Choosing Your Hiking Adventure

September 11, 2020

Even when you have resolved to explore the outdoors and picked out a good pair of hiking boots, there are still many choices to be made before you hit the trail. Ask yourself: What are you looking for in an outdoor experience? What kind of activities do you enjoy or think you would enjoy learning? Depending on your answers, there may be a specific type of adventure out there that is suited to you.We can divide the activities discussed below into two rough categories: general hikes enjoyed by a diverse range of people, and hikes done only in specialized environments. These categorizations are by no means set in stone, but they may help you find the adventure that you will enjoy and benefit from the most.

General Hikes

The following activities are suited to a wide variety of environments and are typically less challenging. As such, they are a good starting point if you are new to outdoor adventuring and are looking for ways to expand your endurance and experience.

Cross-Country Day Hiking

This is the most familiar sort of outdoors adventure: traversing through woods or a park using marked trails. Cross-country is a perfect place to start as a hiker, with the trails in most large parks ranging from easy to difficult, allowing you to slowly build up your stamina and physical condition. The wide range of difficulty levels also makes this an ideal activity for families, since most parks have paths that are negotiable by children.Even though this is less specialized than other activities below, but you should still bring basic equipment such as a first-aid kit, GPS/map, and water. You also need an all-around quality boot like the Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus.

Backpacking/Trekking

Backpacking is a slightly more intense version of cross-country. Here, your journey is typically multi-day and takes on more challenging terrain. In addition to regular hiking equipment, you need overnight gear such as sleeping bags, bug spray, and laundry and/or dishwashing detergent, among other things. Your shoes should also be different: rather than just safeguarding you against most trail hazards, they ought to also be similar to the Timberland Men’s White Ledges: well-padded, solid, and offering continuous support so that you can carry loads and walk comfortably for an extended period of time.

Nordic Walking

Nordic walkers use a pole as added support while walking, which works the muscles and burns calories. As a result, Nordic walking is a popular fitness activity and can be done by both pros and amateurs over many different types of terrain.

Specialized Environments

The following hikes are restricted to specific places and require a specific skill set. This makes them both more challenging, but also more rewarding.

Mountaineering & Canyoneering

The names of these two pastimes are fairly self-explanatory: mountaineers aim to climb mountains, while canyoneers explore canyons. For all that these two sports take place at different altitudes, they require very similar things: rock-climbing skills, a head for heights, and specialized equipment like ropes, harnesses, helmets, and crampons—just to name a few examples. You will also need a pair of boots with significant toe and (preferably) ankle protection, such as the KEEN Women’s Targhee IIs.

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is done in colder climes. During the winter, you don’t have to deal with bugs, pollen or grass allergies, or excessive shrubbery, so it’s possible to explore wider. However, snowshoeing also comes with challenges. First of all, the temperature ranges are not for everyone. Also, you need special equipment and an understanding of snowy and icy environments in order to negotiate them safely.

Swimhiking

This pastime is particularly popular in the Lake District of the UK.  It involves trekking across the countryside on foot and swimming across the bodies of water you encounter. The main benefit of swimhiking is that it lifts certain constraints of traditional trekking; rivers and lakes become corridors instead of barriers. To successfully swimhike, of course, it helps if you enjoy swimming and have the endurance needed to cross large areas of water even after walking long distances.

Caving/Spelunking

If you dream of discovering things hidden from view, caving may be the sport for you. Many people go caving to conduct biological research or to map where tunnels may lead. Like any of the specialized sports listed above, it can be extremely dangerous and is often done in groups. You should have some training in rock climbing and spelunking before you attempt to explore a cave system. Because cavers deal with hazards like high water, darkness, low temperatures, and falling rocks, you will need things like a helmet, headlamp, flashlight, gloves, rain gear, and boots with superior waterproofing like the Hi-Tec Men’s Flagstaff.

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