A few decades ago, hiking was the most popular sport of its time but over the years, it slightly drifted away. On the decline, fewer people looked to hiking because of the dangers it brought, not to mention the strain it brought to the body but now it seems as though there has become a new craze for hiking.
However, too many people are unprepared for what lies ahead, and end up falling at the first hurdle. Instead, why not check out the benefits of hiking and find out what disadvantages you might also face. Hopefully both sides of the argument will allow you to make an informed decision about your hiking lifestyle.
- Great for the Body
- Go Hiking Whenever You Want To
- Meets New People
- A Fun Way to Spend a Weekend
- Beautiful Sites
- Get Peace to Relax
- Safety Concerns
- Leaving Family Behind For Long Periods of Time
- High Costs
- Embrace the Hike
- How to plan and prepare for your first hike?
- Clothing, gear, and food—what to take when hiking?
- What hiking gear will you need?
- What hiking backpack should you pick?
- Stay safe when hiking!
- Stay green and follow trail etiquette when hiking!
Great for the Body
One of the best benefits of taking up hiking is that you can get your body back into shape! Really, hiking can be a great cardio workout and if you are serious about improving your health, hiking is the way to go. Of course, it does seem very strenuous but that is why you start off slow and work your way up the ladder so-to-speak.
Go Hiking Whenever You Want To
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go places where you have never been to before? Scale the highest peaks and become a local legend? Hiking can take you to places you have never dreamt about or ever thought was possible and sharing that experience is an once-in-a-lifetime achievement. The greatest thing of all, you don’t need to go trekking across the world to find the beauty hotspots because many of them are in your own back yard.
There are truly no limits with hiking, especially with the modern equipment and backpacks at hand.
Meets New People
For most people, the biggest and best benefit of hiking is down to friendship. Now, you might not know this but when you become a hiker, you have the chance to meet a variety of people from all walks of life. It’s true, because whether you choose to go alone or meet up with a group, you are always going to meet new people at every turn. You aren’t going to be the only one on the trail and it’s really a great chance to find new friends you share a common interest with.
This is so beneficial especially if you are a shy person or someone who doesn’t get the chance to be around new people. You can create a bond with a new friend and that is unique because you share a passion very few fully understand.
A Fun Way to Spend a Weekend
Across the world there are so many beautiful places to hike and when you discover them, you are going to fall in love! You don’t necessarily need to be a big-time hiker who runs off halfway across the world to have fun; you can find plenty of hiking trails at home too. Being a weekend hiker or adventurist can be exciting and can be a great way to get to enjoy a relaxing weekend.
Of course, if you aren’t just the weekender warrior and have a lot of time and money, there is no end of where you can travel to. You can travel across America, Europe and even Asia to explore the unique hiking trails and opportunities there. It can be wonderful and if you love hiking, you will want to explore the unknown!
Hiking can be wonderful in so many ways and if you appreciate great scenery, you know you are going to see it all because when you hike, you pass undiscovered lands. No matter where you choose to hike, you’re going to be able to spot some amazing wildlife as well as stunning scenery and sites. Remember, you are surrounded by nature and it offers you the chance to see sites you have never seen before or will see again.
Just think about how amazing it would be to stand on a clear day on top of a stunning mountain peak looking across the vast untouched, natural beautiful land? You can’t experience anything like that because it’s so unique and very few people can experience the joys of the hiking scene. It’s a wonderful way to get back to nature and a way to find yourself too.
Get Peace to Relax
Also, when you go off hiking, you get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and the stresses of your home life which can be fantastic. Stressing out can be very bad for your health and sometimes, you need a form of escape to help de-stress and regroup and hiking can really help in so many ways. You don’t need to go off alone, you can go with a group or friend and you can still remove all the stresses and strains for your life.
Hiking can be relaxing and if you just need to get away or enjoy spending some time away from home life, this is the perfect opportunity for you. The best thing of all – you get peace and quiet from everyone – and can relax until your heart’s content.
