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IBD Outdoors: Hiking

Up next in my IBD Outdoors series is Hiking! New to the series? Click here to see what you’ve missed.

In this piece, I’ll talk about my experiences in getting ready and getting my pack set for when I go out and walk/run when I hike. It’s one of my favorite past times, but it’s something you have to be committed to, or you will find yourself unprepared, exhausted, and perhaps out of a pair of clean underwear. Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks when thinking about each hike.

Invest in good shoes and sandals for hiking

Why start this new hobby you’ve always wanted to do if you don’t have proper, appropriate footwear? A lot of people don’t think you can hike in sandals, but there are quite a few companies that you can get waterproof, walking sandals/shoes. I personally prefer sandals if I can. (I’m telling you, they are so comfortable that I wear them year-round because I find it helps my sciatica, posture, and arthritis). A good pair of shoes or sandals can range anywhere from $20+. Obviously, there are some very expensive hiking shoes that many manufacturers make. Most of my hiking is leisure and pretty easy-going, so I know that I don’t need to spend extra money on heavy, large hiking boots.

Do your research ahead of time

While you can always just hike at the park or a local trail, it will always help to know what kind of conditions are ahead. If it begins to rain where you are on the trail, are your medications in ziplock(waterproof) baggies? A lot of this seems like common sense, but I’ve gone on hikes and rowed only to realize the pillbox I brought got a little wet from a towel I threw in my backpack and moisture was let inside the cup, which obviously ruined all of my meds.

Plan a route and stick to it

As I mentioned in “IBD Friendly Activities“, I have used Rails to Trails Conservancy every year I have been hiking. It helps me see which trails are accessible, which ones to avoid and I’ve also used their tool, TrailLink, to plan most of my routes. It’s a conservancy that helps provide an option to become a trail member and contribute a few dollars for a lot of great information about the trails in your area. It also has a great accessibility section that lists all trails with wheelchair accessibility. You can also leave reviews on their website for other users, which I’ve found to be very beneficial for me! Depending on how my arthritis is, I may pick different trails or areas each time I go out.

Packing and planning ahead

Bring wipes and an extra pair of underwear, maybe even shorts. Always carry a beach towel with you in case you run into any issues. While you can use this just to protect yourself from the sun or dry off from a wet hike.. you can also use it to help with any accidents you might have on the trail. It happens.

Have an ostomy? Might come in even handier if for some reason your bag began to leak and you needed to change appliances without a mirror, bathroom, other supplies. If you do have an ostomy, how many extra appliances do you bring with? What do you feel is too much or too little? Everyone is different. I know that personally, I keep several pairs of underwear with me no matter where I’m going.

Bring plenty of water and snacks

Stay hydrated. If you don’t have a colon or have had revision surgeries, be prepared to bring along enough water. It’s so easy to get dehydrated when you aren’t fully absorbing the water intake of someone without an ostomy, or even without IBD. We’re unique when it comes to staying hydrated.

SNACKS!! I love snacks. I like to stick with fruit snacks, a banana, or things that won’t melt. I’ve brought electrolyte and hydration tablets as well as snacks that I would typically eat during a race since I know those don’t melt. You can find a lot of different options for snacks at sporting good stores. Or you can just opt for munchies at the grocery store – much cheaper, but be careful of things that would melt or attract insects or animals!

Are you an experienced hiker with IBD? Have you always wanted to get out there but you’re just not sure where to start?

I’d love to hear some feedback about what our community puts in their packs before going on hikes. Keep in mind your hike can be any distance you like!! Hiking won’t ever be determined by distance – if you get out there, that’s a huge accomplishment. Just enjoy it!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • mokkat
    5 months ago

    My husband and I hike regularly. For snacks, I take a little bag of peanuts and chocolate covered raisins if it’s a short hike. For longer hikes, I add a sandwich. I like the idea of the hydration tablets, though! I’ll add those in. I also always wear (and pack extra) Depends. They can get a little warm while hiking, but the piece of mind they bring is worth it. And, of course, a ziplock bag for anything I can’t dispose of on the trail.

  • TPChamp
    5 months ago

    This is very helpful…my wife and I have been thinking of doing Mt. Washington this fall but I can’t find any info on restrooms on the trails. I’m fanatical about finding reviews that specifically mention restroom availability.

  • Kelly C (#purpleproject) moderator author
    5 months ago

    That’s awesome, TPChamp! Let us know how it goes! I know there are several restroom apps – makes sure to leave a review for those that will use this trail in the future!
    Kelly, Team Member

  • jamieschmal
    5 months ago

    Hi! Can you give me some more info on the “electrolyte and hydration tablets” you mention? My blood sugar levels seem to crash suddenly and fast. I’m always trying to find something I can eat/drink quickly to bring me back up until I can get a solid meal in me. Snacks I’ve relied on in the past are: graham crackers, fig bars, and protein bars – but I grow sick of them quickly. I also have a strong gag reflex so I need to find something that tastes good and doesn’t have any kind of weird texture or consistency. lol What electrolyte and hydration tablets do you recommend?

  • Kelly C (#purpleproject) moderator author
    5 months ago

    Hi Jamie! Have you heard of Nuun tablets? You can find them at sporting stores. I also find a lot of my snacks there as well to trial and if I like them, I’ll buy them in bulk somewhere online where I can find them at a good price.
    Kelly, Team Member

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