Hiking For Beginners: Essential Tips & Suggestions For Your First Trek

Hiking For Beginners

Hiking is probably the most peaceful adventure that exists. Strolling through valleys and rocky trails feel invigorating and the pollution-free fresh air surely gives a serene feeling. Hiking trips are not just vacations, they are like an escape from our daily hectic lives.

Hikes can also be said to be a different form of a workout but through beautiful scenic backgrounds. If you have never been on a hiking trip, then it is better to know a few important things before planning one.

Hiking For Beginners: Some Essential Tips

Before you set out on your first journey, you should keep a few things in mind. These walks are different and sometimes involve a variety of things. This factor of unpredictability is what makes the experience worthwhile. So, let’s see what the pro-hikers and trek leaders around the world have to say.

Choosing The Perfect Hiking Trail For Beginners

Selecting the trek route you start with is very important. Starting off with a small trail is better as it gets you accustomed with how hiking works. Look for a short trail or one near around you are used to walking on level surfaces.

To calculate the length of the trial with a comfortable pace of 2 miles an hour, you also need to consider the elevation in the trail you select. Take a good look at the gradient of the trail and make notes about how the elevation changes at different places. Then, add 1 hour to the estimated hiking time for every 1000 feet gained.

Walking a few miles in a hilly trail is very different from strolling through the same on level land. Also, preparing yourself for the trail ahead is also a good idea.

Understand The Trail

After zeroing in on the trail you want to hit for your first hike, analyzing it is a good idea. Irrespective of the trail you’ve chosen, you surely will find relevant maps online. Check if the trail has loops that keep gaining height with every turn or if it is a circuit trail. This information is important as it will help you to plan the hike.

Also, make notes of adjacent and intersecting trails. Make sure you are not taking any wrong turns as you walk through the mountains. Finding your way back to the original trail will be tiresome, time-consuming and an unnecessary waste of energy. Also, it’s better to gather information about the availability of food.

If possible, get information about accessible lunch spots in the trail. You should never walk with an empty stomach. Places like lakes and hilltops are good locations to consider. Hilltops give an idea about the walk ahead after having a meal while lakes are even more helpful. Water is an essential resource when trekking. Also, look up for available lunch spots like shacks and cafes.

Climate Of The Location

Before you set out on your hike, it’s wiser to check the weather for the rest of the day. It is better to be prepared than being baffled while on the trail.

Knowing the weather is vital not only because of how you approach the hike but also what you wear and carry. Knowing the weather before setting out is extremely essential if your plans involve a to and fro day hike. Often in trails, there are locations with are not much resourceful but the scenery is breathtaking. You pack light, food and gear to last you the day.

Weather can very badly hurt day hikes, so knowing the forecast beforehand is always helpful.

Choosing The Right Hiking Gear For Beginners

Like any sport, hiking also needs a certain set of gears that make things simpler. There are clothes, tools, and bags that are specially designed for hiking and camping trips. If you have friends or family members who have prior experience, you can ask them for suggestions.

Often, beginners make a common mistake. Wearing denim or regular clothes is the first and most basic mistake that beginners almost always commit. Yes, they might be good to start off with but as you continue along the trail, denim and other regular clothes can feel like a problem. They start getting heavy and wet and also chafe with sweat.

If it’s your first trip and you are not looking to invest much right away, try wearing clothes for workouts. These are made to handle sweat and being active in.

Bottomwear

Full-length activewear pants are good for walking in the trail as they protect your legs from getting scraped by bushes along the way. You can also go with tights for the same level of protection. You never know if the trail ahead will have bushes and thorny shrubs.

Topwear

Long-sleeved shirts or t-shirts are something you can invest in. If the heat gets to you while hiking, you can always roll up the sleeves for some relief. Also, getting tanned is a real problem while on treks. Fewer clouds mean more direct sunlight and often it has different reactions to people’s skin. Hikers, unaware of this, often end up having rashes and burns from long exposure.

