Are you new to hiking? Then our thorough post for hiking for beginners is useful for you.
Following the useful after hike recovery post, we thought to share an advanced one on what to do and know before you start hiking at all. There are lots of things to learn, right? With that information, you will avoid the common mistake beginners to hiking do; thinking of just the right pair of boots is enough.
They then end up with lots of pain, and some abandon hiking and its benefits. When you hike for many days, your body tends to react a lot.
Small pains get bigger. Fatigue piles up.
Your mind starts telling you things like, “Woah! What a nice forest”, but also things like “Stop walking, you are tired.”
Fortunately, there are many and different ways to work around all the mind and muscle fatigue. All this information is for hiking for beginners, but also for those who want to refresh their knowledge.
Your body is your instrument. When the body is affected, then your mind gets that too. Then it can become a vicious circle that wears you down.
Your gear is essential for your hiking as a beginner. Many think that only a pair of hiking boots is fine, but that is not true.
So, let’s start learning.
Hiking for Beginners: Prevent Muscle Soreness
Could it be that easy? Read along and pay attention to all the factors that can affect hiking soreness and stiffness of muscles.
- Does your gear fit properly?
- Are your hiking socks and hiking boots or hiking shoes of good quality?
- Is your backpack weight well balanced on your body?
- Do you have all the necessary hiking props and aids?
You need to think of these. Preparedness is the key.
Choose and Wear the Right Backpack
Did you spend time in one-day hikes, trying, testing, and playing around with all the straps and openings of your backpack?
Did you get the right backpack by measuring the length of your torso, or you just ordered the next fancy or affordable one from an e-shop?
Is your backpack sitting nicely on your hips and waist? Have you adjusted all the straps to achieve that?
Did you search on how to place things in and around your backpack to achieve optimal weight balance, while walking for miles, but also to be able to reach them fast if needed?
Better ask your back and legs first. A poorly attached backpack, or one where things have been thrown in without thinking, will speedily create pains on the back, waist, and legs. Neglect to adjust the straps properly, and your hips and pelvis will ring a bell, crying, “please, no more.”
Research and adjust all straps and weight appropriately. As a novice, you will make mistakes in choosing and investing in the right gear.
Avoid that by reading this thorough post for Ultralight Backpacking Tips and Gear. Read along as we have a more detailed section here, especially for backpacks.
The Importance of Two Trekking Poles
On a multi-day hiking trip, poles will be used frequently if not all the time.
Trekking poles are not just to help you go uphill or downhill.
They need to be used in zero angle ground too. Their correct usage will take the weight from your back and knees.
If you don’t believe us, just walk a problematic route without poles and try the same with poles. You will notice the difference.
Despite the big help they provide, you give yourself a pretty good upper body workout.
You see that we mention poles (plural) and not “a pole.”
A pair of good poles weigh very little and provide you with equal body balance when hiking.
One pole shifts weight to one side, and gradually, you will build up waist and shoulder pain. Maybe not the first time, but it will be there.
You can also move very fast when you learn how to use two poles. Take a couple of classes in a Nordic Walking class (sounds weird, right?).
We did that, and we learned to walk so fast, it was like hovering. Not to mention that we learned to walk with our full body and correct posture.
Try to find one near you.
Read this thorough post for choosing the right Trekking Poles for Men and Women.
Pain from Hiking Gear is a Friend Who Talks
Pain while hiking is not a thing you want, but there are many kinds of pain.
Sharp pain in joints and muscles is not a good sign, while the soreness pain can mean that you are tired due to reasons mentioned here.
Pain -when you pay attention- tells you that something is wrong or/and you are doing something wrong, and you need to take measures.
Inflammation that causes pain -usually- manifests in the form of these: sharp or intense pain, heat, stiffness, swelling, redness.
Your body sends a message, and you need to respond.
How do you respond? Here comes -again- the importance of preparedness.
