Hiking has many benefits that people can enjoy, and the best part is there is something for your experience and fitness level. Figuring out were to start can be hard as people often associate hiking with going up a mountain, but that is simply not true. There are a variety of trail types out there for all levels with some being for beginners that are flat and easy trails to follow. Starting out can be scary as you are not sure what to do, so here are 10 tips for beginners looking to start hiking.
- Choose the right trail – As mentioned it depends on where you want to start, but we recommend finding something short and level. Keep it simple and find an easy trail to test out and make sure you are ready for more intense trails and this allows you to assess if you have the equipment you need.
- Check the weather – Make sure you plan around the weather and adjust as needed. There is no harm in rescheduling if the weather is bad. You do not want to put yourself in a bad spot and not enjoy yourself. While rain might not matter to some, going on a nice day can be more comfortable leading you to enjoy it more.
- Tell someone where you are going – Its important to tell someone where you are going and when you should be returning. This should be someone responsible that can contact help should something happen, and they should not be going on the hike. While cell phones are great, you never know what could happen and your phone or other devices may not work.
The other point to note is you should give the person a buffer time to contact help. What do we mean by buffer? While you might expect the trail to take 2 hours walking time, you could end up stopping taking in views or having lunch. For example, you can ask the person to contact help if they do not hear from you by sundown or give them a few hours after you expect to be done. You do not want to rush your hike, you want to enjoy it, so you want to factor in the possible extra time.
- Supplies you need to bring – Some of the items listed here depend on the length of the hike, how remote it is, and the possibility of spending a night. An example would be shelter, if you are going somewhere remote you might want to bring a tent. You will also want to consider the time of year and how that might affect the weather.
- Sun protection (Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat)
- Navigation (A physical map, compass)
- Lighting (Flashlight)
- First Aid (bandages, blankets)
- Extra clothing – This can help is you get wet or damaged clothing or need an extra layer
- Fire starter – This can be a box of matches or a lighter
- Extra food – should you have to spend extra time you will want to bring portable nutrition
- Extra water – water is very important as you want to stay hydrated.
These are a few suggestions, but you will want to tailor this to you the trail you are visiting and plan accordingly.
- Bring quality shoes – You do not want to be uncomfortable as you walk, so having a quality pair of shoes can help both during and after the hike and help with your feet not being sore for days after. We also recommend good pair of socks that are wool or synthetic.
- Keep it light – Do not pack extra stuff other than what you need. You are going to be potentially walking for a while and carrying a heavy load can cause unwanted strain. Find lighter versions of that items you need to bring a smaller bottle of sunscreen.
- Take your time and go at a pace you are comfortable with – Do not over do it to show off or keep up with someone else, go at a speed you are comfortable with. While you might be fine pushing it to start that can catch up to you as trails can be long and you want to be able to keep pace and conquer any hills you may face.
- Dress correctly – Similar to having the right shoes, make you dress correctly for the time of the year and weather. Wear layers as needed and keep your clothing light. Bring extra clothing that is warmer than what you might expect in case you end up stuck in colder temperatures.
- Only bring in what you plan to bring out – do not leave garbage on the trail, just as you enjoyed the trail others would like to enjoy it as well and leaving behind anything could lead to a trail being ruined. Take care of nature.
- Have fun – You are out there to have fun and get some exercise. Hiking is a great way to exercise because often you will not even realize that is what is happening. We suggest putting your electronics away and take it in. Listen to the sounds of nature and beauty of it all. That does not mean do not take any pictures or video but focus on the experience.
There are many benefits to hiking but getting out there and starting can be the hardest part if you are not sure what you are doing. While we might associate hiking with going up a mountain or on an extreme trail, do what is right for your level and built yourself up to bigger hikes. In the end its about enjoying nature.
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