CAMPING & HIKING

How to Hike: Your Guide to Have the Best Hiking Experience

Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Traversing the beautiful trails allows you to be one with nature not to mention that you also get to have a very physically challenging activity that is good for the body. This is what makes hiking a widely popular outdoor activity for individuals across all ages.

From young kids to adults,everyone can enjoy and have a great hiking experience. Knowing how to hike is not too difficult. As long as you are into outdoors and you like to move that muscles and willing to walk that far, you can hike.

But since you are outdoors, you cannot just go out there and follow the trail. There are essential preparations that you need to do before you finally leave and it also helps that you know some information and other important details coming from professional hikers so you know what you can expect once you go out on a hike.

trail sign

Whether this is your first time to go out in the woods or if you’ve tried various trails a couple of times, this article provides you with a pretty much complete guide on what to bring, what to do and what you can expect when you are hiking.

Hiking for Beginners

Hiking requires energy, stamina, and strength especially if you are going to hike long miles and steep trails. And for beginners, it is important to start off by trying the easy trails first. Every person varies when it comes to his physical capacity and stamina.

What you need to identify first is you are physically strong enough to take on the challenge. Try out the easy trails and see how far you can go. Eventually, as you explore new places you can level up the challenge.

How to Hike: Early Preparations

For first time hikers, many would often ask “How to go hiking?”. There is no need for certain skills or other requirements just to be able to hike. But since this is still a physical activity, you need to be in shape and you have to prepare your body. For beginners, you can start by walking one mile while carrying a bag.

couple walking their dog in the park

If you are going for a much more difficult hiking trail, you need to engage in certain physical workouts that will increase your core and leg strength. You may have to undergo weight training to protect your joints because usually these body joints get strained while hiking.

Search Through the Different Hiking Trails

The nice thing about hiking is that it takes you to new places that you have never been to. Prior to your hiking activity, you need to know where you intend to hike. In your local area, you can find hiking trails that you might want to explore. If you want to try new places, you can always go out of your comfort zone and try other hiking trails in nearby locations.

Since you do not know the terrain and other natural conditions when you go outdoors, it is crucial that you research some information first before the actual hiking activity. When you search these details you need to consider the specific information:

  • Know about the hiking trail: There are lots of hiking trails to choose from. Just before you go straight away to hike, you need to at least know something about the trail or the area you want to visit. You should at least know the rules and regulations. Is it only open for daytime or can you set-up a camp at night? Knowing the basic details can help you with your planning and other preparations.
  • Location: You may want to try other hiking trails where you will have to travel a few miles. Make sure that you check out the location so you can save time with your travels. You don’t want to get stressed out even before your hiking activity has started.
  • Weather Forecast: The things that you will be bringing with you would also depend on the climate and temperature. You need to at least have a 1 week weather forecast prior to your hiking schedule. This allows you to assess as to whether the chosen date is the perfect time to go out on a hike. There are cases when the weather can be extremely bad which means that trail is dangerous. To avoid accidents and for your safety, you may have to put off your plans next time.
  • Topographic Conditions: Every hiking trail is unique in a sense that topographic conditions widely vary. Some hiking trails are quite easier to traverse. On the other hand, there are areas that can be quite steep not to mention long so it is important that you are at least aware of the topographic conditions. Knowing this enables you to prepare yourself and to see if you opt to go for a particular hiking trail or choose another.

the appalachian trail

What to Bring

Now that you have an idea where you intend to hike, the next step is to start preparing and packing the essential items that you need for your trip. Although there are sites that have stores where you can purchase the items you need, it is much better to be prepared than sorry. We’ve listed down the must have items that you should include in your backpack when going outdoors.

Hiking Clothes and Protective Gear

The clothes that you have to wear and the extra ones that you need to take with you would depend on when you intend to hike. For instance, if you are hiking during summer, it can be really hot and humid. Pack lighter clothes, those that are made from cotton so you wouldn’t feel too hot all throughout your outdoor activity.

Wear comfortable shoes. You can either get hiking boots or shoes depending on your preference. When buying footwear, you need to research about the things you need to look for. For an easy hike, you can have trail running sneakers. Aside from your clothes, you also need to bring with you protective gear.

During summer when it gets extremely hot and you find yourself going through a trail with no trees, you wouldn’t want your skin to get burned. Take with you a hat or a cap. Do not forget to bring sunglasses and sunscreen lotion to protect your skin against the harmful rays of the sun.

