If you love being away from the city, walking up to the hills, and experiencing nature in its best form, then you should go hiking. Hiking is beneficial for your physical and mental health. It is a combination of a workout and a fun activity to plan with your friends and family.
Going hiking for the first time can be confusing and a lot of questions can arise in your mind. Thus, in this article, I will list out 8 essential hiking tips for beginners. Experienced hikers may also benefit from the tips below, so read on to know them.
Related Read: Finding Fresh Water in the Wilderness While Hiking
Preparing to set off for your first long hike is exciting. Whether you are about to embark on a multi-day trek or just a short day hike, there is a lot to consider before you set off. When looking for a beginner’s advice on hiking, you may feel overwhelmed by all the information available on the web.
Some tips might seem like common sense, but it’s easier to see that from the comfort of your home. These are just some ideas to get you thinking about how to prepare for hiking adventure. Six things that everyone thinking about starting to go hiking should learn. Check this out to learn about hiking tips for beginners.
Also, take a look at this article about clothes you need to pack for hiking.
Best Hiking Tips for Beginners
Get A Hiking Gear
Hiking footwear, clothing and other gear aren’t a lot or complicated but are very important. You need to choose the right type of footwear which can stand enough beating. As you will be on your feet throughout, a lightweight and sturdy pair of shoes or boots will help you in walking with ease over rugged trails.
Apart from carrying a backpack with your hiking essentials, make sure you wear appropriate clothing. Your clothing choice should be decided based on the weather, hike location and distance.
You must go through the website Outdoor Federation to learn more about hiking gear and tips so you can hike efficiently.
Choose The Right Trail
Find and choose the hiking trail which meets your needs and fitness levels. There are several online and offline sources that help you in finding various trails in accordance with the trail distance, difficulty, location, directions, and many other things. The type of trail is one of the main determinants in making or breaking your hiking adventure.
As for a beginner, you should start with a small duration trail with low elevation. Once you’ve gone hiking twice or more, you can decide to hike for a long distance with varied surfaces and more elevation.
Pack Safety Essentials
Being outside, away from the comfort of your locality, is no treat. Safety gear is probably the most important hiking essential for both beginners and experts. You should start preparing for your hiking trip by packing proper safety supplies, such as a first aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, ointments, and more.
Memorize Your Map
If you want to enjoy your hike, then you must be familiar with the trail, understand the map of the trail and be able to navigate the surroundings with the help of electronic navigation.
After choosing your trail, get the map of its area and print out its copies. Study the map to find intersecting trails, water sources, lunch spots, danger zones, landmarks, and more. It is best to memorize the map, by doing this you won’t get lost in the middle of your hike, and even if you do, you’ll know where to go.
Go With Experienced Hikers
Carrying a safety kit does not completely guarantee a safe hike. Going on a hike alone could be dangerous especially if you are a beginner. It is best if you go with people who are experienced hikers. Doing so not only motivates you, but it also ensures someone could perform first aid on you, keep you safe from danger zones and guide you through the trail.
Also, you should let someone who isn’t on your hike know your whereabouts and how long you will be on a hike. You could carry a location tracker with you, which lets you call for help through satellite. This also ensures your safety just in case something bad happens.
Going with a hiking partner or partners and informing your family/friends before the trip are essential safety tips for beginners.
Check Weather Forecast
Imagine planning a hiking trip and canceling due to bad weather. Not only does it ruin the fun, but it also delays planning the next trip. Bad weather on a hike could be the biggest risk and danger.
That is why it is extremely important to always check the weather forecast of the week your hike is planned. You can listen out on the TV or radio for weather updates or, if you didn’t want to wait, you could use download an app for your smartphone (click here to discover some of the best out there) so that you can check the weather with a few quick taps. Trail availability also depends on the weather, as some trails are not accessible during snow and rains. Plan your hike accordingly and be prepared, so you won’t be stuck in a difficult situation due to unexpected weather changes.
Take Enough Food And Water Supplies
Beginner hikers due to lack of experience either over-pack or under-pack food and water. Hiking involves a lot of walking, so you must take your calories seriously and always keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration becomes a problem when on a hike, thus you must drink at least half a liter of water every hour of the hike.
The amount of food and water consumption depends on several factors, such as the hike difficulty, weather, age, weight, and body type. If you don’t know your calories per day, it is best to pack extra food and water.
Recommended Read: The Top 10 Tips for Mountain Hiking
Know Your Hiking Etiquette
Lastly, whether you are an experienced hiker or a beginner, you must know the basic hiking etiquette. Don’t contaminate the water sources, litter the trail or harm the environment in any way. Carry a trash bag to throw all your waste in, then dispose of the bag properly in a waste bin. If you light a campfire, then be aware of the surroundings and don’t burn off the greenery.
Being considerate of other visitors and wildlife also essential, keeping the trail area litter-free for other hikers.
Hiking is a fun and exciting adventure, follow the above essential tips to make your hiking experience safe and smart. Be aware of the environment and wildlife to ensure a hiking trip that won’t harm others for your fun. And in no time, you will be planning your next hike.
Find a Group or Club to Hike With
The fastest way to become a good hiker is to hike with other people because it’s fun and motivating. If you live on the Atlantic seaboard, there are many regional chapters of the Appalachian Mountain Club that lead to frequent hikes you can join. The same goes for the Washington Trails Association and the Sierra Club on the West Coast and throughout the country. Meetup.com is also a tremendous place to find local hiking groups, meet people, make hiking friends, and plan your own hiking adventures.
Hike once a Week at a Local Park
Day hiking takes practice and conditioning if you want to build up to more strenuous and challenging hikes. Try hiking at least once a week at a local park, either by yourself or as part of a group. Elizabeth from The Home Makers Journal says, “You’ll develop your footwork skills, get practice planning hikes, test out new gear, and build up your physical endurance. It doesn’t matter where you hike, as long as you hike. Make it easy on yourself and find a nice park with a few trails that aren’t a big distance from your home.” If you keep the barrier to going low, you’re more likely to go.
Learn to Hydrate Properly
Beginner hikers often don’t carry enough water on hikes. Plan on carrying about 1 liter every two hours, although this can vary based on time of year, weather conditions, your pace, body weight, and the difficulty of a hike. Learning how much water you need in these conditions is an important skill, so pay attention to what your body needs. This can be done quickly and easily with a great hiking backpack.
Find Comfortable Hiking Footwear
Finding comfortable footwear that doesn’t cause blisters may take you a while. Focus on finding hiking boots for kids or shoes that work for you instead of putting up with ones that hurt or fit poorly. Be patient and keep trying ones until you dial in footwear that works. Everyone’s feet are different. Boots, midst, or trail runners: it doesn’t matter which you choose. They all have advantages and disadvantages. Also having hiking belts really helps.
Learn How to Read a Topographic Map
Learn terrain-to-map association, so you can identify the landforms you see outdoors in order to find your position on a map. This is an even more basic hiking tip for beginners skill than using a compass, and one that you’ll use much more frequently.
Volunteer to do Trail Work
When you become a hiker, you join a community of people who love the outdoors and hiking. Volunteering to do trail work will help you understand how precious our hiking trails are, how important their preservation is for future generations.