Hiking For Beginners: How To Prepare For Your First Hike
Spending time in nature is proven to have a variety of health benefits, yet we, as future hiking beginners, often stick to our day-to-day routines and seldom listen to our inner explorer.
Nothing can match the feeling of hitting the open road or a path in the woods, and when we recall our past excursions and travel, it is as if we invoke that feeling again.
Fresh air and some time on the trail may be just what you need to come back rejuvenated and ready for whatever comes next. However, we can’t just hit the trail and expect to have a wondrous experience.
You need to arm yourself with the basics before you lace up your walking shoes. Here are some things to consider to enjoy nature at its finest.
How to choose the right beginner hiking route?
You don’t want to overdo it on your first hike (or until you are ready). Your best bet is to choose one that is less than five miles, without a lot of climbing.
If you decide to push yourself with a longer hike, start training for it. Walk several miles at a time, building on it, until you are walking as many miles as your planned hike.
If you’re unsure where to start, check out these beginner-friendly trail guides. There are also plenty of guidebooks available to help plan your first hike.
Do you need to get hiking gear as a beginner?
When starting out, you don’t need a lot of fancy gear. However, you don’t want to hike in jeans and regular clothing. Invest in good quality hiking pants. Though it may be hot, you’ll want to wear pants so that your legs don’t get scratched up or eaten alive by bugs. It’s also a good idea to wear long-sleeve shirts for the same reason.
You also need a good pair of sneakers for your hike. Though you may feel like you need to wear hiking boots, if they are new or you don’t wear them often, you may end up with blisters.
Many hikers wear a day pack so that they can carry all of their extra gear. Pack enough water so that you can stay hydrated the entire time. Always bring more than you think you will need. Snacks are also important. Check the weather, and pack a raincoat or extra layers for inclement weather.
Don’t overdo it
Too many people just try to get through their first hike. They hike as quickly as possible and then wear out. Sometimes, they can’t even finish the hike back to the car. They also don’t get to enjoy the views. It’s much better to walk at a steady pace.
What about going to the bathroom?
Many hikers worry about going to the bathroom. To pee, you can simply walk away from the trail and go. Some women bring their own toilet paper (plus a bag to carry it home).
If you have to poop, you need to dig a hole. It should be four inches wide and 6 to 8 inches deep. Once you are done, cover it up and go. Pack out any toilet paper.
Let others know where you’re going
For your own safety, make sure someone knows your itinerary and approximate return time. If you aren’t home when you’re supposed to be, they will know where to start looking. Some even recommend leaving a note in your vehicle so that search and rescue people will know where to find you if they notice that your car is still sitting.
If you are hiking in a remote location, you may want to have a personal locator beacon. This allows you to send a SOS if something major happens and you need help quickly.
Should beginners hike in company or alone?
It’s a good idea to go hiking with others, especially when you are first starting out. Ask friends or family to join you.
If you’re looking for someone to hike with, join a local hiking group or club. You may discover some new friends to go with your new hobby!
Check the weather before you leave
No matter how many times you check the weather for a trip, always re-check before you leave your home.
Hiking can be a great way to blow off some steam and enjoy the outdoors. However, safety is really important. Choose a good beginner trail to work up to longer and harder hikes. Let someone know where you are going and when you should return. If you’re going somewhere remote, consider a personal locator beacon.
Having the right gear is essential for a good trip. Wear comfortable outdoor clothing and good shoes. Pack plenty of food and water, and pack layers for changing conditions.
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