Ever since I was a young child, I had always enjoyed being outdoors, exploring. While others were, in my eyes, wasting their time staying indoors and playing video games, I would love going out into the local forests or parks and feeling at one with nature. From here I gradually ventured out further and would go on hiking trips with (luckily for me) like-minded friends. At first it was just day trips, until gradually they became overnight hikes.
With over a decade experience in hiking, I feel I am in a position to genuinely provide useful tips to those just getting into hiking. Hiking is a great way to explore an appreciate nature, and is also a great form of exercise. Below are my top tips for beginners.
Pick a trail for your level
Like most sports or hobbies, you wouldn’t jump in straight at the deep end, and hiking is the same. If you don’t exercise regularly, start off with shorter trails and work your way up from there. A general rule is that you should choose a distance slightly shorter than you can walk on level ground. After hiking a few more times, you should be able to gauge your ability better and adjust the distance you can aim for.
Pack your essentials
Your essentials will depend on where you are planning on hiking, how long it should take you, and your environment (whether you will be near certain services). Shorter hikes that you don’t plan on overnighting, just require you to pack light with a few items in case you need to extend. Longer hikes will obviously require you to pack more. Essentials would include; a waterproof backpack to protect everything from the elements, extra clothing, a first aid kit, food and water, shelter and navigation equipment.
Keep an eye on the weather
What you pack will depend largely on the weather, but also for the unexpected. Keep track of the local weather forecast in the hours leading up to the hike, and you will be able to pack accordingly. Not having a good change of clothes if the weather turns bad can be uncomfortable, and also potentially dangerous. No one wants to be soaked in the rain and cold because they didn’t anticipate a change in the weather.
Dress the part
Again, ensure that what you are wearing is suitable for the weather and activity. Solid, comfortable hiking boots and socks are essentials, and honestly, you will really feel it if the the quality is not up to standard. Layer up, so it is easier to adjust to temperature changes and so that sweat can be wicked away effectively. Cotton socks or clothing are not recommended as they do not dry quickly, and can result in chafing; synthetic materials are more advisable in this case.