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Camping is great, but have you considered throwing hiking into the mix!?
Camping and hiking go together like peanut butter and jelly!
However, before you can experience the true beauty of hiking, it’s important to be fully prepared, otherwise, you could find yourself in an emergency situation.
And that’s the last thing you need.
In this article, you will discover the blueprint to success when it comes to hiking. We will show you how to prepare, what to pack, how to find a hiking buddy, and much more.
Preparing Your Body For Hiking
Hiking is not like walking down the street. You need to prepare your body, otherwise, it could end up being too much for you, causing you to quit before finishing the trail.
Developing your cardiovascular fitness is the most important part of preparing for a hike.
There are two main types of cardio you can train – anaerobic and aerobic.
Anaerobic fitness is typically associated with short bursts of intense exercise. It’s commonly trained by athletes that need to exert a large amount of energy in a short period of time.
Aerobic fitness is designed to keep the body moving for the longest time possible without exerting too much energy. Common athletes that need aerobic fitness are runners, swimmers, and cyclists.
When it comes to preparing for a hike, you want to focus 100% of your efforts on developing aerobic fitness, Instead of anaerobic.
But how do you build aerobic fitness!?
Developing your aerobic fitness isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight; however, with the right training plan, it shouldn’t take too long to see results.
One of the best ways to build aerobic fitness is to start jogging. It doesn’t have to be super intense, but enough to get your heart rate up.
After a while, you’ll notice that you can run for longer without the need to rest. Once you see improvements in your cardio, you can consider moving over to hiking.
If running isn’t your preferred method of exercise, a great alternative is strength training.
And no, we don’t mean trying to achieve your one-rep max in the gym!
While a good baseline of cardio is the bread and butter of hiking, stretching can be just as important, especially if you’re hiking in difficult terrain.
One of the most common hiking injuries is sprains, so you must warm up your muscles beforehand.
So what are the best stretches?
Quad Stretch Tutorial
Find a wall, and place your hand on it for support. Next, raise your left leg backward, and grab it with your right hand. After holding this position for 30 seconds, switch legs.
Shoulder Stretch Tutorial
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and slowly roll your shoulders backward 30 times. After 30 reps, repeat the exercise by rolling your shoulders forward.
Hamstring Stretch Tutorial
Make sure your legs are a little more than shoulder-width apart, then bend down and touch your toes with both hands. Hold this position for 20 seconds and then change feet.
Ankle Stretch Tutorial
Place your right foot slightly forward, and face it upwards, so you’re standing on your toes. Twist your foot clockwise for 30 seconds, and then repeat with the other foot.
Find A Hiking Buddy
While hiking alone is a great way to spend some quality time with yourself, sharing this experience with somebody else is always better.
Before the internet, it proved more difficult to find a hiking buddy; however, times have changed.
A simple Facebook search will reveal tons of hiking groups in your local area. The best thing to do is join these groups and make yourself known. If you’re always providing value, getting invited on hikes becomes easy.
Alternatively, you can join a hiking club. A quick Google search for hiking clubs in your area, and you’ll have a list to choose from.
Choose The Right Equipment
While hiking is meant to be fun and rewarding, if there’s one thing you should take seriously – it’s your equipment.
Choosing the wrong equipment can spell disaster for you when hiking. A lot of beginners try to hike up mountains with little knowledge, and none of the correct equipment.
Don’t be one of these people!
You may think you’re invincible, but you’ve never stood atop a mountain before.
It’s not uncommon for the sun to be beaming down at the bottom of a trail, while the top of the mountain is experiencing a blizzard.
A high-quality jacket is essential if you’re going to be walking up a mountain. Without one, you’re going to be in for a shock when the temperature starts dropping.
However, there are three main types of jackets to choose from…
Hardshell, softshell, and insulated.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of them.
Hardshell jackets are designed to protect the user from wind and rain.
However, they don’t contain any insulation.
This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on what you’re looking for.
