We’ve dug up a few tips from seasoned Oxfam Trailwalkers when asking them what they wish they had known before their first big walk! Here are their top 5 things they wish they had known before taking on this long distance bushwalking challenge.

1. The right gear will get you there

We don’t deny that strong-willed bushwalkers will muscle through long distance walks like Oxfam Trailwalker despite all odds, on their own merits, and with minimal assistance. But hey, we’re here to remind you that blood, sweat, and tears aren’t requirements to finish Oxfam Trailwalker. Well, likely loads of sweat, we won’t dance around that one! Nonetheless, blood (and other injuries) can be mitigated with proper care and training. This can include but is not limited to: the right footwear, blister management, adequate training, trekking poles, correctly fitted packs, and other comfort-adding walking equipment.

As experienced long-distance bushwalkers, we won’t deny that it’s not all beautiful views and sunshine. There will be times when things get tough, when you’re tired, both physically and mentally, hungry, and frustrated. However, the right gear can mitigate much of this discomfort and ensure that you are supported in the best way possible when you begin to get fatigued. A few gear tips:

  • Make sure your gear is well worn and tested (for long distances)! One of the most common issues we see with first time walkers is having gear that hasn’t been adequately broken in. A spare pair of footwear can never go astray. Your spare pair, as well as your socks and gaiters should be broken in to maximise comfort.

  • When choosing footwear (and spare footwear), consider the level of support you will need as your mental and physical fatigue sets in and factors such as low light come into play. It might be in your best interest to invest in a pair with more support for the final stretches of your walk, when fatigue paves the way for falls, tired supporting muscles or lack of concentration of foot placement that could easily lead to twisting an ankle.

Choosing the right footwear

  • When fatigue is on the rise and rocks or bush sneak their way into your walking shoes, we’ll be the first to tell you that this is prime time for frustration to set in. Keep your shoes debris free with pair of lightweight gaiters. If you’re after something ultralight and extremely compact, Dirty Girl Gaiters will do the job for your needs. For a little bit more coverage and durability, consider taking along a pair of Sea To Summit Tumbleweed Gaiters.

 

  • To distribute weight from your legs and feet on such a long journey, we strongly recommend taking trekking poles along for the ride. Trekking poles can be shared and rotated between team members, and left with your support crew so that they’re ready to use in final stages of the adventure. They could get you across the finish line!

 

  • Consider leaving your support crew with extra shoelaces, safety pins, Tenacious Tape, travel sewing kits or string should you need to make any on-the-trail repairs.

 

2. You will be hungrier and thirstier than you predicted

Your body is going to need all the help it can get to cross that finish line, and and it’s important to make sure it’s properly fuelled. To do so, ensure you have the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and other nutrients before, during, and after your long distance walk.

Carbohydrates are the preferred source of fuel, and are critical to have plenty of when participating in high intensity activities. Carbohydrate stores are used very quickly when you’re moving at pace and you need to be conscious about replacing them. Low levels of carbohydrate stores can be detrimental to your experience, and can lead to poor performance due to fatigue.

A few ways to get those carbs in when taking on Oxfam Trailwalker: breads and cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, cous-cous, starchy vegetables like sweet potato, potato, and corn, fruit, muesli bars such as Clif Bars, and crackers.

Proteins complement these carbohydrates, as they are the building blocks of muscle and they repair and replace damaged cells. Protein can be sourced through lean meat (including red meat, white meat, and fish), dairy, legumes and lentils, eggs, as well as nuts and seeds.

Awesome ways to fuel your body with carbs, protein and replenish your sugars include:

Hydration will be directly correlated to your performance on the trail! It’s important to be hydrated before, during and after the event. After many years of Oxfam Trailwalkers and other endurance fitness events, we can confirm the negative effects that are seen on performance at all levels of dehydration.

