Taking on your first big hike can be daunting. It can even be downright discouraging if you don’t have the right gear and knowledge. But don’t worry, with a few tips, the right equipment, and a positive attitude, you’ll be checking off that next big hike in no time.
Here are the top four things that every new hiker should have with them on the trail.
The right footwear
First thing’s first, get yourself some good hiking footwear. If you’re a beginner hiker, you’re going to want to take good care of your feet. After all, they’re going to be doing all the work, and if they’re hurting you every step of the way, it’s going to feel like a very long hike.
The best hiking shoes for beginners aren’t necessarily a beefy pair of hiking boots either. It all depends on where you’re hiking and how your ankles feel.
Hiking boots are designed to support your ankles so you don’t twist or sprain them. However, they also weigh a lot more than a pair of running shoes. If you intend to hike with a heavy backpack, it’s very important to support your ankles. But if you’re going to be hiking light, maybe with just a water bottle, you might not worry as much about your ankles and opt for some quality sneakers.
The most important aspect of a pair of hiking shoes for beginners is that they fit well. If your feet are wiggling around in your shoes, you’re going to get blisters. Believe me, that’s just about the worst fate for a beginning hiker.
So take the time to make sure your shoes fit well, are broken in before you go hiking, and have an appropriate amount of ankle support for your hike.
Enough food and water
This should go without saying, and it has probably already occurred to you. However, there’s more to it than just stuffing your bag with granola bars.
The most important thing to consider is water. On a typical day, you should be drinking no less than two liters of water. When you’re hiking, you should multiply that by one and a half. Double it if you are going to be in hot or sunny weather.
And when it comes to food, don’t just bring granola bars. The best hiking snacks provide an array of nutrients to give you fast energy and also keep you moving for the long haul.
Sugary foods like dried fruit or chocolate will provide that extra burst of energy when you need it. Foods high in protein like nuts or meat will help your body recover from a long day on the trails. Carbs- such as granola bars, or a big bowl of oatmeal in the morning will provide your body with the bulk of its long-lasting energy throughout the day.
Whole books have been written on the topic of what to wear when you’re hiking. There’s no singular solution for every occasion. After all, your particular climate and the weather each day will affect your decision.
However, there are a couple of key considerations that will always hold true.
First, cotton is not your friend in the woods. It gets wet easily and stays that way. It also is particularly bad at keeping you warm. Instead, choose clothing made out of wool or polyester blends. That means your socks too!
If you will be hiking in a cold climate, bring a pair of long underwear tops and bottoms. As long as they’re not made of cotton the brand shouldn’t matter too much.
Most importantly, take off and put on layers throughout the day so that you don’t get your clothes wet with sweat. That’s a sure way to wind up cold and miserable. If you do sweat through your shirt, try laying it out to dry in the sun during lunch.
The right attitude
And of course, it’s important to remember that you’re choosing to take on a new and exciting challenge. But don’t forget that it is likely to be a challenge.
Maintaining a positive attitude while on the trail can be difficult at times. Especially for a beginner hiker. So go easy on yourself. Take rests. Enjoy the scenery.
Remember that you’re doing something great for your body and if you slow down and take appropriate rests, hiking can be incredibly satisfying. Even if it’s a bit of work to finish the last mile with a smile, learning to maintain a positive attitude even when you’re uncomfortable is hands down the most important piece of equipment you can take into the woods with you.