Hiking for Beginners: Things to Know & Helpful Tips

By Published On: April 9th, 20210 Comments

Looking for a great way to enjoy the great outdoors? You can never go wrong with taking a hike! If you’re someone who loves taking walks, traveling, and exploring, hiking is an activity that should be right up your alley! Maybe you’ve taken short hikes in the past, but now you’re considering going out for your first, “real” hike.

Before you head out, you’ll want to make sure you’re equipped with all of the gear and knowledge you need to have a safe and successful trip! Keep reading to learn some tips on hiking for beginners!

First, let’s start with the gear you need as you’re getting started.

Hiking shoes

Appropriate footwear is a necessity on any outing, especially for beginners, so don’t just

wear any old shoes you have lying around your closet. Be sure you have a pair of shoes

that are durable and supportive. Also, a note to beginners: break in your shoes a little before you head out. The last thing you want to be dealing with halfway through your hike is blisters!

Proper clothing

Beginners often aren’t sure what clothing they should wear, so check the weather forecast before you start your hike. Is there any rain headed your way? You’ll want to consider bringing a rain jacket with you or something that’s warm and waterproof. Remember that layers are always a good idea! You may want to start by wearing a sweatshirt or hoodie with a base layer underneath, ideally something that is moisture wicking and breathable, depending on the temperatures you’ll be hiking in.

Backpack

If you’re planning on taking a serious hike (i.e. being outside for hours on end) you’ll want to take a backpack along with you, specifically a hiking backpack. These are lightweight, durable, comfortable, and designed for carrying while you’re hiking over a variety of terrain and in any type of weather.

Sunscreen

Did you know that you can still get sunburned on cloudy days? That’s why, no matter the weather, it’s important to lather on the sunscreen before you head out! You may want to also want to toss your sunscreen bottle in your backpack, too, so that you can reapply it as needed.

Bug repellent

Don’t get eaten up by mosquitoes on your hike! Be sure to bring some bug spray with

You. Also, check out this post to learn more about how to protect yourself from ticks on your next hike.

Sunglasses

If you’re going to be hiking on a sunny day, be sure to bring a pair of shades with you so that you can see properly where you’re hiking! A lot of sunglasses can also protect your eyes from harmful UV Rays.

Hat or cap

No matter the weather, a hat or cap is always a good idea to wear while hiking. Whether it’s a beanie to keep your head and ears warm in cooler temperatures or it helps keep the sun out of your face and eyes, it’s a great item to have on hand!

Water bottle

Staying hydrated is important all the time, but especially while you’re doing any form of exercise. Be sure you bring your water bottle with you and fill it to the brim before you hit the trail! You can never have enough when you’re out, so pack extra if you can.

Map and compass

Be sure you stay on track! You’ll want to keep a map of the trail handy so that you can gauge where you are and avoid getting lost. A compass is also a good tool to keep with

you, plus they’re small and easy to throw in your bag!

Emergency items

Hopefully, you won’t need to use them, but it’s always a good idea to take a few emergency items along with you on your hike. A small first aid kit stocked with bandages and antibiotic ointment doesn’t take up too much space in your backpack and is worth packing. It’s also smart to bring items such as a flashlight, extra layer, and rain poncho in case you get stuck in the dark or in any unexpected weather. If you are hiking in an area where there can be bears or predators, consider bringing bear spray with you.

Snacks

Last but certainly not least, food is always a necessity! You’ll want to be sure to have something to munch on that keeps you are feeling energized, and who doesn’t love a lunch with a view. Check out this post for some trail snack ideas.

Planning Your Route

When it comes to hiking for beginners, many people assume that once they have the proper equipment, they are ready to hit the trails. However, it’s important that you first plan a specific route, one that is more regularly trafficked is a good idea. This will keep you safe, prevent you from getting lost, and will help you to avoid getting overly tired and frustrated when you’re not sure where you’re headed.

So where should you hike and how should you go about planning your route? For beginners, it’s a good idea to start at a park, whether it be a state park or a national park. These are great options because you can consult with park rangers who will give you insight and tips as to the best hiking trails for beginners as well as other things to look out for and be aware of, such as wild animals or poisonous plants. Rangers can also help you identify emergency exit points as well as places to find water.

How far should I hike?

One important hiking tip for beginners is to not overestimate your limits. It’s always better to do a shorter hike rather than attempting a longer one only to get worn out before you’re even halfway through. And remember, three miles walking versus hiking will feel very different. Two things that beginners need to take into consideration when planning how far you should hike are terrain and elevation.

A safe number is 2-3 miles to start, especially if the trail you’ll be hiking has a lot of ups and downs and varies in terrain. If you’re planning on hiking a trail that’s rather flat and smooth, or even partially paved, you could probably start with 4+ miles or so. Again, remember that it’s safer to start small than to attempt a hike that might end up being too difficult. This is an important hiking tip for beginners. Don’t try to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Also, consider a hike out-hike back route, rather than a full circle, and remember you can turn back at any time!

Stay Safe!

One important thing to do before starting your hike is letting one or two people know where you’ll be and how long you’re planning to be out. This is something beginners may often forget to do. After you’ve planned your route, share a map with them so that they can have a good idea of where exactly you’ll be, and even share your location on your phone so they can find you in an emergency.

Also, it’s safest to go hiking with a friend or two – don’t attempt your first hike alone! Beginners in particular should go hiking with at least one other person. Not only will you have someone with you in case of emergency but hiking with a friend or two can be a great bonding experience and create lasting memories!

Now that you’ve read our tips on hiking for beginners, hopefully you’ll be ready to hit the trails and head out on your first hiking adventure! Remember to gear up, do your research, and stay safe!

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