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10 Hiking Essentials for Beginners

BY Amanda Uher Insight
BY Amanda Uher

Hiking offers so many benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. It doesn’t have to be intimidating, but there are some hiking essentials for beginners to keep in mind.

1. Start small.

Don’t take on too much for your first hike. Research trail options in your area, and pay attention to the trail length as well as the climb. Six flat miles will feel quite different than 6 miles uphill! Be realistic about your current fitness level. You can build up to more challenging routes as you gain more experience.

2. Tell someone.

Always tell someone where you are hiking and when you reasonably expect to return. Do not assume you will be able to use your cell phone to call for help if something goes awry.

3. Check the forecast.

Check the weather a few days out, and again a few hours before you leave. Dress (and pack) accordingly. If the forecast calls for terrible weather, reschedule your hike.

4. Wear the right shoes. (And socks.)

Wear comfortable hiking boots or trail runners, but do not wear them for the first time on your hike. A hike is not the time to break in your shoes! You’ll also want to wear quality socks—no cotton. Wool or a synthetic blend will be your best bet.

5. Choose the right clothes.

You’re going on a hike, not just for a stroll around the block, so dress for the activity. Workout clothes are much better suited for a hike than, say, jeans. Avoid cotton, and opt for synthetic, wicking materials instead. Also, long pants or tights will help protect your legs from the brush.

6. Start early.

It’s important to start your hike early in the day if at all possible. For one, it ensures you will have enough time in the day to complete your hike. It also means less congestion on the trails. The later in the day, the more traffic on the trails.

7. Bring a trail map.

Bring a paper copy of the trail map, and keep it in a zip-top bag. You don’t want to depend on cell phone service or GPS signals. Review the trail map ahead of time to be sure you understand it.

9. Pack the “10 Essentials.”

The longer your hikes become, the more involved these items will become. But since we’re talking about hiking for beginners, we’ve adjusted the list to highlight hiking essentials for beginners specifically:

10. Know the etiquette.

It’s totally fine to be a beginner. It’s not okay to be a jerk. Here’s how to not be a jerk on the trails:

At the end of the day, there isn’t much difference between hiking essentials for beginners and pros. It mainly comes down to knowing your ability level, preparing well, and respecting the trails. The rest is details. So get out there, enjoy the journey, and be sure to check out our collection of backpacks and rucksacks, crafted for men and women who appreciate the spirit of adventure.


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