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What Should a Beginning Hiker Know?

What Should a Beginning Hiker Know?

Before you start an activity such as hiking, you need to assess your conditioning. Start with short trips by finding opportunities to walk rather than riding in a car or using public transportation. To be effective, aerobic activities need to last about a half an hour and require an intensity level to break out in a light sweat occurring at least three times a week.

Good quality athletic shoes are adequate for backpacking when not carrying heavy loads. Loads greater than 25 lbs. or hiking on trails that are rough and rocky require hikers to wear trail boots. Choose shoes that fit well and break them in before using them on a long hike by wearing them around the house and then take walks of increasing length.

Hikers need thick absorbent socks, either all wool, synthetic, or cotton blend. Invest in moleskin to put on hot spots that may develop on tender feet. Hats should be worn year round. Choose hats with a brim all around for hot weather to provide shade, and one that covers the ears for cooler weather. Dress in layers, peeling down as you warm up hiking then put on again as you stop. Sunglasses and sun block are musts for both winter and summer days.

For shorter one-day hikes a day pack with 10-12 lbs. capacity is adequate. Remember that a gallon of water weighs 8 lbs. and hikers should drink a quart (1L) of water for every two miles. Backpacking is an aerobic activity so hikers should drink a cup of water every half hour. Pack high-energy snacks such as granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit, or foods made of whole grains that are higher in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

After you have some shorter hikes under your belt you can think about planning for a backpacking trip that lasts over several days. Backpacks need to be water resistant so supplies stay dry in all weather conditions. Backpacks must have padded hip belts and shoulder straps for comfort while hiking. If you have friends who have backpacks, you can try them out on some of your short trips to determine what backpack will be a good fit for you before purchasing one for your first extended hiking trip.

One of the perks of hiking is that you can experience our wonderful world close up. Whether it is an urban center, the mountains, the prairies, rivers, lakes, or an ocean, all have interesting characteristics waiting to be explored. Now that you know how to get started, the next thing is to just get out and do it. See you on the trail.