Welcome to a beginner’s guide to hiking. Going hiking is not rocket science by any means. Although there are some things that you should be aware of before you go tromping off into the wilderness.
Hiking, for the most part, is a great way to exercise, get some fresh air, and commune with mother nature. It is also a great way to bond with family and friends. There are people who took up hiking as a hobby. And there are others who use hiking as part of their fitness routine.
Either way, I am glad that you are here to learn about hiking and what is in store for you.
In this guide, I am going to show you what type of clothing you are going to need as some of our daily clothing is not meant to be used on the trail. Also depending on the type of hiking that you are going to be doing, if it’s a day hike or a long-distance hike where you stay overnight, will determine the type of shoes or boots that you will be using.
And last but not least, we will be going over places that you can hike and how to determine what kind of trails you should be taking on. So, let’s start our journey with the clothing that you are going to be using.
Dear, what should I wear to go out?
OK, so there is a basic rule that you will want to follow when picking out clothing for your hiking adventures. And that is not to use anything that is cotton. Clothing with cotton material is great to use when you are lounging around at home or hanging out with friends out on the town.
The reason why you don’t want clothing that is made out of cotton is that when you are hiking, the human body has a tendency to sweat. And cotton doesn’t wick moisture away from the body very well. In the event that you are going to be using cotton clothing, you will find that by the end of the day you will be drenched and carrying a rag on your body. I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about.
The type of material that you will want to use is synthetic. They are made to wick moisture away from the body. So, the longer and harder that you put your body through the paces, the better the material works.
You can find shirts that are fairly inexpensive on Amazon that is made from polyester and they come in both long and short sleeve. Some of them have a UV protection rating similar to sunscreen.
For the pants, you can find different types made especially for the great outdoors. The reason you want to wear long pants is that it will protect your legs from getting scratched up from branches, roots, and insect bites. One type that a lot of people wear for hiking is convertible pants.
These pants have zippers on both legs around knee-high so you can take the bottom part of the pant off. This is great as the day wears on and it starts to get hot. You will instantly have shorts.
If you are hiking from spring through late September, I would recommend a lightweight jacket with a hood on it in the event that you run into some rain.
One of the main articles of clothing that you want to pay the most attention to is your socks. The best type of socks to get is wool socks. It is the best for wicking away the moisture away from your feet. The next best is synthetic wool blend as it does the same for wicking moisture.
You have to remember that your feet on a hike are similar to a vehicle’s tires. So taking care of them with the right materials will make your hike much more enjoyable and not having to go home with blisters.
Next up we are going to discover the different types of foot wear for your hike.
Should I be using shoes or boots?
That is a great question. And the answer to that is, It all depends. There are several factors that come into play when deciding the foot wear that you will be using. Although the two main factors are, are you going to be doing a day hike or a long overnight hike?
If you are doing just a day hike and the trails are fairly well maintained. Then you can use either a hiking shoe or even a pair of trail running sneakers. One of the main differences between running shoes and hiking shoes is that the hiking shoes have higher support around the ankles and the soles are generally made out of Vibram rubber.
Vibram rubber has a better grip on slippery surfaces such as exposed roots and wet rocks.
Now if you are going on a long hike and will be carrying a backpack then you will need hiking boots. They are stiffer when you first get them. So, you will have to break them in initially before going on your hike. Hiking boots have better support both around the ankles and soles. And the best ones to get are waterproof and breathable. Just on a side note, getting your feet wet and walking around like that is a sure way to create blisters.
What kind of gear do I need?
When starting out on your first few hikes most people do short three to five-hour hikes at most. Which fall under the category of day hikes. These hikes don’t require a lot of gear.
You will need to bring water, which you can carry in a bladder pack. They are the ones that you carry on your back that has a hose that you drink form. They are much more convenient than carrying around water bottles and much more centralized.
Check HERE for a great lightweight day backpack that has an internal liquid bladder that hold up to 2.5-liters and keep it cold for up to 4 hours.
Other items that you want to bring along is a small first aid kit, a Swiss army knife which has various tools, GPS or compass, map of the area you are hiking in, an emergency blanket which comes in a small pack, and some food for your journey.
Now if you as you progress in your hiking endeavors, you will probably get into long distance hiking which entails staying overnight. The gear you will need then will be the same as above, with the exception that you will need a backpack that can hold a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, extra clothing, utensils to cook food, and a portable stove.
You are probably looking at this and asking yourself, how much is this going to cost? Well since you are going to be doing day hikes, you can find items in your local sporting goods store or online such as Amazon. The only item that you should not skimp on is your footwear. You have to remember that your feet get you from point A to point B.
Now that you have the equipment that you need, let’s take a look at where you should go hiking.
Where should we go hiking?
Before you decide that you want to tackle the big hill and see what is over the other side. Let’s take a look at your fitness level. Hiking is a great way to get exercise, fresh air, and commune with nature. Although a lot of people think that it looks simple just from looking at images from magazines or the internet.
If you are starting out and haven’t had any physical fitness activity in awhile then I would suggest before heading out to the hills start off by taking walks around your home or in a local park. That is the easiest way to start to build up before taking on the hills.
Hiking should be fun and enjoyable. You don’t want to get home after the first day of hiking in pain and regret that you even took it up in the first place. Pace yourself to work your way up to longer hikes and who knows, you might want to conquer Mount Everest.
Once you build yourself up, you can start off by getting a book on local trails around your area. In there it will show you trails for the beginner, intermediate, and for the advanced. Generally, the beginner trails do have variable terrain but the trails themselves are well maintained. And as you go to intermediate and advanced you will find that you start getting off the beaten path.
One of the things that I found very helpful, is to join a hiking group. In the group, you can get a lot of helpful information about the different trails in your area. And learn tips and techniques from the more experienced hikers in the group. Some groups get together on a weekly basis and go on a day hike. The groups will generally have hikes for people of different fitness levels. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the sport of hiking.
Are you ready to take that first step?
So, there you have it. We went over the type of clothing, footwear, and gear that you will need for hiking. And also some tips on where you can find trails and also suggestions on joining a hiking group so you can learn more about the sport and hiking trails in your area.
Remember that this is just a beginner’s guide to hiking. There is a lot of information out there that you can learn from. The sport is always evolving and keeping informed and up to date will help you in your hiking quest.
Hopefully, this has helped you, and if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below.
Click to get Ideas to physically prepare for a hike