Walking in nature is a fun and fantastic way to get fit. It’s good for your mind and your body and it’s a great way to spend time with your family or friends or making new friends if you walk with a bushwalking club. While you might be accustomed to a one-day bushwalk, attempting a walking trip over multiple days is another story altogether, so you need to prepare, especially if you’ve never done it before. Here are some great tips for when you plan your first multi-day bushwalk.
Bushwalks range from easy walks over a few hours a day, to hard and challenging walks over long distances or difficult terrain. Most people planning a multi-day walk want to know how fit they’ll need to be. Well, the answer is it all depends on the kind of terrain you choose to walk and the weather conditions. Steep inclines in hot, humid weather requires a different kind of fitness to walking on flat terrain on a mild, dry day. The main difference apart from fitness levels between a day walk and an overnight or multi-day walk, is carrying a larger and often heavier pack. If the bushwalk you plan on taking involves long days on your feet you’ll need to have built up your ability to trek those distances months before the actual multi-day walk.
Consider joining a bushwalking club to assist with your preparation - they usually offer walks to suit all fitness levels with experienced walk leaders who know the terrain, have walked on the track before and know how to navigate the bush. They can also offer advice on the gear you will need and may even have equipment for hire that you can use in your training.
Walk to Get Your Body Used to Walking
To be able to finish a multi-day bushwalk in a fit state, preparing your body in the gym won’t be enough, sorry. What will help is getting out on the trail with your pack and replicating gradually what you will be doing on the real bushwalk. When you’re out walking preparing your body for your trip, make sure you also wear your hiking boots or shoes that you will be wearing on the actual walk. You should wear walking boots and walk on similar tracks if you’re planning a trek off the beaten path, over hills or mountains. Gaining experience in walking in similar climates and altitudes to where you are planning to walk will help tremendously with your preparation.
A good rule of thumb is:
Begin in your comfort zone, adding extra weight into your day pack on your regular walks
Increase your effort and kilometres by about 10 per cent every week and switch to your multi-day pack, building the weight carried up from 5kg to your required target
Plan to walk at least three times a week - two short walks mid-week and a long one on weekends.
Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to get fit
Take the Proper Gear
The weather will play a major role in what you decide to take as far as clothing is concerned. Take some T-shirts and a tracksuit so you can change to suit the conditions. If hot weather is forecast, you certainly won’t need a Driza-bone. However, the weather can change so maybe take a light raincoat. You know you’ll be carrying some weight in your pack so if you have a jacket that weighs a kilo but will keep you warm at night, then that’s a good weight, just don’t take unnecessary items that will weigh you down.
Practise Carrying a Heavy Pack
If you’re going to be carrying something like 15 to 20 kg on your bushwalk, begin by walking with five kilos and increase the weight over the weeks before your trip, this way you won’t shock your body with a heavy load.
Help Your Body Get Used to a Different Diet
What you take along to eat on a multi-day bushwalk will depend on what you prefer, but when deciding on what to take, think about two things: calories and weight. Your food ought to be fairly lightweight because you will be carrying it, but you’ll also need high-calorie foods for energy. So pack some trail mixes, wraps, packet pasta and tuna in a sachet rather than a tin. Others include healthy snacks, beef jerky and if you take a stove, freeze-dried meals.
Walking is Great For Your Health
Walking has many benefits including better cardiovascular health, weight management; it lessens your chances of suffering depression and helps fight dementia. Bushwalking and connecting with nature can boost your feel-good hormones. It is always a good idea to pack some insect repellent for a bushwalk, to avoid bites and the risk of contracting an insect-borne disease. Minimise the number of bites and you greatly reduce your risk of infection. Insect repellent remains a bushwalker’s best defence against all biting or stinging bugs. You just need to be sure the product you choose is going to protect you. Wearing a hat, long sleeves, long pants, hiking socks and hiking boots will also minimise insect bites. Whether you are planning an overseas walking trip or a local destination, talk to your travel health provider about any risks and any vaccinations that may be necessary.
Kym Wallis, the founding director of Higher Ranking has over 15 years of advertising sales, digital strategy, and business development experience. He is currently working as Digital Adviser for TravelVax.