If you’re just getting started with hiking, you likely have lots of questions. Where do I start? What equipment do I need? How do I stay safe on the trail? Is hiking for beginners safe? Being a beginner hiker can be intimidating, but don’t worry – you don’t have to be an expert to have a great time and reap all the benefits of hitting the trail. To help you get started, here’s a concise list of essential tips for beginner hikers. Ready to get started?
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Hiking for Beginners Tips to Get Started
It can be overwhelming to start a new activity. So many things to grab together, guidelines to stick to, and the like. But here’s the thing. Getting started with hiking is easy. And it’s even easier with these great tips for beginner hikers and thanks to Catalin Geangos of Travel Trained who put these together for us, Here you go.
Get the Right Gear to get started Hiking
One of the most critical steps to starting your hiking adventure is ensuring you have the correct gear. First, get some good and reliable hiking boots that support your ankles. It’s also important to wear the right clothing. During the fall and winter, it’s best to dress in layers, and if you are hiking in the summer, make sure you opt for loose-fitting, breathable materials. Additionally, don’t forget to bring a hat, some sun protection, and a rain jacket. When it comes to items to bring on your hike, make sure you have a backpack with you that has water, some snacks, a map, a first aid kit, and a flashlight. All these items are essential for a successful and safe hike.
We always recommend hiking (and traveling) with a filter water bottle, which means you can fill up from virtually any source of water. Read more about that here.
Learn about the Hiking Trail Before you Start
Before setting out on your hike, it is important to do your research. TripAdvisor is an excellent resource for reading reviews from other hikers and learning about the terrain, the condition of trails, and any special requirements for the hike you plan to take. Additionally, it is beneficial to check the elevation gain and length of the hike to ensure that it is the right one for your physical fitness level. It is recommended to look at the difficulty ratings of the trail and read up on any safety tips that may be available. If possible, it is even better to ask a friend who has been on the trail before to get their opinion. In addition to all of this, it is essential to always be prepared with proper supplies and safety gear in case of any unexpected emergencies or changes in weather conditions. With the right preparation and knowledge, you can have a safe and enjoyable hike.
Take a Hiking Guide or Companion
Safety should always be a top priority when you’re out on a hike, and any good hiking tips guide should acknowledge this. Before setting out, it is important to make sure that you are adequately prepared for the journey. Make sure that you have the necessary supplies, such as plenty of water and food, appropriate clothing and footwear, a first aid kit, a map, and any other items recommended by your guide. Ideally, you should take a hiking guide or a knowledgeable companion that can help you with the trail. If possible, join a guided group tour or find a meet-up group of beginner hikers. These hiking professionals or knowledgeable companions can offer invaluable advice and assistance with the trail, such as the best way to navigate it and what to watch out for. Having a guide or companion will ensure that you have someone to help you in the event of an emergency.
These are some great places to hike around the world that are great for starters
- Magome-Tsumago day hike in Japan
- The Cocora Valley, Salento, Colombia
- Bansko, Bulgaria (in Summer)
- Day Trips Hiking in Sri Lanka
Let Someone Know Where You’re Going
Before you embark on your hike, it’s important to let someone know where you’re going and when you anticipate returning. This way, if you don’t return as scheduled, they will have a starting point to search for you. Providing your hiking companion or family member with a detailed map of your route is also a great idea. Additionally, you should always check in when you come back, so they know you’re safe. Taking these simple steps will ensure that you can enjoy your hike with peace of mind.
Stick to the Trail
While exploring off-trail can be a great adventure, do it only if you’re an experienced hiker and you have the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate your way. It’s also important to make sure you have the right equipment, such as maps, a compass, and other supplies to ensure your safety. As a beginner, it’s best to stick to the designated trail to avoid getting lost, since it is well-marked with signs and markers that indicate the best way to reach the destination. Additionally, it’s much safer to go on a designated trail since it is usually maintained for hikers, with the potential hazards already taken into account.
