Both hiking and walking use feet for propulsion. A walk is often more leisurely, unless it’s your mode of exercise, and it’s done without a load. A walk is usually undertaken close to home, it doesn’t usually cover too much distance, and it usually ends where it started.

A hike, on the other hand, often covers more distance. A hiker most often carries a loaded pack. A hike isn’t usually close to home, and is usually done at a pace to reach a distant destination in the time available.

Hikes are often multi-day events with the total distance divided by the number of days available. Some hikes go to and from a destination such as a campsite, viewing outlook, or fishing spot. Others are multi-day circular tours back to your starting point.

If you aren’t as fit as you thought you were, it is easy to overdo it on a hike in the fi rst day or so. It’s important to set a pace that you and others can maintain. Naturally, the weather and the terrain will affect the pace.

Establishing and maintaining a rhythm in your walk allows you to cover more distance comfortably, especially when compared to an energy consuming, choppy, or erratic gait. Regularly remove your pack at rest stops; this will allow you to keep up the pace over the whole distance.

It’s important to get used to the load in the pack. If it’s not right, stop to load it differently. Most packs are adjustable to better fit the size of the hiker, and straps on the pack allow hikers to adjust how the load feels and how it rides on their shoulders. On every hike you will thank yourself that you bought a quality pack and not a cheap one.

It is exactly the same situation with your boots, and to a somewhat lesser degree, your clothing. Raingear should be top of the line.

Unfortunately most of us have never learned, or have forgotten the proper way to walk. If you check yourself or watch others, you’ll notice that we mostly walk with our toes pointed out to the sides. Our toes should be pointed straight ahead. More energy is used with the splayed-foot walk but we are all caught up in that habit. It will take a while, but concentrating on pointing one’s toes straight ahead can break the habit. In a fairly short time we’d all be doing it properly.

Hiking staves/sticks have long been used in Europe and are becoming more common on our side of the ocean. They take a little bit of getting used to but reading the instructions or learning from someone who uses one will help you adapt quickly.

They are adjustable for height and if you shop for quality, they are extremely durable. They all have adjustable wrist-straps; some have a choice of pointed tips for rocky/hard terrain or small baskets for softer ground. Some have a removable top knob creating a camera monopod. They also make great replacements for tent poles and can aid in the construction of emergency shelters.