Hiking is a great way to get moving, spend time in nature and enjoy the fresh air. While there are hikes that are definitely designed for veterans and experienced hikers, there are also trails that are suited for beginners.
To get the most out of your hiking experience while ensuring that you remain safe and prepared, we’ll take you through the essentials that you need to bring and how to prepare.
What to wear
If you’re a beginner and you’re doing a beginner track, you don’t need to go all out and buy professional hiking gear. But it’s important that you wear the appropriate clothing and shoes that still provides the protection you need against the weather, bugs/insects and other elements.
The shoes that you choose are arguably the most important part of what you wear. Because hiking is all done by walking, you need to ensure that your feet and hence the rest of your body, are adequately supported.
If you don’t have proper hiking shoes, then running shoes are your next best option. If you’re going for a trail that doesn’t have too many obstacles and is mainly flat and well-maintained, then lightweight, low-cut running shoes will do.
Choose shoes that have been broken in and that you know are comfortable. Wear socks that match the shoes you’re wearing. Low-cut socks should only be done with low-cut shoes as it won’t offer protection if you’re wearing over-the-ankle boots. Crew or knee-high socks are better suited for boots with a higher cut.
Wool is the best fabric for socks as it provides cushioning as well as assists in regulating temperature, keeping your feet comfortable.
Despite the weather, ensure that you protect yourself against the sun. Wear a hat and sunscreen to ensure that you’re sun safe. Even behind the clouds or being covered by trees, the sun can penetrate through so make sure you’re protected.
In terms of clothing, consider the weather in which you’ll be hiking. If it’s colder, than make sure you layer as you can always take them off if you get too hot. If it’s windy, then wear a wind-protection jacket for extra shelter from the weather and if you’re expecting some rain, a waterproof jacket is a must.
Wearing dri-fit athletic apparel that absorbs sweat to ensure you remain comfortable and dry.
What to bring
For a beginner hiker, you don’t need to have a huge backpack, especially since the trail will most likely be shorter with less climbing and obstacles. Instead, a daypack of around 15-20L should be sufficient.
You just need a pack with enough room for water, some food and snacks, and space for extra clothing (if you need it).
It’ important to make sure that you’re hydrated even before you go on your hike but it’s also essential to bring bottles of water with you. If there’s anything you shouldn’t simp on, it’s water. As a rule of thumb, aim for at least 1L of water per every two hours. So if your hike is estimated to take around 4 hours, then bring at least 2L of water.
Of course, if the weather is warm, you’re going to drink more so opt for an extra bottle or two. This also applies if you think you’ll take longer than the estimated hiking time.
A beginner day hike will mean that you will have more space in your pack for food and snacks as you won’t have to carry tents or overnight equipment. However, the amount of food you’ll need won’t be as much. For shorter hikes, you won’t need to bring as much food with you
To maintain your energy throughout the hike, here are some light snack ideas:
- Trail mix
- Bananas/apples and peanut butter
- Protein/granola bars
- Beef jerky
Aim for a mixture of sweet and savory snacks to satisfy all cravings.
As well as applying sunscreen before you head out to your hike, make sure you bring some so you can reapply. Opt for one that is at least SPF50 for the best protection. Also, bring sunglasses that has 100% UV protection for your eyes.
First aid essentials
While taking proper precautions can minimize the risk of accidents, accidents do happen. Bring some first-aid essentials such as bandaids, bandages, antiseptic wipes and Ibuprofen. This way, if anything were to occur, you have the basics to help.
Bringing a portable phone charger is a must. This way, if your phone runs out of battery and even if you have no reception, you’ll still be able to have access to utilities such as an offline GPS map and compass. And if you’re able to get reception, then a way to contact other people or emergency services.
Make sure your phone is fully charged to begin with so then a portable charger can ensure you have enough battery throughout the hike.
Hiking is a great way to immerse yourself in the outside world. It can be incredibly fun, exciting and therapeutic. However, making sure you’re adequately prepared is essential to ensure that you remain as safe as possible.