A Brief Beginner’s Guide to Smart Hiking
Hiking can be a liberating and introspective experience—as long as it’s enjoyed safely. Many people love hiking for its health benefits as well as for the opportunity to take a break from the rest of the world. Veterans are generally already aware of the recommended hiking rules, but beginners may want to read up on certain aspects of the activity to help guarantee their safety and comfort. We’ve made a short beginner’s guide to hiking to help get you started.
1. Invite a Friend
Anyone unfamiliar with hiking may want to consider inviting someone to tag along. This way, if anything unexpected occurs, you’ll have someone else there with you. If you’d prefer to hike alone, make sure to let someone know where you’ll be going.
2. Strategize Your Route
If you’re a beginner, take a route that’s achievable according to your experience level. Take long walks beforehand and determine what your limits are. Also consider the terrain: research the area you’re planning on visiting and account for the length and the conditions of the trail.
3. Decide What to Wear
Don’t just throw on whatever you think will be comfortable and spritz on some bug spray—you want to be deliberate in your choices. There are a few things to consider when selecting your clothes:
- Synthetic materials: You’ll want to avoid wearing cotton clothing when hiking. This material quickly soaks up moisture such as sweat and will make you uncomfortable. This applies to your entire ensemble, including your underwear and socks.
- Layers: Your temperature is bound to fluctuate when you’re hiking. The exercise may make you warm, but you’ll cool down when you reach a higher elevation. Plan for this by bringing an extra change of clothes that will work for any situation.
- Shoes: These are one of the most important items to consider. You’ll want breathable, comfortable shoes that will support your ankles and provide protection from rough terrain. They should also have good traction.
4. Pack Smart
You’ll want to pack as light as possible, but you should also be prepared for any situation. The most important things to have on hand are as follows:
- Snacks containing protein
- A first aid kit
- An emergency poncho
- A flashlight
- A Swiss Army knife
- A compass
- A portable battery
- Biodegradable toilet paper
5. Be Respectful
Remember that you should treat the land you’re visiting with reverence. Hiking is an opportunity to appreciate nature, so don’t abuse it by littering. Also be sure to disturb nature as little as possible. If you follow the proper hiking etiquette and safety protocols, you’re guaranteed to have a fulfilling experience.