Like many places across the country, we’re gearing up for spring in the Pacific Northwest. And those of us who love to hike are stoked to be on the brink of hiking season.
Whether you’ve been staying active throughout the winter or spending your time cozied up on the couch, it never hurts to do some pre-season prep. With a little conditioning, gear inventorying, and trip planning, you’ll be poised to make the most of hiking season as soon as the trails melt out.
Read on for some of our favorite ways to get ready for an unforgettable hiking season.
Let’s be honest — maybe you love hiking because it doesn’t require special training, equipment, or skills. And the idea of conditioningfor hiking season? You’re afraid it will take the joy out of your favorite activity.
If you agree with that sentiment, we hear you. There’s no strength training program, mileage requirement, or special gear that makes you a hiker. And that’s a wonderful fact.
But that doesn’t mean a little strength and cardio training aren’t helpful. For those who have big hiking goals — whether that’s a week-long backpacking trip or summiting a high peak — conditioning can make the difference between a grueling slog and a satisfying hike.
Conditioning is also important for people who are recovering from injuries. Jumping into a long or steep hike before your body is ready is not going to do you any favors.
Whatever your reason for preparing physically for hiking season, you’ll want to focus on strength and cardio training. The goal is to strengthen your core and leg muscles, which you’ll rely on while hiking. Exercises that help you improve balance are also helpful, especially if you’ll be hiking with a heavy backpack.
Follow these guidelines when you begin conditioning:
Focusing on leg, hip, and core strength, here are some common exercises to build into your routine:
Find how-tos and more exercises in this training guide.
And don’t spend all your time doing reps. Some of your favorite activities are likely great cross-training. Focus on activities that get your heart rate up, build leg or core strength, or improve your balance. Some great options include running, mountain biking, paddleboarding, and yoga.
In addition to getting your body ready for hiking season, you also want to prepare your gear. Dig it out from the back of your closet and take inventory of everything. While it’ not the mostfun task, preparing your gear now means you’ll be ready to head out as soon as that perfect weather arrives.
Here are some items you’ll want to check on and some tasks you’ll want to complete:
Hiking season flies by. As it approaches, take some time to think through what trails you’re excited to hike this year.
Sure, spur-of-the-moment hikes are some of the best, but some trips require more planning. Taking a little time ahead of the season to do some planning makes it easier to just gowhen the time comes.
Planning ahead also helps you take advantage of the weather. Rather than planning a trip in response to weather, you can pick one of your pre-planned trips when you see the perfect weather window.
Here are some ways you can loosely plan your hiking season so you can prioritize your top hikesand save time for spontaneous adventures.
With some physical, mental, and practical prep, you’ll be ready when hiking season rolls around. Whether you’re planning casual hikes around town or serious backpacking adventures, preparation makes getting out there so much easier.
Do you have any special ways you prepare for hiking season? What makes you excited to get back on the trail? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Emily is a copywriter based in northern Michigan. She's happiest outdoors, whether she's hiking, skiing, paddling, or swimming. As a writer, she loves working with companies that inspire all people to get outside. When she's not writing or playing outdoors, you can find her cooking, reading, or hanging out with family and friends. Find more of her writing here.
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