It is no secret that Colorado has some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. Whether you choose to hike the Fourteeners, a trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, or a little-known trail near a beautiful water feature, it is always a good idea to be prepared and safe. Fortunately, hiking has become a mainstream activity that has grown in popularity. But, with the added popularity, many hikers take on trails that are too difficult for their skill levels. With the right preparation and vital gear, like a hiking backpack and a hiking hammock, even the most difficult hikes can be safe and enjoyable. Here are some useful hiking tips so hikers can return home safely from all of their voyages into the mountains, around the lakes, and beside the rivers.
Pack Appropriately, Yet Lightly
One of the best ways to prepare for a hike is to load up a hiking backpack with useful gear, but do it lightly. Hikers have different definitions of what makes a pack light; there is no magic number for every hiker. The best thing to do is to try on the pack and wear it around the house.
If it is uncomfortable to wear around the house, it will be even worse after wearing for a few hours on the trails.
When prepping the pack, it is important to consider what you fill it with. Prior to packing up, consider how long you will be on the trail. If you are taking a day hike, your needs will be different than if you are sleeping on the trail.
There are several must-haves for any hike. The first necessity is a navigational system, like a handheld GPS, a map, and a compass. Veteran hikers in Colorado suggest taking a topographical map, especially for longer trips. If you do take a GPS, be sure to bring extra batteries.
The weather in Colorado can change dramatically, and even when it is cold you can develop a sunburn which makes for a very uncomfortable experience. It is a good idea to bring basics like sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. Since the temperature changes with the elevation, veteran hikers recommend bringing extra clothes. It is always easy to take off clothes if the temperature increases. If you do bring warmer clothes, try to find lightweight layers designed for hiking.
There are several types of safety gear that are recommended for a hiking backpack, too. A bright headlamp is recommended, especially during the days in the fall when the sun goes down quickly. Food and water are recommended; so, if you are hiking for a long time, a water filter is better to bring than heavy water bottles. A small first aid kit is also recommended. Most people do not need them, but the moment that you do, you will be glad you packed it. It is also helpful to bring matches and other fire supplies. And, if you are bringing a hiking hammock or a small tent, bring a repair kit for your hiking hammock, the mosquito net, or the tent. Some people will also bring necessary items for several nights in the woods, like a sleeping bag, a shelter, and a pad for the ground. Fortunately, shelter-gear for hikers is lightweight and easy to pack.
Wear the Proper Clothes
Before you hit the road, be sure you have dressed appropriately for the hike. Cotton is the worst material you can wear when hiking in Colorado. Even though cotton is cool and natural, it is quick to become damp and it does not dry quickly. In fact, cotton can actually kill because it removes heat from the body and can speed up hypothermia. Be sure your socks and all other clothing items are made of something other than cotton.
When you are ready to buy clothes for your hiking trip, there are few fabrics that are better than others. Wool socks will keep your feet warm and they will prevent blistering. Some people will add silk liners to their wool socks to wick away moisture. The best fabrics for tops and pants are moisture-wicking synthetic ones that dry fast. Many of the top hiking clothing brands use the best, lightweight fabrics. If you are hiking in the warmest months, pick fabrics that are designed to keep you cool. If you are hiking in the cooler months, look for fabrics that are lightweight and keep you warm. Experts at outfitter shops can help you make the best decisions for the hikes you plan to take.
After you have your socks and clothing, you will need a great pair of boots. Hiking trails in Colorado have varying terrain. You could be stepping on rocks, in the water, over wet leaves, on dirt and mud, all on one trail. Therefore, you need waterproof boots that offer some flexibility and toe protection. The last thing that any hiker needs is sore and/or wet feet. Some hikers bring moleskin in their hiking backpacks to help take care of blisters that occur while on the hike, but if you do not have moleskin, duct tape works well, too.
If you are hiking during the rainy season or you know you are going to move through the brush, hiking veterans recommend gaiters to protect the legs. You do not need full gaiters that you would wear while fishing; it is helpful to just wear the type that close at the knees and ankles.
Is Your Gear in Working Order?
One of the most important hiking tips for Colorado is to be sure your gear is in good working order before you go out of town. Be sure your hiking backpack is sturdy and able to carry your gear. Try out your water filter so you know how to use it and so you know it will work. It is also helpful to be sure that your trekking poles are in good condition, too. Check out your lighter to be sure it is full of fluid and that your matches are dry and the striking strip is complete. If you are bringing a tent and/or a hiking hammock, be sure the seams are sealed.
Being prepared for hiking in Colorado will help make your expedition joyful and enlightening. Being ill-prepared can lead to dangerous situations, especially in the rough terrain in the Colorado.
Louise is the founder of TheAdventureLand, where she and her associates blog about Outdoor experiences, tips & tricks that will help you have an exciting adventure. She is also a tour guide of travel company where she learned many things about wilderness. “Let’s pack our bags and explore the world!”