The biggest drawback however, when it comes to hiking must be the safety side of things. Now, as most will know hiking comes with its own form of dangers from rapidly changing weather to dangerous mountain trails and these can be life-threatening. If you want to consider taking up hiking, you need to understand the good points and the bad points so that you are fully prepared for the adventures ahead.
Leaving Family Behind For Long Periods of Time
It doesn’t matter if you have children at home or just parents, it can be very difficult to say goodbye to them. Hiking can take up a lot of spare time and if you plan to go travelling then it can be extremely difficult to leave loved ones behind for extended periods of time. Depending on where you choose to go, you may not see your family for weeks, potentially months at a time.
However, the one thing that hampers most is money. Hiking itself doesn’t necessarily cost a great deal once you have your supplies but if you are flying all over the world, it may cost you greatly. You have airfares to worry about as well as cost to join certain hiking trails and other expenses which can rack up over time. Also, if you have a full-time job, it’s going to be considerably difficult to get a lot of time away without putting your job at risk.
Embrace the Hike
In all honesty, hiking, like most things, come with good points and bad points and while many would say the bad points outweigh the good points, some would disagree. Hiking can open the door to a completely new world and it may be the best way to allow you to find out what you’re made of and who you are deep down inside. There have been many pessimists who have tried hiking and found their opinions completely altered.
How to plan and prepare for your first hike?
Once you’re aware of the ups and downs of hiking, you can start prepping for your very first hike. Since hiking can be a strenuous activity that requires particular skills, tools, and gear, you should do due diligence and collect all the data.
A little planning goes a long way and you should learn as many details as necessary to have a lovely experience right from the start.
Pick the type of hiking
There are several types of hiking to choose from and some are a better choice for new hikers than others:
It’s the hike you take in just one day, but its difficulty grade can range a lot. If you’re an entry-level hiker, this is the type of hike, to begin with. Walks are short/easy hikes that beginners can try as well.
With a multi-day hike, you will spend several days outdoors. Typically, you will camp overnight. It’s not the best choice for the new hikers as it involves many elements to control and it’s physically more challenging than a day hike.
American hikers use this term for hikes over long trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail. It involves lots of planning and it’s physically challenging.
Complex, long, and multi-day hiking is also known as trekking. It’s mainly for experienced hikers and not beginners.
Backpacking is when you go for a multi-day hiking trip and carry all your camping equipment in your backpack. There are many aspects to consider with backpacking, so it’s not the best type to take on as a new hiker.
It’s an American term that refers to hiking individual sections of long thru-hiking trails. It requires appropriate preparation.
It’s something you can try as a new hiker. You hike from point A to point B, and you don’t need to come back to the starting point.
A hike that begins and finishes in the same place is known as a loop. It’s a fun type of hike you can try even as a beginner.
With a summit hike, the primary purpose is to reach a specific peak or summit. As long as you pick a small peak that is safe and easy to achieve in a day, you should try a summit hike in the beginning.
This hike involves climbing and using both hands and feet. It’s not something that a new hiker should attempt as it’s technical and risky.
We talk about a ridge walk when the hiking trail goes along the edge of a mountain area or the ridge. It can be risky and you should only try it after gaining some experience.
As the name suggests, it requires technical equipment and ability. The danger is serious, so technical hiking isn’t for beginners.
It’s a highly technical climbing of mountains. It goes without saying that it can take one year until it’s safe to try mountaineering.
How should you choose your type of hike?
We recommend you start with short day hikes as they’re excellent at building your confidence and teaching you things. You can build up from there whenever you feel ready. Think about the following aspects when selecting your type of hike:
- Hiking distance
- Elevation gain
- The time you need to complete the trail
When you pick your first hike, select something close to home that is within your fitness level and not very technical. Make sure to pay attention to elevation gain. Even if the hike is short, it can become challenging to complete if it’s on rugged terrain or uphill.
Where can you find hiking trails?
Now that you have a clear idea about which type of hike to try, it’s time to look for a trail. Here are some recommendations about where to find a nice hiking trail:
You can use interactive maps to discover hike trails near you. There are plenty of valuable resources out there.
