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10 Hiking Essentials for Women 50+

Have fun hiking after 50+

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. 

Hiking Poles

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. 

hiking polls are Essentials for Women 50+ who hike

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! 

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September 4, 2020

Passages After 50, Relationships

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  1. Bianca says:

    My husband and I (in our early 70’s) go hiking in a different nature preserve or state park for AT LEAST 3 hours every weekend. It is wonderful exercise, uplifting for the soul and so helpful for maintaining good balance. We each use 2 hiking sticks which keep our arms as well as our legs moving. For overall mental and physical fitness, hiking is hard to beat!

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      You are so lucky to love the outdoors and take advantage of this love by hiking with your husband. A perfect three hours or more. Everyone who can do what you are doing should. Enjoy the week-end…together hiking. Warmly, Honey

  2. Melissa McIntire says:

    My husband and I are avid hikers. (I am 62 and he is 69) I use trekking poles and always carry a backpack with snacks and water. On hotter hikes we both use cooling rags-the ones that you soak in water to cool and then reactivate by wetting. Sometimes these have been lifesavers! Our favorite places to hike are in our National Parks. We have visited over half of them and our bucket list is to visit all 52.

  3. Rosemary says:

    We love walking. We hiked a lot when we lived in the mountains in Switzerland and then in France. Such amazing views and scenery. It was hard work walking up and down those mountains. We don’t need them really where we live now but we have Nordic walking poles and we try and walk somewhere every day. Such a good way to keep healthy, get in the vitamin D and generally feel better about the world the universe and everything.

  4. Kristi Morris says:

    I will be 51 this year. I have stage 4 breast cancer and now in remission. My husband and I love to camp (glamp). I have always wanted to hike, would love some tips on what is the preferred backpack for day hikes. Also any suggestions on training methods for a long day hike. We love our State parks in Indiana, I am kind of intimidated right now the trails.

    • Susan Good says:

      Hi! Glad you will be hiking with your hubby. Be sure and hydrate the night before. The bag pack is Deuters – $105.00. This is for longer hikes over 3 hours. For shorter hikes – A lululemon belt bag. It will hold your phone, keys and a health bar. Happy hiking! If you need me for anything else, I am here for you. Warmly, Honey

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