Hiking Tips for Beginners

Hiking tips can be useful for beginners as well as the pros.

Living in the Appalachian Mountains provided some of the best hiking experiences a person could ask for.

The mountainous terrain of West Virginia became an enchanted land for this beginning hiker and his family.

Hiking through the mountain range of Dolly Sods or going across Spruce Knob provided us with great respect for the sport.

It didn’t just begin there, though; I had to do a lot of preparation before I ever hit those mountain trails.

I thought I might share some of the prep work that I had to do as some hiking tips for those that may be new to hiking.

For me, it didn’t just begin with a long trek up the foot hills. No, it began years prior on long road marches in the military, then it escalated to marching Nijmegen (a hundred-mile road march in the Netherlands).

Even though I had top-notch training for these events during my time in the Army, there were some very basic tips that kept me from just quitting altogether.

Tip 1 – Get good boots and make sure you break them in properly.

When the base in Vicenza, Italy had the tryouts for Nijmegen I made a fatal mistake for any hiker, I wore a new pair of boots. I mistakenly grabbed the wrong boots that morning of the fifteen-mile tryout and after three and a half hours and fifteen miles of marching my feet became blistered to my socks.

Boots are crucial – after all, your feet are your main mode of transportation.

Make sure that your shoes or hiking boots fit properly. After finding the most comfortable hiking boots, you can afford, wear them around your house to break them in before you wear them for long hikes through the trails.

Trust me, if there is ever a time to splurge just a little, it will be on proper hiking boots. I learned this important hiking tip the hard way and my feet paid the price for it!

Tip 2 – Get hydrated before you head out and always bring enough water.

Whether you’re hiking in the months of June, July or December, take plenty of water! Carry as much water as you can on a hike and remember that dehydration can happen in the winter just as easily as it can in the summer.

Tip 3 – Dress in layers.

Dress in layers of clothing. Just as you dehydrate in the winter and summer, you can also overheat in these months as well, especially if your hike is a vigorous one. Layers of clothing allow you to remove some when getting overheated and add some back on once your body starts to cool down some. These are some basic survival techniques that will keep you on the trail instead of in the hospital.

The weather can turn at any moment in the mountains. One minute it is 80 degrees outside and then as you ascend to the higher elevation it can drop to extreme cold temps real fast.

High-quality moisture-wicking clothing will help keep both the sweat and rain away from your body.

Tip 4 – Remember to bring a first aid kit.

Just as with all of the other hiking tips I have given to you, the first aid kit provides the security needed to handle sprains, or bad cuts as well as bee stings.

In an emergency, the little bit of extra weight of your first aid kit in your pack could mean the difference between life and death.  Remember, it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Tip 5 – Know where you are at all times.

I love the outdoors, and as a child, I remember hunting with my father. It was a great experience for me, and I longed for the day when I could be out there hunting on my own.

I finally got my opportunity when I was an early teen. I sat on one side of the mountain as my father was on the other side. I began to wander off and eventually led myself to a place where I had no idea as to where I was.

The fear of being lost in the woods had become a reality and one that would never leave my brain.

I vowed to learn how to navigate so that I would never get lost again. I kept true to my promise of never getting lost again while serving in the infantry. For all of you hiking in the wilderness, it is very possible that if you are on a trail that trail will change over time, and you may find yourself lost in the woods.

A great hiking tip for you is to carry a GPS, learn to read a map and use a compass and know your landmarks. If you become very observant, you can look for landmarks to memorize so that you will not be as I was – lost in the woods.

Tip 6 – Choose a trail that matches your experience level.

Choose your trip wisely. I mentioned hiking across the Appalachian mountain ranges, but that is not for everybody.

Attempting the hardest hike you can find on your first time out is like trying to run a marathon as your first run. Start small with your training and then build upon it as you feel your body progressing.

Tip 7 – Progressively increase your training.

As you train to hike, also vary the weight of your packs. If you are going on a long hike, you might want to carry more gear such as more water.

Remember, as you prepare for longer hikes, you’ll need to learn to carry more weight.

If you are only used to carrying a ten-pound backpack, adding another ten pounds can make a huge difference. Discipline yourself in your training so that you will be ready for all circumstances.

Final Thoughts

I know that some of you might think that these hiking tips are basic knowledge skills, and they are indeed basic, but if you’ve never hiked before or maybe not for any distance, then these tips may save you a tremendous amount of trouble.

Hiking can be a great way to stay fit or just have fun; these hiking tips will keep you safe along the way!

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