If you’re new to hiking, read on to learn what you need to know before you hike. In this guide, we’ll give you proper tips to make your first hikes successful and enjoyable.
Do you enjoy outdoor activities out in the wild? If so, then hiking is an excellent activity that you should consider, and the exciting thing about this exercise is that you do not need having any prior knowledge of the activity to enjoy it. With the right hiking for beginners guide, you are set to begin enjoying your newly found hobby.
Benefits Of Hiking For Beginners
The benefits of engaging in this exercise are almost innumerable. While many people hike to enjoy the picturesque landscapes, there are loads of many other rewards to reap from this activity. You might be asking yourself whether this exercise is helpful to your mental and physical health. The truth is that the merits of hiking to your wholesome health are evident in those who have undertaken the activity as part of their lives. It is imperative to narrow down to the physical and mental benefits that you will reap from hiking.
You can benefit from the following advantages irrespective of the length of your hiking experiences: Hiking offers a cardio exercise kind of experience Cardio work out is an activity that is aimed at improving the body’s muscles and joints. What hiking does is that it simulates the experience that you’d get if you visited a cardio exercise gym. The benefits associated with this exercising include:
- It minimizes the probability of developing heart disease
- It improves the strength of the bones
- It helps to buildup muscles
- It assists in maintaining the blood pressure at the appropriate levels
- It helps cut weight
The exercise can also help you minimize the chances of contracting conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis. If you happen to have these diseases already, hiking will prove to be a helpful means of diminishing their effects and therefore assisting your recovery.
Regular hiking is beneficial in minimizing calcium loss from the bones. When this process is slowed down, your body develops strong bones that are unlikely to break. Additionally, the impact of hiking to aiding your muscle strength cannot be overemphasized.
The best outdoor activity should be one that also aids your mental wellbeing. Hiking is very useful on this front. From assisting you to gain relief from stress to enhancement of the memory, the psychological benefits of the activity are vast. Some of the notable changes on an individual who regularly hikes include the following:
Hiking trains the mind to become more creative. The activity also assists the individual to hone problem-solving skills that are necessary for life. You become more able to tackle things that need some added thinking. With hiking, such tasks are a breeze, and you can handle them with limited strain.
Enhanced Stress And Anxiety Management
The physical activity involves covering long distances and in the process helps to remove stressing thoughts from the mind. You become less anxious, and you can reflect on things that stress you with a more relaxed approach.
Improved The Mood And Memory
Hiking is an engaging activity that involves taking a stroll as you visualize the beauties of nature. There exist little things that can aid the improvement of moods as such a stroll. Your cognitive thinking also appreciates immensely if you hike for at least an hour in a day. More importantly, you can retain so much information after hiking as your mind becomes refreshed.
Superior Problem-Solving Skills
From research, it is known that an individual who engages in an activity such as hiking has excellent critical thinking skills than one who sits most of the time. The secret here is in the creative ability that the individual develops as they walk.
The physical and mental benefits of hiking are just part of the almost inexhaustible benefits that you will achieve from the task. Your bonding with family and friends is also set to improve immensely. The activity also enables you to meet new people and share ideas with them. Additionally, it is the perfect means to make your life more attractive. This is achieved by taking time off your routine daily tasks that become boring if done repeatedly over a long period.
Before Leaving On Your Hike
Consider Finding a Hiking Companion
You don’t want to get lost on the first day of hiking, and thus you need to take this precautionary step. A family friend to accompany you on the first day can be a helpful additive. Also, you can engage other hikers in your area who are conversant with the exercise. Social platforms, in this case, will be useful in finding those whom you share similar aspirations of hiking. If you want to go as a family adventure be sure to check out our article ultimate guide on camping with kids.
Explore Local Parks
The terrains that you cover when hiking can be harsh especially to beginners on their first hiking trip. It is, therefore, more appropriate to practice first in a familiar environment before going out to the field. Your local park should be your beginning point. With its well-kept vegetation and trimmed paths, the park will provide you with appropriate experience of what hiking is all about as you walk around it. You can engage the authorities who govern parks in your jurisdiction for directions on the best part to simulate hiking.
