So, you want to learn how to hike?
If you’re looking to include some more exercise into your day-to-day lifestyle habits, hiking is an excellent low-impact workout that gets you up and outdoors. Hiking not only helps you get into better shape, but it also reduces stress and improves brain power.
When you think of hiking you probably imagine week-long exhibitions scaling daunting rockfaces and climbing mountains, but in reality, hiking can start as just a walk around your local woodland. Stuck about what route to pick? Try Trails.com or search out local hiking groups.
You know the basics, but you don’t have a lot of experience and the hiking world can be a little overwhelming. There is a lot more to hiking than just walking along a paved pathway or following a specific route; there are potentially many obstacles that you might have to confront during your journey. Preparation is a big part of hiking, and should become your motto if you’re heading into the wilderness for a trek. Forgetting things like snacks and a fresh pair of socks can ruin a day’s hike!
Follow these basic tips for your first hike:
1.Start small and consider your fitness level
To ensure your first hike is as successful and enjoyable as it can be, be sure to start on a route designed just for beginners like you. Choose a hike that is a little shorter than the distance you can normally walk on a paved surface, as you need to then factor in different variables such as uneven ground and elevation.
Try hiking once a week in your local park, either by yourself or as part of a group, so you can learn to develop your footwork skills, get practice planning hikes, test out new gear and build up your physical endurance.
You’ve taken an interest in hiking, so of course you will want to look into bigger expeditions such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or walking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim hike, but these big paths take months of training. Once you have been on a couple of hikes, you will start to get a sense of what type of hikes work for you.
2. Always remember to check the weather
No one wants to be stuck mid-trail in the pouring rain without the right clothing or equipment for a shelter. On the days, and hours, leading up to your hike be sure to check the weather so you know what type of clothing to wear, what changes you can expect and when, and whether you might need to consider pushing the hike back altogether.
3. Dress for success
Finding comfortable footwear for hiking is vital to your enjoyment of the activity. Don’t put up with your shoes if they’re causing you pain or discomfort and be patient; the first pair of hiking shoes you own might not be the ones for you. Everyone’s feet are different but there is plenty of choice out there including boots, mids and trail runners.
4. Pack the 10 essentials
To make sure you stay safe in the outdoors, pre-planning is vital. Here are the 10 essentials to pack before you set off:
1.Navigation (map and compass)
2.Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
3.Insulation (extra clothing)
6.Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
7.Repair kit and tools
8.Nutrition (extra food)
9.Hydration (extra water)
10.Emergency shelter (tent)
5. Let somebody else know
Arguably one of the most important preparation steps, be sure to leave a detailed trip plan with trusted friends or relatives whenever you intend on leaving for a hike. Be sure this trip plan includes where you are going, the route you plan on hiking, where you’ve parked your car, when you expect to return and who to contact if you are overdue. The film 127 Hours springs to mind with this one!
Last, but by no means least, remember to leave no trace. Popular hikes all around the world will only remain beautiful if we take time to consider our actions and take care of them. By following these 5 hacks, you’ll be a professional explorer in no time, so grab a friend and get out there!