10 Beginner Hiking Tips from Veteran Hikers

When it comes to hiking, you want to have fun, and you also want to stay safe. By choosing a path based on your hiking experience, you will get the most out of your trail time. Whether you are looking to stay within your ability and enjoy a leisurely pace, or you would like to challenge yourself with a difficult hike. We have consulted the experts and gathered tips, so you can have the best time!

What’s your take on choosing trails based on skill-level or fitness?

Probably one of the most important factors you should consider. Choosing trails based on skill-level or fitness can define the feeling of your hiking experience. Again, one of the main goals of hiking is to have fun, and if you’re not fit for the chosen trail, the chances are that your body won’t welcome the hike that easily.

“I think there’s a balance for sure. When you’re first starting out, it’s always a good idea to set yourself up for success and do something a little easier. You can do more difficult hikes as your experience grows“, says Megan Maxwell (https://mountainswithmegan.com/).

Maxwell also added that mentality is a big factor while hiking. Reduce the likelihood of encountering major problems along the way, make sure you are physically and mentally prepared for the hike.

“You might think that oh sure I can do a 5-mile trail no problem in your backyard but add in elevation, heat/cold and now you are outside of your comfort and fitness levels very quickly. Read guide books or reviews of the trails and even talk to folks who have completed the trails to get their advice, adds Adam Nutting (www.hikingthetrail.com)

There are also some cases wherein choosing trails can be entirely up to your purpose of hiking. Some do it for leisure, others for exercise.

If you just enjoy being in the great outdoors, you may not be looking for a challenging trail. On the other hand, if you hike as exercise, you may be continually looking for more advanced hiking trails to help build up your muscle and endurance. For us, hiking is merely a way to sightsee. We choose trails that are short to moderate in length and that lead to points of interest. Waterfalls, rock formations, and lookout points are some of the natural attractions that we will hike to find“, says Jennifer Campbell (www.justchasingrabbits.com).

Do you do any prep-work or research on the trail prior to going on your hike?

Just like with any activity, making sure you are ready for a hike will allow you to enjoy it more. In such situations, it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.

“You definitely want to know what you’re getting into before you hit the trail. AllTrails is my go-to app for finding nearby trails, and in addition to checking basic trail stats (mileage, elevation gain, etc), I always read the recent reviews to get a sense of current trail conditions. Right now in light of COVID-19, it’s also important to do your research ahead of time to see if there are any new regulations to be aware of”, says Kristen Bor (www.bearfoottheory.com).

Other expert hikers consider external factors before setting the trail. You can never be too prepared for the wilderness.

“My #1 piece of advice is to check the weather first. In the Sierra Nevada, choosing a mountain a few miles away can mean a world of difference, so I’ll check storm paths prior to choosing a hike. Once I’ve chosen an area based on weather, I typically research a trail that I am unfamiliar with at least a few days prior“, shares Lexie Gritlefeld (https://www.weekendroamer.com/).

It’s also useful to familiarize yourself with the trail you’re going to tackle. Take the time to learn about the area, and familiarize yourself with the place. Are there predators to be aware of? When does the sun set? Have you trained enough to make it?

“Several years ago, I signed up for a group hiking tour in Glacier National Park. I trained for it by finding the largest hill near my home and repeatedly hiking up and down it. I didn’t want to be the hiker who had to stop frequently to catch her breath”, adds Donna Hull (www.myitchytravelfeet.com)

Two hikers and a dog climbing up hill at Gore Range.

Gore Range. Photo Credit: Unsplash, Holly Mandarich

What about weather, when do you check and what type of weather do you prefer?

Even the experts are weary of the wilderness. They have been around long enough to know that each trail holds no certainty.

Obviously no rain is best, but the mountains are unpredictable and it’s never guaranteed that that forecast will be right, so I just prepare for rain and go anyways“, says Kristin Addis (www.bemytravelmuse.com).

One of the best things about hiking is that you get to experience breathtaking views. Our experts sure do know how to chase the beautiful horizon.

We prefer blue, clear skies. We love being able to see for miles when on the summit of an epic mountain. If it’s extremely hot in the area, we certainly can’t complain when there is a bit of cloud cover and a nice forest to shade us throughout the day“, says Brittany Rouille (https://www.mrandmrsadventure.com/).

There are also individuals who prefer to add a different flavor to their hiking. Eventually you may even have your own unique preference!

My favorite conditions, whether for hiking or mountain biking, are when it’s chilly and cloud with a chance of rain—like an early November day. It adds spice to the day“, shares Steve Casimiro (https://www.adventure-journal.com/).

Packing, do you have a list of essentials that you pack for each hike? Does this change depend on the difficulty, location, or otherwise?

You wouldn’t go to a battlefield empty-handed, right? And you definitely wouldn’t go into the wilderness empty-handed. Some things you’ll want to bring for every quick walk or hike you take, others you may only need for long days on the trails.

“I list all of my essentials on my blogs. I would say that anyone going on a hike should make sure they’re packing the 10 Essentials“, mentions Danielle Rodriguez (http://dani-the-explorer.com/)

Here are the ten essentials mentioned: navigation tools, headlamp, sun protection, first aid, knife, fire, shelter, extra food, extra water, and extra clothes.

“Yes of course, it changes based upon the difficulty of the hike, the length of the hike, of course the weather, and whether I’m going to be staying overnight or not”, adds Lee Abbamonte (https://www.leeabbamonte.com/)

Our experts also suggest that you adapt to the current situation as much as possible. Additionally, it also helps know the current tourist traction of the trail you are targeting.

If you’re only going on a short 2 mile hike that is highly populated, you can adjust this list as you see fit. Right now with COVID-19, I’d also suggest that people keep a mask in their pocket that they can easily put on when they encounter other hikers“, says Kristen Bor (www.bearfoottheory.com).

In terms of attire, do you have specific clothing for your hikes? What have you found be the most comfortable / best for your hiking experiences?

To enjoy your hike, you need to be aware of the dos and donts regarding your hiking outfit. It helps to always choose comfort over style. Consider things like temperature, wind, sunlight, bugs, and how that might change throughout your hike.

“I stay away from cotton and jeans however hiking trails do not care what you wear. Hike in what you have and that you feel most comfortable using. Some love to hike in cotton t-shirts and jeans while others enjoy wearing fully synthetic clothing designed specifically for hiking and outdoor activities“,  shares Adam Nutting (www.hikingthetrail.com).

To better adapt to potential changes in weather, remember to dress in layers and pack extras as needed. Clothing like rain jackets and windbreakers are designed to keep you comfortable while hiking!

“My attire for a hike changes based on weather and terrain. Before I recommend specific clothing, I have to preface that there is no perfect outfit for the outdoors and I even hike in jeans occasionally. Don’t let a lack of clothing or gear stop you from pursuing hiking”, says Lexie Gritlefeld (https://www.weekendroamer.com/)

Lastly, our experts stress the importance of having decent footwear. After all, you are going to be using your feet almost the entire time, so if you’re going to splurge for a great piece of hiking gear, consider hiking shoes or boots! Over time, you’ll learn your preference.

“For footwear, I hike in trail runners. I gave up on traditional hiking boots because they give me blisters and take a while to break-in,” shares Megan Maxwell (https://mountainswithmegan.com/).

We hope you were able to gain some insight from these tips and tricks to get you ready for your hike! Remember to visit our expert’s websites to learn even more about how to enjoy the great outdoors and stay safe on the trails!

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