Choose The Ideal Time
If you choose to embark on an unfamiliar trail, there are chances that you may find it difficult returning to your starting point. Therefore, ensure that you have enough time to trace your way back in case such a thing happens. The best time for beginners is daytime. It will enable you to locate your trail markers easily.
Make Use Of A Map
Typically, during a hike, there’s a map at the trailhead. However, you shouldn’t take any chances, especially on your first time. Ensure that you carry your map that has all the directions indicated. It will prove helpful if you find it difficult to locate your trail markers.
Use Trekking Poles
Not many beginners see a trekking pole as a crucial accompaniment during hiking. They consider them as indicators of their amateurism in the trade. However, this is a very wrong way of thought as even the hiking veterans use them for finding balance and stride efficiency. Therefore, consider carrying them along as they will significantly aid your hiking experience.
Hiking For Beginners Tips For Selecting A Route
The path that you follow will have a significant bearing on your overall hiking expedition. As you decide on which route to follow, the following are some of the considerations that you need to make:
How much time you have?
Do you plan to hike for the whole day or just a few hours? Such questions should be essential in your planning as you settle on the route to take. Primarily, ensure that the time available is enough to get you to your trailhead and back
Your Fitness levels
The hiking exercise is not meant to be a torturous experience for you and your friends. Therefore, it would be necessary to access your fitness levels first before embarking on the walk. From the fitness evaluation, you will be able to select the distance that suits your levels. Remember that walking for extremely long distances doesn’t make you an excellent hiker especially if it is strenuous. Choose what fits your standards and the hike will be enjoyable and you will crave to do it more and more.
On average, a hiker walks with a speed of about 3mph. The pace is, however, variable depending on the load that you are carrying. Also, the topography of where you are walking through will influence the speed. Therefore, to make it exciting, settle for the time that you are most comfortable with walking.
Time of Year And Weather
You don’t want to find yourself hiking in darkness because you were unable to forecast the weather correctly. Consider evaluating the expected weather pattern of the day before beginning hiking. If you encounter a storm while at the middle of the trail it’d be difficult to continue further ahead. Put greater attention to the spring season when there can be an unexpected snowfall. Such an occurrence can destroy the trill of your hiking. Therefore stay alert for the weather changes as you prepare for hiking.
Hiking is not all about walking all the time. Some situations demand to take a cab between distances before the resumption of the hike. If your trail features such scenarios, prepare well beforehand. Ensure that everything is available in the respective point that it is required. It will save you a lot of hectic while you are tired of hiking and you need a car to take you to another point.
What You Should Wear For Your Hike
As it is in many other sporting activities, the dressing greatly influences the success or failure of the hike. A proper dressing will make your hiking a memorable experience that you always long to undertake again. On the other hand, improper wear will result in a frustrating exercise that can also predispose you to danger in some cases. Check out What to Wear Hiking (the Quick-and-Dirty List)
Shoes And Socks
Arguably, footwear is the most critical dressing that is necessary during a hike. Many people choose regular running shoes thinking that they are the best because they are light. However, in most cases, this is a bad decision especially considering that most hiking topographies are uneven. Some of the necessary considerations that you need to make when selecting shoes include:
- The type of hike
- The expected weather conditions during the walk
- The state of the hiking trail
- The need for an ankle support
Depending on the above considerations, the following are some of the hiking footwear that you can use:
They are the best wear for the summer season when the ground is relatively dry. Hiking shoes are similar to conventional running shoes. They are however not made to support the immense weight. Also, hiking shoes are most suitable for hikes that cover short distances. In situations where little ankle support is required, hiking shoes are the best wear.
If you intend to hike in a rocky topography, this should be your kind of shoe. The shoes have ankle support that is designed to help the hiker carry heavyweights. They are the best for long hiking expeditions as they provide total protection to the hiker.
