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So it is early in the season. No one wants to get injured out of the gate. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of 10 considerations for getting out there and keeping fit by hiking but staying safe and comfortable at the same time!

1. First things first – being in shape beforehand helps prevent injuries right out of the gate. Frequent exercise and eating well is the best foundation to ensure that your next hike will be fun and help prevent bad experiences with fatigue or injuries.

2. Water – a must when on the trail! Hydration is critical for even the most seasoned hiker but often is one of the most overlooked things a hiker needs to pay attention to ensuring they keep their head in the game. Everyone is different and exertion and air temperature will affect the overall need for hydration, but a general guideline is approximately 4-6 ounces every 20 minutes. It is better to sip frequently than to guzzle lots of water every once in a while – because if you wait until you are thirsty, you have likely waited too long. Headaches, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating can all signal the beginnings of dehydration while clammy or hot, dry skin, anxiety, and a weak or rapid pulse all signal more serious dehydration. If that isn’t good enough, staying hydrated also helps to combat muscle soreness and helps to keep skin looking radiant!

3. Similar to drinking enough, we often forget to eat enough – or at least often enough – while hiking. The signal that your body is hungry only arrives after its energy stores have been depleted – so snack regularly to ensure your fuel tank stays off empty! Bring nuts, energy bars, trail mix or dries fruits to enjoy throughout the day. In case you get lost or spend too much time away from camp, bringing a few snacks will help you stay comfortable longer in case of unexpected delays.

4. Stretching. Before, during, and - often ‘forgotten’ – AFTER. Light stretching will help prevent common injuries improving your hike and reducing recovery time the next day. You can also include tart cherries and blueberries in you trail mix as both are medically proven to reduce inflammation which is a major cause of joint pain. Trekking poles can also aid in reducing the impact on your knees and the cumulative fatigue associated with long and high mileage days on the trail keeping you feeling better longer!

5. Happy feet make for happy hikers. Keeping feet dry and blister free will go a long way towards creating a successful hike. Proper socks are critical and a liner sock will add extra insurance to keep tender tootsies happy. Removing footwear at breaks and even giving them a quick soak in a cool stream or lake will help reduce overheating and potential swelling. If you wear foot bed inserts or an orthotic, make sure you put them in your hiking boots as well to avoid discomfort.

6. Hats or multi-function neck tubes and sunscreen are essentials – not nice-to-haves. Even on cloudy and cold days, they will prevent sunburn! It is an incredibly common misconception that we cannot get sunburns on cloudy days. In fact, on a light cloudy day, 89% of UV still penetrates. On top of that, higher altitudes increase the strength of UV rays making sunburns appear that much faster.

7. A first aid kit for the treatment of minor cuts and abrasions should be a minimum inclusion and, depending on your nursing prowess, additional kit should be considered. Being prepared can be the difference between a happy ending and a drama filled escapade. If it is an existing kit that has been used before, always check to ensure all consumable items have been restocked.

8. We’ve likely all heard it before, but cotton kills so leave it at home. Unlike synthetics, once wet, cotton dries from the outside, in - meaning it will remain wet against your skin sucking heat from your body long after it first gets wet. Aside from being uncomfortable and soggy, that might be ok in the heat of the day but as the temperature drops, it can quickly lead to cold discomfort and speed up the onset of hypothermia.

9. Get an early start to avoid hiking high mileage in the heat of the day and avoid overheating and all of the issues that come along with that.

10. With the possibility of some cooler weather still, keep in mind not to overdress – try to layer the way you will need to be dressed once you are warmed up. This will aid in preventing too much sweat and overheating. It is much easier to avoid or minimize sweating than it is to deal with being wet once you have become overheated.

Follow these simple guidelines and you are another step closer to an enjoyable, safe hike! Maybe we will see you out there on the trails! We would love to see your pictures! Simply email them to us at social@coghlans.com and maybe we will use them or tag us on social media.


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