Tips For The Beginner Hiker

Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, see new things and get some exercise! If you’re new to hiking, don’t be intimidated by what’s out there. Anytime is a great time to start. Hiking should be an enjoyable experience, whether that’s while you’re on the hike, or telling the story afterwards. If you’re prepared to be out there, then there is little that can go wrong and you can’t handle.

Hiking is a great way to exercise. Not only is it great exercise for you, but it can be for your dog as well. Walking on uneven trails uses minute muscles you don’t ordinarily use. If you’re looking for ways to get outside and get moving, then hiking is a great option.

Follow these simple tips, and get out on the trail!

Start Easy
Don’t expect to be climbing mountains your first day on the trail. Start with something easy and well-traveled. Search online for hikes in your area that have good reviews and are easy to find. Alltrails.com is a great place to look for hikes for your ability level. Search for trails that will be relatively flat by seeing how much elevation gain there is. Typically, flatter trails are less rocky than steep trails. Easy, popular trails will be well traveled and therefore easy to follow. Keep in mind that traveling on trails is slower than roads. The amount of time and effort it takes you to walk a certain distance on pavement is increased on the trail. The rougher the trail, the slower going will be.

Water and Snacks
Always remember to bring adequate water and snacks for how long you plan to be out there. It’s better to have too much water than to run out. You should aim to arrive back to the car with some water still left. A hydration bladder is nice to have since it allows you to sip water whenever you need it, although it is not necessary.

Check the weather
Before heading out on a hike, check the weather. You won’t want to get stuck out in a thunderstorm, especially if you don’t have adequate shelter or rain gear. Take a look at how warm or cold it could potentially get while on your hike. Make sure you’re able to put on or take off layers to adjust to the weather. If you’re going to be climbing mountains, consider what time of day thunderstorms typically come through. You don’t want to be on the tallest point on the summit when a thunderstorm rolls in.

Have a plan
“I love it when a plan comes together”. You can better prepare for your hike if you have a plan in place before heading out. That being said, a good plan is always subject to change as other factors outside of your control change. If you have a time limit choose a turnaround time; once it gets to that time you have to turn around, no matter how far you made it. Depending on your level of fitness know when it’s time to turn around before you push yourself too far. Have multiple options as you reach check points along your hike. When you get to each check point, decide how much farther you’re capable of going based on your own abilities, weather and other factors.

Dress in layers
Dressing in layers allows you to stay comfortable as the weather changes throughout the hike. You’re able to put on or take off layers as conditions dictate. Basic layering includes a next to skin base layer, mid-layer and external shell or outer layer. The next to skin layer can be short or long-sleeved, merino wool or polyester. It’s best to avoid cotton base layers if possible since they take a longer time to dry. The mid-layer can be a fleece or hoody. A mid-layer that zips is best since you can zip or un-zip depending on how you feel. The outer layer is typically a hard-shell or something water proof. This layer is able to block rain and wind if need be.


Footwear
Sturdy shoes doesn’t just mean boots! While hiking boots are a great option since they protect your ankles and are typically waterproof, you want to choose shoes you are comfortable in. You’re better off hiking in shoes that are broken in and won’t give you painful blisters than buying new boots. New boots equal blisters almost every time. Your feet will be happier in a pair of broken in, comfortable sneakers than a new, stiff pair of hiking boots. Close-toed shoes are typically recommended for hiking since they protect your feet, but sturdy sandals work well for some people. Chaco, Teva or Keen are good options for sturdy hiking sandal.

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