What is scrambling in hiking

What Is Scrambling In Hiking? A Complete Guide Including 9 Best Tips For Beginners!

Have you ever wondered what is scrambling in hiking? In this post, I’ll be covering everything you need to know to get you started as a beginner scrambler!

Scrambling is often mistaken for steep walking, though it is more like rock climbing without experience or technical equipment. Depending on the difficulty of a climb, it is grouped into different grades. 

Scrambling is a great way to loosen up and have an awesome time in the great outdoors just like any other form of hiking. And, due to the intense efforts of scaling rocky terrains, it is also a remarkable form of exercise.

Likewise, scrambling takes you up high mountains or to hilltops that offer spectacular views of the natural surroundings that you find yourself in. 

Regardless of whether you are hiking spectacular hikes in Boone – NC, exploring stunning waterfalls near Chattanooga Tennessee, or exploring the best hikes in Upstate New York in some of the most beautiful National Parks on the East Coast, you will no doubt be doing a bit of scrambling yourself at some point! 

If you were wondering what is scrambling in hiking, then we’ve got you covered with all the answers and 9 top tips for scrambling while out hiking

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5 Must-Have Hiking Essentials 

  1. A hiking day backpack
  2. Comfy pair of men’s boots, or woman’s hiking boots
  3. Hiking water bottle for hydration
  4. A cozy men’s and woman’s windbreaker for those gusty summits
  5. A set of hiking poles

What Is Scrambling In Hiking – Definition

So what exactly is the definition of scrambling in hiking? 

Scrambling is considered a form of technical climbing but without all the additional ropes and other safety gear that you would normally associate with climbing. It is essentially climbing (or scrambling) upwards across steep terrain usually using both your hands and feet. 

9 Top Tips For Scrambling Hiking

Observe Your Balance

It is essential that you use both hands and feet for optimal balance. The three points of contact should be maintained at all times.

Trekking poles cannot necessarily provide sufficient stability when ascending.

Weight plays an important role in maintaining balance as well. Take your time when transferring weight from one foot to another.

Apart from that, it is important to keep your center of gravity as low as possible. Similarly, place your feet on the driest surfaces to avoid sliding and losing your balance.

Route Finding Skills

From time to time, you may encounter hikes that are not clearly marked and may require you to engage in some creative scrambling to navigate your way up. 

Your scrambling ability is based on your route-finding skills. If you possess excellent navigation skills, finding your way may be a piece of cake.

Most people rely on compasses, route maps, or hiking GPS, as a more reliable form of navigation. It is important to find the safest routes along ridges and cliff bands.

Do Not Make Irreversible Moves

It is discouraged to enter any situation that will be difficult to get out of. Overcommitting can lead to disaster. Any move that you find difficult is better avoided as it may be harder to retrace your steps, especially if faced with steep and high inclines.  

Take Note Of Mountain Hazards

During your scrambling expedition, you are likely to encounter loose rock, unexpected weather conditions, and other potential hazards on your scrambling journey. The mountain terrain is challenging.

Watch the hikers above you, determine if the surface is wet, and know when you are exhausted and need a break to recoup your energy levels.

It is imperative to perform an adequate risk assessment if you wish to succeed in the course and to always remain focused on the scramble up ahead.

Pack Your Gear Accordingly

What is scrambling in hiking - Pack Your Gear Accordingly

Packing hiking gear appropriately goes without saying. As well as making it easier to carry around, proper packaging ensures the safety of your essentials.

Pack the heaviest items at the bottom of the bag. The system creates a lower center of gravity and offers a steady balance.

A pair of gloves is an essential item for scrambling. It will come in handy for rough and painful surfaces.

Test Your Gear

Before moving forward, you must test the efficiency of your gear. This is particularly important for footholds and handholds.

Additionally, test the surface to ensure that it is stable and sturdy enough to support your weight.

Bring Along Some Company

Hiking in a group and enjoying beautiful outdoor landscapes is always a great experience. Of course, a second benefit of hiking with a group is that you’ll be much safer.

It gives you peace of mind to know someone has your back in the event of unforeseen circumstances. A person with more experience would be a wise choice too.

With an extra set of eyes or muscles, it is easier to avoid mistakes and allows for a much safer and more enjoyable scramble. 

Watch The Weather

When it comes to outdoor activities, the weather is a major factor, and scrambling is no exception. For beginners, this is especially important. It is best to scramble in dry conditions.

Scrambling is more challenging and dangerous in wet conditions with slippery surfaces adding more difficulty to any climb.

Now that there is no safety gear, grip and balance will naturally be affected. It would be wise to consider the weather conditions before embarking on a scrambling expedition, especially if you are just starting out. 

Do Not Rush

When it comes to scrambling, hiking enthusiasts will agree that you are better off late than never. This is yet another of our top scrambling tips for beginners!

While the name may suggest otherwise, scrambling should be done cautiously, as it incorporates minimal safety gear. Slipping, or losing grip in a steep ascend can have major implications and cause serious harm.   

Conclusion – What Is Scrambling In Hiking

We absolutely love hiking. Part and parcel of this favorite pastime, is scrambling up inclines and rocky terrains to reach a stunning viewpoint with sweeping views or finding that hidden waterfall you’ve heard of.

If you’re just starting out, be sure to head all our tips and tricks to ensure you and your fellow hikers stay safe and have a wonderful hiking and scrambling adventure! 

Marco Santos

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