Take note of these hiking tips if you’ve never hiked before. Hiking is a great hobby and it doesn’t take much to go out and get started. However, there are a few things you should know if you plan on doing some longer term treks. From the weather and your clothing to first aid and food, these are 25 essential hiking tips every beginner should know.
If you are relying on a fire at any point during your overnight stay, gather wood. Once you think you have enough, gather 5 times more.
There’s a saying that says “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. Be prepared for anything, especially rain.
Unless you have a reason to pack light (ultralight hiking, etc), bring an extra of anything important. As some survivalists say “two is one, one is none”
Always let somebody who is not on your trip know where you are going and when you will be back. That way, if you don’t return on time they can call for help.
For most places, you will want some bugspray.
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If you plan on hiking, bring extra socks. While your other clothes will air dry, your socks will stay damp.
You don’t want a flashlight, you want a headlamp. And if you’re hiking in the mountains, don’t skimp on this. If your headlamp doesn’t have the power to penetrate fog, you’re going to have a bad time.
Know your limits. If you have never climbed a mountain before, get a guide. You’ll be glad you did.
Expect some discomfort. You’ll be a little tired, a little cold, a little damp, but just take it in stride. The enjoyability of your trip will largely depend on your attitude.
Never leave your food out, and especially don’t leave it in your tent. Bear bags are useful (storing your food up in the tree).
Don’t forget sunscreen, even in cold environments. Sunlight reflecting off the snow can lead to the worst burns.
Bring lip balm or chapstick, especially if you’re going somewhere north or into the mountains. Having your lips crack is an unnecessary way to ruin your trip.
Although we are all used to our technology these days, if you are going anywhere outside of Europe, you will need to bring a map and compass. Why? Because there won’t be cell coverage...or even civilization. In North America the wilderness can get pretty wild and you can’t just walk into the next village to ask for help.
If you get stuck in the woods without toilet paper, you will regret it. But of course, leaves will work if all else fails.
Bring watertight bags for your important stuff. It’s wise to keep an emergency outfit in one of them in case you get soaked and the temperature drops.
Even though we mentioned that you probably won’t be able to use your phone (at least in North America), you should still make sure that at least one person has a fully charged phone for emergency use. Although you probably won’t have reception, it’s worth bringing it just in case.
Have a first aid kit. You don’t need to bring a million things but definitely bring the essentials (bandages, antiseptic, etc).
Make absolutely sure that you can start a fire. This means bringing waterproof matches or firesteel.
If you just bought your tent, practice putting it up BEFORE you go. Fumbling around to figure it out in the dark while it’s raining is not fun.
Inflatable pillows are not the most comfortable thing in the world, but they are a whole lot better than a wad of clothes. Don’t make your sleep any worse than it has to be.
Don’t leave your shoes outside your tent, especially if you are camping in the south (of the US) or in Australia. There are a lot more critters in those places than there are up north or in Europe.
Putting a sleeping pad under your sleeping bag will make a huge difference. Although you should always try to find your campsite before it gets dark, there are no guarantees. And finding a nice soft spot with the sun down can be rough...pun intended.
With regards to fire, pack some dry kindling with you. If it rains, it may be hard to find starter.
If you are hiking, get clothes that wick away moisture. This is possibly one of the single best things you can do to increase your comfort level. An added plus is that even if it rains, you’re clothes won’t feel heavy or wet. Note: jeans and cotton are terrible because they don’t dry and they stick to you when they get damp.
Gather as much information on your hike as possible before you start packing and write down a list of things you think you will need. If you end up having to cross a glacier but didn’t bring any crampons...that’s the end of the trail for you.
Image Credits: 1. Nathan Hughes Hamilton via Flickr CC BY 2.0, 2. Minghong via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 3.0, 3. Billy Hathorn commons.wikimedia.org CC BY 3.0, 4. Geni via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 4.0 , 5-7. Public Domain, 8. Zeitblick via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 4.0, 9. Public Domain, 10. Digitalsignal via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 3.0, 11-12. Public Domain, 13. Smorteza via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 4.0, 14. Tools of Men via Flickr CC BY 2.0 , 15-20. Public Domain, 21. Mike Mozart via Flickr CC BY 2.0, 22. Public Domain, 23. Asim18 via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY 3.0, 24-25. Public Domain