Hiking for beginners shouldn’t be an intimidating experience, there’s a first time for everything. Even Frodo and Sam from The Lord of the Rings went to Mordor with no previous backpacking experiences and tips!
It might seem frustrating when you see that others have more freedom to go backpacking, but hiking doesn’t have to be like a chore.
Hiking for beginners is fun and healthy. You get to experience the world in an unconventional way. Letting go of your everyday routine and city life to go backpacking can also be a journey you embark for self-discovery.
People have different reasons for backpacking. Whether it’s to get a break, lose weight or establish a connection with nature, hiking for beginners isn’t scary.
But if you don’t follow the rules and remember tips, you will definitely encounter an obstacle or two. Since everyone has to take their step at some point, hiking just might be your new hobby.
Hiking for beginners: best tips for backpacking #1 Preparing yourself
First things first, you have to decide whether you’re going alone or with a group. Since these are hiking tips for beginners, the best decision would be to find a person or a group who has gone backpacking before.
They will guide you throughout the way and give you some of their own tips. Following their lead, you’ll soon become a quick learner. There are local backpacking groups throughout the world you can join and there are apps you can use to find people to accompany you.
The easiest way to practice hiking for beginners is finding a local area where you can hike. A park or a forest would be perfect. Doing this once a week before backpacking is good if you want to build up your body for more challenging hikes.
Hiking once a week will also help you test your stamina and physical endurance. You’ll also develop your skills and apply your tips on a smaller scale to test if you’re able to go backpacking.
The most important thing to remember for hiking for beginners is water. Unless there’s a drinking fountain all over the trail (highly unlikely), carry enough water with you to keep yourself hydrated at all times.
The best tip for hiking for beginners is to have 1 liter of water for every 2 hours. While practicing backpacking in a local spot, you’ll also learn how much your body needs water in certain conditions. Pay attention to how much your water intake is and always have a bottle with you.
Once you finalize your decision of going backpacking solo, let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
Hiking for beginners: best tips for backpacking #2 Getting the essentials
Now that you’re going backpacking, you need to grab the most important things along with you. The essentials for hiking for beginners is pretty simple. Having these with you will cover almost everything and solve problems when encountering them.
- It goes without saying that you need a map. Do not rely on Google Maps, because your smartphone isn’t going to be working properly. Learn to read maps, make notes and have it with you at all times. Along with a local map of the trail, carry a compass to help you find your way.
- One thing that most people forget while going backpacking is protection from the sun. Pack some sunscreen and a moisturizing cream with you. Bring along sunglasses and a cap to protect your head from the heat. Sunscreen isn’t going to do all the work protecting your skin, you’ll have to bring along a long-sleeved shirt or a jacket as well.
- For insulation, you’re going to need a fleece sweater, waterproof jackets and pants or something to protect you from rainy days and nights, an insulated jacket and a beanie.
- Since torches on your smartphones are not reliable, it’s best to bring a headlamp because you won’t have to keep your hands busy either. For this, you need extra lithium batteries.
- One of the essentials for hiking for beginners is bringing a first aid kit. Since you’re not exactly a pro at backpacking, always have the first aid kit with you in case you get an injury.
- You’re going to want to want to rest at night when the temperature drops down. For a comfy nighttime experience, bring a small box of matches to light a fire. Lighters may fail you in the last minute, so trust the good old-fashioned ways of lighting a fire. You will also need cotton balls coated with vaseline as a fire starter.
- You’ll need easily accessible tools upon encountering problems. Carry duct tape, safety pins and a swiss army knife in your bag.
- If you want to survive backpacking, you’re going to need food and water. Obviously, you can’t bring along soup or a cordon bleu, you’ll have to pack dried fruits, nuts, energy bars and sandwiches.
- Nature is going to be your toilet, bring toilet paper, tissues and wet wipes along.
- Bug spray is another essential you need if all the mosquitos love you.
- Another important tip for backpackers is to carry a loud whistle and know the emergency contact info.
Hiking for beginners: best tips for backpacking #3 What to wear
Say goodbye to your miniskirts, flats and high heels because the key point here is to be comfortable as much as possible. Do not underestimate the power of footwear.
If you’re wearing new sneakers, we suggest wearing them a couple of times before going backpacking to make sure they don’t hurt your feet. Your shoes are going to get muddy and dirty, so wear something you can clean easily later or shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.
The two main options for footwear are hiking boots and sneakers. Boots designed specifically for hiking would be the best choice, but if sneakers and your only option, then you have to be alert.
Be careful not to slip and make sure your shoelaces don’t get in the way. Always tie double knots. When it comes to socks, make sure you buy wool socks. Usually, any other material would give you blisters and make the hike uncomfortable.
Hiking for beginners might also seem like an opportunity to the wear new pair of shorts you bought the other day. One of the best tips that can be offered to you when it comes to backpacking is to always wear pants.
Obviously, a lot of it depends on the weather and environment, but to be on the safe side, never go pantless. You might encounter plants you’re allergic to, you’ll want to keep your legs covered to avoid mosquito bites.
Pack a shirt that’s not going to make you sweat 24/7 or make you shiver. Needless to say, you need a jacket, a cap (or a hat) and a beanie (if it’s cold).
Hiking for beginners: best tips for backpacking #4 Finding the best spots and enjoying the adventure
Most backpackers love aiming for the high ground. Hiking to the top of the mountain, cliff or a forest is a favorite among hikers because going uphill is healthy and you get the best view in town.
When taking breaks and having lunch, you get to enjoy the view and you’ll see how far you’ve gone up. Hiking down a steep mountain is more dangerous than going uphill, which is why it’s best to hike up first to learn the trail and find spots to make the way down easier.
If you have a portable power bank with you, download a hiking or a running app to keep track of how far you’ve hiked. Apps are great for hiking for beginners because seeing the results motivate you to keep going.
Prepare a hiking soundtrack to keep you company. Sure, the sounds of nature are beautiful, but at some point that one Red Hot Chili Peppers song is going to be stuck in your head and you’re going to want to listen to it.
Although it’s not usually advised to listen to music while backpacking, it is okay when you’re in a safe part of the trail. Upbeat songs can boost your energy, or The Lord of the Rings soundtrack will make you feel like you’re going on a mission to destroy the ring.
Under no circumstances does backpacking mean you get to pollute Mother Nature. Anything disposable goes in either the trash can or back to the city with you. If you see trash in the woods, pick it up.
Do not forget to do a bit of volunteering work as well. Once you pick up the hobby properly, you’ll want to preserve the trails and do trail work with the hiking community.
By following these tips, you’ll see that hiking for beginners isn’t difficult at all. This simple and healthy activity is the perfect way to establish a connection between a person and nature.
It’s not expensive either. In the era of technology and cafe/nightclub culture, the outdoors are being neglected. Hiking is not just a fun activity, it is scenic and picturesque.
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