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Article: 10 tips for preparing several days of trail-hiking

10 conseils pour préparer plusieurs jours d’itinérance en trail-rando
Nature & Aventure

10 tips for preparing several days of trail-hiking

It takes a bit of preparation to set off on a trail-hiking adventure in a self-sufficient mode over several days in the great outdoors. Hiking for a few days is like being a nomad, living in nature day and night. It's both invigorating and exhilarating, but you also need to plan and anticipate this adventure for a few days. And you will have to carry everything you need during your adventure. So, you need to be well prepared while optimising your equipment and limiting the weight of your equipment.

  1. Draw up a packing list

This is the first piece of advice, because it's the basis of any preparation. You can find ready-made lists on the internet. Just go through them and check what you need depending on your destination, the time of year and the duration of your adventure. Four major items of equipment are essential and should be at the top of the list: rucksack, tent (unless you're sleeping in a refuge), mattress and sleeping bag. This is like your home and the basic furniture you'll be carrying around for a few days. In addition to this basic equipment, you'll also need to include hiking-clothing, everything you'll need for cooking and eating, nutrition and hydration, a mobile phone, headlamp, etc.

  1. Testing equipment and optimising storage

Once your list has been drawn up and each item has been assembled, it's important to test the equipment: the tent and how to set it up/dismantle it, the sleeping bag and air mattress and how to store them efficiently in their respective pockets, a small gas stove, a headlamp, recharging batteries or a mini-flexible solar panel, and so on. The second challenge is packing everything into the rucksack. You have to fit everything in and distribute the weight evenly so that everything is relatively accessible, and you don't have to unpack everything every time.

  1. Anticipate the water supply points along the way

When you set off on a self-guided tour, the first point of attention is water supplies. The effort of the trek, the heat of the sun and the need for water for cooking mean that you need to plan in detail the water refreshment points along the route. The most practical solutions are drinking water points in small villages if you come across one. This water does not need to be filtered. However, if the only water available one day comes from a spring or stream, it is advisable to filter it.

  1. Plan your diet according to your daily calorie requirements

After hydration, food is the second most important variable to consider. A day's trail-hiking with a positive difference in altitude and between 6 and 8 hours or more of hiking requires at least twice as many calories as a normal day without any particular physical activity. So, you need to plan for foods that will provide the thousands of extra calories you need. For the evening meal, there are freeze-dried preparations that indicate exactly the calories provided by each sachet of food.

  1. Share your itinerary before setting off

If you're going on your own, you really should share your itinerary with a family member or a close friend. Even if you're travelling with several people, it's still a good idea. Telephone network coverage is often good enough, but there are still some spots with insufficient network coverage. Your mobile phone may also break down or run out of battery. It's often an unlikely but not completely impossible series of events that can lead to unforeseen situations. Before you set off on your hike, it's easy to share your itinerary and the duration of your hike, and to send occasional SMS updates during your adventure.

  1. Bring a first aid kit

You should also bring a first aid kit. On paths that are sometimes steep and full of stones or roots, a fall can happen quickly, especially at the end of the day when you're feeling tired and not as clear-headed as you would be in the early hours of the morning when the day begins. If you unfortunately fall or are injured by a sharp branch, it's best to be able to quickly clean the wound and apply a bandage right where you are. Fortunately, most of the time, the first-aid kit will stay in your bag, but on the rare occasion when you need it, its presence will make all the sense in the world. So, make sure you don't forget it.

  1. Download an App to view the trails and find your way around

Hiking trails are very similar and sometimes several trails cross and recross. It's very easy to take the wrong fork in the road. Sometimes it's even difficult to find the trail you're following when you cross a road or path. The trails in France are often very well signposted, but vegetation is king in the wilderness and it often happens that branches or foliage completely cover the paint marks indicating the path to follow. During a recent three-day itinerary in the southern Ardèche, we managed to find ourselves in the middle of a forest with no apparent path, hiking through trees, ferns and old, dilapidated low walls, only to end up almost like thieves at the back of a private garden on the edge of the forest.

Here are two  Apps that can be useful to visualise the itinerary and find your way during your hiking adventure :

AllTrails : www.alltrails.com/fr
IGNrando : ignrando.fr/fr/

  1. Carry a charging solution for your phone

All these solutions for tracking via an App or for calling in an emergency will of course only be available if your mobile remains sufficiently charged. If you're going to be roaming for several days in remote areas and bivouacking in the wilderness, you have several options: carry extra batteries with you, with the major disadvantage of the extra weight of these recharging batteries, equip yourself with a small flexible solar panel that you attach to the top of your rucksack or pass through villages, hamlets or refuges where you might be able to recharge your phone. In any case, it's a good idea to check your phone's charge level from time to time. It's less important than the amount of water you have left, but it still helps to avoid finding yourself without any means of communication or precise location in the middle of nowhere, several kilometres or tens of kilometres from the nearest village.

  1. Check the weather forecast

When hiking over several days, you need to be prepared for all kinds of weather: major temperature differences (between day and night or in the event of changing weather conditions), the possibility of more or less heavy precipitation (rain, hail, snow), days or periods of strong winds, especially on the most exposed sections such as ridges, and thunderstorms of varying severity and even the possibility of lightning. You therefore need to equip yourself accordingly (with several layers, a waterproof jacket, a waterproof rucksack, etc.). It's also essential to check the weather forecast before setting off and during your hike. And a charged mobile phone will allow you to check the weather at any time. In the worst-case scenario, you should be prepared to give up or postpone the hike if the weather deteriorates seriously.

  1. Have a clean pair of socks every day

This last tip is a little luxury, a little personal touch. If you're going to be on the trail for several days, it's ideal to have as many pairs of clean socks as there are days of trekking. Especially if you've had wet feet the day before because it's rained a lot or you've passed through streams. If the weather is wet and nothing dries quickly, it's a real pleasure to be able to put on clean, dry socks in the morning before setting off again. A second pair of shorts or a clean, dry T-shirt every day are also real pluses, but if I must choose, I put socks first on the list of clothes to bring along, and ideally one pair per day of hiking. On long hikes, the washing and drying session will eventually become necessary, but for up to 5 days of trail-hiking, it's still possible to bring one clean pair of socks per day of hiking!

 

Here are our 10 tips for preparing for several days of hiking. Once you are ready to go, make the most of these few days in contact with nature, flora, and fauna. It's a simple way to take a deep breath of fresh air at your own pace and enjoy a little adventure along the paths and tracks you'll cover during your hiking adventure.

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