No insulation means hardshell jackets tend to be more lightweight, making your hike easier and less taxing on your muscles.
On the flip side, no insulation means you’re going to have a harder time keeping warm.
Similar to hardshell, softshell jackets are windproof and waterproof, making them great for moderate weather conditions.
They can also be worn under your hardshell jacket, providing you with an extra layer of security in extreme conditions.
The main purpose of an insulated jacket is to trap your body heat, preventing you from getting cold in harsher conditions.
For hiking, you want to choose an insulated jacket that is lightweight and versatile, so your movement isn’t restricted.
However, if you’re going to be walking up a mountain that is known to have blizzards and extreme weather, then choosing a bulkier jacket is recommended.
You’ll need the extra layers of protection in these types of environments.
Which One Should You Choose?
If you’re going to be hiking in mild weather, we recommend going for a softshell jacket.
On the flip side, tackling extreme weather is going to require something with more protection. So a hardshell or insulated jacket would be more suitable.
Being a beginner, you may not know what the weather is going to be like, so it’s important to ask around.
Remember, when hiking up a mountain, there could be a sudden change in weather.
Choosing the wrong hiking pants will destroy your freedom of movement, so you need to know what to look for.
There are two main types of hiking pants…
Softshell and convertible.
As you already know, softshell equipment is designed to be lightweight, comfortable, and provide great freedom of movement.
Convertible pants aren’t much different from softshell pants; however, they can be unzipped just below the knee, turning them into shorts. These types of pants are great when hiking in the Summer months.
We recommend investing in softshell and convertible pants, allowing you to adjust depending on the weather,
Going hiking without a backpack is a recipe for disaster. A backpack allows you to carry all the important equipment that keeps you safe and healthy.
The key to choosing a great backpack is ensuring it has enough space for your equipment, but isn’t too heavy, making it difficult to carry.
Because of the sudden change in weather you’re likely to experience when hiking, we also recommend choosing a waterproof backpack, otherwise, your equipment could get damaged.
The most important thing you want to look for in hiking boots is whether they’re waterproof. At some point, you’re bound to experience rain, snow, or even a blizzard, so it’s important to protect your feet.
Not only do waterproof boots protect your feet from hypothermia, but they also help prevent your socks from getting wet. And if you’ve been hiking for a while, you know how frustrating it is changing your socks every ten minutes!
Hiking involves a lot of walking, so choosing a high-quality pair of socks is essential.
However, it’s not as straightforward as going to your local shop and picking up a pair of your favorite cotton socks.
Hiking socks are designed to protect your feet from blisters and water while providing supreme comfort.
So where do you get hiking socks?
It’s best to start by looking on Amazon; however, make sure to check out the reviews beforehand!
The last thing you need is to get socks that give you blisters.
There are two main types of hats you need when hiking.
Wooly and bucket hats.
Wooly hats are great for keeping your head warm when hiking in cold weather.
On the flip side, bucket hats protect your face and neck from getting burned when it’s hot outside.
Therefore, selecting the right hat depends entirely on where you’re hiking.
The main purpose of hiking gloves is to keep your hands warm in cold weather.
If you’re hiking in hot weather, there’s no point in bringing gloves with you.
First Aid Kit
If there’s one thing you should never forget, it’s a first aid kit. At some point, one of your hiking buddies may injure themselves, so it’s always good to be prepared.
We recommend getting a first aid kit that includes the following…
- Safety pins
- Medical tape
- Gauze pads
These items ensure you can help somebody with minor injuries.
If you’re wondering where to find first aid kits, there are plenty on Amazon.
Map & Compass
When you first start a trail, it’s pretty easy to follow; however, as you proceed further, it can be difficult to determine where you are, especially on a mountain trail.
That’s why it’s important to bring a map and compass.
If you’re new to hiking and unsure of a trail, it’s best to go with an experienced hiker, otherwise, you could end up getting lost.
What’s more, basic map reading skills are essential for any new hiker.
