Hiking is most certainly one of the most popular hobbies among people of all ages all over the world. Many studies have also confirmed that it offers multiple physical and mental benefits, from reducing anxiety to preventing osteoporosis. So, we can rightfully conclude that hiking is an outdoor activity that delivers benefits beyond scenic and fun. Unlike walking on a treadmill or paved path, which both have their advantages, hiking includes more variables, which are sometimes unpredictable, but that is something that makes this activity so enjoyable. If you’re new to hiking and would like to explore this option, take a look at the following list of tips for beginner hikers before setting out on your first adventure.
Pick a hike for beginners
There are people who get carried away easily and pick a demanding hike for their introduction to this activity. The result is, of course, negative. In most cases, they never go hiking again. That’s why it’s important to avoid overdoing it and pick a hike that is not too long and that doesn’t include too much climbing. For example, a hike under 5 miles with minimal climbing is suitable for most beginners. For longer hikes, you need to prepare well and make a training plan in advance. Doing an extra mile or two each week will help you build up to your target distance. Also, you should be careful about the terrain. A flat 5 miles is much easier to hike than 5 miles straight uphill. Most popular hikes for beginners have a trail guide with a map and you should definitely study it to get an idea of what to expect. Ideally, you should go in company of at least one seasoned hiker, who knows the trail well.
Check the weather
This is very important for all hikers, but especially for those with little or no experience. You need to check the weather both leading up to your hike and again a few hours before to get valuable information on how to dress, what to pack and whether it’s safe to go in the first place. If the forecast says the weather is going to be awful, change your plans and avoid having a miserable time on your hike.
Get the right gear
When it comes to gear, the first thing on the list is the backpack. It should be big enough to hold all the things you’ll be carrying, but also water-resistant, if possible. Don’t forget to pack enough water (always pack more than you think you’ll actually need), snacks, an extra shirt if you’re going on a longer hike, as well as a top-quality switch blade knife.
Get the right clothes
Most of us probably have enough gear to get by on our first hike and it’s not really wise to invest a lot of money until you are certain that you like hiking. When it comes to clothes, don’t wear jeans and regular clothes, which get heavy if they get sweaty or wet. Instead, wear wicking workout clothes, which are designed for being active. Long pants or tights are good for making sure your legs don’t get scraped up on bushes along the trail. Likewise, long sleeve shirts will protect you from the elements, but you can roll up the sleeves when it’s hot. Shoes are equally important. A good pair of sneakers or trail runners is usually your best bet. If you have an old pair of hiking boots in your closet, it might be better to leave them behind if you haven’t worn them in a while, they could cause blisters.
Let someone know where you’ll be
You should inform a friend or family member about your plan to go hiking and let them know your itinerary and what time to worry and call for help if they don’t hear from you. There are also emergency devices you can get, which allow you to summon emergency assistance by satellite.
You may think you’re able to power forward like a hero, but chances are you’ll be a zero by the end of the day unless you pace yourself. Ideally, you should pick a pace you can maintain all day and try to save as much energy as possible. Those uphill sections will be much easier to deal with if you’re not tired.
Leave no trace behind
Please, use all the trails responsibly and never litter. Carry whatever you have with you and wait until you come across the first trash can to get rid of it. Never leave empty water bottles along the trail and if you’re taking your dog with you, make sure you have enough poop bags (which you also shouldn’t leave behind). If everyone does their part when it comes to keeping trails clean, more people will be encouraged to take up hiking and our planet will be thankful.
Hiking can be a truly amazing activity, but you have to know what you’re getting into before you enthusiastically take it up. That’s why you should follow these tips and all the other tips you get from experienced hikers. Only then will you be able to make the most of your time spent outdoors. Happy hiking!