It can be intimidating to begin hiking or backpacking. There are many things you need to know, and even more to learn. How can you be confident to do it? How can you choose which gear to use?
You’re also hearing diverse opinions on so many subjects. Add that to your fears, insecurities, and opinions, as well as those of your family members and friends. What does this mean? There are many myths out there that will keep you stuck.
Myth #1: Hiking is as easy as walking
This is a common myth we hear from hikers who have been hiking for a long time or just people who like working out.
The important part of hiking is training. While you might not be able to do the entire hike, you should do trails that are at least as difficult or more challenging than the ones you plan to do each day. A heavier pack is better. It is essential to train by hiking.
What should you do besides hiking? Strength training! Not just for the machines in the gym. You can strengthen your legs, calves, and ankles with specific exercises. You can start by focusing on your body weight and gradually adding resistance bands and weights to make yourself stronger.
When it comes to injury prevention, strength training will have the greatest impact.
Myth #2: Waterproof boots keep your feet dry
Wear waterproof boots if you hike in rain or snow. These are not the places to wear your Nike gym shoes, which is another error we have seen with regard to snow.
You shouldn’t wear waterproof shoes or boots in the middle of summer. This has some merit. In general, you want your feet to be dry. This reasoning makes sense. Your feet will stay dry if you cross a river. Your feet are dry when it rains.
They keep moisture out but also they keep it in. If water crosses your foot and gets inside your shoe, it will stay there for a long time. This makes your feet more susceptible to blisters, and even fungus infections. They’ll dry faster than non-waterproof boots. They keep moisture in so that your feet don’t sweat as much. They won’t dry as well with non-waterproof boots. They are also more susceptible to blisters.
Myth #3: Comfort is all that matters with a sleeping pad
This is common mistake newbies do. They buy an inflatable sleeping pad from Amazon and take it backpacking. Then they wake up in the middle of the night freezing cold.
They are comfortable and affordable. But backpacking gear can be expensive. Because of all the technology involved in making backpacking gear so efficient in the backcountry and light, it can be quite expensive. It doesn’t mean you can’t get quality gear at an affordable price. You just have to be aware of what you need to look for in order to make informed purchasing decisions.
Your sleeping pads are not only designed to make your sleep more comfortable. Your bag protects you from the cold air, and your sleeping pads insulate you. You might find a cheap Amazon pad that is comfortable, and it may only cost $20. But if you don’t know what to search for, you won’t have thought to look for one that insulates from the cold ground temperatures.
Myth #4: To hike, you need to be thin
If you have ever said any of these…
“I must get in shape and be healthier before I can go hiking.”
“I will get started as soon I lose 15 pounds.”
Don’t lie here. Lying to yourself is not a good idea. This is a common thought. This is something we hear all the time.
It is understandable to feel this way. Hiking can be very physically demanding. But isn’t this true for everything?
Many of us have lived our whole lives hearing from media outlets that our bodies are not thin enough, well-dressed enough, hair is too short or not volumized enough and our nails are not long enough.
As college homework helpers, My Homework Done writers conducted researches on the effects of body images being reflected in media and eating disorders in girls. They were definitely related, but we won’t go into too much detail. But does that mean it is true? Or are we being told to believe it?
Fitness is essential when you are planning to do more difficult hikes. Exercise and proper training are key to hiking success. It will make it easier, prevent injuries, and give you a better experience. What does it have to do the training properly and being strong for hiking with your body composition, weight, size, or any other factors? Is it possible to hike or backpack without a scale? Or are you being told that it is true?
You keep telling yourself to stop being afraid. You might worry that you will be judged if you are “overweight” as we have seen in others. You might be afraid to start hiking, so it’s better to wait to see if you are “fit enough”. How can those beliefs and fears help you start hiking? Are they keeping you safe or afraid? Only you can answer this question.
Is there someone who can hike the trails you desire and is your own size? Shouldn’t this be proof that you can do so?
Myth #5 – All you need to navigate is the map on your smartphone
We’ve all been there. It’s not shameful. You should not rely solely on the app on your smartphone for navigation.
What happens if your phone is lost? Or it die? Or it breaks into a million pieces, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere without any way to return home.
You shouldn’t rely on technology to bring you back safely. It’s certainly helpful if you have the right app. You should also have a map and compasses with you. Also, you need to know how to use them and what to do in various safety situations.
Myth #6 – Carrying a first-aid kit is a way to stay safe
We’re prepared for anything as long as we keep a first aid kit with us. You get it! It’s all there, and some kits even come with instructions!
This is something that most hikers have probably experienced. It’s okay, everyone has been there during their backpacking adventures.
These instructions are very helpful. You should never go hiking or backpacking without a first aid kit. But do you really know the purpose of each item in your kit? What are the best ways to use it? How do you make sure that everything is in your kit?
So, don’t just carry – know how to use it.
Myth #7: To backpack, you need the most recent gear
Quality gear can make a big difference. It’s lighter and warmer, as well as more durable. Quality gear doesn’t have to be expensive.
It’s all about making educated buying decisions. You can’t expect someone to simply hand you everything you need.
You should know the type and level of hiking you are doing. You might end up getting the wrong thing in the opposite case.
It is important to first understand the basics of what you need in order to make informed purchasing decisions. It’s okay to not have the most recent and greatest gear. You can understand what gear you need and why you need it. Then you can look for gear on sale or used gear and find great deals.
Myth #8 – It is okay to use biodegradable soaps in creeks
You should never use soap in streams, streams, rivers, or creeks. Even if the packaging states biodegradable.
Biodegradable simply means that there are fewer chemicals in the product to allow the soil to break it down. However, it can be used in waterways to pollute the ecosystem that depends on that water chain.
What can you do instead? You can still wash your hands, just move it to 200 feet away from the water source. Take some water from the stream and use it to take a shower. The soap will be filtered by the ground so that it doesn’t pollute water.
Myth #9 – You will be eaten by the animal
This is a very common fear. This fear is not just understandable. Mountain lions and bears can be frightening. There is always a chance that you might encounter one while hiking. But…
How many people go into the wilderness every day and never encounter a wild animal? How many people see a bear every day they venture out?
It is important to be able to recognize the difference between what you should do in an encounter or what to do during an attack so that you can return home safe and sound. Fear is a learned trait. You can see them all over social media, including Instagram. Think about this: even those who made the videos are still alive and able to share the story.
According to the National Park Service, the chances of being attacked and killed by a bear is 1 in 2.1 million. It is, therefore, more likely to be attacked by a bee rather than a bear. Mountain lions have been attacked in 126 incidents, with 27 of these being fatal, in North America over the past 100 year. Your chances of being hit by a deer are 150 times greater than your chance of getting killed, and your likelihood to drown in your bathtub is 500 times higher than that of being killed by a mountain lion.
Myth #10 – You can’t lift on your period
The bear fear is the old myth, but not the final. An old wives’ tale says that if you are pregnant/on your period/ill you are in danger.
This was designed to keep women home. This was created to discourage women from going out hiking and other outdoor activities that are enjoyable for them. Instead of keeping them from voting, stop them from working and keep them busy in the kitchen caring for children.
There are many old wives stories like these, all created with one goal: to keep women “in place.” You have two options: either you decide to “keep in your place” and not go hiking because of an old wives tale or you choose to live your life, regardless of the nonsense that women tell.
You don’t want your period to be hiked on because you feel miserable. This is a completely different story. If you have been told to not hike as a bear could kill you, please take a moment to think about it.
Forest animals don’t smell blood, they aren’t sharks. So if you feel ready for hile, make nothing to stop you.