Food & Drink
Some trails can take up to ten hours, so it’s important to stock up on food and drink.
When we say stock up, we don’t mean bring loads of tin cans.
Remember, it’s important to keep your backpack super lightweight, otherwise, you’ll struggle to carry everything.
You can buy lightly packed survival food from Amazon; however, we wouldn’t recommend this as your primary food source.
Some great alternatives are energy bars, nuts, granola bars, and ready-made salads.
Hiking is great, but if there’s one thing that can ruin your experience, it’s dealing with insects and mosquitos.
To combat this, you need to get some type of insect repellent.
One of the best types of insect repellents is in a spray format. Simply spray your clothing, and you won’t have to deal with those annoying mosquitoes.
Depending on where you’re hiking, the area may be filled with bears. While they don’t normally attack people, it’s good to be prepared for anything and everything.
If you do bump into an aggressive bear, there are no second chances.
Luckily, there’s a solution.
If you’re hiking in a bear-infested area, you can purchase bear spray.
Dispensing bear spray temporarily blinds bears, giving you time to make your escape; however, it should only be used as a last resort.
The Hiking For Beginners Guide To Choosing A Trail
Choosing a hiking trail may sound simple, but there are some things you need to be aware of.
Here they are…
Hiking the more difficult trails is going to be more taxing on your body, so you need to find a trail that aligns with your fitness level.
The great thing is you can start with the easier trails, while building your cardio on the side.
Once you better understand your limitations, you can move on to harder trails.
A lot of beginners want to hike the more intense trails straight away; however, this is a recipe for disaster.
Not only will it be more difficult, but you may run into issues that require the expertise of an experienced hiker.
How Much Time Do You Have?
It’s essential to plan out your day when hiking. One of the most important things to consider is how much time you have.
If you only have a few hours, then a shorter trail is going to be more suitable.
Alternatively, if you’ve got the whole day, you could hike up a small mountain.
Also, pay attention to when the sun sets and rises.
The last thing you need is to be stuck at the summit of a mountain when night falls. What’s more, it’s easy to lose your sense of direction when it gets dark.
What Do You Want To See?
The reason hiking is loved by millions of people is because it allows you to see everything. It doesn’t matter if you want to spend time in the backcountry or reach a mountain summit, there’s a trail for everyone.
Although some people hike in all conditions, it’s best to start with the safer trails if you’re a beginner.
In certain months, a lot of trails become extremely dangerous for even the most experienced hikers.
If you have your heart set on hiking one of these challenging trails, we recommend undergoing training beforehand, as you’re more likely to run into problems if you are a novice.
Also, ensure you’re with a group of highly skilled people.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were amazing trails just outside your front door?
Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for most of us. In most cases, you’ll need to travel to a specific location before you can begin your hike.
You will need to plan out how long it’s going to take to get there, ensuring you have enough time to complete the hike.
Also, if you want to experience some of the best hiking trails, the travel fares are going to cost money.
The Must-Know Rules Of Hiking
Whenever you first take up a new hobby, it’s crucial to understand the ‘unwritten rules’ that apply. While having fun is key, there are some things to be aware of.
Leave No Trace
Leave no trace is something that’s typically thrown around in the camping community; however, the same thing applies to hikers.
Leaving no trace doesn’t just apply to littering. It means leaving everything how you found it. This means not digging holes, cutting branches, or removing anything from the environment.
But what about starting a fire?
This depends entirely on where you’re hiking. The best thing to do is check with other hikers to better understand the rules.
Alternatively, you can do a quick Google search of the hiking trail.
It’s also important to remember that starting a fire does come with the risk of causing a wildfire. So it’s important to make sure there’s no chance of it spreading when you leave.
What’s more, it’s critical to leave no trace of a fire. You can do this by collecting the ash and dispersing it around you…
After you’ve put the fire out with water, of course!
You can then cover the area up with leaves.
