Hiking Tips for Beginners
Plan your trip...
- Choose a destination within driving distance, so you can reschedule if bad weather threatens.
- Stick to well-marked routes with easy terrain, established campsites, and plentiful water.
- Plan on hiking no more than 5 to 7 miles a day.
- Learn when the bugs are biting, if you need permits, what weather to expect.
- Let someone at home know your plans, and stick to your route so you’ll be easy to find if necessary.
Pick the most efficient gears...
- Rent a tent. Many outfitters rent shelter, packs, and other gear.
- Pamper your feet. Prevent blisters and other foot woes by getting lightweight boots that are slightly larger than your street shoes and matching them with wool hiking socks.
- Pare your threads. Pack clothes for a 24-hour period, on trail and in camp, and wear the same stuff all weekend. Throw in extra socks to keep your feet happy.
- Cook like a pro. Get a lightweight canister stove and one or two standard fuel canisters for a long weekend.
- Sleep like a baby. Bed down on a sleeping pad that’s 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches thick, and with dimensions that don’t leave your limbs dangling off the sides. Likewise your bag should match your frame–try it in the store–and should be rated at least 10°F warmer than the temperatures you expect.
- Go a little luxe. Sneak a luxury item into your pack: a deck of cards, a Lexan bottle of vino, a good book or camera gear.
Prepare your backpacking meals...
- Write out a menu for the whole trip, and don’t put off shopping until the last moment.
- At home, repackage food and spices, leaving behind bulky, heavy containers.
- Experiment with freeze-dried. Dehydrated food is fast, easy, and better than you think.
- Leave beer behind, but don’t forsake other liquid vices. Bring your favorite dark roast and a lightweight filter for breakfast, plus an after-dinner something to toast your successful adventure.
Get fit for backpacking...
- Hike yourself into shape: The best way to train for any sport is to do it. Carry a full pack on your routine dayhikes–it’s also a great way to test your gear.
- Master the mountains: There’s a reason hikers flock to alpine country. It’s beautiful up there. Strengthen your hill-climbing muscles (quads, hamstrings, and calves) with regular workouts on a stairclimber.
Develop Backpacking Skills...
- Read the directions. Give your gear a test run in the backyard: Pitch your tent, light your stove, use your water filter.
- Lose the bathroom anxiety. Pooping in the outdoors is as natural as walking, and many backcountry campsites have outhouses.
- Learn good manners. Think of camping like being a guest in someone else’s house: Don’t mess it up. Camp on bare ground or rock, don’t do dishes in the creek, and leave plants and animals alone.
- Find yourself. You’ll never get lost if you stay attuned to your surroundings from the beginning. Locate yourself on a map, then stay oriented as you hike.
Source: Backpacking 101: How to Get Started