Top Trekking Tips
Sure, you’ve got your training guide and are gearing up to tackle the mileage. But, what more can you be doing? These tips will help you prepare correctly for your trek so that you're not left nursing blisters and sore legs after the first day.
Choose the correct footwear for your trek
Good quality and appropriate footwear for your trek and your training is essential. A supportive hiking shoe with ankle protection is important, but beware of ankle cuffs that are too high as they can irritate the achilles tendon at the base of your calf. Look for an ankle cuff that is scooped away at the back. Make sure that your trekking boots are thoroughly broken in and your feet have bedded in — the time for blisters is now, not during your trek. When purchasing your boots, try to shop in the afternoon when your feet have expanded slightly so that you get the correct size.
Don’t forget your walking socks
With plenty of footwear focus, it’s easy to forget about the best type of socks to wear. The right boots with the wrong socks will ruin your trekking trip so when trying on boots, wear the same socks that you intend to use for your trek. Look for materials such as Coolmax that has sweat wicking properties or consider the Gore-tex or Sealskinz ranges that wick sweat away but are also waterproof.
Build leg strength with gym work
Leg strength will be key for your trek so in addition to walking training which will strengthen your legs, try and include either gym exercises such as leg presses and weighted squats, or lunges and bodyweight squats.
Build your walking training
Walking training will be the foundation of your training program and it is important to build steadily towards the sorts of distances that you will be doing on your trek. Initially, intersperse training days with rest days but as your fitness improves, look to include some ‘back-to-back’ training days, which will more closely replicate your actual trek.
Train on similar walking terrain
Walking training is essential but it is also important to try and mimic the conditions that you will experience as closely as you can. Try and train on similar terrain to that of your trekking location. For example, for a trek that includes mountain climbing, try some weekend scrambling as part of your training. Also, practice in the same footwear and clothes and experiment with a loaded backpack — it makes a big difference to your speed over the ground.
Practice using your backpack
You’ll be carrying snacks, water, spare clothing and possibly more, so your choice of backpack is important. Look for models with adjustable chest and waist straps so that you can position it correctly on your back and also with external compression straps so that the load doesn’t shift. More specialist types have removable bladders for liquid consumption on the go. Practice using your backpack (loaded) as part of your training so that you are used to the weight and position.
Use walking poles
Walking poles make a big difference to your trek. Lightweight and telescopic, they ease the load on knees and thighs on descents and give you ‘two extra legs’ on steep climbs. They can also be used to help clear vegetation and have numerous uses in a campsite.
Hydrate yourself frequently when walking
Whether you are in a hot climate or not, your fluid requirements will increase significantly when trekking. Losses on the breath and from sweating will serve to reduce your blood volume, resulting in your heart having to work much harder. By the time you feel thirsty you will already be dehydrated so try and drink small, frequent quantities of water throughout the day.
Fit to trek
The fitter you are before you depart, the easier your trek will be. You will have spent a lot of time, effort (and probably money too!) to get to your trekking location, so it makes sense to get the most out of your trip by being in good shape and having suitable kit. By following the tips above, not only will you be well prepared for possibly a trip of a lifetime but you’ll get so much more out of your trekking experience.