Starting with that first step, a person must understand hiking and camping is just like everything else; you must learn the correct way of doing something to be successful. Aspiring backpackers should keep things simple, to begin with and then challenge themselves as experience and equipment grows.
Hiking and backpacking for beginners have multiple benefits as a low-impact workout. Hiking is more than walking on a treadmill or pavement; the workout can be unpredictable, highly stimulating, and addictive.
Hikers escape the crowds and disconnect from technology, at least for a little while.
Fundamental guidelines should be followed and learned over time to make the most of your routine. Forget the embarrassment of getting lost your first time out; the following will give you a solid understanding of what to wear, where to go, and how to stay safe.
Most people want to find a way to either lose weight or get in shape without the drudgery of walking in place or lifting iron. You can quickly become hooked on hiking and backpacking with the proper motivation. Choosing suitable trails and preparation turns into a valuable experience. Hiking does not need to be an epic lifetime journey; only a simple way to get fit and have fun.
Hiking and camping are two entirely different trips; camping takes more than a day, and hiking should be considered a vigorous day of walking.
- Day hiking is what most people think about when the word hiking comes up. This exercise can be done in a day or less; a 12-hour hike is a good workout for anybody.
- Backpacking is a multi-night excursion where hikers take tents, sleeping bags, food, and all the gear needed to spend the night.
- Thru-hiking is considered backpacking that starts and ends in different locations. These are longer trips on locations such as the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail.
Before heading out on that first big excursion, here are a few fundamentals to consider.
- If you have the experience and the right equipment, hiking solo can be a wonderful, enlightening experience. However, it is dangerous to hike solo without experience. Buddy up with a friend or family member the first few times out, and the bonding will likely become permanent. Never go out alone without letting someone know where you are headed. Never!
- Essential equipment is a full-featured GPS device, comfortable backpack, and hiking boots. Smartphones can be used in a pinch as long as there are cell towers. Choose a device with at least a good SOS signal, compass, and weather device.
Garmin is one of the best all-around manufacturers of GPS devices on the market. The Montana 700i has everything a hiker or camper would need to hike successfully or camp anywhere in the United States. Features include GPS navigation, global connectivity, SOS with alerts, and a weather screen.
Bulldog Sling Pack is a small, good-looking pack with plenty of room for everything a day hiker may need. Padded shoulder slings and a wrap-around belt make the Bulldog a comfortable and secure pack for hiking all day. The Bulldog features plenty of padding, compartments, and is made of durable nylon.
- Determine your level of hiking experience. Out-of-shape newbies should not head on a 12-hour trek through the unknown wilderness. Pick trails nearby, allowing you to return to your car or civilization quickly. Another thoughtful piece of survival gear for your day hike is a capable first-aid kit; make sure you have all the little items to take care of things like blisters.
Adventure Medical Kits, Ultralight 7 is a convenient, full-featured solution for the day hiking enthusiast. A lightweight, waterproof, zippered bag is perfect for keeping necessary medical items. Everything from butterfly bandages to a wide array of medications is included.
Adventure Medical Blister Medic Kit. Do not let blisters on your feet and hands ruin a good hiking day. The Blister Medic Kit has everything necessary to care for and eliminate blisters. Plenty of pre-cut pads, gel, and alcohol wipes for cleaning the wound.
The Right Trail
When you first start, pick a trail suitable to your experience and the shape you are in. The elevation is a significant consideration when starting your hiking adventures. Make sure you know the elevation gain of the trail. A trail may start at 100 feet elevation and end at 100 feet elevation; however, there may be rolling hills and steep climbs along the way.
Beginner trails should be about five miles with minimal elevation gain. Consider trails with 250 feet of elevation per mile or an average grade of ten percent.
Elevation gain refers to the cumulative elevation throughout the trail. The “golden ratio” for elevation gain is 100 feet per mile or 1000 feet for every 10 miles. If you plan on becoming a better hiker, your route should be close to this ratio at the beginning and grow larger with more experience.
Instead of heading to the first tree line, download AllTrails.com. This app is by far the best for finding the right hiking trail. Put in a zip code or other info, and up pops hiking trails of variable lengths. AllTrails will give you an excellent description of the hike, elevation gain, scenery, and much more. There will also be plenty of reviews for each trail, which can be invaluable when planning your trip.
With a bit of searching, there are plenty of resources for a beginner, how to train, tips, and much more. Common sense hiking should take over. Make sure you have good hiking boots and the proper clothing. Do not head out in street clothes and expect to enjoy the hike. Always check the weather at least two hours in advance. And above all else, enjoy spending time outdoors.