The backpacking boots are custom made to suit all kind of weather conditions and terrain. They are sturdier in build than the hiking boots, and they enable the hiker to navigate muddy environments with ease.
Water resistant woolen socks are the best for hiking. They provide a good cushion of the feet from the boots that can be painful to walk in over long distances. During the summer, you should choose ankle socks. In the cold season, thick socks are the most useful. It is therefore essential to have a variety of types to choose from depending on the prevailing weather conditions.
Being prepared for any weather condition is critical in making your hiking successful. You should carry all the kind of clothes that suit the changing weather conditions.
As part of preparations, the good layer approach is the best to ensure that no situation finds you unaware. The technique involves setting layers that can be added or removed depending on the weather changes. There exist the following layers that a hiker requires to put on during the dressing phase:
Base Layer: This is the wear that is in direct contact with your body. During hot weather, a light cloth such as a synthetic vest is the best. When there is a fall, long underwear to provide insulation from cold is necessary. The base layer should be as comfortable as possible.
Insulating Layer: This provides a cushion to the base layer from the weather conditions. A woolen sweater or in some cases fleece jacket can be used.
Waterproof Layer: You don’t want to take a chance just because it’s not raining at the moment as the weather can change abruptly. Therefore, a waterproof layer featuring a cloth such as a poncho is essential.
Pants And Shorts
Again, the determining factor here should be the weather conditions as well as the environment where you are hiking. During the summer, the best wear is a pair of shorts that will help you lose off as much heat as possible. If your hike involves traveling through deep thickets, pants will come in handy. If you are unsure of what to carry, a convertible pant is the best bet.
A baseball cap is appropriate to wear for the summer to shield you from the direct sunlight. During the winter and rainy season, a full brimmed hat is the best option.
Selecting the Right Fabric
Many people tend to think that cotton wear is the best during hiking. However, cotton is the worst fabric that you can put on during a hike. Among its numerous shortcomings include the high retention ability of sweat during the summer season. Also, cotton will absorb rain if there is fall during the hike. This accumulation of water will make you cold, and you can also contract hypothermia. Instead of cotton, settle on another kind of wear such as silk and nylon. They take a shorter time to dry than cotton.
Ten Essential Systems For Hiking For Beginners
In this section, you will see the various items that you need to carry along with you irrespective of the distance that you need to cover. The primary aim of this is to ensure that you avoid unprecedented hitches that can crop up in the course of the hike.
10 Essential for camping & Hiking:
- Sun protection:
- First aid:
- Repair kit and tools
- Extra clothes:
1. Navigation Guide.
map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon (PLB). Most will ignore the need to carry conventional guides such as a compass and a map. However, the two things are a must have for any hiker. Presently there is also electronic GPS, but this can break down and thus the need to have a backup. Learning how to use a map and compass are vitally important in the outdoors.
2. Sun Protection.
sunglasses, sun-protective clothes and sunscreen. Sunglasses are mainly useful during the summer but also during the winter to prevent snow blindness. It is also imperative to carry sunscreen during hot weather.
A light source such as a headlamp or lantern should be ever present in your bag even if you are hiking during the day. Also, an extra source of batteries, if you are using a flashlight, will be helpful.
4. First Aid Supplies.
The chances of an accident occurring are always high in any outdoor activity. You, therefore, need to be prepared for it by having the necessary first aid supplies in place.
matches, lighter, tinder and/or stove. Some hikes involve love travels that warrant camping. You, therefore, need a source of fire to warm your food. In addition to the lighters, you need to carry matches kept in a well-sealed container that is waterproof.
6. First Aid Kit And Tools.
A pocket knife is one of the tools that you can’t afford to leave behind as it is highly versatile. A blade, scissors and can openers are also useful tools that you should carry along other valuable tools that you deem essential.
