By Conal Morrison
The first time I went hiking was on a high school trip. We went away for three days and two nights, no cell phones, no electricity, nothing. Just a bunch of teenagers, a couple of teachers and the mountains. It was one of the best experiences of my school life.
My teacher showed us that hiking is really enjoyable as long as you plan well and take the right gear. This guide will help you get started and hopefully inspire you to pull on your boots and hike!.
The number one thing to be aware of is safety. Keeping yourself and your companions in one piece is essential if you want to enjoy your hike. I promise it’s not as scary as it sounds! To make it easy for you, I’ve created this short list of handy safety tips to point you in the right direction.
- Tell someone the details of your trip or perhaps, change your voicemail message or WhatsApp status to say where you are trekking. Then, if anything unfortunate does happen, this will help people find you faster.
- Unless you are an experienced hiker, I would highly recommend you go with someone. It’s a lot safer and can also make for a more enjoyable experience.
- Choose a trek within your means. For example, if you haven’t done many hill or mountain hikes, don’t immediately go through the Rocky Mountains.
- Always bring water with you. If you aren’t sure there will be a clean, safe source, take a few days of extra water (depending on how long your hike is).
- Don’t bring any unnecessary items, and only pack what you can carry. There’s no sense carrying your whole kitchen when all you really need is a portable gas cooker and a pot or pan to cook food in.
- Plan your hike route ahead of time so that you know what the potential hazards or dangers are.
But most importantly, have fun and enjoy being outdoors! When you have a good plan and are well prepared, you can really relax and enjoy your time on your trekking in nature.
What Gear Should You Take?
Every hike is different, and some of the gear you take will change based on your trail. I mean, you probably don’t need several sets of thermals if you’re trekking in the Indonesian sun all day! But some items will always be necessary anywhere and everywhere.
First and foremost is your pack. Picking a suitable bag is very important as it can quite literally make or break your hike. If it doesn’t fit properly, any weight you put in it will strain your body, cause injuries, or throw you off balance. I highly recommend going into a store and trying different hiking packs, talking to the store attendants and letting them help you get exactly what you need.
Your hiking shoes are equally as important. You want them to fit comfortably without any slipping in the heel. If you are going to hike in mountains or rough terrain, it’s better to go for boot style hiking shoes for extra support around your ankle. This helps you avoid injuries and keep a better footing on uneven ground.
The next thing to get right is your clothing. Pick comfortable clothing that is durable and suitable for the climate you’re in. The best thing to do is wear layers. They will keep you warm in the cold and keep you cool in the sun. Layering can be broken down into 4 simple layers. (See what I did there?)
- First is your ‘next to skin’ layer. This is usually a light layer that pulls moisture off your skin. Something like a synthetic gym singlet in the summer or hot climates, while a merino wool thermal is more suitable for colder weather.
- Next is the middle layer. This is usually your t-shirt or a long-sleeved shirt that you can wear on its own or with other layers depending on how hot or cold you are.
- Insulation. The third layer keeps you warm regardless of the weather; this can be a light hoodie or a thick puffer jacket depending on the climate.
- The shell. The fourth layer is there to protect you from the elements. It needs to be waterproof, windproof and breathable. This will allow it to keep you protected and ensure you enjoy your hike with as little discomfort as possible.
With these tips, you should be well on your way to going out there and enjoying your first hike! With the right gear and planning, even a journey of a thousand miles can be made in relative comfort. May you hike far, and may you enjoy every moment of it!