There are many of us out there that need more exercise, however, we often dread the thought of slogging it out on a treadmill or paying for a costly annual gym membership. If you are someone who has always hated conventional workouts, hiking might be right up your alley. Hiking allows you to explore nature, absorb the fresh air, and experience the excitement of varying landscapes. A hike is a great form of exercise and there is nothing monotonous about it. Read more on this hiking blog.
The reality is that hiking is a completely different beast to taking a walk in the park. Beginners need to prepare themselves properly before first setting out. Below are some essential tips for those new to hiking looking to keep safe while enjoying their exercise.
#1 Understand your limits.
The first time I decided to go hiking, I followed my brother, who had over a decade of experience hiking in the surrounding mountains. While my first time was a good experience and the landscape was certainly stunning, I was ridiculously unprepared for the venture – I ran out of energy ages before my brother did.
Hiking is a lot more challenging than it looks. All that time I spent jogging in the park and lifting light weights in the gym did not prepare me for navigating steep dirt tracks and thorny branches. If you’re new to hiking, seek out beginner’s trails. Your current physical condition is irrelevant – you need time to acclimatize to the task. It’s best to begin with an easy trail that doesn’t risk injury or turn your off from ever going hiking again.
#2 Don’t be tempted to go it alone.
My first hike alongside my brother was challenging; I know for sure I would have turned back much earlier if I had been alone. I pushed myself because I didn’t want to disappoint someone I cared about.
Going hiking with a trusted companion is essential for many reasons. First, there’s the motivation element, as just mentioned, but you can also gain a lot of knowledge from experienced hikers. However, the most important factor is safety. Traveling with others helps deter dangerous wild animals and ensures if an injury occurs, someone is on hand to perform first aid. Not going alone is a hiking safety tip all newbies should heed.
If you’re struggling to find someone to going hiking with, don’t hesitate to post on Facebook, or investigate local outdoor adventure groups. The Outbound Collective, for instance, has a great list of locations you can visit to find the perfect hiking partner.
#3 Bring all the essentials but refrain from overpacking.
Check out any good hiking guide and you will find a list of ten essentials that you need to bring with you when going for a hike. The duration of your hike does not matter, whether is a quick two-hour hike or involves an overnight outdoor camping adventure, the essentials remain the same. You need water, food, a map, a compass, fire starters, emergency shelter, etc.
That said, there are many things you certainly don’t need to carry with you when hiking. While basic first aid is crucial, you don’t need a backpack full of medicines, wrappings, and splints you don’t even know how to use. Besides the 10 essential supplies, ask yourself if what your packing is something you really need for a hike, and if the answer is not a definitive “yes”, don’t bring it.
#4 Check the weather forecast.
Bad weather can cause more than a minor inconvenience, it can also present a serious danger for hikers. Rain and snow will make public trails slippery and streams will be harder to cross. Meanwhile, lightning can be very dangerous if you’re trapped in a high setting. Extreme temperatures also have a way of taking you by surprise.
Always look at the weather forecast on a trusted source the night before you go hiking, as well as the morning of your high. Learn to understand how to read the sky for incoming storm clouds. You don’t necessarily have to return home because of a light shower, but it’s always best to be prepared.
#5 Before you leave, let someone know what you’re doing.
It doesn’t matter how much preparation work you do, there’s always the chance that something could go wrong on a hike. There are too many stories out there from experienced hikers who made minor wrong decisions and found themselves in deep trouble. Cell phones and satellites can often help you to contact rescuers, but the most reliable way to ensure your long term safety is to let someone know where you are going in advance of your hiking expedition. Tell your friend to inform the authorities if you don’t make it back by an agreed time.
Use leeway when providing a timeframe. For instance, if you are planning a three-hour hike, tell your friend to only call if you are not back after six hours. The cushion will give you time if minor problems occur or if you just want to spend a little longer absorbing the scenery.