AFT Hike Difficulty Level

Explanation of AFT’s hike difficulty levels:

AFT Outdoor Adventures offers a wide range of hiking trails. We have divided our hiking trails into seven different difficulty levels to accommodate different hiking skills and capabilities.

Firstly, let us assure you that you won’t miss out on spectacular views, wildlife sightings, and connecting with nature by choosing a relatively easier trail for your adventures. We request all our members to NOT overestimate their abilities and NEVER underestimate the roughness of the weather and terrain while picking an adventure for themselves.
With that said, the below is an explanation of each hike difficulty level. These guidelines are general and cannot replace your personal judgment on how fit you are feeling on a particular day.

INTRODUCTORY: “This is my first hike ever.”
Leisurely walks in nature, mostly on a defined off-road track, with plenty of stops for breaks and photography. These hikes cover less than 100meters of elevation gain, a horizontal distance of 4km to 6km, last 2 to 4 hours, and are suitable for anyone (including kids) that enjoy walking in nature. Comfortable joggers and a small school/gym bag is all the gear you need to join this hike.

BEGINNERS: “I’ve hiked a few times but not in UAE/Oman.”
Leisurely nature walks on mixed terrain (off-road track and defined mountain trail) with frequent stops for breaks and photography. These hikes cover less than 250 meters of elevation gain, a horizontal distance of 4km to 8km, last 3 to 4 hours, and are suitable for anyone with average fitness and a fair bit of stamina. Comfortable hiking shoes or joggers and a small school/gym bag is all the gear you need to join this hike.

BEGINNERS PLUS: “I’ve hiked a few times in UAE/Oman. I have a gym bag and jogging shoes, but not a hiking backpack or hiking boots.”
Moderately paced hikes on mountain trails with some uneven surfaces and loose rock with some stops for breaks and photography. Expect going out of your comfort zone as there will be some steep parts to hike. These hikes have an elevation gain between 250 meters to 400 meters, cover a horizontal distance of 6km to 10km and last 3 to 5 hours. To hike comfortably, you are advised to have a proper hiking backpack and a pair of hiking boots. Although this gear is not mandatory for this level.

INTERMEDIATE: “I’ve hiked several trails in UAE/Oman in the past six months. I can list a few local hiking trails that I’ve done. I have a proper hiking backpack and invested in quality hiking boots.”
Somewhat fast paced hikes mostly on donkey/goat trails with some bouldering and scrambling involved. There will be some stops for breaks and photography. Good physical fitness, upper body strength and a good amount of stamina is needed to join this level. These hikes have an elevation gain between 400meters to 700meters, cover a horizontal distance of 8km to 12km, and last 5 to 6 hours. Proper hiking boots and a proper hiking backpack are mandatory.

INTERMEDIATE PLUS: “I’ve hiked with AFT several times. I am out in the mountains almost every weekend and have done hikes in the UAE/Oman covering 800+ meters elevation gain within a day.”
Participants of these hikes are selected after considering their previous hiking experience with AFT Outdoor Adventures. These hikes are tough, lengthy and with a great amount of elevation gain (700 to 1,200meters). The hikes cover a horizontal distance of 10km to 15km and last 6 to 8 hours. Proper hiking boots and a proper hiking backpack are mandatory.

ADVANCED: “I’ve been hiking and training with Arabian FiTrekkers for over a year now. I’ve done several intermediate and intermediate plus level hikes in the past 6 months with AFT.”
This group of hikers consists of the most regular and most reliable members on our team. The advanced hikes are only for the selected few that train and hike with us on a regular basis. We know you personally and you have earned your spot in this level by going through all other levels with AFT. These hikes require an extreme level of endurance, basic rock climbing skills, fast pace, ability to carry a heavy load and understanding of being self-sufficient in the wilderness at all times. These hikes involve a great amount of exposed cliff walls and possibility of rock falls. In other words, these hikes are for elite athletes only.
Elevation gain on these hikes is usually between 1200meters to 1800meters. Distance could be between 15km to 20km. Duration 8 to 12 hours.

EXPERTS ONLY: “I know UAE/Oman mountains inside out. I have done all major hiking trails including Stairway to Heaven, Jebel Shams. I’ve also summited a few peaks while roped up, holding ice-axe, and wearing crampons. There’s a rope, helmet, harness and first aid kit in my pack almost all the time. I have also done rock climbing / rappelling / caving etc.”
This level includes everything that is listed under the advance level. The only difference is that a special invitation is sent out to selected hikers for these events. Team AFT will have to trust and rely on your skills to include you in expert level hikes. These hikes mostly include exploring remote and unknown terrain without much knowledge of elevation, distance and time to complete.

Now that you know what these levels mean, take the time to ask yourself the following questions that will further help you understand the right experience level you are at:
Q: How much equipment, food, and water (weight) can I comfortably carry in a backpack? How long can I carry a backpack with all these essentials?
The longer the hike duration the more supplies you need. Doing deadlift with 100kg for 10 minutes in an air-conditioned gym is different than lifting 15kg backpack for 10 hours and having to walk uphill with exposure to weather elements. While any type of fitness training definitely helps us get ready for hiking, we can't compare our readiness to hike based on experience from another form of sport.

Q: Am I physically fit for the hike I would like to do?
Fitness is one of a major key ingredient to be good at hiking but not the only criteria. Having the right gear, the right mindset, the right knowledge of trail will be needed to successfully complete a hike.

Q: Have I ever hiked in this type of environment before?
Environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity take time to get used to, especially if you are visiting or have just moved to the UAE from anywhere other than the GCC.

Q: Am I able to go to higher elevations?
More effort is required to hike at higher elevations due to the reduced amount of oxygen per breath available in the air. Remember, that at 2,500meters you are already at risk of altitude illness, a potentially life-threatening condition. If you don’t know, ask your guide or consult with your healthcare provider.

We hope this helps you decide on picking the right event for yourself. But if at any point you feel you need guidance to decide, you can always reach out to our team for a personal opinion.