Essential tips for the New Hiker

Hiking involves more than just walking. It requires far more thought than just walking on a treadmill or walking on a straight path.  With hiking you can find yourself in unpredictable situations. Hiking requires more planning and is also, of course, more exciting. You can even go for an online casino Australia no deposit bonus while hiking, as surely your phone will be with you.  Studies show that experiencing the great outdoors has much to offer and is beneficial to our health.

Hiking is a wonderful outdoor activity offering a lot more than just good views.   It’s a great workout for your body and also your mind. Results from studies show that there are huge benefits to hiking, both physical and mental.  Hiking has been shown to help in preventing the onset of osteoporosis and is known to reduce anxiety and stress.  Research has also shown that spending time in nature increases problem solving skills and attention span. Perhaps when we are disconnected from technology and more connected to nature it allows us to become connected to our true selves.

However, it is important to follow the tips below to help make your hikes safe as well as fun and successful.  

Start Small 

Don’t outdo yourself.  You should start with something manageable that meets your level of fitness.  Then it’s important to figure out the time needed to hike the trail and reach your destination.    You should estimate approximately 3 kilometers per hour.   Also look at any changes in the elevation on the trail which will add time to the hike.  You should add an extra hour to the hiking time for every 300 meters of gain in altitude.  As you become more experienced at hiking you will be able to judge for yourself what distance and elevation is best for you.

Learn about your Selected Trail 

The first thing to do when you have chosen the hike you wish to do is to locate it on the map.   There are things to learn about the trail which will be helpful to you.  You can always find information online. It is important to see if there are any trails that intersect with your chosen trail that may cause you to take a wrong turn and move off your path.     Is the trail a loop or do you need to back-track.  You can also check out in advance places that look scenic or offer nice surroundings, like a lake, to stop and picnic. 

Check the Weather

Checking the weather is probably the most important factor in planning your hike.  You should check the weather as close to beginning your hike as possible.  This way you will know what to expect and can pack accordingly.  It will also give you the option to change your hike if the weather forecast is bad.

Let Someone Know Where You Are

Be responsible and leave your itinerary with someone who is not with you on the hike.  They should know roughly when you are likely to finish the hike, taking into account lunch stops and other expected delays. 

If you are more of an anxious hiker and worry about problems occurring on your hike, there is also the possibility of using a Spot tracker.  This device will alert emergency services by satellite. However, this should only be used in a true emergency situation.   

The 10 Basics to Pack 

There are a number of essential items that you need to pack for safety when hiking. You will need specific items if you get stuck and have to stay unexpectedly outside overnight.  The time of year and the remoteness of the trail will determine how extensive that list of items needs to be.   The list may, at first sight, be overwhelming but when you fashion it to your particular needs and hike it will be manageable.

  • Map and compass for navigation
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Extra clothing and blanket for insulation
  • Flashlight, headlamp
  • First-aid supplies
  • Lighter, waterproof matches, candle
  • Repair kit and tools 
  • Extra food
  • Extra water
  • Tent, plastic tube tent and garbage bag for emergency shelter

Choose your Shoes and Socks Wisely

You should invest in some really good hiking boots, preferably lightweight and some good socks.  Wool or synthetic socks are the best choice. Cotton socks are not suitable. Cotton is not good for hiking. When cotton gets damp, it ceases to insulate you because all of the air pockets in the fabric fill up with water.  When you are hiking you perspire, and any cotton clothing next to your skin will absorb the perspiration like a sponge.  Pack dressings for blisters as they may also be useful.

Dress Appropriately

The clothes you wear on a hike will determine whether you remain comfortable.   Cotton is out, again, because it gets damp and will remain that way for the duration of the hike leaving you feeling uncomfortable.  Synthetic clothing is the best, preferably layers so that you can add or remove depending on the weather.  It is always useful to pack an extra layer, something to add warmth, perhaps a wind jacket.

Don’t Over-pack 

Notwithstanding all the above, try to keep it light. Find the lightest brands of any of the above items you need to take.   You will be thankful you did.

Pace Yourself

It is important to maintain a pace you feel comfortable with and stick with it for the duration of the hike.  Don’t be tempted to speed along in the beginning of the hike.  You will soon lose energy.  As the hike progresses you may meet hillier terrain and you will be happy that you paced yourself and still have some energy.

Be Responsible – Leave No Trace

The trails we love to hike will only remain beautiful if we take care of them.

If you are camping, use only designated camp sites.  Try to use areas where it looks obvious other campers have been. The area is more flattened.

Making a fire is always a fun thing to do when hiking or camping. But you should always make sure that the fire is completely put out before moving on. 

Never drop trash.  Remember, cigarettes and chewing gum are also trash, often forgotten.    The less food packaging you take with you on the hike, the less you will have to bring back with you. 

It is up to all of us to take care of our natural spaces so we can all continue to enjoy our hiking experiences.


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