Top tips from a guy that hasn’t even done it yet!
Have I hiked 100 miles yet? No. But I HAVE spoken to plenty of people that have hiked 100 miles (and more). I am also the CMO of a HiiKER and host of the HiiKER podcast, where I interview people who have hiked the length, width and perimeter of entire countries. So I certainly have some insight into this. Plus I have hiked 1000s of miles, over the years… just not continuously.
1. Pick your trail
These days, the inspiration to hike a long distance for the first time comes from social media or youtube. These videos or images are normally of well known trails such as the Pacific crest trail, the Te Araroa or the Southwest Coast path.
Trails like these can also be a bit of a turn-off for some. The sheer magnitude of effort and time that is required to complete them can deter people even planning a hike to begin with. While there is no doubt that they are incredible trails and the experience of hiking them is envied, there are other incredible trails that don’t mean quitting your job for.
With HiiKER, you can find a trail that is suited to the distance you feel you can complete in a set amount of time. This is obviously subjective, but I will always set out with ambition and then sprinkle a little bit of realism to find a trail that will challenge me, but also won’t cause undue anxiety to complete in a certain amount of time. My rule of thumb — average of 20km per day with about 300m of elevation gain. This is MY base, but yours is your own.
2. Plan your Hike
Now that you have your trail picked and you have booked the time off work, it’s time to dig into the trail and plan out your days. With your base distance and elevation gain, you can easily apply to the trail to set out your itinerary. With HiiKER, you can view the trail in detail and set the markers that you aim to reach each day. This can be a hotel, campsite, lodge or a town. You can also set areas where you might stop to take lunch or resupply/fill water bottles.
With the itinerary all saved, you want to have this downloaded to your device for easy access. Not only does it help you quickly access your trip details, but it saves on much-needed battery life while out in Nature.
Nothing trains you well enough for the trail than walking. You don’t need to be out hiking everyday or doing a strict and regimented exercise regime to prepare, but you also shouldn’t go straight from zero activity to hiking 100 miles over 7 days.
My simple advice would be that you head to a local trail or park regularly and walk! You can pack a small bag with water, a snack and a book. The point of this is to ease your body into the state it will need to hike a long-distance trail.
There are more intense training exercises you can do, depending on the goal that you have set. Some people want to hike fast, and for that you will need more endurance-focused training. But if you are taking your time, don’t focus on the stats. And remember, each day you hike, trains you for your next day of hiking.
Ok, so we’re a few days from T-day (trail day). By now you should have the basic gear that you will need for your hiking adventure. The gear you require will always depend on the trail you are doing. But here are some of the basics for any hiker
- Comfortable boots/trail shoes
- Thick socks (wool)
- Waterproof jacket/pants
- Non-cotton & moisture-wicking layer (long-sleeve shirt & underwear)
- Trekking pants
- Warm layer (fleece)
- Head torch
- Backpack (40–50l) — the more volume you have means the more stuff you bring, means the heavier your bag is. Aim low with volume.
- First aid kit & storm blanket
- Water (1.5–2l per day)
Everything else you bring is dependent on the trail you are doing. Some people will want to camp along the trail, so obviously they will need a tent. Some may not see a town for days, so they might need to carry food for each day in the wild etc. There are far more educated people that can show you what gear to pack for each trail, just make sure you have the basics!
You should also test everything that you are packing. So if you have just bought a new tent, it would be a good idea to set it up in your garden (or living room) to familiarise yourself with the set-up. Or if you have a new backpack, you should check that it fits everything that you need and sits on your body correctly.
The day has come! It’s time to head off on your adventure.
The most important thing to do now, is trust yourself. You have done enough preparation. However, nothing can fully prepare you for the experience you are about to embark upon.
It’s now just you, your feet and the world around you. You can use maps and apps like HiiKER when you need to, or if you feel like you want to try alternative routes etc.
But you should remember what got you here in the first place. Was it your goal to complete the trail? Or was it to experience the trail. There is a huge difference.