Useful hiking tips for beginners

Stef Zisovska

There’s nothing more exciting than preparing for your first hiking trip. No matter if you want to do a short hike or a few days trekking, you need to plan everything in advance. There is a lot to consider before you set off because it’s always better to be prepared for the worst than to be sorry that you didn’t listen to the advice from the more experienced hikers.

If you start searching the web as a newbie, you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of information about everything you should do before starting your first hike, but don’t worry. Here are some useful tips for beginners that you should have in mind. Some of them may sound like common sense, but still, it’s good to have everything in one place.

Always hike with companions – it’s safer plus you have someone to share the experience with


The best views are from the top of the hill

Planning tips

It’s always good to do some prior research to see exactly where are you going. Yes, it’s cool to jump into a new adventure without any planning, but it’s better to know more or less where are you going, what the terrain is like, the weather conditions, possible camping sites, rivers and lakes, and the altitude. Always make a check list of the things you’ll need in the wilderness. If it’s your first time hiking, you should find some company. Exploring nature is much better, and safer, when you do it with your friends. Check the local hiking clubs and try to meet new people with whom you share the same interests.

Health and safety tips

  • Make sure to have an experienced hiker by your side. You will learn more skills on the trail than searching the web. Just copy everything a veteran hiker is doing, and you’ll be safe.
  • Drink water even if you’re not thirsty. Dehydration can be your worst enemy, making you feel fatigued.
  • Hiking GPS devices can be useful, but tech can fail you on the trail so bring a compass and a map and learn how to use them. You can rely more on old-fashioned gadgets because they don’t need any batteries or chargers.

Old-fashioned orientation

  • Always wear sun protection, especially if hiking on high altitudes. Sun screen, sunglasses, and a hat are items you must have with you during all the time spent in the outdoors.
  • Carry a first-aid kit around and learn basic first aid rules.
  • Change your socks immediately if they get wet to avoid blisters forming on your feet. They can be painful and ruin your adventure. So, spare socks are what need to have handy all the time.
  • Make a 5 to 10 minute break every hour to help your legs remove the metabolic waste formed during the hike.
  • Before heading off study your map well. It’s always good to know where you can refill water and where the emergency exit points are.
  • Bring some extra food for emergencies. You never know if you’ll need to stay longer on the trail.
  • Let someone close know where are you going and when are you coming back. In case something happens to you, there’ll be someone looking for you.

Trail mix made from peanuts, raisins, and candy coated chocolate, around 4.8 kcal/gram – Author: ImGz – CC BY-SA 3.0

Gear and packing tips

  • Make sure all your belongings are dry. Choose a waterproof backpack or get a pack cover.
  • Dress in layers and avoid cotton because it takes a long time to dry – go for wool or fleece instead. Try to keep your body warm all the time, and get a wind-proof jacket.
  • Get good hiking shoes with an ankle support.

A good pair of walking boots will keep your feet stable and supported

  • Practice setting up your tent back home.
  • You’ll need a lightweight day bag if planning to make side trips from your campsite.
  • Put all the important things like a flashlight, a map, a bottle of water, a first-aid kit, and some snacks in the outside pouches of your backpack for easier access in case of emergency or a short break.
  • Keep your stove fuel away from your food.
  • Bring tablets for water purification.
  • Use packing cubes to organize your things and to avoid chaos in your backpack.
  • Walking poles are not necessary for everyone, but if you have bad knees, you’ll love them.
  • Ladies, Mooncup.
  • Don’t rush into buying a tent for your first hike, borrow one. You need to check if sleeping in a tent is something you like in the first place.
  • Don’t be cheap when it comes to getting a rain jacket. After boots, it’s the most important part of your hiking wardrobe. Be sure it’s good quality, waterproof and breathable.

Feeling ready to plan a more challenging hike? Make sure you pack the right kit for the terrain.

Other useful tips and tricks

  • If it’s your first trip, try to make it short and close to the civilization.
  • Remove all items you won’t need. Only pack necessary stuff.
  • On hot days keep your water bottle in a wet sock and hang it on the outside of your backpack to help keep it cool.
  • To stay extra dry in the rain fold a small towel and wrap it around your neck before you put on a hoody. Any water that enters through your jacket (if that happens) will stay in the towel.
  • If the zipper on your bag starts to squeak, put a little bit of lip balm on it.
  • Always stay on the trail and try not to harm nature.
  • Never feed wild animals.

Now you know what every hiker needs on the trail. If you feel ready, jump into your new adventure and respect Nature! Good luck!

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