Hiking not only strengthens the body but has also been proven to strengthen the mind. Anyone who goes hiking reduces stress, improves their sleep quality and can even prevent or alleviate depression at the same time, according to a study by the Christian Doppler University Hospital in Salzburg.
However, for a successful hike you also have to consider one or the other. We will therefore show you the most common hiking mistakes, how to avoid them and what you should also pay attention to.
1. Too little preparation & overconfidence
Before you start the hiking tour, you should first prepare and inform yourself well. Research the planned route as well as the weather at the time of the excursion. Also pay attention to the length of the route, how many meters of altitude you have to overcome and the level of difficulty of the route. Under no circumstances should you tackle tours that are above your level of fitness.
Hikers often overestimate themselves or take difficult routes that can actually only be mastered with the right equipment. This can have serious consequences: two years ago, hiking was the mountain sport with the most deaths. In addition to falls and crashes, circulatory failure is one of the most common causes of death when hiking. That is why it is important to prepare yourself sufficiently and never choose routes that are too demanding.
2. Wrong or ill-fitting shoes
The right hiking shoes can be crucial: they offer support, protect the foot and ensure a safe step.
The right footwear is also essential for a safe hike. Stumbling, slipping or getting caught are among the number 1 causes of accidents when hiking. You should therefore make sure that the hiking shoe has a decent profile and fits properly.
Even when accidents can be avoided, water or blood blisters on your feet are painful and annoying. With the right shoe, you can avoid that. You should therefore pay attention to the following points:
Size and fitIt is particularly important that the shoes fit well and are the right size, i.e. not too big or too small. There should be a thumb's width between your toes and the front of the shoe so that you don't hit the front when running downhill. In addition, the shoe should not be too wide. A little freedom of movement prevents blisters, but your heels shouldn't slide up more than about half a centimeter when you walk. Workmanship and material A good hiking shoe shouldn't just be comfortable and secure, it should also last a long time. Therefore, the shoe must be well made. Pay attention to clean seams and high-quality materials – you should neither freeze nor sweat in the shoe. The sole should have good grip and be well bonded to the shoe. Shoes for men and women Hiking shoes often come in two forms: men's and women's. In this case, you should choose the right shoe, as the shoes are specially adapted to the "typically male" or "typically female" foot.
Classic sneakers or hiking sandals can be sufficient for short walks, but they are not suitable for a real hike. They do not offer sufficient protection and are uncomfortable and unhealthy for the foot in the long run.
You can read about which hiking shoes are currently the best, which model is good and cheap at the same time, and what you should look out for when buying hiking shoes in our detailed hiking shoe buying guide.
Hiking shoe test winner: Salewa Alp Trainer Mid GTX
Salewa Alp Trainer Mid GTX
The Alp Trainer Mid GTX convinces in all categories as the best all-round hiking shoe.
From around 150 euros
3. Wrong equipment and hiking clothes
Anyone who has planned a short walk in the park or forest next door does not have to throw themselves in full hiking gear. On the other hand, if you have planned a longer hike, for example in the mountains, you should definitely make sure that you have the right clothing and equipment. In addition to the hiking shoes from the previous paragraph, this also includes the following things, depending on the weather and altitude:
Hiking backpack A 25 liter backpack is sufficient for a day trip. It should be sufficiently comfortable to wear, light and, above all, practical to use. You don't have to spend a fortune for a good backpack that will accompany you on hikes for many years. We have already tested hiking backpacks: You can get the test winner for 100 euros (to Amazon). Functional clothing The right clothing is crucial for a successful hike. If you leave in jeans and a cotton shirt, you risk muscle tension or a cold. The reason: A shirt made of cotton soaks up sweat and rubs against the skin. It is also often windy at higher altitudes. Then the cold shirt sticks to your skin and you can get sick. Functional clothing is therefore particularly important when hiking. It dries faster or does not even get wet when you sweat. Our colleagues from FIT FOR FUN answer the most important questions about functional clothing here. Our tip: Use the onion technique, so you can take off your clothes if you are too warm or put them on if you are cold. At altitudes of 3,000 meters or more, you should also think of gloves and a hat. Rain jacket The weather can change quickly, especially in mountain regions. So it's handy if you have a rain jacket stowed in your backpack. We tested 18 models. The test winners are also quite expensive at just under 300 euros. Our price tip is much cheaper: You can get the Marmot Recip from as little as 70 euros (from Amazon). They protect the joints and relieve the muscles because the poles shift part of the weight from the legs to the arms. This is particularly noticeable when descending, because braking is easier. The test winner from ÖKO-TEST (10/2018) is no longer available online, but you can buy the successor model from Amazon for around 50 euros.
Be safe on the road
If you pay attention to the three points mentioned and prepare well, nothing stands in the way of a successful hiking tour. Pack enough water and provisions, take enough breaks and check the opening times of the huts you pass by and plan a rest.
A full smartphone battery and a power bank can also be useful for making calls or checking the route in an emergency.