28 March 2024

10 Basic Hiking Skills to Master Hiking

There do not seem to be many specific skills needed for walking, so what kinds of skills are specifically needed for hiking? Hiking is essentially taking a walk outdoors in nature. However, there are a lot of other factors to consider when hiking in addition to the actual walking element. When developing skills for hiking, in addition to the physical abilities required, becoming an expert hiker also requires mastery of certain mental and technical aspects of the sport. This list will help you discover the top 10 basic skills in hiking and trekking that you will need to get started.

01. Physical Fitness

This goes without saying, in order to attempt a hike, you will need to have an average level of fitness. Building endurance, strength, and flexibility is crucial for tackling long and challenging trails. In order to become better at hiking, consider incorporating cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises into your regular routine. There are some exercises that focus on the glutes and legs, which are especially helpful as these are the most used muscles in hiking.

02. Hiking Navigation Skills

Mastering basic navigation skills, including reading maps, using a compass, and understanding trail markers, is essential for staying on course and avoiding getting lost on the trail. However, you can now take advantage of technology and use applications that are specially developed for hiking, like The Pekoe Trail App, which has offline access as well. Landmarks, trail markers, and GPS devices also help hikers stay on course and reach their destination safely.

03. Pace Management

As tempting as it is to set off at a fast pace when your muscles are fresh, this is a mistake most beginners make. Learning to pace yourself according to the terrain and distance of the hike helps conserve energy and prevent burnout. Start with a comfortable pace and adjust as needed based on the trail conditions. This will be especially useful when attempting longer trails. Some trails may require hiking over a couple of days, such as The Pekoe Trail, which is 300 km in length. Although the trail is segmented, and you do not need to complete it in its entirety, if you are able to manage your pace efficiently, you can even conquer the whole length of the trail in one trip.

04. Training Advice for Beginners

Beginners should opt for shorter and less challenging hikes to build their stamina and confidence gradually. Beginning with easier trails and gradually increasing the difficulty as you gain experience and fitness will help you learn how to read and understand the signals given by your body. Incorporating regular cardio workouts such as walking, jogging, or cycling can help improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Aim to increase the duration and intensity of your workouts over time to prepare for longer hikes. Even if you have great muscular structure, stamina plays a big role in your hiking ability.

05. Improve Your Backpacking Skill and Knowledge for Emergency Management

Knowing how to select and pack essential gear is considered an actual skill needed for hiking. There are many things that you will need on your hike, but they are not always easy or practical to pack and carry with you. Learn to choose comfortable backpacks that can accommodate all the essential items needed to ensure a comfortable and safe backpacking experience. Learn basic gear maintenance techniques, such as cleaning and waterproofing equipment, to ensure longevity and functionality during backpacking trips. By having adequate knowledge of taking care of and repairing your gear, you can be prepared for any emergency while on the trail.

06. Developing Resilience to Different Environments

Hiking, as an activity, can be paramount in helping you develop an innate ability to think and act according to varied situations. Trails cannot be predicted, and details of the terrain are usually offered as a general overview. Developing your ability to adapt to unexpectedly different types of terrain, including rocky trails, steep ascents, and river crossings, enhances your hiking skills. It will also help you gain confidence in tackling diverse environments. This can come in handy when you are learning how to navigate hiking trails and even in real life.

07. Leadership Skills Required for Leading a Hiking Trip

Going on a hike with a group can be challenging. Strong communication skills are essential for conveying important information, coordinating logistics, and ensuring the safety and well-being of participants during a hiking trip. Having good decision-making skills, which include assessing risks, evaluating options, and making timely and informed decisions, can make a crucial difference when navigating challenges and unexpected situations on the trail.

08. Soft Skills of Hiking

In addition to the physical demands of hiking, taking time to develop mental resilience to overcome obstacles and challenges, such as adverse weather conditions or physical fatigue, is essential for a successful hiking experience. Being able to adapt to changing trail conditions, unexpected situations, and group dynamics enhances your ability to navigate challenges and enjoy the hike.

09. Mastering the Art of Preparation

Being able to predict possible outcomes, situations, or requirements that can arise during a hike can help further your hiking skills considerably. In hiking, proper preparation of hydration, nutrition, appropriate gear, and knowledge of safety and survival techniques are necessary. Additionally, a positive mindset and a love for nature are essential for an enjoyable hiking experience.

10. Learn Proper Hiking Techniques

Take time to master the art of proper foot placement. Paying attention to your foot placement can help you avoid tripping or slipping on uneven terrain. Place your feet deliberately, and use trekking poles for added stability. Practice efficient breathing techniques, such as deep belly breathing, to oxygenate your muscles and maintain energy levels during the hike.

The proper technique for hiking is a skill that can be learned and developed with care and deliberation. While hiking itself may not be considered a specific skill, mastering the various aspects of hiking mentioned above will take you a long way on your journey to becoming an expert in hiking. If you plan on hiking The Pekoe Trail, these skills will not only help to enhance safety and enjoyment but also contribute to a deeper appreciation of the natural world and will give you a fulfilling outdoor experience.