Hiking Shoes

Any footwear as long as you feel comfortable in it is suitable for hiking. But it is a different story if you are hiking through steep slopes and go through narrow passages. The area can be quite slippery and you simply wouldn’t want to take chances. In that case, you might as well be prepared and ready. Find a reliable pair of hiking shoes is lightweight, something that you can wear comfortably in any hiking place you want to go.

Food and Water

Bring food and water along with you in case you run out of supply, you have the basic commodities that you need. Most of the hiking trails have supply stores where you can purchase these items. Then again, you always have to be prepared at all times. It does not hurt to bring with you some food and water in your bag. Just pack enough food items.

Stove, Backpack Frying Pan and Other Utensils

If you are planning to have an overnight stay then you need to take with you kitchen items and other tools where you can cook meals and boil water. For hikers, having a stove is essential. Find one that is lightweight, a stove that you can use for various cooking applications.

frying eggs on biolite stove

It should be steady and stable, easy to set up and to use so you wouldn’t have any difficulty even when you are cooking outdoors. In addition to the stove, you also need to bring with you backpack frying pans and utensils. Unlike utensils used in the kitchen, these items are designed for the outdoors. They are lightweight, easy to use and easy to store.

Camping Gear

If you have decided to stay for the night or spend a couple of days, you need to have camping gears. Some areas offer tents and camping gears for rent. Check out the hiking places if they have such service. If it is not available, you can bring your own tent and other gears that you need to be able to set up your camp.

watching the stars next to a tent

Some sites can be really congested especially during peak season. Plan your camping session ahead and it also helps that you make a reservation to ensure that you have a guaranteed spot in the camping area when you come.

Other Tools

Outdoorsmen always bring with them essential tools that you can use in times of need. For instance, you need navigation tools. You need GPS, compass, and maps to stay on the right direction and trail. Another very useful tool that should be inside your backpack is a multipurpose tool.

compass and a map

First Aid Kit

You’ll never know what’s going to happen when you go out on a hike. Always be prepared and take with you a first aid kid. This will actually vary depending on your medical needs. But for a basic kit, you need medical tape, bandages, alcohol wipes, eye drops and personal medications.

Be Safe

What makes hiking a very interesting and fun activity is you get to explore nature while you are outdoors. However, you also need to be careful especial. While you are on the trail, be aware of any potential danger. Respect the environment and do not do anything that will destroy plants, flowers or attempt to come in close contact with animals.

Before you finally hit the trail, take the time to learn about safety precautions since there are hiking areas where there are poisonous animals and other dangerous wildlife. In as much as you want to enjoy your hiking experience, you also need to be aware of the danger.  To protect your skin against insects and bugs, wear long sleeves and pants.

Being in a hiking trail where it has its own unspoken rules, you have to put extra care. If there is one rule that applies to everyone, you should not leave any trace when you go hiking. This means that you need to bring with you any trash and clean the place before you go.

Hiking for Families with Children

When you are hiking alone, you only have to think of your needs. It is a different case if for families who are hiking along with their children. If you are hiking with children here are important tips to keep in mind:

  • Kids easily get tired and to make hiking enjoyable for them, you should not go after hiking trails that are strenuous. Choose a trail is that simple but can give amazing views.
  • Prepare all of the things that you and your kids need. From wet wipes to extra food and water, you always have to bring extra in case the children get really tired and hungry.
  • Take the time to hike. Allow the children to explore the beauty of nature. Since there is really no time limit, there is no need to be in a rush.
  • As with any hiker, you need to wear the right attire. Wear with you appropriate clothing and for the children, you have to pack extra clothing.
  • Schedule stops from time to time to allow the kids to restore their energy and you can rest it too.

family on a hiking trip

Hiking is sure a fun activity for everyone no matter what the season is. It takes you to new places that you can explore and it allows you to spend quiet and quality time with your loved ones. With all the beauty of nature has to offer, you will not run out of choices when it comes to places you want to visit. It will just depend on whether you are always up for the challenge considering that some of the best views and sceneries have really difficult hiking trails.

Whether you are hiking alone or with your family and friends, preparation is key. This is essential to make sure that you have a great outdoor experience and to avoid problems along the way. As you get to different places, you also get to experience new things and discover different hiking trails that will challenge you as a hiker.

Are you planning to go out on a hike? Share your experience to us and we are glad to hear from you!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

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