Mountain hiking is a great way to get in shape and enjoy the outdoors, but the activity does take some preparation. Depending on what kind of mountain hiking one is doing, the preparations may include choosing the correct equipment, purchasing and reading a map to be sure of a route, buying food and tools with which to cook it, knowing where to get drinking water and how to purify it correctly, and preparing for unforeseen accidents or injuries. The most important tip for mountain hiking is to be prepared and know the area in which the hiker will be hiking.
The term "mountain hiking" can refer to several different types of hiking, from day hiking to backpacking, or even trekking. Each type of hiking has its own necessary preparations; day hikes are relatively short, and they can be done in a day or part of a day. Backpacking trips are multi-day trips on established trails, often leaving the hiker far away from cities and towns and leaving him or her to cook for himself, set up camp, and address emergencies such as accidents or injuries without the help of emergency services. This type of hiking takes more preparation and knowledge of backcountry skills than day hiking. Trekking can be done two ways: a hiker can sign up for a trekking tour, in which assistants carry the bulk of the equipment over long stretches of land, or it can be done solo, with the trekker hiking both on and off trail and living off the land.
Depending on the type of mountain hiking the hiker intends to do, he or she should be sure to research the terrain to be hiked as well as the weather conditions he or she will encounter. This may dictate the type of clothing that needs to be packed. Choose clothing carefully, as it can be the difference between a comfortable trip and a painful one. Look for moisture-wicking fabrics and sturdy hiking shoes that will keep the body dry and protected through inclement weather and natural sweating.
Pack a good first aid kit for a mountain hiking trip. Just the basics will do for most hikers, but if the hiker plans on spending several days or weeks in the woods, it is a wise decision to stock a thorough first aid kit that can handle a variety of injuries — especially injuries that may be specific to a region, such as a venomous snake bite or cactus spine removal.