Footwear

Your shoes are probably your best friend while on a hike. You need proper grip and comfortable footing for long walks along the trail. The surface which you walk on is very different from what you are used to and at times, changes. For beginners looking to hit intermediate or moderate trails, a pair of trail runner or sneakers is a good choice. Also, it is highly recommended that you do not go for old hiking boots lying around for ages. These will eventually give blisters and bruises.

Furthermore, not only does the pair of shoes you are wearing matter but also the sock too. You need to keep your feet warm and dry. Soggy feet is never acceptable while on hikes and in extreme conditions, can be the source of Frostbite. If you have never thought of or heard about frostbite, search for details regarding it. Avoid cotton socks, they won’t serve any purpose. It’s better to go for woolen or synthetic pairs.

BACKPACK

What you carry on your back is also of great importance. The size of the backpack you carry is crucial. First of all, make sure you are going on a trip with a waterproof bag. Also, carrying a proper rucksack is better as it is designed for hiking and camping trips.

Inform People About The Trip

It’s good to be an outlaw at times, but when it comes to hiking or adventure trips, you should never try to do such things. No professional or avid hikers ever do it and being a beginner, it will be absolutely wrong.

You never know when you might come across problems. The weather might change drastically or constant rain can start a landslide. In such situations, there can be many problems that make things difficult. You may run out of money or even fall ill. Being an outlaw, if you choose not to inform about your whereabouts, you are almost doomed.

Let people know; friends or parents or even someone in specific. Someone who can help you in times of problems, especially natural calamities.

Carry Hiking Essentials

Depending on the location, the trail and the season you are hiking in, you need to pack in an optimized way. Also, carrying too much is never a good choice. Whatever you pack, you are the one who will have to bear the load.

If you are going on a short summer hike with the trail having the required facilities, a compact blanket and some essentials would be ideal. If you are planning for a long winter hike on a remote trail, you will need to carry the required things.

So what are the essentials that you should never forget…

ESSENTIALS FOR EVERY HIKING TRIP

Have a look at the following items that you should always carry on every hiking trip:

Navigation Tool

You need to know where you are going. Things like a detailed map of the trail and a compass are something you should always keep at hand.

Sun Protection

Don’t forget to carry a pair of sunglasses and some sunscreen lotion. Also, carrying a sunscreen with UV protection would be better. On clearer days, the sun rays will be extremely harsh, so it’s better to carry some protection.

Extra Clothes

Carry an appropriate amount of clothes. Yes, carrying a bit extra will make the backpack a bit heavy but it’s better to have a backup. If it starts to rain and you get wet, those clothes will be of no use the next day and you might even end up catching a cold.

Light

If your trip includes plans of camping, carrying light is of utmost importance. The moon will help you to an extent but not on cloudy nights. Also, some places in the trail can turn out too dark and damp where a headlamp or a flashlight comes extremely handy. You need to see to move.

Medicine & First-Aid

Remaining healthy is essential to enjoy the wilderness. You’ll always be on the move and slipping and falling a few times while hiking is kind of guaranteed. Keep ointments for burns and bruises to take care of immediately. Also, it is kind of living off the land and you never know when you get a stomach upset.

Source Of Fire

If you are planning to camp overnight or preparing your own food, you will definitely need to light a fire. To light fire, you will matches or lighters. Carrying waterproof matches will be better; they cost a little more but do serve the purpose. For making food, you can also consider carrying a butane powered stove. It a reliable little contraption that comes very handy. You can also go for stoves that run on camphor. They are even smaller than the ones that run on butane though lighting them up is a bit harder.

Nutrition

Food is of utmost importance when camping or hiking. Not always will you be in places where you can cook or prepare a hot meal but also you cannot keep walking with an empty stomach. To handle such situations, it’s better to go for packaged food. Carry chocolates, protein bars, nuts, dry fruits etc. with you.

