15 Hiking tips for a beginner
Hiking is most of the time a wonderful experience, but it can also turn out to be a disaster. With these hiking tips, your hike will definitely have a good start.
1. Wear good shoes.
This is definitely the most important hiking tip. Make sure you have walked on your shoes before you start your hike, so your feet are used to the shoes. In case you are going to walk through snow or wetland areas, make sure your shoes are water-resistant. Also bring good hiking socks with you.
2. Bring a map and a compass.
Always bring a map of the area where you are going to hike and make sure you know how to read it. It is good to know how to calculate the distance and time for every hike you do. A compass is also another handy thing to bring with you.
3. Share your location.
It is very important to tell somebody where you are going to hike. In case of emergencies or injuries you are easier to find.
4. Do not leave garbage or mark trails.
We all have to do our part to protect the nature from overuse and abuse. It is important to mark no trails in order not to damage the trees. Another good thing is to take an extra trash bag with you when camping and to pick up trash that others dropped (by accident). Do not bury your trash. Animals will dig it up or it will become exposed later on for someone else to find.
5. Find a good camping spot.
When you decide to go for a longer hike with an overnight and bring your own tent, it is important to choose a good camping location before settling down. Make sure your spot is within a wind free zone and preferably close to a lake. It is always nice to have water around when you are camping, because you can use it for drinking, doing the dishes, showering or cooking. However, make sure you camp is not too close to the lake. Animals can come to drink and may be scared off. Next to this, the areas near water are also more fragile and camping too close can lead to erosion.
6. Drink enough water to stay hydrated.
At some hiking places, like I experienced in Sweden, there are plenty of small streams and waterfalls where you can refill your water bottles and enjoy the fresh mountain water. However, it is always good to carry enough water with you for the day.
7. Hike in a group.
Always have at least one other person with you if you are going on a hike. There are two big benefits for hiking in a group. Firstly, you will meet new people or it can deepen your relationships and more importantly, in case of emergencies or injuries so you can help each other.
8. Always bring a first aid kit.
Inspect your first aid kit before each hike, so you are sure nothing important is missing.
9. Be prepared to make a fire.
Bring matches or a lighter, so you will always be able to start a fire. A fire is handy to dry your clothes, cook food or to keep yourself warm during the nights. However, minimize the use and impact of fire.
10. Bring lightweight food.
In case you will go camping, only bring lightweight food with you. Examples of this are instant packages, pasta or some soup powder.
11. Bring enough insect spray with you.
Nobody likes mosquitoes or any other insects.
12. Bring and use sunscreen.
It is handy to bring a hat to prevent sunburn, even on cloudy or cold days.
13. Always take a photo ID, insurance card, cash and credit card on the trail.
Even though you decide to do camping and are convinced that you do not need any money, it can be handy. In case of emergencies or if you need to replace some of your (broken) hiking material, it is handy that you are able to pay for it.
14. Bring a power bank battery.
Even though you are in nature and probably like to be ´away´ for a while from the busy world with all its high tech gadgets, it is handy to bring a power bank battery with you. This battery makes sure that you can use your phone a little longer. This extra time can save you in case of an emergency.
15. Bring toilet paper.
In case you decide to use toilet paper when you go into the forest for a dump run, make sure you do not leave it behind in the nature. Bring it with you in your garbage bag or burn it. Personally I would say try to liberate yourself from toilet paper and use some natural materials instead. You can use for instance grass, stones or snow to clean yourself. Another way is to use, as many people do, your left hand and some water. Do not forget to clean your hands afterwards.
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