Hiking Essentials

Things to Keep in Mind

(Private Jeep Excursions will help you plan ahead for the hiking portion of your excursion if one is required during your trip.)

Don’t Hike Alone! (Enough Said)

Be a Lightweight

This means that the less you carry, the more enjoyable your hike will be. The heaviest items in your pack should be your food and water. Utilizing hiking sticks can take some of the stress off your legs.

Items to Wear

  1. Well-fitting and broken-in lightweight hiking boots and water shoes.
  2. Wear sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, and a hat.
  3. Have a small hand towel to wipe your face and eyes when you sweat.

Avoid Huffing and Puffing

If you can talk while you are walking, you are walking at the perfect speed. When you huff and puff, your legs, your digestive system, your whole body does not get enough oxygen to function efficiently. Your energy reserves get used up very quickly with this type of metabolism (anaerobic – without enough oxygen), and it creates a lot of waste products. These waste products make your legs feel heavy and make you feel sick.

Take a Break

A break of five to seven minutes every 30 to 60 minutes can remove approximately 20 to 30 percent of the waste products that have built up in your legs while hiking. Sit down and prop your legs up above the level of your heart and let gravity help drain these metabolic waste products out of your legs. Eat some food, drink some fluids, and take this break time to really enjoy and appreciate the view. These efficient breaks can really recharge your batteries.

No Food, No Fuel, No Fun

Stay hydrated and eat often. Eat and drink more than you normally do. Eat before, during, and after you hike. Eat before you are hungry. Drink water before you are thirsty. No matter what the temperature, you need water and energy to keep going.

Keeping yourself cool and hiking in Arizona takes a very large amount of energy (food). Salty snacks and water or sports drinks should be part of any hike. Food is your body’s primary source of fuel and salts (electrolytes) while hiking in a desert climate.

Eating adequate amounts of food will also help guarantee that you are replacing the electrolytes (salts) that you are sweating out. If you replace the water, but not the electrolytes that you have sweated out of your body, you can develop a serious and dangerous medical condition known as hyponatremia (water intoxication), which, if left untreated, can lead to seizures and possibly death. You need to eat about twice as much as you normally would to meet your energy and electrolyte needs while hiking.

Watch your time

Plan on taking twice as long to hike uphill as it takes to hike downhill. Note the time it took you to hike in to your location. Plan on at least that time needed to hike back out.

The 9 Essentials for Desert Hiking

  1. Hydration – Even if you are out for just a couple hours, the desert is a brutal environment. It is dry and can be difficult to gauge how much fluid you are losing. And, of course, there is that chance you can be on the trail longer than expected so having extra water is necessary. Get a day pack with a hydration bladder, carry at least 2 liters of water.
  2. Nutrition – With water, you need food. Take snacks – salty and sugary. You need carbs to get through the day.
  3. Protection – (protection from the elements) The desert sun is brutal so you want to be sure you are protected. Sunscreen (at least 15 SPF), lip balm with sunscreen, clothing with UPF, a brimmed hat and sunglasses. Even an emergency poncho just on case you are out and it rains.
  4. Prevention – Your footwear is the most important piece of equipment. Bad shoes and socks can lead to sore feet, debilitating blisters and twisted ankles. Make sure you have good, broken in, breathable hiking shoes, boots, and water shoes.
  5. Navigation – A GPS or phone app is not a bad idea, but always have a topographic map and a compass with you. These do not require batteries or updates and will not break if you drop it.
  6. Insulation – This also means clothing. There is a common theme here; you need to be prepared to be out in the wilderness longer than expected – just in case. But sometimes timing is perfect but the weather changes without notice or you are just not familiar with desert climate. Hiking anywhere in AZ during the summer months can bring fast moving thunderstorms. This can equate to an extreme drop in temperatures, rain and wind – not to mention lightning and other hazards. Hypothermia does take some time to set in, but if you had to stay overnight in the desert in temperatures in the low 50s, shorts and a tank top will not work!
  7. Communication – You go out into the wilderness to disconnect. However, emergencies arise and you will need to connect to the outside world. A cell phone is not sufficient. If there are no cell towers, there is no signal. A satellite device will work. A Spot communicator or Garmin InReach will allow you to keep in touch with the civilized world and connect with emergency services if needed. Take a mirror so you can signal a plane or helicopter.
  8. Illumination – Sometimes when you are out in the great outdoors, you can lose track of time. Other times, we just misjudge the amount of time a hike will take or it just gets dark faster than expected. Worse case scenario, you got lost and now you are stuck in the desert in the dark. Make sure you have a headlamp or a flashlight to light your way back.
  9. First Aid Kit – You kit doesn’t have to be big, but enough to carry tweezers, sport tape, an elastic bandage, adhesive bandages, NSAIDs, safety pins, Gauze pads, and some Mole Skin. Add a lighter or waterproof matches just in case you need to start a small fire.