Acknowledge Fellow Hikers
You’d be surprised how much you can learn by striking up a conversation with fellow hikers on the trail. What’s more, if they know you’re a beginner, they will be more than happy to guide you in the right direction.
Also, letting people know where you’re going is essential for your safety, especially if you’re solo hiking.
“Where do you do your business?”, is a question commonly asked by beginners.
While there aren’t going to be any toilets on your trail, you can still poop away from the public eye. As embarrassing as it is, we all have to go from time to time.
So how do you handle such a situation?
Before we can talk about where to poop, it’s important to remember the leave no trace rule.
Yes, this also applies to poop.
Anyhow, you’ll want to make sure you’re 200 feet away from any trail. Ideally, you can hide behind a tree or rock and do your business in a plastic bag.
Afterward, make sure to dispose of the plastic bag and all toilet paper.
Also, don’t forget to bring a hand sanitizer with you!
Don’t Get Lost
It doesn’t get much worse than getting lost in the wilderness, especially if you’re hiking by yourself.
Don’t let this scare you though!
The reason people get lost is because they divert from the trail and get confused. Even if you’re not sure where you are, as long as you stay on the trail, you’re bound to bump into somebody sooner or later.
If you ever find yourself in a situation like this, basic map reading skills can come in handy, so start practicing before your first hike!
Leave The Headphones At Home
Nowadays, it can be tempting to take your headphones everywhere; however, we recommend leaving them at home, especially if it’s your first hike.
Hiking allows you to experience what it’s like to be in nature, so why waste the experience by listening to music?
Not only that, but listening to music cuts you off from the outside world, ruining the chances of befriending people on the trail.
While these downsides pose minor issues, there’s a far greater danger associated with listening to music.
Depending on where you’re hiking, you could encounter the not-so-friendly wildlife. You need to be aware of your surroundings, otherwise, you could end up being a bear’s next meal.
Before we get into the FAQ section, we first recommend going over the bulk of this article and making sure you’ve understood everything properly. In fact, it may be a good idea to take notes.
Anyhow, in this section we’re going to answer some commonly asked questions.
What Are The Dangers Of Hiking?
The chances of you encountering a psycho when hiking are pretty slim; however, there are some dangers you need to be aware of.
The two most common dangers are falling over and injuring yourself, as well as suffering from heatstroke. Both of these things can be controlled by taking the necessary precautions.
To minimize the risk of falling over and injuring yourself, ensuring you have adequate footwear is essential. Choose a pair of boots that are durable and offer great protection for your ankles.
For preventing heatstroke, make sure you pack enough water to last the duration of your trip. Running out of water when hiking isn’t fun, especially if you’re by yourself.
Another danger to look out for is wildlife. It’s always best to check the area you’re going to be hiking in to see what animals you could encounter.
You can then determine which animals need to be avoided at all costs, and which ones are safe.
If you’re hiking in a bear-infested area, don’t forget to bring bear spray!
Lastly, there’s always the chance of you getting lost when hiking, especially if you’re new. That’s why it’s important to let people know where you’re going, and how long you expect the hike to take.
If you do find yourself lost, stay on the trail and you’re going to bump into somebody sooner or later. Also, we recommend bringing extra food and water, just in case you do find yourself lost.
What Are The Benefits Of Hiking?
While the views, great scenery, and feeling of accomplishment make hiking worthwhile, there are other benefits that you may not have known about.
Here they are…
Increase Your Fitness
If you want to live a healthy and fulfilling life, you need to pay attention to your fitness levels.
And what better way to stay in shape than by hiking!
Each trail requires a different level of fitness; however, on average, you can expect to burn 500 calories an hour.
And you have to remember, a lot of trails take around five hours.
That’s 2500 calories!
At this rate, turning in your gym membership doesn’t sound like too bad an option.
Once you notice your fitness levels increasing, you can start tackling more difficult trails, which will burn even more calories.
You Will Feel Happier
Studies have shown that walking for only 20 minutes a day leads to a healthier and happier life.
