How to Start Hiking – A Beginner’s Guide


A Beginner’s Guide – How to Start Hiking ?

Hiking is an excellent and low impact workout with ample physical and mental benefits. It helps in reducing anxiety and prevents osteoporosis as well. Beyond the scenic beauty and fun, it has a number of benefits on the health front as well. Unlike walking on a pavement or on a treadmill, hiking involves a lot of unpredictable variables and can still be crossed efficiently with prior planning. The following hiking tips for beginners will help them enjoy their initial treks easier and memorable.


Merits of Hiking:

Hiking is one of the greatest things that one can do for their mental and physical health. There are some amazing benefits of hiking and those are,

  • It helps the individual to gear start and explores their local surroundings.
  • It does not demand great things to start off on a hiking trip.
  • Bonding is excellent with co-hikers be it family or friends during the trip.
  • Planning for a hiking trip is extremely cost-effective and is indeed free.
  • It is a reminder for all of us that the world we live in is very pretty and amazing.

Things to carry compulsorily for a hiking trip:

Beginners have to necessarily carry the following things and gadgets for their hiking trips so has to have a hassle free first-time experience.  It makes things easy for them and also their co-hikers and makes the entire trip memorable.

  • Navigation map and direction compass
  • Sun protection creams and glasses
  • Insulation with extra clothing
  • Lighting with flashlight or headlamp
  • First aid supplies
  • Waterproof matches, candle and lighter to start up a fire
  • Repair tools and kits for hiking gear
  • Enough nutrition through extra food and adequate water
  • Emergency shelter with backpacking tents or plastic tube tents


Beginners guide for hiking- where to start and how to proceed:

The commonest mistake that most beginners make is overdoing the hiking trip. They pick a hiking trail that is too long or involves too much climbing.  For beginners, a hike less than 5 miles with minimal climbing is the best. They have to gradually increase an extra mile every week to build up their target. Other things to carry and gear to pick up for perfect hiking are,

  • Hiking gear for beginners
  • Understanding the map
  • Start at the right time
  • Take all the required permits
  • Check the weather
  • Inform others about the whereabouts of the trail
  • Go slow on the trail
  • Watch the path
  • Take help when getting lost
  • Don’t Fear Getting Lost


Hiking gear for beginners:

Novice hikers may wish to shop for too much of fashionable hiking gear but the good news is that hiking does not require any special gear. Beginners can as well start off with the things they already have.

  • Clothing: Hikers should avoid using jeans and regular clothes as they can get very heavy and chafe the skin when they get wet or sweaty. Wicking workout clothes are the best for active outdoor endeavors. Hiking pants and shorts articulated better along the trail, long sleeve shirts also protects from bushes and insects.
  • Shoes: A good pair of trail runners or sneakers is the best bet. Hiking boots that were left in the closet for many years are not good to use as they can damage the skin and cause blisters.
  • Backpack: backpack should have enough hip and shoulder support and be good enough to carry water, snacks, mobiles, and other important things. It is good to have backpacks with extra layers to protect from rain.

Understanding the map:

Most beginners tend to rely on a smartphone app for their route and location. Paper maps are good too to hold a printed version of the entire trail. A combination of both electronic navigation and paper is the best idea for hiking beginners. Paper maps are useful in learning the different landmarks in the location and the GPS helps to precisely point the location.

Start at the right time:

It is a common recommendation for all novice hikers to start their trip as early as possible. If they delay, then there could be enough crowd in the trail and the sun may also get encroaching. For those who are scared to hike alone, then it is good to hike at the peak time, though it will be hard there will still be the company.

Take all the required permits:

Do not show up to the trail without a permit. Few trails require them and if the hiker is not sure about the park protocols, they can as well clear them with the park office. Permits are usually free and the hiker can obtain them easily. It is good to check with the authorities if the trails are open or closed for maintenance works.

Check the weather:

The hiker should be aware of the weather in the trail before heading towards it. The weather in the mountains is generally different than in the town, and the weather can also change drastically on hilly areas.

Inform others about the whereabouts of the trail:

One important tip that is easy but can be a lifesaver is to inform someone back home about where you are going and when you will be back. A simple text message with the link to the hike webpage is enough. If something undesired happens, then it is easy for others to track down your location.

Go slow on the trail:

Going fast on the trail will miss out opportunities to explore the intricate beauty of the trail. Beginners should hike slow and steady, most of them start fast and blow up later on. Energy conservation is mandatory on a long hike as the entire trip is unpredictable. For those hiking in a group, should stay with the group and if they are planning to split up then it has to be done in intervals with specific junctions where the group can again unite.

Watch the path:

As hiking trails have enough scope to explore nature and to enjoy the wildlife, there could be some dangerous animals on the ways as well. Rattlesnakes are common and can bite when someone steps on them accidentally. They are not very much visible and lie along with the dirt on the trail. Stepping in the wrong place or in-between rocks can result in twisted ankles, slipping, tripping on a root and sometimes even stepping on poisonous wildlife.

Take help when getting lost:

Getting lost in the trails is common for most hikers and the best way to solve the issue is by backtracking. If still not useful, then one can try calling or texting for help. Yelling for help at regular intervals can help as well.

Don’t Fear Getting Lost

If you think you’re lost, the first thing you need to do is stop. Take a look at your guide and see if anything sounds or looks familiar. If not, just backtrack until your surrounding match what’s described in your guide. Getting lost hiking is something that happens to the best of us all the time, and is not a big deal. Backtracking solves the problem 99% of the time. GPS beacons are the best investment to call for help for novice hikers.


Basic Hiking etiquette for beginners:

There are some basic hiking etiquette that beginners should learn.

  • Those standing on a flat section should be courteous to leave a way for other hikers to pass
  • Greet other hikers on the way and if interested involve in a quick chat.
  • When moving in groups keep the volume of the conversation low so as to not disturb others. The same holds good for telephonic conversations too
  • Play music only with headphones and not with speakers as others like to connect with nature and not the songs
  • If hiking with dogs, keep them leashed and under control, so as to not scare others.
  • Hikers should not leave any trash around and pollute the environment.


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