Hiking, Climbing & Bushwalking Tips

You have reached the summit of the mountain after 12 hours of bush-walking, hiking, climbing up the terrains, huffing and puffing in sweat, carrying a big load in your backpack. The view is spectacular as the sun dips between neighbouring peaks. Everyone smiles of relieve with a slight frown on their faces as they try to queue for their positions at the summit.

There are many lessons to learn before venturing out on a bushwalking or climbing adventure. Here, we share our top 10 tips.

1. Research location

Are you going by group? Is it a popular trail? Even on well-marked trails experienced walkers are always navigating. They will look behind at regular intervals and get a feel for the route should they have to return. They will identify points of interest such as distinctive trees, rock formations or changes in the terrain. Even with the advent of GPS such simple habits can be easily overlooked. There are apps available on your mobile phones or even a handy compass might do the trick.

2. Research tips from blogs and articles

Have a solid knowledge of the terrain and plan the route beforehand. Go deeper than the guidebooks or local walking blog. Find topographic maps and look at them over and over during the preparation phase. Plan alternate routes and escape routes where possible. Have a contingency plan should issues arise. No matter your level of experience, always notify others of trip plans and timeframe.

3. Prepare physical fitness

You need to be physically fit to endure the long bush walks or even climbs. Start walking and running around 5 times a week, two months prior to your trip to be physically fit. Some crossfit or gym workout may help to build you upper body strength from carrying the weight on your backpack.

4. Be weather aware

Always prepare for the weather. Check the forecast before you depart. On route look for signs of deteriorating weather and plan your walk accordingly. Even though a walk should be well-planned, common sense should prevail and you need to be prepared to be flexible in your approach if the weather changes. Don’t forget your Gore-Tex, waterproof jacket or  rain poncho.

5. Create equipment checklists

Handy checklists are part of every experienced walker’s pre-trip routine. Leaving behind a vital piece of equipment could prove uncomfortable at the very least, and life-threatening at worst. Seasoned walkers have a master checklist that they update for each outing. Create an equipment checklist and a separate food checklist with the trip menu. Don’t forget your roll of duct tape, which will prove its worth in time of a quick repair. Duct tap will fix a torn tent, a ripped backpack, hold a flapping boot sole at bay (true story!), extend a cracked water bottle’s life and even help prevent blisters. Vaseline is a staple in any self-respecting regular walker’s kit, as chaffing can be irritating at least and downright painful at worst.

6. More water

Purchase a few bottles of isotonic drink and use empty bottles to fill up water on the way. Depending on where you hike, you may want to have some water purification tablets with you. So simple yet often overlooked when heading out for extended periods, a tube or siphon could just save your life. Used for siphoning water from tiny springs or soaks. In Australia, water sources can be extremely unpredictable, so fill up at any opportunity.

7. Layer up, layer smart

Three hours into the hike or climb, you may be sweating profusely. At a temperature of 10 degrees celcius and you may still be in your sleeveless with a warmed up body. Plan your clothing according to layers. The rule of thumb of experienced walkers is to break clothing into at least three layers – base layer, middle layer and outer layer. Be mindful to pack the outer layer so that it is easily accessible especially if it starts raining!

8. Keep entertained

Sitting in a tent for 48 hours being battered by storm fronts in the Western Arthurs with a mate will indeed test your patience and conversation skills. A pack of cards, a paperback novel or a lightweight field guide could be worth its weight in gold. Unexpected circumstances could have you in the wilderness for longer than planned.

9. Keep camera handy

Having to take your pack off every time you come across a good shot means every chance of missing that great-unexpected moment or wildlife encounter. Keep your camera in your pants or hip-belt pocket for quick and easy access.

10. Remember to have fun 

While it might be a painful physical process, it’s meant to be fun and memorable. Chatting while hiking yet still focusing on the trail route, helps to make time past by quicker. Have in-between breaks to rehydrate, have a snack and take photos. Have fun, take in the beauty around you as you hike and appreciate the moment.