At some point on your hiking journey will be tired. Very tired. But you still want to go on hiking. You know that you have just a little bit more to give, but you’d like it to be easier.
I’ve got you covered with how to make your hike easier so that you can go on hiking, even when you’re tired and feel like you can’t take another step, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker.
Plus, I’ll share some preventative tips that will help you from getting so tired in the first place.
Here are 7 Ways to Make Your Hike Easier So You Can Go On Hiking
1) Hike Slow and Steady
It’s MUCH easier for your body to hike at a slow pace, even if it’s a turtle-like pace, that you can maintain for miles of trails without having to stop for a long break to catch your breath. This is MUCH more efficient than hiking fast and taking more frequent and longer breaks.
If you do need to take a break and you’re doing a strenuous hike on a steep incline, try to keep the breaks short. On some really steep inclines, I’ll take ten small steps, then stop for a few breaths, then continue.
Once you get momentum going, it makes it much easier to go on hiking. You don’t want to break it by letting your breath return to normal, as then, when you start hiking again, you’ll have to create your momentum all over again.
2) Breathe Efficiently to Make it Easier to Go On Hiking
Most people inhale and exhale through their mouths while running, but that can be inefficient and lead to inefficient oxygen intake and make your hike seem even harder.
Instead, the best way to breathe while doing any form of intense cardio exercise, including hiking, is to inhale deeply through your nose, then exhale through your mouth. This increases oxygen to your muscles and reduces the build-up of carbon dioxide—source: Personal trainer Christine Luff.
You also want to be a belly breather. Many of us only breathe from our chests, which makes us breathe shallower, meaning we’ll have to take more breaths, making our hike seem harder.
When you do stop for a short break, practice belly breathing while focusing on the awe-inspiring views for further motivation. Bonus points if you have an attitude of gratitude while doing it.
3) Change Your Focus
If you focus on how hard the hike is and how tired you are, it will make it much more difficult to go on hiking, even if you’re an avid hiker. Instead, focus on the beautiful scenery or the fun you’re having.
And when you do catch yourself saying I’m never gonna make it. Practice reframing your thoughts into something more positive with these tips. You’ll be surprised at how much easier thinking positively makes your hike.
4) Take a Rest
While I do try to avoid taking rests while on a steep uphill for more than a few breaths when you do reach a plateau, take a few minutes to catch your breath, stretch a bit, enjoy the panoramic views and give yourself some positive words of encouragement.
You’ve got this! Find a way to make it a fun hike, even if it’s a challenging one. There are no mountains to conquer but lessons to be learned.
Related Reading: 14 Best Hiking Sandals for Women
5) Hydrate and Take Some Electrolytes
Often when we feel tired, it’s because we’re dehydrated, so be sure to drink plenty of water while hiking and bring enough with you in your bladder or water bottle. And again, take in the sweeping views. Your whole hiking journey should be enjoyable, not just when you reach your destination.
Don’t assume there will be water sources along the way unless you’ve done the hiking trail before. That’s a sure way to get dehydrated, and then you won’t be able to go on hiking.
I also recommend taking some electrolytes too. They’ll replace important minerals like sodium, magnesium, and potassium that you lose when you sweat.
6) Ensure That You Fuel Your Body Correctly and at the Right Times
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that’s especially true when you’re hiking. Check out our recommended hiking breakfasts here. You also want to eat the right snacks and lunches.
And time it right. For example, don’t eat your lunch right before you have to climb a steep incline. If you’re hungry, have a small snack, but save your bigger lunch until after you’ve done most of the elevation. Otherwise, it will make your ascent seem harder.
7) Consider Turning Back
When you’re hiking, especially if you’re a beginner hiker, you need to know your limits. If you’ve tried the above techniques but are feeling faint or that you really can’t make it, consider going back.
Your safety is more important than reaching a mountain peak or beautiful waterfall. They’ll still be there for you to come back to another day.
4 Preventative Ways to Make Your Hike Easier (So That You’ll Want to Go On Hiking)
1) Choose an Accessible Hike Right For You
All hikes are not created equal. If you’re hiking on a well-maintained trail, it will be easier than if you have challenging terrain and have to bushwhack through bushes or scramble up rocks.
And just because it’s a popular hike doesn’t mean that it’s the best choice for you, depending on your fitness level. If you’re a novice hiker, check out my tips for How to Find an Easy Hike.
By choosing the right hike for your abilities, it will be a fun challenge. You’ll feel motivated and won’t have to question whether you’ll want to go hiking, as you’ll be having so much fun – even if you’re out of breath!
2) Choose the Right Hiking Buddy
The right hiking buddy will motivate you, and you’ll cheer each other on. You don’t want to be hiking with a friend who keeps asking Are we there yet? and How much longer? And constantly complaining. That will make your hike feel much harder.
If you’re hiking with friends, follow these tips if your friend is in better shape than you are.
3) Do Regular Breathwork and/or Train with a Breathing Device
I mentioned the importance of breathing correctly while hiking, but practicing belly breathing takes practice and should be done regularly before you hike. I’m a big fan of the Wim Hof style of breathing.
In addition, I recently started using abreathing device that lets you vary the tension to make breathing more difficult as a way to increase my lung capacity.
I did this to help recover from long-term covid and to make hiking easier since I was really struggling and had to motivate myself to want to go on hiking – even on easy hikes.
I’ve already noticed that my lung capacity has already increased and that I’m able to hike closer to my normal speed again. This is the device that I have that I’m happy with.
4) Train Before Your Hike
Whether you’re a beginner, casual or an advanced hiker, you still need to train off the trail. Doing so will make it easier to want to go on hiking.
Your training regime should include some type of daily training, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. Ideally, a mix of the following:
- Cardio (HIIT is amazing – low or high impact). You can see my curated list of HIIT workouts for hikers on YouTube. Note: I have no affiliation with any of these creators. I just like their workouts
- Strength training (especially for legs/knees). I personally love kettlebells, especially for developing leg and shoulder strength. You can see our post on strength training for hiking for more specific exercises.
- Hillwalking/ Stairs. You probably don’t have access to mountains on a daily basis as I do living in the mountain town of Bansko, Bulgaria, so head to the nearest hill or stairs. For an additional bonus, do with your hiking backpack, filled with water/other weight, similar to what you’ll be carrying on your hike.
Now you’re armed with the knowledge of what to do while you’re hiking, and it becomes difficult so that you can make it easier and go on hiking, and how to prevent it before you even start hiking.
Share this post with someone who feels they struggle when hiking.
And for more tips, check out my Beginners Guide to Hiking: How to Feel Amazing From Your First Hike.