Hiking is absolutely one of the best ways to get into the outdoors. It’s super accessible, requires very little equipment and can be done almost anywhere. You don’t even need to get out of the city to find a great hike. Seriously. Some of Australia’s best hikes are less than a stone’s throw from Sydney’s CBD.
But if you really want to stretch your legs and tackle the big multi-day hikes out there, you might want to get a few extra kilometres under your belt. There’s no better way to rack up the kms than by adding a few to your morning commute. It’s way easier than you might think, just park a bit further away, get off a stop earlier, or walk the whole way.
Whichever way you go about it, here are five reasons why walking to work will make you a better hiker, and a better person.
# 1 Walking To Work Improves Your Health
There’s no doubting that exercising more often will make you fitter. Walking to work will help you build up your leg strength and stamina, meaning it’ll be easier next time you get out on the trails. You can see further gains by walking with your hiking pack on, creating extra weight and resistance for training.
It’s not just your physical strength that’ll get a boost – exercising more often is likely to improve your mental health too.
‘Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.’ – Arnold Schwarzenegger
# 2 It’s A Great Chance To Break In New Gear
As you rack up those extra kms, you can use the walking time to really put your new gear through its paces. Pounding the pavement will help break in those new hiking shoes before they hit the trail, but the gear testing doesn’t need to stop there. You can wear in your new rainjacket, testing to see if it’s as waterproof as the salesperson convinced you it was – better to find out now than on the first day of a three-day hike!
Your morning walk is also a great time to think outside the box, or ‘inside the bag’. Try out different packing techniques to see what works best for you and your gear. It might seem like a good idea to hook your camp mug to an external strap, but the repetitive clunking of mug on buckle will soon have you rethinking your packing strategy.
# 3 Improve Those Navigation Skills
You’ll need a bit of discipline to make this one happen, but hey, you’re spending more time on your commute so you’ve already taken a big step away from the norm. Use your walk to work time to explore new parts of town, take detours without checking Google, and see if you can follow your nose. If you get stuck, try consulting a compass (or compass app) as your first port of call before calling on Siri to help you out.
Better still, crack out a good old paper map and navigate on the fly. Try starting your commute from different spots within a 5km radius of work and see what happens. Or if you’re feeling super frisky, get up at 2.00am and squeeze in a half-day hike before work.
# 4 Save Money
If people say talk is cheap, then walking is even cheaper (or at least equally as cheap). But quite literally, walking is so cheap, it’s free. There’s no denying the cash benefits of walking to work instead of catching the train or driving your car. Even if you bus or drive halfway and walk the rest, you’ll still be saving money every time you do.
An added bonus of saving cash by walking is that you can treat yourself to some quality gear for your next big hike. It’s true that the gear you have is often the best gear for an adventure, but there’s no denying the pleasure of swapping out your usual tent for an ultralight counterpart or swapping your old backpack for that new one with adjustable lumbar support and snack pockets right where you need them.
You can also think even bigger and start saving for a big hike in another state or country. Go on, you’ve earnt it.
# 5 Walking Is Better For The Environment
If we were ranking these reasons in order of importance, this one definitely wouldn’t deserve to come in at number five. Being environmentally conscious should be at the forefront of everything we do, and by walking to work you’ll really be making a statement, and a big environmental difference.
Read more: Hiking Without Single-Use Plastic
So there you go, told you walking to work could make you a better person. Pretty soon you’ll be hiking 20km to work each day, packing your bag like a boss, feeling great, have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the city and have a healthy savings account ready to pull the trigger on an epic, adventurous, multi-day hike.
You’ll also have made a big dent in your carbon footprint. Way to go friend.
Ready for that big hike?