Hiking is one of the best low impact workouts on the planet. It offers benefits to your entire body, both physically and mentally. Whether it is lowering your anxiety, boosting your cardiovascular health or improving muscle growth, you will see that you are in much better shape if you hike regularly. You even get to explore new areas around where you live! But going on a hike without appropriate preparation can be dangerous, which is why we have put together a list of four tips for your first hike.
1. Start on a Modest Trail
The mistake that a lot of beginners make when it comes to hiking is they will choose a trail that is just not suitable for their skill level. Perhaps you have some friends who have been hiking for years. They are encouraging you to try it out and you decide to go on a trial with them. However, they are going on the trail that is suitable for their skill level, not yours.
It is always best to start on a modest trail where you will not be significantly challenged. When you can hike a few times on such trails, you can step up to the intermediate options in your area. Always assume a pace of around two miles per hour, which can help you assess how far into the trail you should go before turning around.
2. Map Out Your Path
Part of the fun of hiking is that you are in an unknown area and you have no idea how things will turn out. It can be a very fun experience, but it comes with its own set of dangers. It is why mapping out your trail, at least roughly, can help you familiarize yourself with the area you will be encountering. If there are any potentially dangerous spots or confusing routes, you can map them out so they do not bother you in the moment.
3. Pick a Comfortable Day
Even if you are one of those people who loves a challenge, hiking for the very first time in extreme weather is NOT a good idea. You may think that you are being brave, but it is simply an unnecessary risk. Hiking for the first time when it is very hot, cold or raining will also dampen your enjoyment, which is not what you want. It is best to choose a mild and clear day for your first few hikes. As you become more advanced, you can take on the challenge of hiking trails in poor weather conditions.
4. Pack Essentials
Be sure that you have all the essentials that you will need on your trip. These items include navigation systems, sunscreen, extra clothes, lights, first aid kit, fire starting kit, repair tools, food, water and a small tent. The purpose of packing these items is not only to assist you during the hike, but to prepare for the worst case scenario. If you are not able to make it back the same day, you should have enough supplies to last you until the next day.
We always like to pack a mini cooler for our hiking trips. If you are going with someone, you can split up the carrying duties. One person can take the various bags that contain your essentials, while the other person can have a cooler backpack on their shoulder. Now you have cold water, drinks and food to enjoy on your hike!