Hydration

Always carry water and stay hydrated. You cannot keep walking if you feel dehydrated. Not drinking the proper amount of water, will not only lead to dehydration but also make create problems with decision making. When in the trail, you always need to be alert to avoid accidents. Drink as much water as possible and stay hydrated. Also, remember to carry water purifying liquids to use if you are filling bottles from streams or waterfalls. You can also check out devices like Lifestraw.

These requirements may look a lot but without these essentials, hiking can become a daunting task. Remember to carry at least these few essentials.

Enquire About Permits

Some places and trails require permits. When planning a camping or hiking expedition, look for the information online. Make the necessary calls to fetch the proper information beforehand.

This is essential as some permits can take a few days and may also require verification. So, get the legal work sorted before you set out to explore.

Source Proper Information

While planning a hiking trip, proper information is the key to completing the expedition. Seasons, weather and trends of precipitation are all important factors one needs to consider.

Every trail has its own characteristics and behaves differently in different seasons. Also, every season has its own beauty and perils. If your trail has forests and parks, the rainy season is a time you would like to avoid. During this time of the year, trails with dense vegetation usually have problems with insects, especially leeches.

Some trails are beautiful in the summer while others are in the autumn and some in the winter. You can also visit any of the trails in the off-season to avoid the crowd while some become inhabitable and inaccessible during winter. These are natural factors that you can never avoid and need to deal with.

Prepare yourself for the season and time of the year you are visiting to avoid unnecessary trouble.

Pacing Your Hike

Before you set out on your first hiking trip, understand that hiking is not a race. You don’t need to finish fast or first. It’s about breathing in fresh air and enjoying the scenic surroundings.

Whatever trail you are planning to explore, keep in mind that you won’t be in your natural surroundings. You are not from that specific region and your body is not accustomed to those surroundings. Give your body ample rest and enough time to acclimatize to the climate, altitude, and air.

Take it easy, take frequent rests and eat whenever you feel hungry. If you are setting out on your first hiking trip, don’t push yourself too far. Give your legs and feet enough rest so that they don’t end up cramping and remember to drink lots of water.

Avoid Smoking And Drinking Alcohol

Vacations are times when everyone likes to cut loose and party a bit. A bit of booze always makes things better and helps to chill. Also, smoking we all know is a bad habit but still a significant proportion of the population keeps doing it. While hiking, it is better to avoid both.

Don’t mean to scare you but it is logical. Firstly, smoking makes your lungs weak and susceptible to asthma. Drinking will probably make things worse. It takes a toll on your body and affects movement and breathing capacity.

If you are addicted to tobacco and just cannot live without smoking a few buds, you will have to compromise a little. Smoke one or two cigarettes maximum per day and try to smoke it after completing the day’s walk. Smoking while walking in the trail will not only make you fall sick but also will affect your speed. Avoid smoking entirely if possible.

Furthermore, if you feel like drinking, limit it and never drink before or during hikes. This is extremely unhealthy and you just mind end up puking everything out. Remember, if you fall sick, there won’t be anyone to help you out except your fellow hikers. Rather use the drinks smartly. If you are in extremely cold conditions, you can have a little bit of rum or brandy to heat your body up. This can help in getting some sleep and calm your body after a day’s hike.

Hiking Etiquettes

There certain things you should remember when going on a hiking trip. These are more of guidelines rather than rules that every dedicated hiker maintains and every new hiker is asked to do so.

Make sure you are not polluting the trail. Do not drop wrappers and packets here and there. Carry a bag and put them all in it till you find a waste bin. If you are polluting nature in such a manner, you are actively contributing to things you probably hate.

There are people who live in that area and you should always be respectful to them. These are the people who will come to your help in times of need. Nod, give a smile and acknowledge their presence. These are basic things that make the whole experience better.

Hiking Tips For Beginners: Conclusion

So, these were some of the hiking essentials for beginners looking to go for their first trip. Hiking is a wonderful experience if you like working out and exploring. Wandering across valleys, streams and rocky hills give a certain level of satisfaction you can’t get from anything else. Therefore, hit the outdoors and always remember to share your experience.

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