 

3. You will likely blister and you will probably chafe!

Endurance runners avoiding blisters

A few quick and easy ideas to help you avoid chafing and blisters:

  • Use blister prevention wool to protect your feet from blisters in the most demanding conditions.
  • Tape up your hot spots before they become problem areas.
  • Glide for areas prone to chafing. Again, we recommend applying before any pain or irritation, if possible.
  • Change your socks any time your feet get moist, damp, or wet, either from puddles, rain, mud or sweat (a good rule of thumb could be to change them at each check point, just to be safe!)
  • Injinji toesocks are a lifesaver when it comes to blisters. Our staff and larger Paddy Pallin community swear by them. If you have tried them, you know what we’re talking about! If you haven’t, give them a go, but don’t forget to break them in before your big walk!
Injinji toe socks for blister prevention

Photo from Injinji Instagram @injinji

Head to the Paddy Pallin blog for more information on how to prevent blisters during your adventure, and equally important, how to treat and manage blisters.

4. Temperatures will surprise you

If you’re not used to taking on adventure before dawn and after dusk, you may be surprised by the temperatures you may face throughout the duration of your adventure. A good tip would be to break from the coziness of your bed in the nights leading up to the event and walk outside in the gear you intend to wear. Are you too hot? Too cold? These are factors you will want to consider, and when the going gets tough, your body will thank you for your support in ensuring you have the right gear to keep you at a comfortable temperature. Furthermore, many of us avoid exercising in the heat of the day, under the blazing sun. As such, we recommend doing some testing. Exercise in your intended gear to ensure the same thing: regular temperatures for optimal comfort.

Easy, lightweight kit additions to keep you warm can include gloves, beanies, versatile neckwear, and lightweight, packable jackets such as the Patagonia Micro Puff vest, jacket, and hoody. If you’re one to run cold, consider having extra kit with your support crew that you can substitute in and out should you need it.

To cool off and protect from the sun, gear additions such as hydration packs, water bottles, lightweight shorts and shirts, hats, sunscreen, and cool-lite fabrics can put you ahead of the game. Cool-lite is Icebreaker’s top of the line technology is made from two natural fibres keeps travellers and hikers cool and dry in hot conditions. The cool-lite range includes shorts, underwear, sports bras, tanks, and t-shirts – so take your pick! To learn more about Icebreaker’s Cool-Lite fabric, check out our blog here. 

 

5. The fitter you are, the more enjoyable it will be!

Let this reminder guide you through your training schedule. We hope it allows you to dig deeper, push further, and feel empowered knowing the work you put in today will have a massive impact on your overall experience throughout your long distance walk. Our seasoned Oxfam Trailwalkers can assure you that you will thank yourself more than ever for those extra training hours, getting up and walking even when the weather turned, when you were sore, or when other plans were calling. The uphills will be less tiresome, the long hours will feel shorter, and best of all, you won’t be out of breath and you’ll be able to chat, sing, and throw some good banter with your teammates!

Sanja taking the Konseal FL shoe endurance running.

Oxfam Trailwalker is an exciting accomplishment thanks to its challenging nature but with the right training, gear, support, and preparation, we can maximise comfort the starting line right until hauling ourselves over the finish!

Tell us something you wish you had known before taking on a long distance bushwalking challenge! Whether it was an Oxfam Trailwalker, a thru hike in Australia or overseas, or any other endurance fitness event, we would love for you to share!

Tag us on Instagram @paddy_pallin or use the hashtag #PaddyPallin to share your story.

#ExperienceIsEverything #PaddyPallin

About The Author

admin

Some 80 years ago, a young bushwalker's dissatisfaction with the limited and heavy bushwalking equipment available prompted him to design and make his own. Before long, word spread, and Paddy Pallin's lightweight, functional designs were soon in demand among fellow bushwalkers. From its early days the company has concentrated on supplying bushwalkers, travellers and adventurers with the highest quality and most advanced products and knowledge. Since 1930 the company has grown to become Australia's leading supplier of specialist outdoor and travel gear. The company, still owned by the Pallin family, now has thirteen stores throughout Australia as well as online, mail order and corporate sales divisions. We are using our vast wealth of knowledge, and experience, to build an online community where we can share our stories, reviews and tech tips to help you research and plan your next adventure.

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