Hiking is a lovely combination of sports and entertainment, particularly if you need some time to recover from crowded urban areas. Studies show that frequent hiking reduces the risk of mental health problems by 50%, but the benefits extend well beyond.
Hiking helps you to reduce stress levels, minimize the chance of getting a heart attack, maintain your body weight, and sleep better. It is also one of the simplest physical activities because it doesn’t require special preparation or tools.
However, it doesn’t mean there is no room for mistakes. A lot of first-time hikers make mistakes that can totally spoil the fun, so we recommend you 10 hiking tips for beginners.
1. Pick a hiking trail for beginners
This goes without saying, but way too many newbies don’t pay attention to the hiking trail selection. If you are totally new to hiking, then you have to start slowly and pick a trail that suits your level of skills and fitness. What does it mean in practice? There are two details to keep an eye on here:
- Don’t go for more than five or six miles
- Find a trail with minimal climbing requirements
2. Pack the essentials
Many people love hiking because they can already find all the essential equipment at home. Every hiker makes his/her own list as experiences pile up, but the most important hiking elements include:
- Food and water
- Sun protection
- Matches or lighter
- An additional set of clothing
- Garbage bags and tents for sheltering
With these tools at your disposal, your first hiking experience will be much safer and more comfortable.
3. Wear the right clothes
One thing you must not forget is to wear the right clothes. After all, you can’t just go out there in your everyday jeans and sneakers. You should wear dry-fit apparel instead to avoid getting cold and uncomfortable while hiking. Besides that, it’s always a good idea to buy a pair of trail sneakers.
4. Get a paper map
We guess you aren’t going on your first hiking adventure alone, but just in case you are – get a real paper map and learn how to use it. Jake Gardner, an experienced hiker says mobile apps and navigation systems are also a good choice: “But they can malfunction if you go too deep into the forest or too high up the mountain, so it’s better to bring traditional paper maps with you as well.”
5. Check the weather forecast
Hiking can quickly turn into a real nightmare if you get stuck in the middle of a mountain storm. You definitely don’t want to experience it on your first trail, so you better check the weather forecast before you go out there.
6. Start early
Another very useful tip for beginner-level hikers is to start as early as possible. Many hiking trails are overcrowded and you can enjoy the experience much more if you take off early and avoid dozens or even hundreds of other adventurers. And that’s not the only benefit since early birds can also spend more time in nature and enjoy a full-day hiking experience.
7. Set your pace and stick to it
Hiking is not a sprint, but rather a marathon. It usually takes at least a couple of hours, so you’ll need to set the right pace and stick to it all the way through the trail. Beginners will often start strong just to end up exhausted, but you should be smarter than that and keep the same rhythm and have fun along the way.
8. Keep it safe
Another very important suggestion is to make your hiking tours safe and sound. There are so many details you must pay attention to such as:
- Keep your friends or family informed about your hiking plans
- Avoid risky situations like jumps or climbing
- Watch your steps to prevent ankle twists
- Don’t rush it because hiking is not a race
9. Backtrack if you get lost
Sooner or later, almost everyone gets lost while hiking. This is no time to panic, so you must calm down and simply go back. Backtracking should quickly get you to the place that looks familiar and that you can clearly recognize on a map. But if you follow the marked trail – and every beginner should – you can hardly ever get lost out there.
10. Mind the hiking etiquette
The last tip on our list is to follow the basic hiking etiquette. These are very small details that mean a lot to experienced hikers:
- Allow a faster hiker to pass by
- Hikers headed uphill have the priority
- Say hello to your fellow hikers
- Most hikers enjoy the sounds of nature and don’t like listening to music
- Pick your trash
The Bottom Line
There’s nothing better than choosing a proper hiking trail and spending a day in nature. However, things can go terribly wrong if you don’t pay attention to details and don’t bring the right gear with you. We showed you 10 hiking tips for beginners, so do your best to remember and use them when you go on your first hiking mission.
Guest post written by: Justin Osborne
Justin is a travel writer for essay writing service uk, blogger from Leicester, UK. He likes to discuss travels and share his own ideas with readers on different blogs and forums. Currently, he is working as an editor at the writing service write my paper.