Local hiking information/national park websites
Ask google about hiking trails in a national park, specific area, or even country you plan ongoing. You can find routes from national websites, national parks, and specific websites for particular regions.
Hiking and outdoor blogs
Blogs can be a fantastic source to find hiking routes and tips. You only need some time on your hands to read as many as necessary.
Social platforms and forums provide you with a wealth of information on hiking and hiking trails. Look and enroll in social media hiking groups.
Hiking documentaries and movies
Hiking movies and documentaries are an excellent source of hiking and fun activity when you’re into movies.
Topographic maps and walking guidebooks
Topographic maps present detailed hiking trails, whereas walking guidebooks include helpful information for specific routes and areas. It’s not easy to appreciate the route details from topographic maps, so you should get data from another source to complete the information from the topographic map.
Use your GPS apps to discover local hiking trails and navigate on track. However, you shouldn’t use it to select your first hike, as it can be tricky to estimate trail details (difficulty, elevation gain, distance, etc.). You might end up on a trail that is a lot more difficult than anticipated.
Find trail buddies
If you’re new to hiking, you should start with a hiking friend or a group. It will be safer and more pleasant than going alone. When you hike with a friend, you can split the responsibilities for planning and even your hiking equipment (if you spend the night). If none of your close friends or family is interested in hiking, you can always join a local hiking group. Many towns and cities have hiking groups that organize hiking trips. We encourage you to join such groups and not go alone initially. You will feel less pressure if you don’t manage all the preparation and focus on the hiking itself.
If, however, you decide to go alone on your hiking, seek to select the best hike for your abilities. When packing water, food, navigation, and hiking equipment, pay attention to the most minute detail. Also, inform family members or friends about where you are going.
Always check out the weather
Never go hiking without checking you’re local weather forecast. A significant national estimate is suitable for day-to-day activities, but it’s not the most reliable for outdoor activities, hiking included. Look for small regional weather forecasts because they are more accurate. If you select a famous region or mountain, you might find predictions mainly made for the peak or trail. Check out the local weather app when you plan your hike.
Pick a day that will be pleasant—inclement weather can make the hike challenging and you want to enjoy your hike. If you’re going to the mountains, always be prepared for rain. Mountains seem to run their own weather.
Clothing, gear, and food—what to take when hiking?
The clothes you pick for your hiking depend on the location and time of the year you go hiking. Here are some general tips for year-round conditions. Here are the most important aspects to consider when selecting your clothing and footwear for hiking:
You don’t want your footwear to ruin your hiking experience. Look for boots/shoes that are comfortable, with no rubbing points, and have a good grip. We recommend you break in the hi8king boots before you go hiking.
Opt for trail runners and buy waterproof boots for winter and wet hikes for hot conditions. Ensure that the toe area is vast, the ankle support is good, and the traction is efficient for most surfaces. Laces with metal loops and durability feel for the shoes are also essential.
Use the layering principle
When you go hiking, make sure to use a three-layer principle. The first (base) layer should wick moisture away from your body, whereas the mid-layer should trap warmth inside and let perspiration escape as well. The third layer it’s typically a jacket or similar that is waterproof, windproof, and protective. Look for clothes made of wool and synthetic fabrics for the first two layers and never choose cotton. Cotton is not a good fabric for outdoor activities because it gets heavy when wet and doesn’t wick moisture away from the body.
You want your socks to fit comfortably. Keep in mind to put on your hiking socks when shopping for hiking boots. Hiking boots with proper insulation are excellent for cold weather. Some have padding for comfortable wear when hiking.
Pants/ shorts or leggings
Look for trousers that feel durable and allow free movement. They should fit you perfectly and not cause any chafing.
For rain and snow conditions, consider buying an insulating layer. Add waterproof trousers, too—staying dry when hiking is crucial!
Your hands and feet might get cold even when hiking in mild conditions. Buy lightweight gloves that will keep your hands warm and protected.
Whether it’s a warm beanie in the cold season or a sun hat for hot weather, always protect your head when hiking.
What hiking gear will you need?
Pack the following hiking essentials whenever you go hiking:
Get a compass, a map, or a GPS device. Make sure you know how to read your compass. GPS devices are excellent, but you won’t use them if they run out of power.