Know Safety Regulations
Familiarizing yourself with the Leave No Trace principles is essential to ensure that you don’t leave a trace of your presence on the trail. It is also important to take bear safety seriously. Before heading out, take the time to learn about proper bear safety and bear country etiquette. It is important to understand the signs of bear activity and be aware of your surroundings. Additionally, if you come across a bear, remain calm and give the bear space. Make sure to follow any local rules and regulations for bear safety, and be sure to carry bear spray and other supplies with you if possible. Taking the necessary precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of the bears is essential for a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience.
Bring the Basics for hiking
Every hiker should carry the basics for a successful and safe hike, including a lightweight first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relief medications; a detailed map of the area; a headlamp or flashlight to light your way in the dark; a knife for any emergency cutting needs; a whistle to signal for help; and a fire-starter, such as matches or a lighter, that can be used to start a fire in a survival situation. Carrying these items can help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.
Stay on the Upright Side
Taking a hike can often require you to use both your hands and feet to maneuver the terrain. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to climb, it’s important to keep your chest and head facing toward the uphill side to maintain balance. Doing this allows you to use your arms and legs to their full potential, so you can make it to the top without any issues. Additionally, it also enables you to keep an eye on the path ahead, so that you can prepare for any potential obstacles that may be in your way. Ultimately, by keeping your chest and head facing the uphill side, you can ensure that you can complete the hike without any unexpected difficulties.
Stay Hydrated While Hiking
Always bring more water than you think you’ll need, as you’ll find yourself drinking more on the trail. Dehydration can be a serious problem, so it’s important to stay hydrated and make sure you have sufficient water on hand. Refill your water supply at refill stations available in some hiking destinations, or take advantage of natural sources like streams and rivers, if they are safe to drink from. A water filter or purification tablets are also great to have on hand, as they can help to ensure that the water you are drinking is clean and free of bacteria and impurities. If you are hiking for a longer period of time, it can be a good idea to bring extra water bottles, so that you can store extra water for when you might need it.
Pack a Trail Snack
Taking a snack with you while hiking is never a bad idea. Pack lightweight and nutritious items like energy bars, trail mix, candy, jerky, nuts, or dried fruit. Eating a snack during your hike can help provide an energy boost, replenish your body’s essential nutrients, and keep you feeling energized and fueled for the rest of your hike. The right type of snack can also help to improve your concentration, boost your mood, and enhance your overall outdoor experience. So, when you’re packing for your next outdoor adventure, don’t forget to add a few nutritious snacks to your bag!
Don’t Forget Sun Protection
Many hikes will take you to sunny, exposed areas, where the sun’s rays can be particularly strong and damaging to your skin. To protect yourself, it is important to bring a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses with you, as these items can help to block out some of the sun’s harmful rays and reduce the risk of sunburn and skin cancer. Moreover, it is important to remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours and to stay hydrated, as the sun’s heat can cause dehydration. With the right precautions, you can enjoy your hike in the sun without worrying about the potential risks.
Take Breaks and Listen to Your Body
There’s no need to rush your hike; in fact, it’s important to take your time. If you find yourself getting tired, take a break to rest, snack, and hydrate. You should also remember to drink plenty of water throughout your hike to stay hydrated. As a beginner, it’s best to take breaks after every hour of hiking or whenever you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed. When you take a break, take the opportunity to get to know the scenery around you, or even to chat with fellow hikers. Remember that hiking should be an enjoyable experience, so if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, don’t be afraid to take a break and take care of yourself.
Get an Early Start
There’s no harm in beginning your hike later in the day, but if you start earlier you’ll be able to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and experience the stunning natural surroundings. Plus, the sooner you start, the sooner you can finish and thus reduce the chances of being stuck in the dark. Additionally, you can take advantage of the early hours of the day, when the sun is just starting to peak out, and the sky is painted in beautiful hues of orange, pink, and purple. Finally, starting your hike early can give you more time to explore, which can be a great way to have a truly memorable and unique adventure.
Final Words on Hiking for Beginners
These 13 tips for beginner hikers will point you in the right direction. Hiking for beginners shouldn’t be intimating. Getting the right gear, learning about the hike, taking a companion, notifying people of your hike, and following safety regulations are the main hiking tips for beginners and are all important for having a safe and enjoyable experience. Paying attention to the details and following these tips will ensure you have a great time out on the trail. Enjoy your beginner hiking!
Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.
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