Take a deep breath. Now breathe out. It is the dawn of a new day. You are going hiking and the trail looks quite splendid. It extends before you like a runway for a plane about to take off, but the runway is the person you will become and the plane is you right now. Fortunately for you though, you got your hands on this article, 10 Hiking Tips for Beginners: Gear and Advice. Now you have some wise words to get you going.
Let’s get started so you get onto the trail.
1. Start Small But Think Big.
Many people overestimate their abilities. You need to keep your fitness level in mind. Because I practice Muay Thai and surf in Santa Cruz, my fitness level is higher than most. Once you get to hiking on a regular basis, then you should be able to do a lot more if you stay consistent. No one is equivalent to each other. The person who knows your body best is you. Take the time to listen to it. No one became a thru hiker overnight. They stuck with hiking and kept on going.
2. Make Sure to Bring All the Proper Gear Along with You.
You enjoy the trail a lot more if you have everything you need. With that in mind, be sure to bring the items listed below.
- Hydration reservoir/water bottle
- Sunscreen, no matter your melatonin level, the sun still affects you. That is why I wear sunscreen every day. It will (I hope) in old age make my skin look a lot better. Your skin is the biggest organ in your body and your first line of defense. You want to protect it against sunburn.
- Bug spray, I personally do not bring bug spray along with me. I prefer to suffer through the pain, but I will probably change that and switch to something like neem oil, an all natural bug spray.
I think it comes down to personal preference, but some may disagree.
3. Pack Light and You’ll be Swift.
More stress comes from more things. I strive as much as possible to minimalist. When you have less clutter in your life, your mind literally frees up mental space to think. Your world expands and you can think more creatively. The opportunities abound. Because when are bored and have no stimuli (like on a nature hike), your mind has to come up with ideas.
You will also go a lot faster than you ordinarily would. It’s less weight on your back.
4. Go with a Friend or Group if You’re Starting Out.
Friends keep each other safe. Friends help each other out in an emergency. You also can learn from them. More often than not, when you are in a group, someone will be an experienced veteran of the trail. You can only learn so much from a blog post. To understand hiking, you have to get out and go do it. The trail veteran will, maybe or maybe not, take you under their wing. They will, at the least, give you some much-needed advice.
The hiking experience is also much more memorable if you go with a friend or group. Life is about human connection. It is nice to go hiking by yourself every now and again for the solitude, but you build bonds, friendships, and connections with people if you go with others.
5. Check the Weather Before You Go.
If it’s raining, bring a poncho. If it’s cold outside, bring warm clothes. If it’s hot outside, bring a hat. In other words, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only poor clothing and inadequate modes of transportation” as Ron Swanson would say. If you do not like the weather, you don’t have to go. You can stay at home. If you do decide to get outside though, you will have a better time if you wear the proper clothing.
If it is hailing or snowing or any other manner of destructive weather going on outside, you probably shouldn’t go. You do want to enjoy yourself after all.
Speaking about the weather, it is now Winter time in California, so the temperature is quite chilly. If you are in the cold season, you should check out one of my previous articles, 10 Cold Weather Health and Safety Hiking Tips for Winter. Just because it is cold outside does not mean you cannot go hiking. Read on to find out more.
6. Let Someone Know Your Plans.
And not the friend or group you will be going with, let someone trustworthy who is staying at home know your plans. This consists of two important parts: when you will be back and where you are going. Without these two parts, you might as well have not told the person in the first place. All it takes is less than five minutes. Hikers too often get lost and do not get found because they never told anyone their plans. It does not take that long.
The person needs to be trustworthy because they will let authorities know you are missing in case you do not come back.
7. Protect Your Joints on the Downhill Stretch.
Your body undergoes a lot of pounding when you hike downhill. Knees, elbows, hip sockets, and ankles are most vulnerable when heading downhill. If you want to enjoy your joints in old age, then you need to protect them while you can. You only have one body, so you have to make it count.
Your body remembers everything you do to it, so you have to be sure to treat it with respect or else it will bite you in the butt later.
8. Pace Yourself. This Isn’t a Race.
You’re in this for the long haul. If you want to hike 10 or 15 miles in a day, then you have to go at a steady pace. People make mistakes when they are tired. People get sloppy. They are less present and less focused, so they crash into trees and trip over rocks when they aren’t looking.
Take a break every now and again, collect yourself, and get back to the hike at hand.
9. Dress to Impress and Be a Success.
The short answer is dress for the weather and always bring a rain jacket. Wear proper, broken in boots and wool socks or ones which will stay warm even if they get wet. If your fingers and toes are warm, then the rest of your body feels warm. Also, you never know when the weather could change and turn into a storm. I always bring a rain jacket along with me. It makes the going a lot easier if the weather turns sour.
10. Leave No Trace.
There are a lot of people on the trails these days. I mean a lot. With all that stomping around by lots and lots of people, nature feels it. It responds. If you go off trail with your buddies and it feels good, makes you feel like an explorer, there are repercussions. Every step we take in the environment affects the world around us.
Are You Going to Get Outside this Week?
If you want to use the tips in this article, then you need to get outside and go hiking this week. There is no way around it. The trail could even be as small as a stroll around your neighborhood. Either way, I have a small “call to action” so to speak before you go. I would like you to head off to AllTrails.com. It is my go to source for finding trails near me. If you can think of a trail, the site probably has it.
Take the time this week to plan a hike. Your future self will be sure to pat yourself on the back for it. So what do you say? Are you going to get outside this week?
If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!