So, if you’ve found yourself in a rut lately, it might be time to take up hiking. In fact, you can take this article as your warning sign.
We’d love to know your personal experience of how hiking has improved your mood!? Drop a comment below, we will be answering everyone.
You Will Make Friends For Life
It’s a known fact that mutual interests and shared values are at the core of any good friendship.
As you become more experienced and befriend other hikers, you’ll build friendships that last a lifetime.
What’s more, the internet gives you the ability to meet people without seeing them in person. If you’re more ‘introverted’, you can join Facebook groups and hiking forums that allow you to meet people with similar interests.
If you’re more of an extrovert, then why not strike up conversations with people you encounter when hiking?
It’s not like you’re going to run out of things to say, you’re both trying to accomplish the same thing!
Your Phone Addiction Will Vanish
The reason we’re constantly seeking entertainment on our phones is because our daily routines are unfulfilling. When you spice things up and add a change of scenery, phone addiction becomes a thing of the past.
Do you spend too much time scrolling through social media apps on your phone?
If so, hiking is your best friend.
What’s more, once you’ve completed the trail, you’ll have all the time in the world to take pictures for Instagram.
So put the phone down, and go immerse yourself in nature!
Bonus Tips And Tricks
Hiking can be a huge step in the right direction, especially if you’re going through a difficult period in your life.
That’s why we’ve created this section where we go over the best tips and tricks for hiking. We want you to be as well prepared as possible!
What To Eat Before A Hike
The foods you eat before a hike determine whether you’ll have enough energy to complete the trail.
For this reason, it’s important to make sure your diet consists of high-quality carbs, vegetables, and fruit.
Here are some foods we recommend…
- Brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
In fact, you can bring some of these foods on your hiking trip, providing they aren’t too bulky and don’t take up too much space in your backpack.
Brush Up On Your Survival Skills
As with any outdoor hobby, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how to survive if things go South.
One of the most crucial survival skills is the ability to start a fire. Not only does a fire keep you warm, but it also protects you from wild animals. Most dangerous animals are scared of fire, so they tend to stay away.
Once you’ve learned how to start a fire, building a shelter is the second most important survival skill you can learn.
A well-built shelter keeps you protected from the elements, preventing hypothermia and frostbite. You’ll also have a place to sleep at night. It won’t be the most comfortable bed you’ve slept in, but anything’s better than nothing, right!?
The next critical step is learning how to filter water. Depending on where you’re hiking, some water sources aren’t the cleanest.
If learning to filter water proves too difficult, you can always buy a small water filter. This collects water and passes it through a filter before you drink it, ensuring it’s not full of nasty bacteria.
Invest in A Hydration Bladder
Hydration packs are a great alternative to carrying a water bottle around with you. They are used by many hikers throughout the world, and allow you to drink water through a plastic straw while walking, which is super convenient.
What’s more, they come in many different sizes. So, no matter how long your trail is, you’ll be able to find a suitable hydration pack.
Be careful though, some hydration packs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. It’s important to stick with the leading brands in the industry, otherwise, you could end up spending your money on something that doesn’t work.
Bring Hiking Poles
If your knees ache after walking for long periods, we recommend bringing hiking poles with you. Not only do they prevent your knees from becoming sore, but they also help prevent sprained ankles.
In addition, they also improve your power when walking uphill, making your hike easier, which is great for beginners.
Hiking is an amazing pastime that lets you see the wonders of the world. It’s like a high, and once you’re addicted, you can’t stop!
After reading this article on hiking for beginners, you’ll be fully prepared to start experiencing the amazing ‘hikers high’.
Is hikers high actually a thing though?
Well, you won’t hear the specific term talked about anywhere, but it’s definitely a thing!
What’s more, if you’ve been hiking for a long time, we’d love to hear how it changed your life. Drop a comment below and we will get back to you.
If we like what you have to say, we may even feature it in this article!