So, you’ve decided to start hiking. Excellent – it’s an amazing low-impact workout, and a ton of fun besides. Here are some best hiking tips to get you started in this incredibly rewarding – both physically and mentally – activity.
So, you’ve decided to get started hiking. As a matter of fact, planning your hike will be a wisest action you can do before proceeding a trip. To do that, you’re going to need someplace to hike. Choosing a route can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to new hikers – it can seem a little overwhelming at first. For new hikers especially, it’s a good idea to break this up into more manageable chunks – like we’re doing here.
But first things first; you’re going to need somewhere to hike. A quick google search can direct you to nearby parks (both national and state), as well as public forests, and other areas suitable for hiking. You can also head into google maps, and zoom out until you see big chunks of green – this can be a great way to discover new trails!
Mostly, just the will to do it! Having said that, you’re going to want some specific supplies. Good, solid hiking boots are a must – and it’s important to make sure they fit! This isn’t a place to skimp or cut corners; you’re going to be putting a lot of miles on your hiking boots, so making sure that they fit well, are comfortable, and are built to last is worth paying a little more than you might have intended.
Once your boots are taken care of, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got a water bottle – it’s difficult to overstate the importance of hydration! Having said that, hydration isn’t a “some of the time” thing – if you’re planning a hike, you’ll want to make sure you’re properly hydrated several days in advance.
No doubt, it’s also a good idea to have a hiking backpack with lots of pockets – a mid-hike energy crash can be avoided with the right snacks on-hand.
But mostly, you need determination and enthusiasm.
For starters, it’s important to know what you (and if you’re hiking with others, your group) are truly capable of. You don’t want to get halfway through a hike that nobody’s going to be able to complete. Be honest with yourself – hiking is a fun activity, but it can still be taxing.
Make sure that you’re hydrated, and you eat beforehand. It’s also not a bad idea to wear your clothes in layers – long hikes can pass through a variety of temperatures, so you’ll want to be able to modulate your body heat throughout the trip.
Past that, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your trail – hello again, google maps – and check the weather beforehand. Nothing dampens a good hike like a sudden thunderstorm.
Like with most physical activities, most people find it significantly easier to get into – and stay into – hiking when they’ve got a good partner, or preferably, a good group. It’s important to match your capabilities together – if one of you is looking for a leisurely, 2-mile afternoon hike, and the other is expecting 8-mile overnight backpacking, you’re both going to wind up disappointed.
Figure out what you want to do, what you’re capable of, and find something you’ll both enjoy, and your hikes will become exponentially better.
Enlist; kind of a silly way to think about equipment, right? It’s not a bad way to think about it though – you’re heading into a lengthy activity; you want good soldiers who’ll have your back through thick and thin. Of course, a best hiking backpack on your back will solve your many problems in gear organization. So, always choose a suitable hiking backpack for your planned hiking trip.
Weight is a concern – anything you bring with you is going to be extra bulk you’re lugging around. With that said, it’s not a bad idea to bring a physical map and compass – even if your smartphone can duplicate these features, a map isn’t going to run out of batteries. For that reason, some hikers also bring along independent GPS and altimeters, though those are optional.
Sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses can protect you from the elements. You’ll also want a first-aid kit, and something to hydrate yourself.
With these five tips, you’ll be well on your way to the world of hiking. Even so, there’s a lot more to it, so here’s five more things to keep in mind:
Hiking takes practice. Hiking once a week at a local park is a great way to build up for more challenging hikes.
Have we mentioned this enough yet? Nothing burns people out quicker, so you’ll want to come in well-hydrated, and plan on consuming about 1 liter of water for every two hours of hiking.
Even if you’re hiking with a group, it pays to leave your plan with a friend or relative – someone you can trust. If something unexpected happens, it could save your life.
Trail mix is, ironically, not always the best choice. Oily, fatty foods like nuts are hard to digest when your body’s directing oxygen elsewhere – sport bars like Clif Bar, Zone Bars, etc., will do the trick. Also, it’s hard to beat a good old peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
No doubt, never take new boots on a long hike. In fact, always give them time to break in before you really go for a big trip, your feet will thank you throughout your hiking trip.
Hiking is an amazing activity. With these tips, you should be well on your way!