There are many fantastic health benefits of hiking, including reducing the risk of problems such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and anxiety, the American Hiking Society notes. Before you take off on your adventure, however, it's important that you prepare for your hike by dressing properly and taking along the necessary supplies.
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Tops and Bottoms
When dressing for a hike, keep comfort and safety in mind. How you dress depends on the length of your hike, location and weather forecast. Whether it's warm or cold where you'll be hiking, dress in layers so you can remove pieces if you get too hot and add them back when it cools down. Wear an inner layer that's made of a wicking material to keep sweat from sticking to you and to insulate in cold situations. Your mid layer should be made up of shorts or long pants that are lightweight for warm weather or thicker for colder weather. Wool is ideal for wearing when it's cold out, and cotton makes a good choice during warmer days. Choose clothing that isn't so snug that you're unable to move freely to climb over obstacles and isn't too loose that it can get caught on things.
The National Park Service recommends wearing sturdy, broken-in boots that are comfortable and have good traction. There are several types of hiking footwear to choose from. Heavy hiking boots have a stiff midsole and are ideal for backpacking where there's difficult terrain and climbing involved. Light hiking boots are sturdy and work well in most hiking conditions. Trail runners are a type of light sneaker with good tread, made for light hiking and trail running. If you're hiking on easy to moderate terrain, trail shoes, which are like sneakers but stiffer and with more tread, work well.
Whatever season you're hiking in, it's a good idea to carry the proper outerwear for when you might need it. A lightweight, water-resistant jacket can protect your skin from wind and light rain, making it suitable for short hikes where you anticipate pleasant weather. When hiking with heavy rain expected, take along waterproof outwear, such as rain pants and a rain poncho or jacket. In the winter, when cold temperatures are common, you'll need to take waterproof, insulated outer layers, such as a coat and overalls, along with an extra mid layer such as a fleece jacket, sweatshirt or long-sleeve shirt.
Select socks that wick away moisture and fit well. In warm weather, use lightweight, breathable socks; with cold temperatures, choose socks that are heavyweight and provide good insulation. A lightweight hat with a brim can protect you from the sun, while a stocking hat keeps you warm and prevent you from losing body heat in the cold. Sunglasses can shield your eyes from the sun and prevent snow blindness. Carry a comfortable backpack to store your extra layers and other items in, such as a first aid kit, food, drinks, GPS, whistle and flashlight with extra batteries.