The Best Hiking Tips for Beginners

Take a hike! 

It isn’t always an insult. Taking a hike is a great way to relax, get great exercise, spend time in beautiful surroundings, and spend quality time with family and friends. 

For those of us just starting to hike it can seem as simple as lacing up your boots and finding the nearest trail. Unfortunately, having a bad experience early on can ruin the sport for many. 

Worse, being ill prepared for a hike has put many people in dangerous and precarious situations. 

But too much worry can ruin a good hike too. Hiking is supposed to mean fun, carefree times, and freedom from stress.   

Can’t we just take a beautiful hike? 

You’re sold on the health benefits and know all about the benefits of hiking for your mental health. What’s the bother with all this prep time? 

Good news. You don’t have to worry.  

We’ve put together some essential hiking tips for beginners. Cross these off your preparation list and you’ll be ready in no time.  

We’ll get you started. Let’s get ready for a hike. 

Here we go: 

1. Prepare  

While seasoned hiking all stars might be able to start a hike like second-nature, the same isn’t true for beginners. The most important tip is to spend some time preparing. 

Hold on to your enthusiasm, but spend a little bit of time the day before making a plan.  

Check the weather, review your trail, and pack along the essentials.

Preparing is a part of hiking. One of the hiking tips for beginners is to practice preparing. 

It will serve you well for your entire hiking career. 

And when deciding where to hike, and for how long, start small.

It’s better to gradually build up than to overdo it early on.   

2. Hiking Tips for Beginners: Start Small 

Don’t overdo it. A great rule of thumb for beginners is to start small. 

If you get beyond your ability early on, you may regret it. 

You may even decide hiking isn’t for you, after all. Pick a short hike to try and slowly build up from there. 

And tell others your plans before you leave. 

3. Let Someone Know 

Tell someone where you are going and how long you plan on being gone for. Even if you are planning on starting hiking with friends, or a group, it’s best to let someone know. 

You want to stay safe if something unexpected happens out on the trail.

Beyond leaving word, make sure you are taking care of your feet. 

4. Shoes and Socks

Great shoes and socks are a hiker’s best friend. Invest in the best, even as a beginner, and you’ll keep coming back for more on the trail.

One huge mistake is trying out new shoes for the first time on the trail. One of the most important hiking tips for beginners is wearing shoes and socks you are comfortable with. 

You should be well aware of their comfort and performance before you hit the trail. 

5. Water 

You will need to carry along water with you to ensure you can stay hydrated when on your hike. 

It is important to replace the fluids you lose as you hike. 

Doctors warn against overhydration as well though. They note that many athletes have now overcompensated and drink too much water. 

Drinking too much water while hiking could be dangerous as well. 

Specialists advise that each person’s water needs are different. But they agree we should drink water throughout the day. 

Pack it along. Bring something to eat too. 

6. Nutrition 

The amount of nutrition you want to bring on your hike depends on the length of the trail and the amount of time you plan on being gone.

You can even prepare for a feast with 25 popular hiking food ideas. But it’s more likely that as a beginner you’ll be aiming for shorter hikes. 

Packing along some granola, fruit, or energy bars is a great idea. 

7. Maps

Bring along a map of your trail and where you are hiking. This is easy to do with computer technology and printers.

You’ll want to bring a topographical map, as changes in terrain make a major difference when you are hiking. 

Bring along the sunscreen too. 

8. Sunscreen

Take it from the experts. Dr. Jennifer Caudle, a physician at Rowan University School sums it up best when she says:

“Everybody — and I mean everybody — needs sunscreen.” 

“Your ethnicity doesn’t matter; how easily you tan doesn’t matter.”

“If you go out in the sun without sunscreen you are putting yourself at risk for melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of cancer.”

You need about the amount of a full shot glass. And aim for something at SPF 30 or above. 

Beyond the long-term health effects, a miserable sunburn will ruin the entire experience of your hike. You’ll want to bring some to reapply while you are out.

9. Navigation 

Hiking has never been easier to enjoy with the widespread use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Not depending on your smartphone is one of many important hiking tips for beginners. 

Depending on your hardware and service provider, you may find yourself out of range when on a hike. 

It’s always a good idea to carry a traditional compass along with you on a hike. And to know how to use it.

You wouldn’t want to get stuck out on a hike without navigation if GPS fails.

Knowing where you are and being able to find your way back will help you enjoy your hike. 

10. Enjoy 

Ready to take those first hikes? We are too! 

There is nothing better than getting out on the trail and enjoying nature to its fullest. Nothing, that is, except being well prepared. 

Another of the important hiking tips for beginners is to enjoy yourself. Enjoy the experience of being a beginner. 

It doesn’t last long. If you head on hikes well prepared, starting small, and following some basic tips, you’ll be more advanced in no time at all. 

Think you are ready to move to the next level already? Sounds great. 

But before you go, you’ll need to prepare for more advanced hikes. Backpacking would be a perfect next step.

And we’ve got you covered there too.

Click here now to get ready for your next hike with the greatest backpacking checklist.

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