Going on your first hike is a thrilling and exciting staple of many camping trips. But following the best beginner tips for hiking will make sure you’re ready and having fun.
It can be intimidating as a beginner hiker to try to get out there having zero hiking tips. Being informed and well prepared is the key to succeeding and enjoying more hikes in the future.
Whether you’re going on your first hiking trip or trying something a little out of your comfort zone, make sure you read these essential tips for hiking before you go.
Good Hiking Means Start Small
You wouldn’t try out a black diamond course the first time you put skis on, so don’t make the same mistake on your first hike. Keep it low-key and stick to day hikes until you know what you’re doing and are comfortable doing something more.
Beginner trails are well-marked, leaving you with less chances of getting lost. If you’re hiking a trail in a more popular park, there are sometimes maps available that outline the various routes and trails you can take.
You don’t want to over-exert yourself when you’re a hiking rookie because you don’t know what your limits are yet. It’s better to be safe hiking and stick to guided routes to make sure you’re prepared for what’s ahead and never need any safety tips for hiking!
Safe Hiking Means Bringing Someone With You
Hiking can be an excellent way of unwinding, spending time alone outdoors in nature, and getting some exercise in. But not when you’re a beginner.
There are unlimited possibilities that can happen in the outdoors, especially if you are inexperienced. Taking someone with you, or hiking in a group, is the safest way to make sure that you don’t run into any trouble along the way.
If you must go alone, make sure someone knows where you are. Give them a map of the route you’re taking as well as an estimate of how long it’s going to take you. Contact them when you start and when you finish so they know you made it safely.
Hiking Clothing Tips. Proper Clothing is Essential
It’s best to avoid wearing cotton because it retains moisture for a longer time than other materials. If you get wet while wearing cotton, not only will you be uncomfortable, but you risk getting hypothermia in colder temperatures.
Denim is also a no-go. It’s heavy and doesn’t allow proper movement for those tricky corners or steep climbs. You never know what terrain you’re going to face when you start a trail, and even if you’re doing a quick beginner path, make sure you’re prepared.
If you don’t know what to wear hiking, a general rule of thumb is to wear something you would be comfortable exercising in. If you’re going to be in the woods, pants are always best to avoid accidental brushes with bugs, poison ivy, or other natural dangers.
A hat is a smart idea as well. It will help prevent the sun from bothering you and giving you a sunburn, and can provide some shade when you enter open areas.
Footwear is important and can make or break your hiking experience. Wearing the wrong shoes can leave you in pain and can sometimes lead to accidents that cause injuries.
The best options for a hike are running shoes, athletic footwear, or hiking boots. If you purchase brand new hiking boots, always break them in first.
Give it a few weeks wearing them wherever you can to get the blisters out of the way and ensure that your feet are going to be comfortable and protected.
If you do not break in new shoes you will regret it less than halfway through your hike, and by that time you’ll be stuck.
Going on a Hike? Always Carry a First-Aid Kit!
Bring the basic things you need and have enough for the amount of people that are hiking in your group. A good first-aid kit for a beginner hike contains bandages, Benadryl, ibuprofen, gauze, alcohol wipes, and ointment such as Polysporin.
These are standard items that can help with the most common incidents that could occur on a hike, from poison ivy to an unexpected allergic reaction. Being prepared will save you from an emergency and help make your hike a better experience.
Avoid carrying unnecessary items in your first-aid kit to eliminate the amount of weight and baggage you bring with you, especially if you are doing a short day hike.
Don’t Start Too Late in The Day
The best time to start a hike is in the morning or early afternoon. This will give you enough time to optimize daylight and stay safe from the elements.
Don’t wait until the evening to begin. The sun will go down before you know it and you’ll increase your chances of getting lost, sick, or hurt. Even in the summer, temperatures can drop at night.
Make sure you always have a flashlight just in case this happens to you. It is also important to always carry a watch or some type of device that tells the time so you know how close it is to the sunset.
Educate Yourself on Weather Conditions and Procedures
Weather is important for hiking safety. You are completely outdoors, leaving you vulnerable to all changing weather patterns and freak conditions that can sometimes happen.
Do not ignore the warning signs when you’re setting off for your hike. If it looks like a thunderstorm, postpone the hike. Experienced hikers will know what to do when they hike in certain types of storms, but it’s not a risk beginners should take.
Knowing what to do in severe weather conditions is essential for hiking at any level. You never know when lightning could strike, so it’s best to be aware of proper procedure in these situations.
Before you set out on your hike, check the weather forecast and make sure it’s up to date.
Be Considerate of the Environment
There are unwritten hiking rules that all hikers are expected to follow about minimizing the impact left behind in the wilderness. The world is yours to explore, but it is also your responsibility to protect.
Take all garbage with you and throw it out after you leave. At the beginning and end of every public hiking trail there are garbage bins for this reason. If there are none, take it with you until you get back to your campsite or your home.
Do not interact with the wildlife or feed any animals. This is their home and you are just visiting. Foreign food or interaction could make them sick or put them at risk with other animals.
Stick to the trails to avoid damaging plants or animal homes or disturbing the natural environment. If you need to wash your hands, use only biodegradable soap and stay at least 100 feet away from any water sources.
Best Hiking Advice: Stay Hydrated
A common beginner hiking mistake is not packing enough water, even if it’s just a short day hike. There is no such thing as too much water, and it is very easy to become dehydrated when you’re outside for a long period of time.
Depending on the weather, a good estimate is to bring a litre for every two hours. If it’s a very hot day, you might need more than that.
It’s also a good idea to purchase some water filtration tablets to keep in your backpack just in case you run out of water or you’re out on the trail longer than you anticipated.
The tablets are compact and take up about as much space as a bottle or pack of Advil, and they allow you to make clean drinking water anywhere.
Good Hiking Needs: Make Sure You Pack Snacks.
Food is an essential fuel for any hiker, and you should always make sure you have snacks with you. If you get lost or end up out for longer than you planned, you want to make sure you have enough food to keep you going until you get back to your campsite or your car.
The best hiking snacks are items with a lot of protein and fiber that will give you enough energy that can also be thrown in a backpack until needed.
Good choices are granola bars, trail mix or nuts and seeds, crackers, and dried fruit.
Just remember to keep your garbage with you and not to leave it behind!
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Get your hiking boots on and get out there!