The best part about going hiking for the first time is the thrill of discovering new places, cultures, people,on foot . But no matter how many hiking adventures you’ve been on, the symphony of nature, the thrill of self-reliance, and the satisfaction of conquering challenges will remain. As a beginner, you’ve come to the right place. We have a host of hiking advice for beginners, which you will find useful before heading out on a hike. These tips go beyond the usual “wear good shoes” advice and offer insights to elevate your first hiking adventure. Remember, it’s not only about conquering mountains; it’s about forging a connection with nature and creating unforgettable experiences. Let’s dive in.
Backpacking Tips for Beginners – Gear Up Smarter, Not Harder
Before we get to the fun tips, let’s take a quick look at some beginner backpacking tips to refresh your memory.
- Don’t invest in a heavy-duty backpack right away. Start with a light day pack since, as a beginner hiker, carrying excess weight will be too tiring and ruin your experience. It’s important to learn to pack like a pro. Choose a lightweight, comfortable pack that fits snugly. Pack the heaviest items closest to your spine and the lighter stuff towards the top.
- Opt for layers in your clothing over bulky jackets. You’ll appreciate the agility and versatility of being able to regulate your warmth according to the weather by adding or removing layers while on the trail. Wear comfortable shoes that support your ankles as well. Don’t forget all your basic sun protection equipment, lotions and insect repellents.
- Choose to eat healthy, sustained energy sources like nuts, dried fruits, and trail mix. You will require a lot of energy to go on this journey. If you have sugary treats, the energy you gain will be short-term, and you’ll find your energy levels crashing after a while.
- Water is essential for hikers, and it is a priority item over even your backpack and shoes. However, a water bottle can sometimes take up a lot of space in your bag. Try investing in a hydration bladder for hands-free sipping and easy storage.
- Always check the weather before you go. Even with proper planning, the weather can change suddenly. Pack your clothing and protective gear according to the forecast, and if possible, be prepared for weather changes outside of the forecast.
- For throwaway items, take an eco-friendly bag with you to collect all your waste so that you can dispose of it eco-consciously. If you are able and willing, collect any trash you encounter, even if it’s not yours. Show kindness to the wilderness for the amazing gift of peace that it offers you.
Hiking Advice for Beginners
- Start hiking early. Especially during the warmer months. Starting early is key for avoiding the scorching sun and enjoying cooler temperatures.
- Don’t be afraid to ask experienced hikers for advice! They’ve all been beginners once and understand the challenges you face. Seek advice to choose a trail that matches your fitness level and experience.
- Start with a day hike before tackling a longer hike with higher elevations.
- Carrying a small, collapsible mirror to flash at curious wildlife can serve as a safe and harmless method to startle them, helping you avoid close encounters. It’s also essential to remember that you are a guest in their habitat.
- If you have obtained permission to camp at a designated campsite along the trail, be prepared to follow all requirements and regulations and practice setting up your tents at home; trying to figure out your tent poles in the dark at the end of an exhausting day is no one’s idea of fun. Do remember to clean up after yourself when you’re clearing up camp the next day.
Hiking Navigation Tips
Navigating the wilderness is a challenging task when you are a beginner. More experienced hikers have the advantage of even being able to recognise landmarks in the form of certain clumps of trees, the same way we recognise buildings to help us navigate in the city. But technology comes to the rescue. There are apps available such as AllTrails, Wikiloc, and OutdoorActive that have proven to be immensely helpful to those who are new to hiking. They provide details, such as approved routes recommended by outdoor professionals, and offer robust mapping and navigation tools.You can also use The Pekoe Trail app which has been exclusively created to help those who are hiking on The Pekoe Trail to enjoy a tailor made hiking experience.
Unique Hiking Tips for Beginners To Impress Even Seasoned Trekkers
- Learn to embrace the slow burn. Hiking is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself and enjoy the scenery to avoid burnout. Hike with a friend for safety and company, but leave some space for independent exploration and reflection.
- Leaving your phone in airplane mode allows you to immerse yourself in the sounds of nature and the rhythm of your steps for a therapeutic experience. Spend at least 15 minutes in silence at a scenic spot during your hike. Observe the sounds, smells, and sights around you. It’s a mindful practice that enhances the overall experience. Don’t worry about getting lost; offline maps are accessible even while your phone is in airplane mode.
- If you’re hiking in areas with significant elevation change, pack a shirt or accessory in colors matching the terrain. You will visually blend into the environment, which will help you spot wildlife more easily, and they will not be as easily startled by you.
- Beginners, don’t go for epic trails all at once. Find joy in hidden local paths, urban green spaces, or even a sunrise stroll in your neighbourhood. Then, when you feel ready, head out and enjoy a hiking adventure in places like The Pekoe Trail in Sri Lanka. The trail is a 300 km hiking path crossing over mountains and through valleys. It sounds intense, but many stages of the trail are relatively easy treks for beginners and moderate-level hikers can also enjoy it. To learn more about the adventures on The Pekoe Trail, Check out our podcast, where avid hiker Stuart Butler takes you through many diverse experiences on the trail.
Bonus tip: Pack a small, waterproof notebook and pen. Capture your thoughts, observations, and the fleeting beauty of the trail. It will be a souvenir that you will treasure always.