Hiking 101 – Top Tips for First-Time Hike


Are you eager to set out on an adventure of a lifetime with your fellow hikers? If you've never gone hiking before, you'll need a little bit of guidance to have you prepared for the terrain. From knowing what to wear to packing all the essentials that will keep you going, hiking should be done only when you're 100% ready to tackle any environment. More importantly, if you're a beginner, you should have an experienced hiker by your side to show you the ropes. We've put together a comprehensive guide that will have you ready for your first hiking journey.

Let someone know about your hiking itinerary

First and foremost, you need to inform your family and friends about your whereabouts. You should forward your itinerary to at least one person so they can keep up with your journey. That way, if you skip checking in with them on day 2, for instance, they will know where you’ve been the day before and calculate all the rest accordingly. Hiking can be very unpredictable and require plenty of safety planning, so always be on the lookout.

Invest in quality footwear

A pair of high-quality hiking boots are essential for hikers. The boots need to be comfortable, offer good support to the foot and keep you warm. On top of that, they must protect your feet from the elements and allow you to hike on different terrains. To prevent blisters, make sure you wear the boots on occasion before you go on a hiking trip. If you don’t have time for that, opt for a pair of trail runners instead. Considering you’re hiking for the first time, you shouldn’t be going on a long and demanding trail anyway.

Pack on essentials

Every hiker must have a navigation kit in their backpack. What’s a navigation kit, you wonder? It is a set of navigation essentials every person who spends time in nature should have in their luggage. These include a map, a compass, an altimeter, a GPS device, and a personal locator beacon. 

Furthermore, you’ll need a headlamp, a pair of sunglasses, sunscreen, and sun-protective clothes. Throw in several top-rated OTF automatic knives, which will come in handy for gear repair, food preparation, first aid, making kindling or other emergency needs. Don’t forget a first aid kit with all the necessities such as bandages, foot care and insect repellent. Fire matches and a lighter will be useful on your hiking trip.

Layer up the clothes

Hiking is best when you’re comfortable in your clothes. That's why you'll need to make sure you stock up on moisture-wicking fabrics if you plan to hike during warm months. Pack layers that will allow you to adjust for your temperature and the weather easily. You'll easily throw on or shed them as the weather changes. Also, pack an extra warm layer, beyond what you think you'll need, so you can use it in case of strong winds. Bring spares of everything, from underwear, socks to tops and bottoms.

Bring enough food and water

Aside from a protective wardrobe and comfortable footwear, you'll also need to stock up on food and beverages to keep you energized. Nuts, seeds, nut-based bars or nut butter packs are just some of the best examples of hiking-friendly food. Professional hikers advise you to eat 200–300 calories per hour and drink half a liter of water per hour if you’re hiking in moderate temperatures. If the intensity of your hike is higher, you should adjust your water and food intake. The same goes if the weather is colder or warmer and whether you're in your 20s or in your 50s. As you gain more experience, you'll get a better sense of just how much you need.

Pick a beginner’s trail

Last, but not least, as a beginner, you should pick a beginner’s trail to hike. You may think that you can tackle a more challenging route, but you should really crawl before you can walk. That is especially true if you’re out of shape and haven’t ever hiked in your life. You may not enjoy it as much as you think, so you should be able to go back quickly. 

That’s why you should choose a hike under 5 miles with minimal climbing for your first time. If you insist on hiking a longer, more difficult trail, make sure you do an extra mile or two each week and build up to your target distance. Check out the entire route to see whether it's flat 5 miles, or if you will come across several uphill points. It won't feel the same to climb every half an hour and to walk a flat terrain all the way.

Hiking is a great way to spend more time with your friends and get close to nature. However, if you've never done it before, you need to learn how to be prepared for the trip. Pack on enough essentials and double-check if all the gear is in your backpack. Choose wardrobe and footwear wisely, and make sure at least one person knows your itinerary.

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