7 Ways to Become a More Efficient Hiker

March 19, 2015 How to

Hiking is anyone’s game. It can be as simple as walking or as difficult as climbing. Hiking doesn’t have to be quick or efficient to be enjoyed. However, hiking on some trails does require specific skills to succeed, especially if you hope to conquer treacherous mountains with a pack on your back. Being an efficient hiker means you are never late to camp, you cover more ground, and you see more views. If you are looking to increase your stamina, your speed, or just your confidence, these tips below will help you become the efficient hiker you seek.

hiking efficiently on rocky terrain

1. Hike Often

Practice makes perfect. Hiking on various terrain often should be your first move to achieve the status of hiking god. Hiking up mountains and bouldering rock scrambles are ideal practice but walking on flat land too will increase and stretch your stride. If you truly want to make miles with ease, get an early start. You don’t always have to be the fastest hiker to make big miles in a day but the earliest.
watching my step and stride while hiking

2.  Watch Your Step

To gain speed and reduce injury, you must watch your step. Try to find the easiest places to step to make your stride the most efficient. This does require you to read the trail. Choose flat places to step within your stride. Mindful stepping is easier on your feet and your shoes.

3.  Find Your Balance

When the trail gets a bit loaded with rocks, balance is absolutely necessary to maintain your pace. When the trail starts to turn icy or wet, balance keeps us grounded and moving. Invest in a practical yoga practice to improve your balance on the trail. Once you learn the value of balance while hiking, a rigorous trail will seem more like a playground than a challenge. Yoga will not only work your balance but also give you more strength and flexibility to become an efficient hiker.
balancing on steep and rocky terrain

4.  Learn Your Body’s Limits

When you know your body well, you can quickly evaluate the best route to take through the boulder field or up the tricky pitch before the summit. Consider your body’s strengths, limits, and dimensions to hike easier and quicker. One route might be more difficult for one hiker than the other. Be aware of this while hiking with others. Trails are there to provide a passage through wilderness. However, some trails might only have indicators or cairns dictating the general direction. Evaluate the best route for your body.

5.  Get the Gear

If you are still lugging around heavy boots and a 60-pound pack, the time is now to upgrade to lighter gear. You will make the miles with a lightweight pack. Hiking shoes instead of boots will give your more mobility for less the weight. Consider carrying trekking poles; if used correctly, trekking poles can greatly increase your pace. Trekking poles come in handy on the downhills, serve as stability on the uphills, and harness speed on flat terrain. Make sure to direct your poles pushing behind you while hiking on flat terrain. Always use the straps on your poles for stability and a loading joint. Refer to this article for a detailed report on how to properly use your poles.

hiking with trekking poles

6.  Know Your Pace and Test It

To improve hiking speed, you must first know your current pace. Time your hikes and determine your miles per hour but do be aware that your pace does change with the terrain. With a pack on, two miles per hour in tough terrain is a great goal for which to strive. Stay at a safe heart rate as you hike. Pushing your pace might actually slow you down and tire you out.

7.  Fuel Your Body

Your body will only get you up the hill with adequate fuel. Take short breaks to eat a snack before you push through on tough terrain.

Practicing these recommendations will give you the ability of an efficient hiker to accomplish any trail without injury or worry. Remember, hiking isn’t a race. Treat the trail with respect and never cut switchbacks to gain on speed. We might all hike for different reasons but don’t forget to enjoy the views and solitude.

Madison Dragna

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