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How to Hike When You’re Overweight: 7 Actionable Tips

Despite what a catalog from your local sporting store might lead you to believe, not every single person who actively hikes is a model.

In reality, hiking is a sport enjoyed by many different people around the globe.

Female hiker

Most hikers are not the super fit few that you are continually being bombarded with on social media.

Hiking for fat people can feel like an entire battle against social standards.

People with more unique body types are blazing the trails every single day, and that includes overweight folks who are just as happy to get out in nature as everyone else.

Many people have this idea in their heads that only incredibly fit people are hiking the best and most beautiful trails, but that is simply a lie being perpetuated by social media.

You don't need to be a specific size to enjoy spending time out strolling in nature.

Everyone has a different body that will help carry them up the mountain just like anyone else's.

Nature has no rules about what anyone should look like, but some considerations can be helpful for those who are looking to spend time on the mountain and are bringing a little extra weight to the table.

1. Know You Belong There

If there is one thing that we truly can't stand, it is the kind of person out in nature who knowingly aims to judge people.

Nature is a space that belongs to everyone. There is no right or wrong body to take into nature, and anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves.

The sad truth is that some people harbor a kind of hate in their hearts that manifests itself in the most unpleasant ways.

Since a big part of enjoying nature is to step back from the stresses of daily life and open yourself up to nature, it is essential to remember that you belong on that mountain just as much as anyone else.

You deserve to be out there in your favorite hiking clothes breathing fresh air and having a grand old time.

Since we want you to have the best possible time out on your hike, let us be the first to say that you should ignore the haters and live your best life.

Do not get caught up in ideas of whether or not you deserve to be there. You do. Get out there and explore the world around you.

2. Consider Any Medical Conditions

This is not a section that will assume that you have any medical condition simply because you are overweight but depending on some of the factors commonly associated with being overweight, you might want to consider how these could impact you.

If you have high or low blood pressure or a condition like diabetes, you will need to go into your hike prepared if this could be impacted.

Some of these conditions are known to interact with certain activities in some regard.

You might find that you experience unfortunate problems at higher elevations or if you strain your body too hard. However, this doesn't have to stop you.

All you need to do is take the time to focus on living your best life and taking care of yourself.

If you need medication, take it. Think about what problems you might run into and act accordingly.

It is merely a matter of being educated on your body's needs so you can spend less time feeling bad and more time living your best life.


3. Always Talk with Your Doctor First

This is something that every single person should do before pursuing a new kind of physical activity, and doing so can truly save lives.

In some instances, we might not be able to effectively do something at a certain point in time.

It could result in complications or even lead to injury if something was to go wrong.

Consulting a physician about the quality of exercise that your body can reasonably sustain can do you a lot of good.

While you will probably be just fine either way, understanding that there are many factors at work behind the scenes and acting accordingly is crucial for getting the most out of your hiking experience.

Your doctor can likely offer you some incredibly beneficial tips to help you successfully get the most out of your hiking experience.

Doctors are great for recommending what might help or hurt us, so chatting with your doctor in advance can save you a lot of time and effort.

4. Manage Any Chafing

Chafing is a genuine problem, particularly for people who will spend a prolonged time actively moving.

For those who are overweight, chafing can come at a much higher risk.

Suppose you want to get the most out of your hike while still maintaining comfort.

In that case, it can be helpful to recognize what parts of your body naturally rub together when you walk, then perhaps consider any other problem areas that might exist.

There is nothing worse than realizing halfway through a hike that you are chafed to an uncomfortable state and having to endure it throughout the rest of the walk as it slowly gets worse.

There are a variety of products on the market that can help with this.

You can choose from specific clothing, helpful accessories, or even certain balms and creams to ensure that you don't spend more time focusing on the areas where your skin is touching than you do taking in the stunning sights and sounds of the world around you.

5. Find the Right Clothes

A common complaint from plus-sized individuals is that the fashion industry does not cater to them.

This is a problem for several different reasons. First of all, you want to be able to be comfortable while you're on your hike.

Second, you want to wear something that you look and feel good in.

In many cases, plus-sized clothes are not made for plus-sized people.

Often, stores do not provide the right kind of clothing for people to wear.

The larger sizes are not large enough, and even the genuinely plus-sized clothing options are just larger versions of existing clothing lines.

They are bigger but do not cater to the body shape of truly plus-sized people.

The fact that these clothes aren't shaped right isn't just insulting.

It's downright problematic, particularly when it comes to wearing clothes that you will be active in.

The last thing you want is your clothes to be tight in one spot and constantly rubbing against your skin.

This is one problem that will only get worse over time, so do your research and find good clothing options.

Fortunately, the modern world now understands that catering to a single body type is just unforgivable by this point.

You can find plenty of fantastic companies online and in-store that are ready to help you get your fabulous fitness outfit on so you can be comfortable and prepared to take on the trails.

Backpack and water (photo: Lukas Kurth, Pixabay)
Backpack and water (photo: Lukas Kurth)

6. Drink Plenty of Water

This is one rule of thumb that is important for every person who plans to go hiking, and we do not want you to forget it.

Staying hydrated while hiking is crucial for the overall success of your experience.

Hydration is what makes your muscles well, boosts your energy levels, and lets you think clearly.

Packing enough water is essential before setting out on a hike.

Whether you are using a backpack with a bladder or just aiming to get a bunch of water bottles and shove them in a bag, make sure that you hydrate.

Drink water before you go hiking. Drink water while you are hiking. Drink water after your hike.

Water is crucial for your body to function to the best of its ability. Make sure that you go out prepared.

Hiking boot

7. Have Proper Arch Support

For those who are bigger by nature, it is possible to find certain bodily strains that other people might not be acquainted with. One area where this is prevalent is the feet.

As you log miles hiking on your trail of choice, consider the fact that your feet are going to feel the strain of carrying you from place to place.

The majority of people experience this in one form or another, but it can be exacerbated more quickly for people who are a bit heavier.

You might have incredibly strong feet and arches, but that doesn't mean that you should push aside your need for quality shoes or inserts.

Make sure that your feet have the support that they need to safely and comfortably carry you. This is one golden rule that should be followed by all of us.

Don't miss out on a pleasant hiking experience because your feet hurt.


The reality is that hiking when you are larger isn't any different than hiking when you are smaller.

You might want to make a few considerations depending on the state of your health, but we are smart enough now to know that size is not an indicator of health.

The most important part of this process is to focus on treating your body well.

If you can make sure that you listen to your body and address your own needs, you will be thrilled to find that you are in for a wonderful and pleasant hiking experience.

There are a lot of stigmas about exercising and activity for people who don't necessarily fit the mold painted in society.

Time and time again, we are greeted with stories of people who are made to feel unwelcome because of how they look, and we are here to say that there is no room at all for that kind of negativity when you are out on the trail.

Leave the opinions of society back home and head out into the trees. You belong with all of the other beautiful things in nature.

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