Last updated: November 12, 2023
Trekking is more than a simple hike through the woods. It’s a trip that tends to change you. It builds strength, confidence and friendship, with all kinds of interesting people. Preparation is key however, and you’ll be more ready for your adventure with a few fantastic trekking tips and tricks.
I feel like there’s so much time in between my treks that I start anew with each one. But I do keep a list of things to think about when planning, things to bring and things to do or not do along the way. Sharing my trekking tips for beginners with you now, because sharing is caring.
Trekking Tips and Tricks
1. Choose the right trail
It’s essential to select a trek that aligns with your fitness level and prior experience. Consider your physical abilities and hiking endurance. Be honest with yourself, even if it isn’t easy. Opting for a trek that matches your fitness level will ensure a more enjoyable and manageable experience.
Understand the trail, potential weather conditions, permits, regulations and any necessary equipment before you leave. Conduct thorough research on the chosen trail.
Familiarize yourself with the route, its difficulty level, and any potential challenges you may encounter. Additionally, gather information about the prevailing weather conditions during your planned trekking period. This will help you pack appropriate clothing and gear.
Determine if the trail requires any permits or permissions, and make sure you are well-informed about the necessary documentation. Lastly, identify and gather any equipment or gear essential for the trek.
3. Think local
Learn about local traditions and be respectful towards the communities you encounter during your trek. You’re likely to come across unique cultures and traditions. Take advantage of it!
Take the opportunity to learn about the local customs and traditions of the areas you’ll be passing through. Show respect for the local communities, their beliefs, and their way of life. This is one of the best things about trekking.
Follow any guidelines or protocols provided by the local authorities or your guide regarding interacting with the communities.
4. Learn the important phrases in the appropriate language
Hello, good morning, please, thank you, good night, bathroom, water, coffee. That sort of thing.
5. Acclimatize if necessary
If you are trekking in high-altitude areas, it’s vital to plan for proper acclimatization. You simply can’t win against Mother Nature. Altitude sickness can be a potential risk at high altitudes.
To mitigate this, consider incorporating rest days into your trekking itinerary to allow your body to adapt to the higher altitudes gradually. Drink plenty of fluids, avoid strenuous activities during the initial days of the trek, and pay attention to any symptoms of altitude sickness.
6. Choose the right guide
If you’re planning to hire a guide, opting for a guide with good reviews ensures a higher likelihood of receiving a satisfactory and fulfilling experience.
These reviews can shed light on the guide’s expertise, knowledge, professionalism, and overall ability to enhance your journey or activity.
By considering the positive feedback shared by others, you can make a more informed decision and increase the chances of having a memorable and enjoyable time with your chosen guide.
Trekking guide: how to prepare for trekking
One of the biggest differences between hiking and trekking is that you need to prepare significantly more for a trek.
7. Start training as early as possible
Practice walking with a backpack to get used to the weight.
Starting your training early and incorporating backpack walks into your routine not only helps you acclimate to the additional weight but also improves your physical fitness, gear assessment, and overall preparedness for your upcoming adventure.
Train for trekking by hiking, as there are many benefits of hiking.
Remember to start with lighter loads and gradually progress to heavier weights as your fitness level improves. It’s important to listen to your body, pace yourself, and avoid overexertion or strain.
Consulting with a fitness professional or a knowledgeable instructor can also provide valuable guidance in designing a training program tailored to your specific goals and needs.
8. Train for cardio fitness
Training for cardio fitness is crucial when preparing for a trek due to several reasons. First and foremost, cardio exercises improve your overall endurance and stamina, allowing you to sustain physical activity for extended periods without feeling fatigued.
Trekking often involves long hours of walking or hiking, sometimes in challenging terrains, and a well-trained cardiovascular system enables you to handle such demands more efficiently. Improving your cardio is also extremely helpful when you’ll be trekking at higher altitudes.
Cardio is my greatest weakness, so it takes priority in my trek training. Do you know your weakness?
9. Train for strength
Strength training is essential when preparing for a trek because it helps build muscular strength and endurance, which are crucial for carrying heavy backpacks, navigating uneven terrains, and overcoming obstacles.
Second, strength training improves joint stability and flexibility, reducing the risk of injuries during the trek. Additionally, it enhances overall body stability and balance, allowing you to maintain control and stability on challenging trails.
10.Train for endurance
Training for endurance is vital when preparing for a trek because it allows you to sustain physical activity for extended periods. Endurance training improves your cardiovascular fitness, enabling you to walk or hike for long hours without feeling fatigued.
It enhances your body’s ability to utilize oxygen efficiently, crucial for high-altitude treks.
Endurance training also helps build mental resilience, allowing you to push through fatigue and discomfort. By training for endurance, you ensure that you have the stamina and endurance necessary to complete the trek successfully.
11. Incorporate step training as well
Including step training in your trek preparation is important because it helps simulate the demands of uphill and downhill treks, allowing you to build specific leg and cardiovascular strength for those terrains.
