Tips for Beginning Hikers
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
September 27, 2014
Filed Under Sports
by Catalogs.com Info Guru Aurora LaJambre
Hiking is a win-win activity.
You get to explore the outdoors in what can feel like an epic, thrilling way, while building endurance, strength and lung capacity. Spend time on a trail and you’ll return home with memories that make you smile, stories to inspire others.
These top tips for beginning hikers will keep you safe, healthy and ensure good times are had.
10. Walking canes help
Hiking is an activity people of all ages can enjoy. As a beginner you don’t know your limits yet, but you know your body. Bring a walking cane or hiking stick along for extra support and stability on uneven terrain.
9. Break in new footwear
Keep your feet in good condition, but don’t set out on your first long trek in new boots. Test them and break them in first or they’ll shred your feet and you’ll wind up limping home. New trail shoes and boots will conform to your feet faster than stiff ones. Choose a pair you like, but wear them on errands or walking the dog before hiking in them.
8. Wear breathable fabrics
Whether it’s cold, rainy or hot you need breathable, moisture-wicking clothes. If it’s really cold, you’ll need an inner layer, too, but stay away from cotton – it retains moisture and siphons body heat so you’ll be colder and dangerously wet. Jeans are not invited on this adventure either. They can actually ice up on you!
7. Be prepared
Take a cue from the boy scouts and be prepared. Bring along a basic first aid kit with gauze, bandages, sunscreen and antibacterial soap. A lightweight flashlight may come in handy even you’re only planning a short trek in the middle of the day. No need to go overboard; a few basics are smart to have on hand just in case.
6. Pick doable hikes
One of the most important tips for beginning hikers is to choose hikes that are doable for your experience, not necessarily your fitness level. If you’re in shape and comfortable outdoors, your learning curve may be shorter but don’t push it too far too soon. Keep it within 10 miles at first just in case.
5. Know what’s ahead
Sometimes beginners make the mistake of relying on road maps when they’re on foot. Get yourself a hiking map of the area and research your intended trail a little. There’s a big difference between hiking 5 flat shaded miles versus 5 miles with high elevation directly under the sun.
4. Check the weather
Your instincts will improve the more treks you complete, this includes being able to tell when a trail is too challenging and having a sense of when to turn back due to weather. For now, check the weather ahead of time and avoid going out if a storm is forecast. On open terrain, you’ll be a target for and even if it doesn’t strike you directly, it can surge up from the ground if it strikes nearby. And it doesn’t matter that you’re not touching metal. Be safe.
3. Invite a buddy
There’s much to be said for spending time alone with nature, but one of the wisest tips for beginning hikers is to bring at least one buddy along. All the better if they’re a practiced hiker who can help you learn on your feet.
2. Tick precautions
Remember what your grade school teachers taught you about tick precautions? Spray the inside and outside of your clothes with tick repellent. According to StopTicks.org, wear light colors, long sleeves and pants and a hat. Braid long hair and always check your head and body when you get home. Throw the clothes and shoes you wore in the drier on high heat to kill any clinging to clothing.
1. Be friendly
You’re not the only person eager to explore the outdoors. Odds are you’ll come across like-minded hikers, maybe even some long distance backpackers. These people are gems. Don’t hurry past them or let shyness stop you from saying “hi”. Hiking stories often include characters you meet along the way. Swap stories, share a snack and pick their brains for tips or little-known spots they recommend.