Hiking for beginners!

Hiking for beginners!

A Beginner's Guide to Day Hiking

Hiking is a wonderful way to explore nature, challenge yourself, and reap both physical and mental benefits. For those starting out, here are essential tips to set you on the right path.

1. Finding a Trail:

  • Research Online: We offer a 35% Discount to our members for AllTrails+

  • Join a local hiking group: 
  • Local Parks and Nature Centers: Many state and national parks have well-maintained trails. Park rangers can also provide tailored recommendations.

  • Match with Your Ability: Start with shorter, flatter hikes, and as your confidence grows, you can tackle more challenging terrains. With AllTrails+ you can see the difficulty ratings, elevation change and read reviews. 

2. What to Wear:

  • Layering: Adopt a layered clothing approach. Begin with a moisture-wicking base layer, followed by an insulating layer (like fleece) and top with a waterproof/windproof layer if needed.

  • Footwear: Invest in sturdy hiking shoes or boots with good traction. Ensure they're broken in before embarking on longer hikes. A good insole like Superfeet can make all the difference in the world!

  • Avoid Cotton: It retains moisture, which can make you feel cold and lead to chafing. Opt for synthetic or wool fabrics.

  • Protective Accessories: A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are crucial, even on overcast days.

  • One of the best places to shop is REIThey have a one-year return policy!

3. Preparing for the Hike:

  • Stay Hydrated: Bring at least 2 liters of water for a day hike. Increase the amount for hotter conditions or longer trails.  We personally prefer (2) 1L Smartwater Bottles over hydration packs.  With hydration packs, you can be unaware of how much water you have left on a hike.

  • Energy Boosters: Pack energy-dense snacks like trail mix, energy bars, and fruit.

  • Know the Route: Familiarize yourself with the trail map. Carrying a physical map and compass as backup is also advised.

  • Check Weather Forecasts: This will help you dress appropriately and avoid potentially dangerous conditions.

4. Staying Safe:

  • Inform Someone: Always let someone know where you're hiking and when you plan to return.

  • Trail Etiquette: Stay on designated paths, yield the trail to uphill hikers, and always follow Leave No Trace principles.

  • Wildlife: Maintain a safe distance, never feed animals, and educate yourself about local wildlife behavior.

  • Understand Your Limits: Turn back if you feel overly fatigued, or if the weather or trail conditions deteriorate.

  • Take a GPS SOS device: When hiking in areas with no cell signal, take an SOS device like a Garmin Mini 2. 

5. During the Hike:

  • Pace Yourself: Especially if you’re new to hiking or are tackling a particularly challenging trail, go at a comfortable pace and take breaks when needed.

  • Stay Alert: Watch for trail markers and be aware of your surroundings to avoid getting lost.

  • Hydrate & Snack: Drink water regularly and eat snacks to maintain your energy.

6. Post-Hike:

  • Clean Up: Check for ticks and wash off any dirt or sweat to avoid skin irritations.

  • Stretch: To reduce muscle stiffness, stretch after your hike.

  • Share Your Experience: Consider joining our online community where you can share your experiences, learn from others, and maybe even find new hiking buddies.  My Adventure Challenge

  • Journal about your hike to preserve those memories: My Adventure Challenge hiking Journal

7. 10 Key Items for Every Day Hike:

  1. Water & Filter: A hydration system or bottles containing ample water.
  2. Nutrition: Energy-rich snacks to keep you fueled.
  3. First Aid Kit: Essentials like bandages, antiseptics, blister treatments, and personal meds.
  4. Map and Compass: Essential navigation tools, even if you rely on digital devices.
  5. Multi-tool or Knife: Useful for various situations, from fixes to emergencies.
  6. Emergency Shelter: A lightweight emergency bivy or space blanket.
  7. Headlamp/Flashlight: Always have a light source and extra batteries.
  8. Sun Protection: Sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, and sunglasses.
  9. Extra Clothing: An additional layer, socks, or rain gear, depending on the weather.
  10. Firestarter: Waterproof matches, lighter, or fire-starter cubes.

 Oh, and don't forget some TP and trash bags. 😉

All of these items can be found at REI, including the perfect Daypack!

Final Thoughts: Remember, every hiker started as a beginner. Embrace the learning curve, respect nature, and most importantly, enjoy the journey! Each hike will make you more confident and adept for the next adventure.