Useful first aid for hiking:
- Any necessary medications
- Bandages and antiseptics
- CPR mask
- Cotton swabs
- Antibiotic ointment
- Rehydration Salts
- Pain relievers
- Diarrhea medications
You cannot cover long stretches of trek without food to rejuvenate yourself with. Therefore, carry food along. Protein bars, jerks as well as many other foods that do not require cooking such as nuts are essential. You also need to have food for an extra day just in case you overstay than planned. For more information on what foods to pack “Keep Food Safe when Camping and Hiking”
Good foods to bring along include:
- Dried fruit
- Granola bars
- Dried pasta
- Dried beans, salmon or other sources of protein
- Peanut butter
- Powdered milk
- Powdered drinks
You will lose a significant amount of water during the hike and therefore risk suffering from dehydration if you do not replace it. Carry along enough water to keep you going throughout the entire period you’ll be on the hike.
9. Emergency Shelter.
Even if you had planned to hike for a few hours then return, an emergency shelter may prove helpful suppose there is a change of plans. Carry one as the trek can turn out different from the plan and the need to rest arises.
10. Extra Clothes.
You need to be set for weather conditions that you cannot predict such as a storm. Therefore carry extra clothing to be ready just in case the weather changes suddenly
Hiking Tips For Beginners
As you are now aware of the crucial things to consider during hiking, you are set to try out your first hiking trip. As a beginner, the following are some of the essential tips that will help you immensely in your first day on the trail path:
Since it is your first time camping, you need to be more attentive to the surrounding than ever. Focusing on distractions such as birds or listening to music can lead to accidents. Therefore, take this opportunity to acclimatize yourself to the track while avoiding distractions entirely.
Tell Someone Where You’re Going
You can’t rule out the probability of the unprecedented happening such as losing your way back even in the company of other hikers. Therefore, you need to inform people about your planned route. Additionally, leaving a map with them is essential in helping track you in case you can’t be located.
Reduce Weight By Repackaging
If you are not aware, the most enjoyable hike is one that you carry the lightest possible load. Ensure that you achieve this by repackaging your accompaniments and eliminating stuff that you can do without.
You require to have enough energy to finish the trek strongly as you began it. Therefore, maintain the power by adopting an optimum speed that is neither too slow nor so fast.
A hot shower is a perfect means of ensuring that you remove any poisonous plants and other substances that you may have encountered during the hike. Additionally, if you walk through a wooded environment, check your skin for the presence of ticks.
Learn a Correlating Skill
Hiking can be a boring thing if it is done without a particular skill being developed. The way to enjoy it is through having a hobby that you undertake as you hike such as photography and collecting plants.
Hiking With Kids And Dogs
Hiking can mentally benefit your kids and dogs. If you want to get hiking with your dog or kids, you have to keep a few things in mind.
When you take your kids camping, they learn valuable life lessons which they might thank you for in about twenty years. If you want a memorable family experience, you can also incorporate kids in your hiking expeditions. We know Kids of almost all ages can engage in hiking. This will help them develop a hiking for the skill that can prove useful later in their lives. For a good experience, while hiking with kids, the following are some of the essential things that you should do:
- Ensure that they are well fed. Also, carry enough food as kids eat a lot especially when they are involved in a physical activity
- Hike over short distances. This will prevent it from becoming boring for them. Taking time to study the landscapes, plants and rocks will make it more exciting for the kids.
Hiking is a great way to spend time with your dog while providing exercise . Your dog can also enjoy the thrill of hiking when you take it along your side. However, you first need to confirm whether the authorities in your jurisdiction allow hiking with dogs. To make the trek with your favorite pet glamorous, consider the following:
- Allow the dog to carry their food in a pack. It will look nice, and the dog will enjoy it.
- Make stops after short distances. This will make it easy for the dog to relax.
- Carry poop bags with you always for discarding while you return home.
In a nutshell, the above hiking for beginners tips is just what you require to get started in this exciting outdoor activity. You do not need to follow it word for word but sticking to the guide will provide you with a flawless experience while out hiking.