Who has not dreamed of an itinerary and thought: am I fit enough to do this? The question is legitimate because if you are not well prepared you will not enjoy your trip. In addition, you must also consider the possible impacts on the rest of the group.

Certainly, most of us can do a day hike with a 1000+ meter elevation gain but stringing it together over several days in a row is not the same thing. The joy of hiking, whether on a beautiful ridge in the Canadian Rockies or through a Douglas Fir forest on Vancouver Island, requires fitness.

Good training beforehand and good mental preparation will allow you to fully enjoy the trip and appreciate the effort involved as your adventure unfolds. Here are some simple tips to help you prepare properly.

One of the first questions to ask yourself is: what is my level? Most travel agencies have their own scales that will allow you to situate yourself in the level of commitment of the trek you wish to make (easy level, moderate level, etc.) with examples of difference in altitude and number of hours of walking that will allow you to identify where you stand.

If you do not have the required level, you will have to increase your daily activity to reach the level of the chosen trek. Small changes for big results: instead of taking the elevator to the office, take the stairs, ride your bike to the grocery store instead of the car! Move, move, move!

When we talk about a “strenuous” hike, we often refer to positive changes in altitude that vary between 700 and 1000 meters. So, you must go for a walk and gain elevation. Sign up for a walking club in your area, the outings are generally well organized, cost little money and allow you to meet other walkers at the same time! Walking on flat trails will not help you once you get to the Rockies or the Parc de la Gaspésie.

Add cardiovascular activities to your routine, winter or summer, the options are numerous: run, play badminton, try cross-country skiing, go snowshoeing with your family, dance! All these options will help you increase your stamina when hiking.

We often read that you must train to be able to do the climbs, but you must not neglect the descent! Personally, this is my least favorite part, and it is during the descent that I get injured the most. I am not reinventing the wheel here: on the downhill you bend your knees, take small steps, use the front of your foot, and use your walking sticks to keep your balance.

Furthermore, an essential component to increase your psychological and physical comfort during the tour is your equipment. Think about having a daypack that is comfortable, breathable and fits your body; walking shoes that you will have “broken” BEFORE you leave. Test your equipment, go camping and familiarize yourself with your sleeping bag, your sleeping mattress (we provide them on our tours), etc. It seems trivial but once you are in the mountains you will have that much less to worry about. Moreover, it is well known that sleep is an essential element to recover well and to be able to hold on until the end.

Some agencies, such as Windigo Aventure, provide the camping equipment except for the sleeping bag (we rent them if needed). This assures you of quality and saves you an investment if you are not well equipped!

Talk to your guide about the day’s challenges, planned breaks, and more difficult sections of the trail so you know what to expect. This will help you better anticipate the effort ahead.

A little tip, if you must fly, put on your walking boots to catch your flight. If your luggage gets lost or delayed, you want to have your boots (which will already be molded to your feet) with you! Going on a trek with new boots, we know, is not ideal.

Prepare yourself psychologically.

We sometimes underestimate this aspect of preparation, as we say, “the strength of the mind”. Of course, you are not preparing to climb Everest but still. You will have to make a considerable effort for several days in a row and accumulate fatigue.

Do not forget to bring some treats! Your body will need more sugars, proteins, and fats (yes, yes) to meet your energy needs. Bring along your favorite chocolate and energy bars that you cannot live without. A moment of comfort after the effort is always appreciated.

Good preparation beforehand will not only allow you to enjoy your hike even more, but it will also allow you to reach goals that sometimes seem out of reach. Signing up for a trip that includes long hikes will allow you to take on a challenge, reach new fitness goals and above all allow you to admire some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Happy hiking!

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