From preventing osteoporosis to reducing anxiety, hiking offers so many incredible benefits. However, for beginners, it can be a little intimidating. Unlike walking on a paved path, hiking involves more, sometimes unpredictable, terrain.
So, does that mean acquiring some special skills? Not at all! If your selection of hike is simple, no special skills are required. All you need is to be able to walk and adopt some hike tips along your trek. This guide will give you some essential first-time hiking tips to help enjoy your first hike, so that there are many more to come.
Keep The Beginning Short
The biggest mistake that most beginner hikers make is overdoing hiking. We understand you are excited, but that certainly doesn’t mean you should choose a hike that’s difficult. A hike that is rewarding, without substantial effort, is the best way to go for beginners.
Select a hike close to the distance you are used to walking on a level or paved surface. We recommend choosing a hike that has low mileage compared to your normal activity, and doesn’t have substantial elevation gain. However, if you can’t resist doing a longer one, you may want to start training in advance.
Acquaint Yourself With The Trail
Once you choose a suitable distance, search for nearby hikes that fit that criteria. You will find resources online that will help you navigate to the hike, and prepare. Read other individual reviews, study the map of the trails, get directions, and overall build some knowledge on where you will be going.
Bring A Map – Preferably A Paper Map
Understanding where you are and where you are going is key to enjoying your hike. While modern devices with quick GPS features are more efficient, paper maps will remain the number one hiking essential in case of failure of the electronic device.
Use GPS as a backup instead. A map will help you familiarize yourself with any intersecting trails where you could potentially make a wrong turn.
Keep Watch of The Weather
Before beginning your hike, don’t forget to check the weather. Knowing how the climate will accompany the trail will give you valuable information on what to pack and wear. Weather may dictate that you should not go hiking that day, or allow you to change your hike to another location.
Don’t Forget the Essentials!
Though every backpack differs according to its carrier’s choices, a bunch of must-have hiking essentials should be in them no matter what your preferences are. Even if you are camping with your family, don’t skip packing for yourself individually and also advise others to do the same. Here are those ten essentials. Depending on the distance and remoteness of your trail, expand or minimize the list.
- Navigation Compasses and Maps
- Sun Protection Products
- Extra Pair of Clothes
- First Aid Kit
- Lighter or Any Other Fire Source
- Repair Kit
- Extra Food
- Emergency Shelter
Take Things Slow
In hiking, being steady is better than trying to be quick, and having to stop frequently. Maintaining a steady pace that feels achievable for a long time is a better bet for new hikers. This will prevent overexertion, make the experience more enjoyable, and increase your likelihood of completing your hike.
Make sure to bring hydration and nutrition that is suitable for longer than you anticipate being out on the trail.
Bring Comfortable Footwear
Uncomfortable feet can ruin the fun of your hike. Invest in quality hiking shoes, boots, or trail runners and socks that keep your feet in comfort and protect them from the environment. Different terrain may dictate the type of footwear to use. On many hikes, comfortable sneakers may suffice, but on others, having footwear designed for the trails is likely a better idea.
Bring clothes that are suitable for the conditions you will be in. We always recommend bringing an outer waterproof layer like a rain jacket as backup for safety. Where moisture wicking clothing.
Skip cotton as it tends to get damp easier and stays that way, leaving you feeling clammy. Choose synthetics instead.
Let Others Know Where You Will Be
Someone who is not with you on the trail must know exactly where you are hiking, who’s with you, and when you are expected to return. This is for safety purposes to ensure that if anything goes wrong, someone else can send help.
Another option is to pack an emergency device such as a GPS tracker, which helps you summon emergency assistance by satellite. Even with this equipment, it is essential to tell others where you will be.
Take Care of The Trail
Last but not least, don’t leave your trace and respect the hikers who come after you. In a nutshell, that means packing out anything you bring, staying on trail, and picking up any trash or garbage you come across.
Don’t litter or throw fruit peels. Refrain from causing harm to the environment (plucking rare flowers or breaking branches). A clean trail will help maintain beautiful places across the world.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about