Day hiking has become very popular in society. We are in a day and age where time is our biggest commodity. And a lot of people will just take a day or two out of their week to get out, hike, and enjoy nature.
There are groups out there that meet up for a day hike sometimes two or three times a week. I have been on a couple of those group meetup and if you fail to get information about how far or how fast the group will hike, you will be in for a surprise. And if it’s not a pleasant experience, it will be easy to get turned off.
With that said, some people treat day hiking like they are training for the Olympics. And speed walking up a steep incline is what they live for. I’ve seen people time themselves as to how fast they can go up and back on a mountain.
I am not going to be covering that here. I’m pretty sure that you are here to learn a few tips so you can enjoy getting out for the day whether you are going solo or with a group.
So, on this post on day hiking for beginners, I am going to cover how to start off in your fitness category, do you go alone or with a group, what to wear, and the gear that you need. These tips can make your day hike more enjoyable and hope you will be part of keeping hiking alive to share with future generations.
The first thing that I see what people do when they go hiking for the first time, is trying to take on more than they can handle. When they do this, you will see them gungho and all about conquering the trail. They start off at the trailhead fresh and excited. And during the middle of the hike, their energy levels start to dwindle.
You can tell when this is happening. Because you will notice that they aren’t so talkative and they are mostly focusing on the ground. And they start saying things like how much farther do we have. Usually, by then they are running out of fuel. And that is even after taking breaks.
By the time you reach back to the trailhead, you can see by their expression on their faces of what is going on in their mind. They generally are saying to themselves, why did I agree to go on this hike and/or, I’m not doing this again.
Hiking does take a lot of stamina and endurance. Day hiking for a person who is hiking for the first time is a great way to start. They are not going to be carrying a load on their back, If the weather changes from good to bad, they will always get back home to safety and warmth. And, it is a great way to build up yourself for future longer hikes.
So, before you go on any hike for that matter, you should take an assessment of where you are in your fitness level. If it has been a while since you last had any kind of physical activity, you should consider starting small.
You can start off by doing day hikes in a local park or just walking around your local city. Where I live, our city has a lot of hills. So, for me, it is a great place to go and practice hiking. Some of those hills can be quite a challenge. With that said, I use those hills to keep my muscles in shape as part of my workout regime for future hikes.
If you need guidance as to how to workout for hiking, take a look at my post on how to physically prepare for a hike.
You will find things that you can do to bring your fitness level up so your hiking trips can be more enjoyable.
Going solo or with a group
One thing people forget is that day hiking can take place anywhere. It can be in a city park, on local urban trails, or in the wilderness. So, generally anywhere that you can hike and explore for a period, can be considered a day hike.
Some people like to hike solo. May it be, that they find solo hiking very meditative or they just like going on hikes alone. That is OK if you are in the city park or on a trail where there is a lot of other people around. If there aren’t others around I would recommend at least having one other person with you in case something happens.
Day hiking in a group can be fun and it is a great way to meet new people and create lasting friendships since everyone there has something in common. If you are going hiking with a group that you haven’t met. Like a meetup group or a hiking club for example. Make sure to ask the hike organizer, where is the hike going to take place, what type of terrain is it going to be, and what is the pace going to be like. Again you don’t want to be surprised when you get there.
The organizer should give you details and also if you find out that it’s not going to work for you, they can point you to a group that is going to be a good fit for you.
Either way, you can start off going solo just to get yourself moving by taking hikes through the local park. And as your confidence level starts to increase, you might want to join in on a group day hike. Also, one thing that you should do before going on any hikes, is to let someone know where you are going, how long you plan to stay there, and when you should be coming back.
What to wear
Clothing on a day hike is just optional. No, I’m just joking! I just wanted to see if you read this far down on this post. If you did, please comment on this below.
Anyway, the clothing that I recommend for all hiking trips are ones that are NOT made of cotton. Because the cotton has poor wicking qualities. As you are going along and start to sweat, the cotton will just soak the moisture up and these are the results of what can happen. Cotton pants will cause chaffing, shirts made of cotton will feel sticky after a while, and using cotton socks will make you a prime candidate for blisters and you will feel like you are walking around with wet rags on.
Synthetic clothing that is made for hiking, will wick away moisture and will breathe easier. This makes for a more comfortable hike. You can find clothing made especially for hiking. There are pants that also can be converted into shorts. Also, there are long and short sleeve shirts. Some of them have a sunscreen protection rating.
Look for socks that are made out of wool, wool synthetic blend, or just synthetic. Remember how your feet feel on the hike will determine how you feel at the end of the hike.
Since your feet are your transportation, for hikes in parks and on trails that are well maintained, a good pair of trail running shoes will suffice. If you are going to be doing your day hikes on less than well-maintained trails, than dependent on how rugged the terrain is going to be, I would suggest getting some hiking shoes or boots for the job. They provide more of a support for your ankles and overall comfort.
Gear that you need for day hikes are not as elaborate as if you were going on a long-distance or overnight hike. You will need a small pack which can carry the following.
- Food for the day
- First aid kit
- Water and a water purifying device in case the need arises.
- Emergency blanket
- Extra socks
- Multi-tool for emergencies
- Fire starting tools
For the sake of ease in carrying your water, instead of carrying water bottles which can get cumbersome. I would recommend using a backpack with a water bladder. This also makes it convenient on the trail as you don’t have to stop to pull out the water bottle. Take a sip from your straw and keep on hiking.
As you can see you don’t need much in the way of gear for a day hike. So, day hiking for beginners is a great way to start your way into the hiking world.
Day hiking can be fun. And if you are just getting started in hiking, make sure to assess your fitness level, get in touch with hiking clubs or groups. It is one of the easiest ways to learn about hiking and the local trails that are around. Always wear proper hiking clothing and footwear.
And as far as gear goes, there isn’t much that is needed. So there is no excuse for not going out on a day hike. Enjoy your hiking adventures and let me know what you think below. Happy Hiking!
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