Hiking during the autumn months can be a glorious experience, but it does require the hiker to spend a little bit of time preparing themselves. Although fall hiking isn’t as arduous or as potentially dangerous as winter hiking, it is important that the hiker packs the right equipment and keeps a few things in mind. To help our readers with their fall hiking, we’ve decided to write this article on the subject.
Tip One: Be Prepared For Unpredictable Weather
The first tip that we want to give fall hikers is to be prepared. This means not only having full maps of the area but also making sure that you have weather reports for several days before, all during, and several days after you intend to be finished with your hiking. Although weather during the summer months can be fairly stable, the same can’t be said of autumn, so always be prepared for whatever Mother Nature might toss your way.
Tip Two: Determine What Parks Are Open
If you’re only going for a day hike, then you’re not going to have to worry about this piece of advice, but if you intend on hiking and then setting up camp, then this is the advice you’re going to need to pay attention to. There are quite a few parks and campgrounds that close during the fall and winter months and don’t open up again until spring, so it’s important for you to know ahead of time if the parks along your route are going to be open.
Tip Three: Wear The Right Clothing
The next thing that you as an autumn hiker is going to want to think about is what to wear. Although most people can expect hot weather in the summer and cold weather in the winter while they’re hiking, fall hiking is very variable. One day you can go out hiking and it’s warm enough to make you sweat, and the next day, it’s so cool it’s almost chilly. As a result, it’s important to make sure that you’re prepared for a variety of seasonal conditions.
It’s All About Layers
The best way to deal with variable autumn weather is to make sure that you have layers of clothing. If you make sure that your clothing is layered, then you can add or remove clothing as the weather dictates. That can help you stay cool in warm conditions and stay warm in cool conditions.
Your base layer should be a pair of wool long underwear, socks, and a shirt that isn’t made out of cotton. You don’t want a cotton shirt, or any article of cotton clothing for autumn hiking, because cotton holds onto to moisture and can lower body temperature. Other items that you should have with you include a good pair of boots, a rain jacket, and gaiters.
Another layer of clothing should be a light jacket, a sweater, and then finally a cold-weather coat. It’s probably a good idea that all of the clothing that you wear are quick-dry so they don’t hold onto to moisture and make you cold.
Think About Clothing Color
Although most of the time choosing the color of our clothes is a fashion statement, during the fall months it can also help keep you safe. Check the local hunting regulations in the areas where you’re hiking and if it’s hunting season, then be sure to wear high-visibility clothing so hunters don’t mistake you for a deer or an elk.
Tip Four: The Importance Of Food And Drink
The next thing that you’re going to want to think about when hiking during the fall months is the food that you’re packing with you. We suggest packing easy-to-eat items such as granola bars, or pre-packaged camping foods that can be easily boiled. It’s also a good idea to pack some food items that are high in carbs and fats—just in case the weather turns cold suddenly. And having hot beverage packs such as tea, coffee or hot cocoa can also be a mood booster during crummy fall weather.
Water is another thing that’s important. At the end of summer, many water sources tend to dry up, which can make sourcing water for yourself a pretty difficult task. That’s why every autumn hiker should pack plenty of water to avoid running out during their trip.
Tip Five: Carry The Right Gear
Now we’re going to take a few moments to talk about the importance of carrying the right gear. And to begin our recommendations, we would like to suggest that hikers carry some of the gear that would be more appropriate for camping—even if the hiker doesn’t plan on camping. As we said, fall weather can be predictable, and in some areas might result in the person having to shelter in place during a sudden snowstorm.
Of course, the hiker also has to think about their carrying capacity, so you likely won’t want to carry everything a camper would carry. However, you should still keep a few of the basics for sheltering in place—if the need happens to arise. Below are our recommendations for hiking during the fall months. Feel free to customize the list to fit your needs.
- Tent & Tent Stakes (Or, At Least A Tarp)
- A Sleeping Pad
- A Sleeping Bag
- A Bear-Resistant Food Container
- A Firestarter
- A Thermos
- A Good Knife
- A Nalgene Water Bottle
- Some Paracord
- Waterproof Matches Or Windproof Lighter
Some Final Fall Hiking Tips
The above tips provide what we feel is a pretty comprehensive overview of what a hiker needs for an autumn hike. However, before we go, we would like to list a few other tips that autumn hikers might want to consider before going on their next hike.
Be Careful Of Wildlife
We recently did an article on autumn camping and we offered some advice that also applies to people hiking during the fall months. The fall is when animal mating rituals are in high-gear, so always be careful when hiking during the fall. Animals in heat can be territorial and aggressive when they’re in heat, so stay clear of them when possible.
Let Someone Know Before You Go
Although this bit of advice is suitable for anyone hiking, regardless of what season they’re hiking in, we’ll share it here anyway. Before you go for a hike let friends and family know where you’re going and what you intend on doing. That way, if you become lost or injured, people will know when to search for you.