Your first hiking adventure is an exciting endeavor, but it can also be anxiety-inducing for some since trying something new can always invite these feelings. With that said, there’s nothing to worry about if you prepare before you go out to the trails. Here are the steps you shouldn’t skip to be as prepared as possible for your first hike.
1. Choose the right trail
The first thing you should plan out for your first hiking adventure is your hiking destination, a.k.a. the hiking trail. Since it’s your first time, it’s a good idea to go to a hiking trail nearest to you or one that you could finish within a day. Even a simple hour-long course would suffice, especially when you don’t think you’re physically fit.
A day hike will be more leisurely for you, but you can also do an overnight hike, which can take you two days and one night for those looking for an adventure.
Once you’ve figured out what trail you want to try, you’ll now have more information about what items you need to bring with you.
2. Know what to pack
Now that you know your destination, you can adjust your pack accordingly.
If you’re headed somewhere sunny, pack sun protection and lighter hiking clothes. For colder places, you need clothes that provide insulation. However, it’s best to have reliable hiking boots and a strong hiking pole with you for any situation. You should also always have some trail snacks and enough water or more.
Don’t forget your other gadgets and travel accessories like power banks or extra camera batteries and memory cards while you’re at it if you have the space.
Some hiking trails might have entrance or parking fees, so make sure you have the cash to pay for those. Don’t forget your physical navigation tools. Even if it’s a short day hike, you want to be safe, so it’s always a good idea to have those.
3. Check the permits
Before you head out to your destination, make sure to check what permits you need to be able to hike the hiking trail you’ve chosen. Some tracks don’t require permits to walk there, but you should double-check because some of these places’ policies might have changed. With the pandemic including, some localities might have different rules regarding hiking trails.
Other trails release their permits precisely at the location, so you don’t have to submit an online application, but others do have an online application. Thus, make sure to go to their websites and check the most recent announcements. Going on online forums should also help you figure out if there is a need for a permit in a specific hiking trail.
4. Check the weather forecast
Before heading out on your hiking adventure, you should check your hiking destination’s climate and weather situation. The weather and climate will dictate a lot of the things that you have to pack with you. Therefore, checking beforehand can help you plan and prepare your gear.
Even if the weather states that it’s going to be sunny, you should probably still bring a rain jacket with you that’s easy to pack. That way, you’ll be prepared for any eventuality since weather can be unpredictable, especially if you’re hiking somewhere unfamiliar.
Always check the weather updates the closer the day of your hiking adventure because the weather can change at any time.
5. Do some strength training
Going on a hike immediately without building up both your strength and endurance can make hikes, no matter how short, more tiring than they should be. Therefore, if you know that you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle, consider building up your strength and exercising more a week or more before your hike.
Strength training is particularly good at helping you get the leg strength for a more enjoyable and less tiring hike. At the same time, you reduce the likelihood of accidents since your legs have the workout that has helped them develop their strength.
If you want to enjoy hiking as an activity in the future, you want your first hiking experience to be as pleasurable as possible. Through regular strength training, you should be able to enjoy the hike without it being too strenuous.
6. Choose the best clothing and gear
Even for a short day hike, you want to make sure that you get good quality hiking clothes and other hiking gear. If you get yourself poor-quality hiking gear, these might make the hike harder than it should be. For example, if you get the cheapest hiking boots out there, these can end up pinching your feet and making each step painful, which is not ideal.
There is plenty of beginner hiking gear to choose from that won’t break the bank but are still passably (at the very least) comfortable. These are great for shorter hikes and ensure that you have some protection during the trek.
Through these preparations, your first hiking adventure would have a few hiccups that could stand in the way of your total enjoyment. So ensure that you go through these steps before heading out that door to get to your hiking destination so that you can feel the freeing joy that comes with hiking to the fullest.