To be able to enjoy a happy day of hiking, there are three things very important to me. Next to choosing a trail and the company, I always make sure that my feet, back and belly are well taken care of. Here are my tips.
I always choose proper, not too thick, woollen hiking socks. And I bring an extra pair to change with half way, to keep my feet dry.
It´s not a luxury to prepare the feet before going, is a must. I make sure the toenails are cut and I use a foot crème to keep the feet dry and soft. I also use a medical duct tape as prevention on vulnerable spots. From experience I have learned not to wait until I already have a blister, which I know most likely will happen! I started my 4 weeks hike last summer with huge blisters on both heels and ended up walking the first few days on my sandals, not good!
For a good fit, the hiking shoes should be ½ to 1 size too big. The feet swell while hiking and need that extra space.
When stopping for a break, I always take my shoes and socks off to let my feet breathe a bit. The feet won´t swell because you take your shoes off, but they do shrink down to normal size again if you give them a break!
I have learned that the bigger the backpack, the more things I don´t need, I will bring. Remembering a horrific summer backpacking around eastern Europe with a pack so heavy my friends had to lift it up on my shoulders. To my defence I was young and thought I needed to be prepared for each occasions, including fancy dinners and hip clubs (yes, I carried around a hairdryer, a large makeup bag, several party dresses AND high heels! Next to my hiking gear, obviously…) The rule of thumb is to never carry more than 10% of your body weight (unless you are planning on camping and need to carry camping gear and food supplies, then the 25% rule applies). A good measurement for a day back is 15-20 litres and for several days 30-40 litres should be enough. Pack your bag with the heaviest things on the bottom and lighter on top. I always use waterproof smaller bags for my stuff. It gives a better overview and it takes less space. And in case of rain your stuff will stay dry.
Suffering from low blood sugar levels, it’s really important to me to bring enough food and drinks And it´s got to be tasty and nutritious too. On average I try to drink 500 cc per 5 kilometre. I always bring my water in smaller bottles as they are easier to pack and to divide for the weight. I am not a fan of the camel bag but a lot of people are and find it easy to sip from while hiking. I do think using one could help to drink more often and on a regular basis (which I sometimes forget) but I like to combine me drinking moments with a break.
And what I really need to stay happy on the trail is my thermos of coffee. I love the pleasure of searching for a good resting spot, preferable with a pretty view, to enjoy with a hot cup of coffee! When it comes to food, I try to bring items low in weight and high in energy. I pack my food in reusable Ziplock bags or very light containers. My favourite lunch items are sandwiches with cheese, avocado or hummus with an hard boiled egg on the side. As snacks I usually bring a variation of nuts, an energy bar, a banana, dried fruits, cheese and chocolate. And if it´s possible I add snacks I find in the nature, like blueberries or wild raspberries. Nothing taste better than food you picked yourself!