time therefore need better equipment?  Below are some options for you:

Disposable Poncho
Cost: Around £10 for 5 packs
Pros: Very cheap, very light, small footprint
Cons: Some can be tear easily, they do not last long
Info: If you have no intention of doing trekking or walking again, this might be a better option for you as it keeps the overall price of equipment down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac in a Sac (other manufacturers are available)
Cost: £15 – £40
Pros: Average price, medium footprint, should last for years
Cons: Takes up extra space in your bag
Info: A great middle ground option.  It does collapse down into a small bag so takes up less space than general waterproofs.  This can also be used during other activities and even kept in your car as an emergency rain coat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking raincoat 
Cost: £30 – £100
Pros: Will keep you very dry and much easier to keep hiking in with good visibility.  They should also stop the bitter wind from getting to you.
Cons: Can be expensive, needs a lot more space in your backpack.
Info: If you are hiking in an area where you know it will get very cold and stay cold most of the time, then this will be your best solution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to top


 

Head wear

A hat might not be top of your equipment list.  Even on an overcast day, the rays from the sun can burn if it is in contact with your skin for long enough.  If you are going to be trekking for any amount of time, you must consider protecting your head.

So, what is the best hat type to wear I hear you ask.  This is usually personal preference as some prefer full-head coverage while others just want to protect their eyes from the glaring sun.

There are three main types of hat: Baseball Cap, Beanie & Sun hat (with cord and toggle).

     

 

 

 

 

 

Some people don’t like wearing hats during a hike.  If you don’t like to wear one, make sue that you have sun cream on as the last thing you want is to get sunburn.

 

Return to top


 

Rucksacks

You may already own a rucksack

 

 

 

 

 

       

 

 

 

Return to top


 

Walking Poles

#

Return to top


 

Food & Hydration

#

Water – An essential thing that everyone must carry.  Make sure to carry enough. It is easy to get dehydrated while it’s warm.  Depending on how long your trek is and if there is provided water stops, you’ll need to carry enough for your entire trek.  Don’t assume there will be water on the route that you can fill up at.  While it will be extra weight to carry, it is better be safe than dehydrated!

Food – Trekking can take up a lot of energy and it is advised to carry lightweight high energy food.  Perishable items like fruit (bananas) are good, but they can take up a lot of space and be squashed easily.   Energy bars and flapjack style fruit bars are great as they can be small, lightweight and won’t squash easily.  Chocolate bars like Mars Bars (other brands are available) are also a good source of glucose (i.e. energy).  Small jelly sweets such as Haribo Starmix can also be a nice treat during any trek.

 

Do examples of tablets 

 

 

Return to top


 

First Aid & Equipment

Sunscreen  – UV protection becomes necessary if the skin is exposed to sustained periods of sunlight which can happen in treks with not a lot of tree cover or if you decide to stay atop a peak. A hat is great protection, but shouldn’t be used as the sole protection for your skin.

Insect repellents – Swampy areas breed bugs/mosquitoes, so if you are that person in the group with the sweetest blood you might want to use repellents.

First aid kit -Simple stuff does the trick. Adhesive bandages (band-aids) and gauze, tape, a small squeeze bottle to irrigate wounds, scissors, antibiotic ointment, anti-inflammatories and pain relievers are the basics. Antihistamines for bug bites or stings may also be carried.

 

Flashlight

Mobile phone
Mobile phone backup power supply
Share your location with somebody on Google Maps or another app.  Make sure at least one person knows where you are and can track you in case they need to contact emergency services to come find you.
It is never a good idea to hike alone.

Return to top


 

Safety and precautions

#

Return to top


 

 


The above information was written in part by us as well as snipets from other web sites.  Those websites are:-

Kshaunish Jaini @ AlienAdv  – https://blog.alienadv.com/trekking-tips-for-beginners-a-101-guide