Hiking is one of the best low-impact workouts that offer numerous physical and mental benefits. Besides checking out the incredible scenery on your own or with loved ones, you can also prevent anxiety and osteoporosis by staying fit.
However, hiking is different from walking on a treadmill because it can be unpredictable and risky. Even though this makes the activity so much fun, here are some hiking tips for beginners to keep you safe to have a successful trek.
1. Hiking Tips for Beginners When Choosing a Trail
When choosing hiking trips, make sure to pick a shorter trail than the distance you can manage on a regular road or level paved surface. This is essential because your body may not be equipped enough to keep walking on an elevation you are unfamiliar with. Hiking trails are never straight and level paths.
You will come across different levels of elevation that could test your fitness limits. To be safe, always start with a beginner’s trail and ask a friend to accompany you. This way, you may not feel too overwhelmed if you are lost.
When you get physically used to climbing steeper paths eventually, you can then challenge yourself to go on harder trails without suffering from exhaustion.
Aim to reach an excellent lunch spot like a lake or a peak with incredible views to motivate yourself. Then you can take some amazing photos to post on social media and convince others to join you next time.
2. Keep Checking the Weather
Even if weather reports before your hiking trips confirm that your day will be sunny and pleasant, you should always keep checking even hours before you get to the location. This is because the weather is always unpredictable, and you should never leave anything to chance.
Keeping an eye on the weather consistently beforehand will also help you plan what to wear hiking, so you are never left in an uncomfortable situation like wearing the wrong boots to trek on mud.
3. Tell People Where You Will Be
Remember how scary it was watching the movie “127 Hours” with James Franco where he had to cut off his own arm when things went wrong? This was based on a true story when Aron Ralston went on a solo hike deep in the Canyonlands National Park in Utah.
Ralston suffered a traumatic hiking accident and had to take drastic steps to survive. Therefore, it is necessary to let people know where you are, so they know where to find you if you are in trouble.
Tell a friend or family member when you will be back home, and they can call for help if you are late. Give them an estimated time to allow for a slow hike if you fall in love with the views and decide to take more photos or have a sore ankle causing delays. Make sure your phone is charged fully so you can call or text emergency services if anything goes wrong.
4. What to Wear Hiking
To avoid your hiking trips being ruined by painful feet, you should always invest in high-quality socks and boots. If you have brand new shoes, make sure you spend some time breaking them in before going on a trail.
Wool and synthetic socks will keep you warm instead of cotton, and you should always bring extras if you step in a puddle when it rains.
You should avoid wearing cotton because it can get damp. Wear synthetic layers that will wick moisture to keep you warm. The best hiking jackets are windbreakers because then you can stay extra warm and cozy during your hike without feeling clammy.
Stay away from jeans because they cause chafing and retain moisture in cold weather. Even during a summer hike, they can make you sweat like crazy.
Buy yourself a comfortable pair of rain pants with some leggings or thermals underneath. If you want to wear t-shirts, make sure that they support your backpack’s weight, especially where the straps rub against your skin.
5. What to Bring Hiking
When it comes to hiking equipment, always keep it light and carry only the essentials. The most essential things you need are navigation maps or systems, sunscreen, extra clothes for insulation, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, and lighters or waterproof matches with plenty of food and water.
You do not need to overstuff your backpack and can find light versions of these items. For example, instead of a large container of sunscreen, you can opt for travel-size tubes. The best snacks to pack are jerky, nuts, and energy bars that you can eat very easily on the trail.
You can also pack a sandwich for a picnic lunch when you stop at a beautiful lookout point. Carry at least two or three liters of water for the day, depending on the intensity and length of your hike. Lastly, bring some insect repellent, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer so you can stay clean as much as possible.
6. Take Your Time
You should never rush a hike, even if powering through makes you feel heroic. Always pace yourself so you can feel energized by the end of the day without sore muscles and cramps.
If you are completely new to hiking, you should avoid the temptation to use all your energy going up steep terrains. Otherwise, you risk burning out too soon and will not have the motivation to complete the hike. Pay attention to how you feel every half hour and take plenty of stops to rest your muscles while grabbing a quick bite or some water.
Have the Best Adventure
Everyone feels a little nervous while organizing their first hike. However, these hiking tips for beginners are a great start so you can have a safe and fun trek. Trust your instincts, and you will get addicted to amazing outdoor adventures in no time. Check out some of our other posts for more exciting experiences and travel tips.