It targets and strengthens the muscles used in climbing and descending, such as quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
Pro Tip: You will get more of a cardio workout if you do steps without additional weight and more of a leg workout if you do steps with weights.
Step training also improves balance, stability, and coordination, preparing you for uneven and challenging trail conditions.
12. Break in your shoes well before your trek
Breaking in your shoes before a trek is crucial to avoid discomfort, blisters, and potential foot injuries. New shoes often have stiff materials and need time for the soles and upper parts to mold to your feet.
By breaking them in before your trek, you can identify any potential issues or discomfort, giving you the opportunity to address them before embarking on the trek, ensuring a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
13. Listen to your body and rest when you need to
A little fatigue and a little soreness is natural and expected. But if you’re exhausted, take a rest day. If you’re in significant pain, take a break from training.
If you don’t listen to your body’s signals when it is sending the subdued ones, you will eventually be receiving some loud and clear. And those tend to take longer to recover from.
14. Eat healthy
Eating healthy while training for a trek is essential for optimal physical performance and overall well-being. A balanced and nutritious diet provides the necessary fuel and nutrients to support your training, helping you build endurance, strength, and recover effectively.
Nutrient-dense foods supply vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that aid in muscle repair, reduce inflammation, and support immune function, crucial for the demands of trekking.
Additionally, a healthy diet helps maintain a healthy weight, promotes good digestion, and provides sustained energy levels, enabling you to tackle long hikes and challenging terrains with greater ease.
15. Taper your training right before your trek
You want to give your body a few days rest before beginning your trek. Doing so will give your body the break it needs to begin your trek in peak condition and with the most energy.
16. Take Diamox before you start, if you plan to at all
Not everyone takes Diamox for altitude sickness. I take it if I’m doing a trek at altitudes above 14,000 feet, like the Everest Base Camp trek, just in case. If you plan to take it, do so before you arrive at your higher altitudes. It works most effectively if taken before you need it.
17. Pack light
Carry only essential items to minimize weight. Distribute the weight evenly in your backpack, and use dry sacks or waterproof bags to protect your gear.
18. Carry Paracord and 4 clips
A simple round of paracord and 4 clips can come in handy for a variety of things, but especially for setting up your laundry to dry if necessary. Be sure to purchase the lightest weight ones possible that are also sturdy enough to not break.
19. Keep your gadgets safe from water
You should keep your gadgets in individual waterproof containers. Keep an extra waterproof sack for wet items that do not have time to dry before getting going again.
20. Pack hand warmers for night time
There are many brands out there but the only one that works reliably in my own experience is Hot Hands.
21. Wrap duct tape around your hiking pole to store it
22. Bring a buff or two
They are conveniently handy for all kinds of things, from keeping your neck warm to hiding your unwashed hair. Two is better than one, because they’ll get dirty as well.
23. Use thin, double lined socks for hiking
I prefer Wright socks for summer hiking.
24. Use thick wool socks for night time wear
I prefer SmartWool to keep my feet warm at night.
25. Drink plenty of water in advance
Hydration plays a vital role in maintaining optimal physical performance, as it helps regulate body temperature, supports cardiovascular function, and aids in nutrient delivery to muscles.
Proper hydration also prevents dehydration, which can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, and decreased cognitive function. Additionally, being well-hydrated helps improve joint lubrication, reducing the risk of injuries.
By starting the trek well-hydrated, you enhance your endurance, energy levels, and overall well-being, allowing you to tackle the challenges of the trek more effectively.
26. Bulk up
If you’re at all underweight, or like the weight you’re currently at, consider adding a few more pounds before you leave. Depending on the length of your trek, particularly at higher altitudes, you’re going to burn more calories than you consume unless you make a concerted effort otherwise.
27. Bring small treats to look forward to
It can be special energy bars, chocolate or anything that packs well and makes you smile. Dole it out to yourself once a day and appreciate every bite.
28. Bring something for dry throats
Consider bringing throat lozenges for dry air and to reduce any coughs that might come along. I prefer the sugar-free sort myself.
29. Bring chapstick or lip balm
Whatever you use to keep your lips moist. Preferably with sunscreen. Think about bringing more than one, just in case.
Day of, hiking tips
30. Wear moisture-wicking and breathable clothing, in layers
31. Bring a fleece layer too
32.Stay updated on the weather conditions
Know before you go to ensure you pack the right gear, such as rain gear, warm clothing, or sun protection.
33. Bring navigation
A map, compass or GPS device, first aid kit, headlamp, multi-tool, matches or lighter, water purification tablets, and extra food.
34. Make sure your backpack fits properly so it’s easier to carry
35.Drink plenty of water throughout the trek
Carry a reusable water bottle or hydration bladder, and know the locations of water sources on your route.
36. Water purification
If you’re hiking through areas where water safety is questionable, bring a filter or water purification tablets.
