Top Seven Hiking Tips For Beginners
A workout regimen that is low impact and a lot of fun that one should consider taking up is hiking. Hiking is not only great for the heart but the mind as well. Studies have shown that it helps decrease anxiety in a person and can inhibit osteoporosis.
Hiking is an enjoyable sport that has many aspects that makes it fun and exciting each time. One really has to use their senses in order to complete the task of hiking. By following the 7 tips listed below, you can become a pro at hiking and stay safe!
The first step in hiking for beginners is to start small. I would not expect you to find the longest trail on the first adventure out. Therefore, it simply should not be done. Starting small will allow you to build up the hikes.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that the terrain on these hikes is going to be completely different than that of a normal sidewalk. Most of the time, sidewalks are flat. They may occasionally have unevenness, but it is nothing that usually stresses us out. However, a hiking trail is different. There may be several yards of uneven terrain. This can be hard on a body that is not used to walking on various terrains.
Another thing we need to remember is that elevation will change on many hiking paths. This will increase your time as you hike. It is estimated that you need to add one full hour to every 1,000 feet of elevation. You also need to figure walking at a pace of 2 miles per hour on the hiking trail.
When hiking, you must always dress appropriately. Any clothes simply will not do. Never choose cotton clothing. Anything that is cotton has a tendency to get damp and does not dry very fast. This will cause chaffing, which is very uncomfortable after a while. Cotton clothing will also leave you feeling clammy. I advise you to wear synthetic clothing. By wearing light layers of clothing, you can take a layer off as you get hot or add a layer if you feel chilly. Always add one extra layer to your bag that most likely will not be used just to be on the safe side.
Now that you have clothes down, it is time to move on to shoes. High quality hiking shoes should be worn for the hike. Everyday tennis shoes will not cut it. Many boots are on the market today that are advertised as “light-weight”. These may be the best option for those that are just starting. These boots are often easy to break in. As for socks, invest in a quality pair that are not cotton! Wool socks work wonders, as do synthetics. Pack extra blister dressing in case blisters would start to form.
Get on a Roll
When packing a backpack for hiking, I highly advise you to roll items you are taking on the hike. This includes all clothing, tents, tarps, and sleeping bags. Folding up these items can cause weak spots in the fabric when they are constantly folded up the same way. The weak spots could potentially damage the item.
Other items that should go in the backpack include a travel size bottle of sunscreen, sunglasses, a flashlight, extra water, extra food, waterproof matches, and an emergency shelter (tent or garbage bag).
Pack a First Aid Kit
A first aid kit should always be packed when going on a hike. I advise not using prepackaged first aid kits as these are not personalized for you or the other hikers in your group.
Some things that I advise adding to your first aid kit include items that are specific to the medical needs of those in your party. Any person in the group that has prescription medications should take a supply. Also, include any over the counter medications that could be needed for various medical conditions anyone in the group has. This may include Tylenol for arthritis or migraine pills for migraines. Those that have diabetes should make sure they have their insulin and other items with them. I also advise taking sugar or honey packets, or candy bars in case anyone would get low blood sugar levels. If anyone in the group has an EPI pen, this needs to be included in the first aid kit.
I also suggest carrying items in the first aid kit that can keep wounds clean. This includes gauze, antibiotic creams, disinfectant and antiseptics, adhesive wound dressings, bandaids, clean towels, and oral antibiotics.
The first aid kit should also contain a compass and a map. Other items that are worth having that do not take up a lot of room in a backpack include disposable gloves, disposable thermometers, tweezers, scissors, vaseline, hand sanitizer, burn cream, an emergency dental kit, splints, fingernail clippers, and quick clot gauze.
A repair kit could come in handy when hiking. If multiple people are hiking in the group, it is not a bad idea for one of these individuals to stick a small repair kit in one backpack.
Inform Others Where You Are Going
One of the key pieces of advice that I offer anyone is to let others know where you will be hiking at. Tell these people when you are leaving, when you plan on being back, and exactly where you will be hiking at.
While this may be overdoing it, I feel that it is better to be safe than sorry. Ask someone to check in with you shortly after you plan on being back just to make sure that everyone in the group arrived home safely. Accidents can happen at any given moment, especially in nature.
Know Where to Find Food and Water
When hiking, it is essential to stay hydrated and keep your blood sugar levels up. Before setting foot on the hiking path, know where water can be obtained from. Packing a wilderness water filter will help lighten the load of the backpack by not having to carry a large supply of water. However, in order for this filter to be useful, someone in the group needs to know where to find a supply of water at.
It is also essential to know what can and can not be eaten in the wild. There may be food in the backpack for everyone to eat, but in an emergency situation, one needs to be fearless with what is put in the mouth in order to survive. Learning how to set traps and snares ahead of time will allow those in the group to find food for survival. It is imperative that foods that are high in protein and fat are found in order to maintain enough calories.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
While it is exciting to start hiking, it is best to pace yourself on the hike. The pace you walk should be comfortable, allowing you to keep at that pace all day long. Save any energy for the entire hike. It is easy for energy to be used up rather quickly if one goes too fast.