Getting in Shape for Backpacking: Tips and Tricks

Getting Shape Backpacking

I’m hiking the Andes in July (I know, tough life), and I recently realized that it was time to get back into shape again after months of treating myself to the delicious pizza and pastas here in Italy—plus a tour through the Balkans did not exactly make me lose my appetite.

Getting in shape in order to hike is always a tricky deal, partially because there’s no perfect way to do it. It depends on your body type, how intense the hike you are planning on doing is, and how much time you have. Here are some tips I’ve come up while prepping myself for the big hike coming up.

Give yourself plenty of time.

Going to the gym three weeks in advance can help you, but it’s always better to give yourself a few months to get to where you need to be. By giving yourself an allotted amount of time, you’ll save yourself some stress—and you can pace yourself instead of having to live at the gym for days in order to get into the shape you want.

Combine strength and cardio.

I am much more of a cardio girl. I would rather run miles than have to lift anything too heavy—so lifting weights is pretty much torture. The truth is that when you’re hiking, you’re going to be lifting stuff. Depending on how long you’re hiking, sometimes a lot of stuff. You want to alternate between carrying some things and making sure you also get your running in, as well.

Go for a trial hike.

The best way to test yourself is to actually give it a go out in the wild. If you can, pack your pack to the best of your ability and go out on a hike that is about the same length as your ultimate goal. Having an idea of how much you can carry and what adjustments you’ll have to make while hiking can help you to have a more successful trek when you face your big one.

Have you ever faced getting in shape for a big hike? Have any tips and tricks?

Image courtesy of Jason Priem.

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