37. Pace yourself
To pace yourself on a trek means to regulate your speed and energy expenditure in a way that allows you to maintain a steady and sustainable pace throughout the journey. It involves finding a balance between pushing yourself enough to make progress while avoiding overexertion and fatigue.
To pace yourself effectively, begin the trek at a moderate speed that allows you to maintain a conversation without gasping for breath. Pay attention to your breathing pattern and heart rate. Adjust your pace if you’re consistently out of breath or pushing too hard.
Be mindful of any signs of fatigue, muscle soreness, or discomfort. Adjust your pace accordingly and listen to your body’s needs.
38. Take breaks
Make sure to take regular breaks to rest, hydrate and refuel. Sit down and put your feet up.
39. Stay on the trail
40. Pack it out
Pack out all your trash, avoid littering, and be mindful of local wildlife.
41.Share your trekking plans with a reliable person
Provide details about your route, expected return time, and emergency contacts.
If trekking in high-altitude areas, acclimatize properly, ascend slowly, and recognize the symptoms of altitude sickness. Descend if symptoms worsen.
43. Wildlife safety
Observe wildlife from a safe distance. Avoid feeding or approaching animals, as it can be harmful to both you and them.
44. Domestic animals
Walk on the inside of the trail with pack animals. Do not put yourself between an animal and the edge of anything.
45. Community matters
Get to know the people you’re hiking with, the guides and the porters if possible. This is what makes the trek extra special.
46. Wash your hands whenever possible
47. Use sunscreen on a regular basis
48. Bug safety
Apply insect repellent to prevent bug bites and potential diseases.
49. Take long strides in flat areas
50. Take short steps when going uphill
51. Take zigzags
Zigzag your way up or down to make it easier on your knees if you need to.
52. Use poles
Let your poles absorb some of the burden going up and down.
53. Carry emergency device
Carry a fully charged mobile phone or a satellite communication device for emergencies.
54. Listen to your guide
Be honest with them. They have seen it all already, so don’t let embarrassment prevent you from receiving the help you need.
Day of, while not walking
56. Sleep well
Make sure you have a comfortable sleeping setup, such as a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad.
57. Buy the local crafts to support the local community
58. Use the water that has been boiled
59. Food safety
Avoid salads and meats if possible unless sure of condition.
60. Keep your phone warm
Put your phone in a sock to keep it warm, or next to your body, as cold electronics lose charge faster.
61. Write in your journal every day
62. Eat, even if not hungry
63. Send postcards home if possible
64. Use Nalgene water bottles for heat if necessary
You can pour boiling water into a Nalgene water bottle and it will stay warm for hours. If it is not a Nalgene water bottle, it may melt with the heat.
Hygiene while trekking
Use body wipes daily to keep your body clean while trekking.
To wash your hair without running water, you can wash it in a basin by pouring water you’re your head with a cup, before and after using shampoo and conditioners. This method allows you to clean your hair without running water, but it may not provide the same level of cleanliness as using a shower.
Alternatively, if you find a stream or lake, take advantage of it and wash your hair using environmentally friendly soap and shampoo.
In between washings, you can use a bandana, a hat, ponytails or braids to keep your hair under control. But brush it twice daily, whatever else you do with it.
Disconnecting from technology
A huge part of the trekking experience is being disconnected from technology for a significant amount of time. Don’t ruin it by bringing along electronic devices that will distract you from the experience.
Bring a book, write in your journal, play card games with your companions or tell stories to each other.
While a cell phone is technology, it is also the major tool for photography for most people. You can keep it charged with solar chargers, or multiple power banks if necessary. Use battery-saving mode and switch to airplane mode.
You can bring along external drives to store all of your photos if you do not have access to a cloud service.
Trekking Hacks and FAQs
To get better at trekking, focus on improving your physical fitness through regular exercise, including hiking and endurance training. Invest in proper gear, learn navigation and survival skills, and gradually increase the difficulty and duration of your treks to build experience and confidence.
The #1 etiquette rule while hiking is to “Leave No Trace.” Respect the environment by packing out your trash, staying on designated trails, and minimizing your impact on nature to preserve the beauty and integrity of the trail for future hikers.
The #1 etiquette rule while trekking is to “Respect Local Culture and Customs.” Show appreciation for the local communities, their traditions, and way of life. Follow their guidelines, dress modestly when required, and engage with locals in a respectful and considerate manner.
To get energy for trekking, maintain a balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Consume energy-rich snacks and meals before and during the trek, such as fruits, nuts, granola bars, and trail mix.
Final Trekking Tips
With proper preparation, you can navigate effectively and make the most of your trekking experience without feeling overwhelmed or unprepared.
When you have conducted thorough research, packed the right gear, and undergone adequate training, you approach the trek with a sense of preparedness and self-assurance.
This confidence not only enhances your overall trekking experience but also lets you tackle challenges with a positive mindset. Being well-prepared before setting out on a trek can significantly contribute to your safety, comfort, enjoyment, flexibility, and confidence throughout the journey.