Are you interested in hiking but haven’t done it yet?
Does the thought of having no hiking experience keep you from experimenting?
Does the thought of all that could go wrong overwhelm and prevent you from starting out?
If you answered two out of three with a yes, you need to save this article on hiking 101! Our aim is to make hiking more manageable – and enjoyable – for beginners. Don’t worry, we intend to cover the most basic equipment and tips you’ll need for your first-ever hike.
But before that, let’s get three things straight. Don’t let your fear of animals that you may meet on a hike keep you from going on one. The simplest solution would be to NOT interact with the creature. Secondly, don’t let the thought of not being in shape stop you either. Sure, you may not be the fittest individual. But by going on frequent hikes, you will soon become hiking-ready. Finally, read up on hiking etiquette, and make sure you follow it.
And now we move on to our hiking tips and tools:
Carry your own Weight
Choose a long-distance backpack for your trip. The main reason such bags are favored by expert hikers is that they come with a supporting frame. You will learn to appreciate the frame when you begin loading the bag up with all your gear.
Keep the Thirst at Bay
For first-timers, hydration is worth mentioning. Make it easier on yourself and design your own water-intake regimen. The major reason most hikers will feel bad or tired is because their body is battling dehydration. So, it isn’t just about your weight or whether you have cardiovascular issues or not. Dehydration could be holding you back! Invest in a good quality water flask, bottle, or canteen (Link Here).
Before you leave for your trip, we’d recommend that you increase your water intake. Additionally, dissolve an electrolyte supplement into your water for a hydration boost while hiking.
Walk the Straight and Narrow Path
Knowing the trail that you intend to travel beforehand is crucial. Visit the National Parks website to determine the length of the trail of your choice, how much elevation you may be looking at, and if you will be crossing any creeks or come across any animals. Being prepared will increase the enjoyment of a hike for you. Not only will there be fewer chances of receiving a nasty surprise, such as ending up in bear country. You’d also have the tools well-suited to the situations you may come across.
Welcome the Darkness
If everything goes to plan, you may return home from your hike while it is light. But if you intend to still be on the trail after dark, you will need to prep for that. Firstly, keep in mind that your eyes will need at least half an hour to adjust to the darkness and switch to night vision. To keep from jarring them every time your eyes meet the beam of a flashlight, carry one with a red light (Link Here). Remember that each time you turn on regular light – no matter how long for – your eyes will need 30 minutes to readjust! A headlamp (Link Here) can help preserve your night vision, as well.
Besides a light source, you will want to pack up warm clothes. The temperature in an area will fall come nighttime. So, don’t depend on conditions to remain as they do during a daytime excursion. Layering up will help reduce exposure.
Watch your Step
No hiker can enjoy their excursion if they have to do it on blistered feet! Blisters will become more painful as you proceed on your journey. Having cold/hot feet will make you miserable throughout the trip, as well. What you need to do is to protect your feet and keep them dry.
It begins with quality socks (Link Here). The pair you choose should be both lightweight and highly absorbent. Materials like the Merino wool remains cool on hot days and keeps the feet warm in winter. Add an extra pair or more to your trusty backpack.
Now that the socks are taken care of, focus on high-quality footwear (Link Here). Choose running shoes if you won’t be going farther than a mile. They are also well-suited to relatively flat terrains. If your excursion won’t either be short or on flat ground, then you may want to buy a pair of hiking boots (Link Here).
But be warned: never wear new shoes or boots to a hike! Break them in, or you will be coming home with blistered feet.
Get All Fired Up
It may not occur to you until you need it, but a waterproof fire starter (Link Here) is a must-have on a hike. It is lightweight, easy to use, and handy for starting an emergency fire. Since it is waterproof, you won’t have to worry about it damaging it if it falls in a puddle, etc.
Plan for Quality Shut-Eye
A well-rested hiker is a happy hiker! If your trip will also include an overnight stay, you can choose between a sleeping bag or a tent. Whether you choose the bag or the latter will depend on how many people will be going along with you. If you opt for a tent (Link Here), for instance, keep the size of your group in mind. Tents that will comfortably sleep two people will be lighter than those meant for more people. But then the load for the latter can also be divided between a larger number of people.
Another thing to remember is that a tent is compact. Sleeping in one meant for two people would mean you’d feel warmer than you would in an individual one-person tent.
Finally, sleeping bags are easier and lighter to carry. They are also rated based on the season they are suited to. So, for instance, a sleeping bag rated for 20 degrees wouldn’t be suitable for the southwest during summers. Although you should pack one if you will be hiking in the mountains.
Keep adding to this list as your experience grows. Because this isn’t definitive. We have left useful items like knives (Link Here), mugs (Link Here), and even rope (Link Here), off it. However, we hope our article has familiarized you with the necessities of hiking.