Water is crucial when hiking, so never leave without a water bladder. Stay hydrated when hiking and don’t wait until you get thirsty. Once you get more experienced hiking, you will learn how to find and use filtration systems when outdoors.
Make sure you know if there will be water available along your hike trail. If you take too much water, you carry a heavy backpack. Not having enough water isn’t ideal either, as you risk dehydration. You should drink 2 pounds of water every 2 hours of hiking. You will need to drink more than that in hot weather.
You only need an average water bottle for a short hike. A filtration straw or water purification tablets are excellent to throw in your pack to make sure you drink potable water when hiking.
With outdoor activities, proper food can make the difference for comfort. You need food that gives you energy without adding unnecessary weight to your backpack. Food with good calories and carbohydrates is the best choice for hiking. Energy bars, dry fruits, beef jerky, peanut butter snacks, and nuts make for the best options when hiking.
Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses will keep you protected against sunburns and bad UV rays.
Get a flashlight that allows easy carry. It doesn’t have to be large, but reliable, sturdy, and has a good grip. Headlamps make for excellent options when hiking because they allow hands-free use. Always assume that your hike may take longer than expected and run into the evening.
Two is one, and one is none—it’s how it works with hiking! Pack an extra pair of socks and pants because you cannot risk not having dry clothes when hiking.
Unless you have a medical condition, you shouldn’t stress packing a complex first-aid kit. Pack some band-aids (various sizes), some ibuprofen, and disinfectant wipes for your first hikes.
Multi-tools are great for hiking because they include several tools in just one item. Pay the extra buck for a durable and rugged multi-tool that you can use for years to come.
What hiking backpack should you pick?
Even if you go on a day hike, you still need a reliable and comfortable backpack that eases out your hiking. Please go over the following aspects when navigating your options on hiking backpacks.
The amount of gear and size of every item are crucial to consider when picking the size of the backpack. If your hike takes longer than 6 hours, you want your pack to be as lightweight as possible.
Here are some recommendations:
Look for a reliable day pack (anything lower than 30 liters) for your hikes in the beginning.
Get a 30 to 50-liter backpack to pack everything you need for a weekend hike.
Add 20-30 liters of space to carry food and clothes for multi-day hiking.
Extended trips (more than five nights)
Seventy liters and up will be enough for extended hiking trips. Even if bigger is better, the extra weight can slow you down. As a new hiker, you won’t try extended trips for some time, though.
We kind of sit on the fence with pockets. On the one hand, more pockets mean better organization for your gear and essentials. On the other hand, more pockets also mean more material that adds weight to the pack. Plus, you need to be highly organized to know where you put every single thing in your pack.
Using a backpack with just one main compartment and no pocket might work for a short hike, but it’s entirely ineffective for most hikes. We’re not saying that your pack should have dozens of pockets, but it should at least have the following:
Elasticized side pockets are excellent to carry a water bottle and items you need to access quickly.
Use the large front pocket with a zipper/buckle to stash a dry jacket or a map. Some front pockets also feature smaller internal pockets for efficient organization.
Most lid pockets are small and made to fit small/flat items.
Backpack features can seal the deal in many purchases. Some of these features count for comfort, whereas others are important for functionality. A built-in rain cover is crucial when hiking in wet climates. A hydration-compatible backpack will spare you numerous water breaks. The features to check out are, in fact, many:
There are three frame types of hiking backpacks and each has benefits and downsides:
It’s the best choice for beginners because it’s lightweight and comfortable to carry.
- External frame
Avid hikers who go on complex and technical hikes use backpacks with the external frame as they provide adequate ventilation and are reliable to carry heavy loads.
- Internal frame
They’re the most common models and are excellent choices for hikers. They are made to hug the shape of the hiker’s body and evenly spread the weight of the load. The ideal backpack takes the importance of the load toward your hips and away from your shoulders.
With an internal frame backpack, the risk of sweat is high and difficult to avoid. However, a good pack will come with an efficient ventilation system in the back panel. A breathable mesh and a tension-mesh suspension are features that improve back ventilation.
