So you want to get more into the great outdoors and you’ve selected hiking as a way to get some exercise and fresh air. But if you’ve never before been hiking, you might be wondering what you need to know, what you should bring, and what to do in certain situations. Not to worry. This guide will help you sort it out!
Get your gear
Much of what you need to bring is contingent on how long you’ll be hiking. If you simply plan to go for a day hike, you’ll just need to make sure your footwear is comfortable and carry a backpack with water, extra layers, and suncream. For longer excursions though, you’ll need camping equipment. If you’re a novice, taking several day hikes first before embarking on an overnight or multi-night hike is best unless you are going with someone who is extremely experienced that can guide you.
Dress the part
When it comes to day hikes, trail running trainers or hiking shoes will be best. But if you’re venturing off into a multi-day hike or longer, boots will be best. Be sure to spray them with water repellent in case you encounter rain to keep your feet dry. As for clothing, waterproof layers are a great idea that will keep you comfortable as the temperature shifts.
Novice hikers often find themselves stuck with blisters that they must suffer through for the duration of their hike. Don’t be one of them. Coat your feet with a layer of Vaseline prior to putting on your socks so it will keep them from rubbing your feet the wrong way. Another way is to use hiking socks which provide more cushioning and keep your feet dry.
Bring a first aid kit
This is something you take along hoping you never have to use it but you should never go on a hiking adventure without one. There are pre-assembled kits, or you can create your own. Make sure it is stocked with bandages in a variety of sizes, moleskin, medical tape, antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, medical tape, sterile gauze, and some kind of OTC pain reliever.
Food on the go
This is the tricky part. You’ll definitely want to take food with you and how much of it depends on how much hiking you intend to do. Oatmeal, granola bars, and dried or fresh fruit are great for snacks and breakfast on shorter hikes. For lunch, sandwiches are an easy and portable choice. Be sure to choose something that requires no refrigeration. You can also choose freeze-dried meals but they are expensive. As a rule of thumb, choose foods that won’t spoil, are easy to prepare, and won’t overburden your load. Don’t forget about easy to take snacks for when you need a burst of energy.
Don’t forget beverages
Your best bet while hiking is water. You can also take along drink mixes for if you start to feel under the weather. They provide extra calories and nutrients in a pinch.
Know how to stay safe
Hiking is relatively safe, however as with anything, there is always a risk involved. Staying safe while hiking is easy if you remember to always be prepared. Don’t dash out for a hike last minute. Make sure you take along the essentials. Weather can turn on you in an instant so pack and prepare for the worst. You should also make sure you have someone with you when you’re hiking, but even more importantly, you should let someone know about your hiking plans that is not coming along with you. Even if you think the trail you’re taking is easy and safe, it’s best to tell someone about where you’re going, when you’ll be there, and when you plan to come back. This way, if something does happen, you’ll be found much more quickly.
Know how to read a map
GPS on your phone is fantastic, however you may lose your signal and then lose your way. Don’t rely on technology to help you out. Make sure you take along a map and know exactly how to read it. A compass will help you sort out your direction too. Don’t forget it!
With hiking, the key element here is to be prepared for anything. Plan ahead, pack accordingly, and go with someone else, preferably someone who knows what they are doing. Start small with shorter hikes and work your way up, and before you know it, you’ll be an expert too.