You want to start hiking. You see all those photos on Instagram and want to go to those amazing places.
But to get there, you have to hike.
And sometimes you need to hike far. Or scramble over rocks. You aren’t feeling confident in your skills. You haven’t hiked in years, or maybe you’ve never hiked. How do you get out there and explore all these amazing places?
Thankfully, hiking is pretty easy to start. You can also begin pretty cheap. You don’t need a ton of expensive gear to get out and enjoy nature.
Before we start a little disclaimer: Always check with your doctor before beginning any physical activity. I am not a doctor. I don’t know your physical capabilities, so get checked out and cleared then start on this list.
Top 5 Tips to Start Hiking
- Start getting the gear you will need. The bare minimum you will need is a good pair of boots, a hydration pack, and proper clothing. I really like Merrell for shoes, but you should go and try on a few different brands and find what works for you. As for clothing, moisture-wicking and layers are essential. Some people wear leggings while others prefer more traditional hiking pants or shorts. Shoes, packs, and clothing are all about personal preference.
- Pick your trail. Start small. I would suggest finding a short, easy route for your first time out and then to slowly build up miles and difficulties. All Trails is a great website/app to start discovering places. Otherwise, city, county, state, or national parks have a wide variety of distances and challenges.
- Take enough water and snacks with you. The time of year and distance will determine how much water you need. Start with about half a liter of water per hour you will be out and adjust as you figure out your needs. I like to sip water every 15-20 minutes (or around every mile). During hot summer months in Phoenix, I tend to sip every half mile. As for sacks, I usually only eat when I am out for four or more hours. I eat a filling breakfast (usually oatmeal) and will eat a big lunch after. If I’m out longer, I will take either pickybars or lunch (sandwich, fruit, and chips). Again, you will start to learn what you need.
- Trail etiquette is imperative to learn before you head out. As a hiker, there are a few scenarios you need to keep in mind. Hikers headed up have the right of way. Sometimes uphill hikers will allow you to pass because they need a break. Mountain bikers are supposed to yield to hikers, but many times, it’s easier for a hiker to step aside. Everyone yields to horses. Always keep to the right and be aware of your surroundings. If you hear faster hikers coming up behind, you step aside and let them pass. If you are out with a group, please try to stay single file or move to a single file line if other’s are coming u behind you or approaching.
- Leave no trace. Pack it in/pack it out. Leave only footsteps, take only photos. Seriously. This one is not optional. If you have snacks, take the wrappers with you. Don’t go off-trail. Leave rocks and other cool looking things on the trail. If it’s so cool that you want to remember it, take a photo. Then you can print the picture, hang it on your wall, and enjoy it forever!
Have a doggo you want to take hiking? Make sure to have the vet check them out and then build their mileage slowly like you did for yourself. Get your dog a little pack to carry a water bowl, food (if needed), and poop bags. Always pick up your dog’s poop and carry it out. Please don’t leave it behind to pick up on the way back. Our dog has to carry her own poop if she doesn’t go at the trailhead (with a garbage can nearby).
Do you hike? What is your favorite park or trail to head to?