Sure, everyone knows that hiking helps you keep in shape. That obviously can positively affect anything that you do, including your disaster preparedness efforts. There are definitely some “no-brainer” ways that hiking helps you become a better proper. But there are also some lesser-known areas where hiking promotes your mental and physical prepping efforts. Check out the following 7 hidden benefits of hiking for preppers and survivalists, and get out on the trail today.
# 1 – You benefit from being “in” the prepping frame of mind
Preparing for a disaster or catastrophe is easy to do when you are sitting inside your climate controlled home or apartment. You are sipping on your favorite beverage, perhaps watching a little TV while you are checking out some survival gear online. But when you get out on a hike, you are experiencing a lot of what it’s going to be like each day when you are actually living in an emergency situation.
You are going to have to forage, gather fuel for fire, hunt, set and check snares, fish, track down potable water sources and participate in 100 other outdoor activities when TEOTWAWKI comes calling. Hiking gives you a physical “real world” opportunity to practice each and every one of those essential survival skills. Which might include …
#2 – Hands-on experience with your emergency first aid supplies
In a perfect world scenario, you and your family will never suffer an injury that needs immediate first aid attention. However, in a perfect world scenario, an economic crash, global natural disaster or local unrest would not lead to the catastrophe survival situation you find yourself in. As with the first hiking benefit we just covered, all the planning and survival gear purchasing in the world can not prepare you like a real-time situation will.
This includes having to quickly and efficiently use your emergency first aid kit. Sometimes when you are hiking, you may stumble and fall. You may have to treat a snake bite or some other type of hiking related mishap or injury. When you are out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but your survival skill training and first aid kit for immediate treatment, with undead brain-munchers closing in all around, you will appreciate the times you had to doctor yourself back to health when you were out hiking before the Zombie Apocalypse.
# 3 – Hiking prepares your body, and your gear
You probably have found and purchased an awesome set of survival boots. Guess what? They are going to wear you out, cover your feet and blisters and make you regret not breaking them in, if you do not do exactly that. Hiking boots were made to be hiked in. Survival boots need to be worn in. The same is true for all of your survival gear, like emergency fire starters, cooking equipment, survival knife and, oh yeah, your body.
You have already purchased all of this marvelous emergency survival equipment. Why not get out on the hiking trail and break it in? This is also a great way to find out if any of the equipment and gear you are relying on for your family’s survival actually is not all it was touted to be. So pull the price tags off of your hiking boots and survival cooking set, and get out there on the trail and use them.
# 4 – You get used to having your pack on your back
If you have not slapped your survival pack on your back anywhere other than your living room, look out! You are probably in for an unpleasant surprise. That cozy fit and feel changes several times throughout your hike, like every time your terrain, incline and physical strain changes. There is only one way to become a swift trail runner, which you will sometimes need to be, and that is with your pack on your back.
This also provides secondary benefits. Your body becomes stronger when you hike with a full pack. You will no doubt lose a few pounds, burn some fat, begin looking and feeling better, and find your work-a-day job performance improving while your significant other comments on how slim and sexy you are getting.
# 5 – You learn to read Mother Nature, and plan or respond correctly
Not everyone can read weather patterns. But one thing’s for certain. You’ll never be able to spot and respond to an approaching temperature drop or summer shower sitting on your couch watching The Kardashians. You need to “get out in it” as survivalist trainers will remind you frequently.
Adapting to instant weather changes, billions of mosquitoes that seem to follow you for miles, or walking for hours in a ceaseless rain and fog – all of those Mother Nature niceties can only be experienced by experiencing them! The more you do anything, the better you become. The same holds true for reading nature’s signs and signals, and adapting to them.
# 6 – You become an orienteering expert
Anyone can whip out a compass and quickly head off in a particular direction. But I would be willing to bet that less than 10% or 20% of all disaster preppers have never taken a map and compass out in the field and used them. Orienteering successfully means that there is literally nowhere in the world you can’t walk out of (assuming you have the physical ability, a decent map and enough supplies).
Besides, you probably already know where you are going to be riding out the coming crash. Grab all related maps, a decent compass that can also act as a signaling device, and hit the woods or hiking trail in that area. As with every other tip on this list, until you get out into a “real world” environment, you really do not know what level of skills you have in reading a map and compass.
# 7 – You learn how to eat off of the land
Setting snares and hunting is not for everyone. Although fishing seems like a simple skill, until you have done it for years, it definitely is not. By the way, is that a Dingleberry or Blueberry Bush? Do you know the dozen or so ways you can eat and use a Cat Tail to survive in the wild? Once again, studying a survival book is definitely a good idea, but until you get out in the wild and use the knowledge you have learned, you are just wasting your time.
There are several common weeds that you can eat, and literally dozens of plants that are edible as well. Particular herbs, berries and flowers can be used for first aid as well as food, and until you have had to snare, kill, clean and eat a cute little bunny rabbit or squirrel with your own hands, you will never understand how hard some aspects of survival can be. For those who are not as keen on living off the land unless absolutely necessary, there are some nice emergency food companies to consider as well.
These are just a few ways in which hiking can help you become a better prepper. By their very nature, survivalists and others preparing for an emergency survival situation spend a lot of time doing just that, “preparing”. But you definitely need to earmark some time in actual, hands-on practice of the survival skills you are learning, breaking in your gear and clothing. Hiking is one enjoyable way to do so, and also provides excellent health and stress-relief benefits.