Even if your backpack seems and feels light at first, it can become heavier and uncomfortable after hiking for 5 hours. Look for a pack with a padded hip belt padded and adjustable shoulder straps.
Many backpacks are top-loading, so you get to the items inside through a large opening at the top. If you don’t pack efficiently, you will have difficulty digging through everything to find what you need. There are also models with side or back loading access, so you should give it a thought before buying.
A backpack that is hydration compatible will help you hydrate while hiking. A hose connected to the water bladder is typically attached to one of the shoulder straps.
Sleeping Bag Compartment
Many backpacks come with sleeping bag compartments. If you go with a hiker friend or hiking group and expect to spend the night, look for a backpack with a pocket made for the sleeping bag.
External Straps, Hooks & Loops
A good backpack has durable straps placed near its bottom and side or front. You can use the straps to attach tents or large rolled-up foam sleeping pads.
Compression straps are excellent for compressing the pack and reducing the strain on your back and shoulders.
Built-in rain cover
If you travel in wet climates or unpleasant weather, you should get a pack with a built-in rain cover. With a cover, your bag won’t slip or slide up and expose your items in the rain.
How does it fit?
It might come as a surprise to you, but your backpack should fit your height and body shape to ensure a comfortable carry.
Here are the main steps to take to discover the pack that fits you the most:
- Find your torso length
Stand straight, tilt your head forward and find your C7 (it’s the bump close to your neck’s base where the neck connects to the shoulders). Use the thumbs to locate the hip bones and the line between the thumbs will be your torso’s bottom. Ask a friend to measure between the C7 and the line between the thumbs—this is your torso length.
- Find your hip width
Measure your hips to see if the hip belt on the pack you are interested in will fit.
- Find the pack
When checking out the size charts for the packs you like, use your torso length. Pack size will vary from one manufacturer to another, so double-check the size before placing your order.
Stay safe when hiking!
Even the most experienced hikers follow the rules to remain safe while hiking. The list of safety tips includes but isn’t limited to:
- Get all the details you need about your hiking trail
- Break in the footwear because blisters can ruin the whole trip
- Pack all the essentials for your hiking
- Check out the water sources and nearby amenities for food
- Put on the clothing according to weather condition
- Tell a family member or a friend about where you go hiking
- Always carry a phone and a solar charger
- Stay hydrated and have the proper food to have energy
- Check out the local weather forecasts and don’t go if there’s inclement weather predicted
- Use a consistent pace and don’t exert yourself
- Get going early in the morning to avoid crowds on popular trails. At first light or in the hour/tow after sunrise for a short hike is an excellent time to get to your hiking trail
Research local wildlife
Don’t forget to consider wildlife for your safety while hiking. It depends a lot on the location, and you might need to watch out for wildlife such as moose, bears, or mountain lions. Typically, these animals want to stay away from you as you want to stay away from them. If you choose a well-traveled trail, the chances for you to meet a wild animal are rather slim.
Stay green and follow trail etiquette when hiking!
We’re confident you care for the environment and know that your hiking shouldn’t alter your trail in any way. Keep in mind the following principles when hiking:
Leave no trace
We all need to make our hiking as eco-friendly as possible by following these rules:
- Plan and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Get rid of waste accordingly
- Leave what you find
- Reduce the campfire effects
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other hikers
Don’t get close nor disrupt animals
It’s a tip that keeps you and the animals safe. Even a small wild animal can be dangerous if it feels threatened.
Stick to the hiking trail
You shouldn’t go away from your hiking patch because you disturb animals and vegetation.
Watch out for your bodily fluids
You should stay away from water sources, trails, and camping areas when you need to meet your basic needs. Dig a hole and cover it after you’re done.
Be aware of trail etiquette!
We bet you want to be friendly with your fellow hikers, so mind the following rules:
- Give way to hikers who go uphill
- The priority on the trail goes: horses, hikers, and bikers
- Stick to the right of the trail and pass people on the left
- It’s nice to say “hello” and to smile
- Play the music you like but use the headphones while hiking.