Before heading into the wilderness on a hiking trip make sure to be fully prepared.
A day-hike is easily ruined when the must-have gear is left behind, such as fresh socks, rain gear, snacks, map, distress equipment, etc. But worst of all, setting out on a hike in the more remote locations without proper preparation can be lethal.
Hiking Tips for Beginners
Here are eighteen essential tips to stay safe on the hiking trails:
- It is much safer to plan a hike with a party of two or more hikers.
- A compass and map should be carried by each hiker. Plus, it makes sense for each hiker to have a basic ability to use these navigation aids to help find safety in the event of getting lost or an emergency arises.
- Read a trail guide before starting the hike to get a better appreciation of the difficulty of the hike, terrain, length of hike, etc.
- Take extra caution on the mountain hiking trails. The climate at higher altitude is notoriously changeable with the potential for temperature to drop 30-40° in a matter of hours. Wear the proper clothing for the climate (multiple layers) and pack rain gear.
- Leave the hiking trails intact and avoid causing damage to this fragile resource. Don’t leave anything behind that was taken on the hike include trash, food waste, etc. Plus, some of the alpine plants at high elevation are quite fragile, so make sure to stick to the hiking paths.
- Walk a hiking trail that is able to complement the fitness and hiking ability of all members of the party. An overly difficult hike can leave stragglers back down the trail and having a difficult time.
- If it starts to thunder and lightning, avoid walking on the hiking trails above the tree line.
- Set an estimated time to end the hike and stick to it no matter what, even if it means it isn’t possible to reach the intended destination.
- Use water bottles or hydration pack to carry enough water to last the entire duration of the hike – a fluid intake on trails is usually suggested at 2-liters per day (more for long, difficult, or extreme weather hikes), and sip water regularly as opposed to taking the occasional gulp.
- Wear the proper attire for hiking such as clothing in synthetic materials which are more effective at keeping the body warm and wicking moisture from the skin. Avoid materials that hold moisture, such as cotton.
- Pack a torch or headlamp for safety in the event of the hike lasts into low-light or dark conditions.
- Use the proper hiking socks (nylon material) to protect the feet from blisters or similar irritation.
- Apply high-strength sunscreen and insect repellent before starting the hike. Sun and high-altitude are certain to have a negative impact on the skin.
- Prepare a first-aid kit to match intended hike.
- Leave a hiking plan with a trusted friend with details of the leaving time, intended route, hiking members, and time of return.
- Carry a signal mirror, whistle, or similar tool to help attract attention in the event of difficulties.
- Wear the hiking boots or shoes to match the condition of the planned hike. Light hiking shoes, trail-running shoes, cross-trainer with ankle support, or heavy hiking boots are available.
- Pack enough trail food to keep energy up and avoid issues with fatigue. Simple hiking foods include peanut butter sandwiches and sports bars (Balance Bar, Promax, Clif Bar, etc.).