Hiking is a great outdoor activity, whether you are out camping or just driving to a hiking trail in your nearby area, you will find that it is a great way to get back to nature. In addition, it can be a great workout, without really feeling like it is a workout.
For those who are just beginning with hiking, they are going to find that there are several tips out there that are meant to help you get the most out of this experience, while also keeping you safe.
1. Choose the Right Hiking Path for Your Fitness Level
Too many times, people think that just because they workout and run on a treadmill, they can handle the most advance hiking path in their area. That is not true. Hiking is often on uneven terrain that involves flat land and hills, it is much different than running on a treadmill or elliptical. The best advice is to choose a hiking path that is shorter than the distance that you normally run or walk on a regular basis.
2. Look at a Map and Choose the Path That You Are Going to Be Taking Ahead of Time
Don’t go into any hike without some planning. Be sure to look at the map of the area and of the path that you are going. Even if you only study the path that is highlighted at the start of the path, this is better than nothing.
3. Keep an Eye on the Weather
A few hours before you are set to go hiking, be sure that you are checking the weather. You don’t want to find yourself out in elements that you cannot handle. In addition, this can give you a better idea of what you may need to wear or pack with you.
4. Let Someone Know Where You Will Be
Too many times throughout the year, beginner hikers and campers get lost while out in the wilderness. If someone knows where you are hiking, along with the start times you have, they can have a better way of letting authority knows if you are not home when you were expected. There are some GPS trackers on your app that you could use and share your location with your loved ones.
5. Do Pack a Bag, Even for a Single Day Hike
When people think about taking those short hikes that are near their home, they often do not think about taking a bag. However, this is an oversight on their part. No matter how long or short your hike, be sure to pack a bag with a few essentials.
These essentials should include the following:
- First aid supplies
- A few protein bars or snacks to help keep up your energy
- Sun protection
- Extra socks or even shoe inserts in the event that you start to get into pain while hiking
- Consider an emergency blanket in the event that you get caught in the elements
Many people pack other items that they consider essentials. You will have to determine what you feel to be an essential that you carry with you.
6. Be Sure That You Have the Right Socks and Footwear
There is nothing worse than being out on a hike and realizing that those ankle socks you love are now the enemy! When you have foot pain, you are going to find that this will ruin a hike. Consider using hiking boots that are labeled as ‘light hikers’ that require little time to break these in and they are not as heavy, which can minimize the pain that beginner hikers have. Sock wise, be sure to stick with wool or synthetic socks. Cotton socks can result in sweat, and this can cause more issues while hiking.
7. Dress Right
The key to dressing right on a hike is to dress in layers that you can easily remove and add as the weather changes. The best advice for any beginner hiker: avoid wearing cotton. Cotton may be comfortable in other situations, but while hiking it can mean being uncomfortable.
8. Pack Some Bug Spray
Bugs while hiking can be annoying. So, be sure that you spray yourself before hiking, and even during if you find that the bugs just won’t stop trying to get a taste of you.
9. Know How to Handle Wildlife
Depending on where you are hiking, you may come across wildlife on your hike.
This is normal. Remember, you are in their world now, and you need to know how to handle these. Remember this advice:
- When it comes to snakes, give them a wide berth and they are likely to go their way.
- Never feed any of the animals that you see, this can cause issues for everyone.
- Deer and other large animals like this are often more afraid of you than you are of them, give them their space and they will go their own way.
- Make noise while hiking, this way you never startle an animal while you are on the trail.
- If you come across a bear, remember how to handle this. Do your research to know what bears may be in the area and how to handle an encounter.
10. Plan for Frequent Breaks
No one should feel as though they should be hiking their trail with no breaks. Everyone needs a break. And beginner hikers are often going to need even more breaks than those who are seasoned. Stop and take breaks frequently as this can avoid injury and help you to enjoy the experience even more. Most people recommend a ten-minute break every hour while hiking.
11. Go an Average Speed while Hiking
Too many people start their hike out strong and fast. Then towards the end, they feel as though they are not going to make it. This is one of the things that can be seen with most newbie hikers. Instead, the idea is that steady will win the race. Start off at a speed that is comfortable, not too fast or too slow.
12. Have an Emergency Plan in Place
Do you know what you will do if there is an emergency? Before you start your hike, have an emergency plan in place. For example, what would you do if there is a storm that pops up? The more you plan for an emergency, the better prepared you will be to handle it.
13. Leave no Trace Behind
One of the cardinal tips for any hiker is that you want to leave no trace! Leave no trace that you have been there. We want to keep nature as it is, therefore avoid putting garbage and water bottles on the ground. Keep these packed with you to dispose of properly when you get back to your home.
14. Use the Buddy System
There are tons of people who hike these long trails on their own, but in most cases, they have been hiking for years. For those who are beginners, hike with a buddy or a group of people. It can make it more fun, but it also means that in the event that something happens, there is someone else there to help.
15. Uphill Hikers Have the Right of Way
This is one tip that many beginner hikers don’t know, but it is true. If you are hiking and going downhill, the uphill hikers have the right of way if the path is not wide enough for everyone to pass. This is not a law by any means, it is simply an unwritten rule among hikers and campers.
16. Pack Enough Water
Too many beginner hikers pack a thermos and that is it. This is not going to be enough unless you are doing a hike in your backyard. The weather will certainly factor into how much water you need. However, having more than not enough is always the best-case scenario. Tip: be sure that you start hydrating days before your hike, this way you feel at your best.
17. Don’t Forget a Phone
While you may not have service the entire length of your hike, chances are you may at some point. Be sure that you bring your phone, fully charged so that if there is an emergency you may be able to get a text or phone call out.
Many people prefer to get a cheap mobile to bring with them, that has GPS on it. Why? Smartphones often go through their batteries faster and they are more delicate, so they don’t stand up well to hiking in a pack all day.
Hiking is one of those activities that people love, even if they are unsure of this at first. Hiking can offer several benefits to not only your physical body, but your mental health as well. For those who are beginning their adventures in hiking, remember that as you do this, you will get better and can take longer and longer hiking trips! Hiking can be a great group activity that is not only helping your fitness levels but helps you to connect to nature!