You don’t have to hike far to reap the benefits on your mind and body. In fact, just a 90-minute walk in the woods can have a significant impact on your mood, and the physical exercise helps you ward off high blood pressure and build stronger bones and muscles.
If you’ve ventured out for short hike or two on local trails and loved the way it made you feel, consider making a day (or two) of your new hobby. Day hiking is a popular way to increase your distance and spend several hours on a trail, without spending the night outdoors. If you do want to pitch your tent, there are a variety of section hiking styles that include hiking and camping over the course of several days.
Consider these tips for preparing for your first hiking trip:
Plan (and take it slow)
There’s a huge difference in a 2-mile hike at a local park and 16 miles of steep, mountainous terrain, so careful planning is an essential first step for your first excursion so you stay safe and injury-free. Find the trail you want to hike and gather as much information about it as possible. Determine how long the hike should take you. And choose the appropriate time of year to hike in this location. Hiking in the heat can be taxing on the body, so if temperatures exceed 90 degrees during the summer months at your location, you may want to consider spring or fall.
If you need a little inspiration on where to go, check out this list.
Find a hiking buddy
Of course there are benefits to hiking alone, and maybe that’s on your bucket list. But having a friend with you — especially on your first hike of a longer distance — will increase safety and help you navigate any problems that arise. Plus, it’s just fun to have a partner with whom to explore.
Pack your pack
All the advice on how to fill your backpack is on the interwebs, and it all depends on how long you plan to be on the trail. But one thing’s for certain no matter your distance — PACK LIGHT. As light as possible, that is. If you’re going on a day hike, carrying no more than 10% of your body weight is a solid strategy. If you’re backpacking for longer periods of time, experts recommend not carrying more than 20% of your bodyweight.
What should you pack? That also depends on how long you’re going to be on the trail. But these essentials are non-negotiable:
- Map and compass
- Extra water
- Extra food
- First-aid supplies
- Extra clothing for insulation
- Fire-starting equipment
- Emergency shelter
- Repair kit
Going on a real serious hike? Check out this article for ways to pack light & essential.
The most important tip of all: Have fun!
Hiking is an excellent way to explore nature and improve your mental and physical health. Enjoy yourself and high five for trying something new!
Make it a comfortable and inspirational hike with our Ain’t No Mountain High Enough T-shirts!