Hiking is such an awesome activity – just walking, and becoming one with nature as you totally lose yourself in the beauty of this Earth! Before we start out, however, there are some beginner’s guides to hiking that we need to familiarize ourselves with. These guidelines will help to keep us safe, prepared, protected, and be mentally and physically ready to take on those trails!
Number one in a beginner’s guide to hiking is to find yourself a hiking buddy! Having a friend to hike with makes for an awesome way to spend quality time together! As well as enjoying each other’s company while taking in the beauty of nature, having a hiking partner means we have each other’s backs in the rare instance that something could go wrong. If you cannot find a hiking partner, or just really prefer to take to the trails solo, or even if you do have a hiking companion, PLEASE always make sure you let someone know where you plan on hiking, what time you plan on setting out, and an estimated time of finishing your hike. This way, in the worst case scenario, there is always someone who knows where to begin searching for you just in case, GOD forbid, anything were to go wrong.
After we find our hiking partner/partners, the very first things we need to do are check the weather forecasts, opt for a sunny day, pick a trail, and start out on our hike as early as we possibly can. We realistically need to access our physical condition, then choose a proper hike to fit our individual capabilities. Often, a beginner hiker will try to take on a trail that is way over their ability level, and will become overwhelmed and discouraged early into the hike. Be realistic, start out slow and easy on terrain that is not too rough or elevated, and then have fun and enjoy your hike!
There is an app I would like to recommend, called AllTrails. This awesome app will find trails in your area – or anywhere, for that matter – also, it will give you directions to the trail, information about the conditions of the trail, the trail rating (easy, moderate, or streneous), along with the trail routes, lengths, elevation, and time it should take you to complete your hike. You can easily download this app on your cell phone; it is a true Godsend! If you are not into downloading phone apps, there are plenty of books out there that will help you find some great hiking trails also!
Once we have found a hiking partner, or partners, chosen our trail, and picked out a day, it is now time to get ourselves prepared for “The Hike”!! Make sure you invest in a good, quality pair of hiking boots. Do not skimp on your footwear, because if your feet hurt, your “awesome day” will be ruined! Check out my post on Winter Hiking Boots for guidance in choosing the best boots for your needs. You may also want to check out my post on Proper Hiking Apparel to make sure you have appropriate clothing. We always need to remember to pack a warm jacket, a rain jacket or rain suit, an extra pair of socks, and a pair of gloves. Also, be sure to wear, or carry, a hat and sunglasses!
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Now, it is time to pack our backpacks according to what we will need for our hike. Remember – we must carry the pack on our backs, maybe for hours, so we don’t want to overload ourselves with too much weight! When it comes to food, we need to make sure we carry plenty of water. Since we will be burning up tons of calories and using lots of energy, we will probably be more hungry than usual. Foods to help restore our energy levels are energy bars, trail mix or dried fruit, nuts, jerky, and candy. Be sure to include extra food and water, just in case you get stuck on your hike longer than you had planned.
Let’s take a look at the essentials we need to carry in our backpacks. This list is kind of extensive, but when we remember that we will be in nature for hours on end, it is MUCH better to be prepared and not need items, than to need these items and not have them – who knows, they could literally save our lives!!
I will just make a list of some essentials, since they are all pretty much self-explanatory. Essentials to consider are:
compass, flashlight and/or headlamp, extra batteries, knife, whistle, signaling device, first aid kit, fire starter and waterproof matches, insect repellent, sunscreen, pepper spray, bear spray, emergency survival blanket, emergency survival shelter, utility cord, and repair gear.
I realize that there are many more essentials that we will be adding to our backpacks as we become more experienced hikers. For our first few hikes, if we start out early in the day, on trails that are rated easy to moderate, these essentials should hopefully get us through just fine!
- Compass - Military Prismatic Lensatic
- Price: $20.00
- 7 LED Mini Backpackers' Lantern - Grey Eagle
- Price: $10.00
- 7-in-1 Survival Whistle
- Price: $5.00
- Wilderness Signal Whistle
- Price: $4.00
- 326 Piece OSHA Approved First Aid Kit
- Price: $40.00
- Magnesium Fire Starter
- Price: $5.00