10 Hiking Essentials for Women 50+
Hiking is an excellent form of exercise at any age, but as you get older, there are essential things you should consider if you have never hiked before. It is never too late to start hiking, as it has many benefits, including health benefits from remaining active and emotional benefits from getting outdoors and experiencing nature.
A hike doesn’t mean you need to scale a mountain or walk along a cliff. Hikes can be short, and flat and some are often on paved roads. No matter where you are, there is a hike that you can accomplish. Getting out on the trail can also be a social adventure, whether you bring along a friend or meet new people as you walk.
In the past, women were not always represented in hiking ads, as they were viewed as unable to sustain the same pace as men. Women make up a large portion of hikers, and women over the age of 50 are hiking more and more. There are a few items you will need before you hit the trail. Whether you take all of this advice or some, enjoy the great outdoors and have a good time in nature.
Here are ten hiking essentials for Women 50+
Hiking Sandals or Boots
Wearing sandals for hiking allows you to be more flexible in your route. Sandals dry much faster than any hiking shoe or boot and will let you wade across a small stream or dip your feet in a small pond without worrying about how long your feet will stay wet.
Sandals also are lightweight alternatives to heavy boots. There are many different types of hiking sandals, some meant for walking across rocks, or some only meant for smooth paths. Do your research on the trail you intend to hike beforehand, so you have the proper footwear when you arrive.
Finding the right shoes that support your feet is the most important for your hike. Even with a new pair of shoes or sandals, consider insoles or compression socks to help keep your feet happy. If you need extra support, especially for your ankles and knees, sticking with hiking boots are the way to go. But there are so many options to find what is best for you.
Over the age of 50, your balance will not be the same as when you were in your twenties. Hiking poles offer stability when walking along uneven surfaces and will help you reach your distance goal. Even if you are only going on a short hike, the poles can help you do it safely.
You have the option to go with one pole or two, depending on your preference, but two poles add extra stability for those more likely to stumble. Be sure to get the height of the pole to the right level so that it does not cause you to lose your balance instead of assisting it.
Water is a Hiking Essential!
No matter where you go hiking, you will need to bring some water with you. Many hikers feel more comfortable carrying a regular water bottle either in their hands or in a pack around their waist. Carrying the water bottle in your hand is not recommended as you lose your ability to catch yourself should you stumble.
For women over fifty, one recommended method to carry water is in a hydration bladder. These go on your back and distribute the weight more evenly, making them easier to carry long distances. They often come with a waist strap and a chest strap for better weight distribution as well.
In some cases, you will have the opportunity to refill your water at a stream with the right filter, or you may need to carry all the water you need from the start. Keep this in mind as you plan your hike to find the trail that fits you best.
Sunscreen and Bug Spray
Whenever possible, don’t hike in the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak. Hike either early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
If you leave in the morning, it is still essential to bring sunscreen with you and apply it according to the directions. As you hike, your sweat will wash away the sunscreen and leave your skin exposed to harmful rays. Find a sunscreen with a broad spectrum SPF number and bring it with you to reapply.
Mosquitos are annoying at best and dangerous at worst. They can carry diseases, and bites should be avoided. If you can avoid hiking during the evening hours when they are most active, you will lower your risk of bites. When you cannot prevent hiking during this time, use a bug spray formulated for the type of bugs you will encounter most.
Hats and Sunglasses
While it may seem obvious to wear a hat and sunglasses, they offer protection for your eyes and face that cannot be replaced with sunscreen. If your hike has more sun than shade, consider getting a hat that protects the back of your neck. This will keep you cooler and help prevent sunburn.
Sunglasses are vital to helping your eyes stay healthier. The sun is harmful to your eyes, and prolonged exposure can harm your vision. If you wear prescription lenses, try finding a pair of sunglasses that clip onto your glasses or go over them completely. Be sure to find lenses that have UV protection to best help your eyes.
Time of Day
As previously mentioned, hiking early in the morning or in the late afternoon. These are the best times for hiking to avoid heat and have the best hike possible. Be careful not to start too late as hiking in the dark poses more risk for falling.
There are some benefits to hiking early, as it gets you up and out of the house and sets you up for an active day. If you are comfortable with hiking with limited visibility or the trail is paved and smooth, consider doing a sunrise hike with a magnificent view at the end. This will motivate you to keep going and make it to your destination in time for the sunrise.
Know Your Limits
Everyone has a different limit on how far they can walk. Take into consideration the terrain you are hiking on, as this plays a significant role in your endurance. Almost every hike is listed on the internet somewhere, and you can, and should, do your research. What looks like a small loop trail that is mostly flat can turn into a strenuous climb with one wrong turn.
If you plan a long hike or a backpacking trip, bring a compass with you so you can find your way back if you get lost.
Make Hiking Social
It is vital to keep up social relationships, and it gets more difficult the older you get. Make your hike a chance to get active and keep up with friends by inviting them out with you. It is also recommended that you hike with another person for safety. If you fall or get hurt, your companion can find help.
If you don’t have anyone to take with you to the hike, bring your dog on a pet-friendly trail and make new friends when you get there. A well-traveled trail is perfect for the lone hiker to find help if you need it, but also enjoy the peace of the outdoors.
Don’t Forget the Essential Hiking Snacks
Short hikes do not always require snacks, but it is good to bring a few along just in case. You may end up out longer than you anticipated and need fuel to get back to the trailhead.
On a longer hike or overnight trip, be sure to plan ahead and know exactly what conditions there are on the trail. Bring food that doesn’t melt and won’t spoil. Make sure to leave no trace on the path and take all of your trash with you.
Wear the Right Clothes
The outdoor clothing industry is booming with the athleisure style becoming more popular by the day. It is not required that you buy an entire outfit of outdoor specific clothing, be conscious of what you wear.
Thin layers work best for hiking so you can remove the outer layer as you warm up. If you decide to buy a few pieces of outdoor clothing, look for semi loose-fitting tops and long shorts or pants. Thin hiking pants are best for overgrown trails where you could come in contact with poison oak or ivy.
Most of All, Have fun and Stay Active
Hiking is meant to be enjoyed and not dreaded. If you consistently try to do hikes that are too difficult, you will get discouraged and not want to continue. No one is asking you to climb Mount Whitney tomorrow, so go at your own pace.
To get yourself excited for your next hiking trip, look at a new pair of hiking sandals to complete your outfit and make your hike feel special.
Are you out hiking after 50+? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of this page!
If you enjoyed this article on hiking essentials, please subscribe. You will get each daily story delivered straight to your inbox.