Your pain may be related to your gear and how you use it so far, or your body limits & status.
There is a long list of more posts at the end of this one, especially for gear selection for hiking for beginners.
- Are your hiking boots/shoes too tight? Did you spend time “breaking into them”?
- Maybe your laces are too tight, and you must adjust them accordingly?
- Are your socks the proper ones?
- Is your overall lower body moving freely? Some times, improper pants limit movement, and legs get strained. After many hours this leads to pain and soreness. Same happens when you carry many things in your pants side pockets (if you wear such pants)
- Are your trekking poles correctly adjusted? Perhaps they need a re-adjustment
- If you feel pain in your palms and arms, maybe you need to loosen your grip on the poles? Many do that unconsciously
- If your back, neck or shoulders are in pain, this can mean wrong backpack adjustment or incorrect weight distribution, or even carrying too much weight for many hours without resting
- Pain on the head can mean improper nutrition, hydration, heat stroke and many other things, even issues with vision
Make necessary adjustments and deal with inflammation and pain before it becomes a chronic case or gets worst in the same day.
Most of the time, the best cure for sore toes is to take off your shoes and socks and dip them in cold water.
It is a method used by many hikers and runners that helps re-adjust blood concentration in blood vessels.
Some dip them alternatively into warm and cold water, ending with cold. There are different methods.
There are lots of gear to use, especially for legs, for example, a pair of compression socks (that must be suitable for hiking).
If you know how to give yourself a foot massage, then do.
Same stands for all aching points of your body. Give them a treat and lots of love.
Important tip: There are cases where your body will present symptoms of soreness the 3rd day after the hiking day.
So, you may feel a bit sore the day after the first one and much more on the day after that.
You need to eat, drink, and exercise properly before any hiking trip.
Prepare to reduce as many issues and problems as possible during your trip.
Start each hiking day with stretching and end it in the same way.
Did you know that you can use visualization too, to relax your whole body, after stretching? Sit or lay down, close your eyes and imagine soreness flying out from your body parts like steam from water.
Your mind is a tricky thing and can relax your body on command if you train it like that.
Hiking for Beginners: Is your Body Ready for Hiking Trails?
Yeah, stretching is great, but your body needs to be in good condition to be able to hike for many days or to cope with a single day demanding hiking route.
Do you workout?
If you hate the gym, try to follow some daily routine that keeps your muscle groups active.
- Getting the stairs instead of the elevator is a good one
- Walking whenever you have the opportunity (after/before lunch/dinner, to get to work or return and such)
- Pump iron. Have some dumbells or simply get to the gym for weight strength exercises
- Do HIIT (High-intensity interval training) or do Cross-fit
- Hate pumping iron? Do aerobic exercises. Biking, swimming, walking fast, even dancing are some of them.
- Do you yoga? If so, you will have the “tools” to build up, warm-up, and stretch before and after your daily hiking plan. Read this post for yoga for runners that also applies to hike
- There are tons of complete online exercise routines you can adopt and do in-house too
Last but not least, listen to your body. Learn to accept and know your weak spots in your body and handle them properly during your hiking.
Do you need some motivation, or you prefer to participate in groups?
Find your local hiking group and participate in one-day hiking excursions.
You will make new hiking partners, optimize your gear, exchange knowledge, spot the mistakes you do, and exercise at the same time.
In all ways, you need to build up your capability for multi-day hiking and hiking soreness prevention.
Hiking for Beginners: Warm-Up
Ever been into a gym? Most probably, you are.
Rule number one is to warm up your muscles before attempting any kind of heavy exercise.
That is the case. You reached your hiking entry point with a bus, or you drive there.
Your body is stiff after all these hours, and you are about to put it under strenuous work for -maybe- more than one day.
It needs some foreplay by heating up on those muscles.
Stretch your legs, back, shoulder, and hip muscles like in the gym.
Allow them to prepare for walking long distances, going uphill or/and downhill.
Give them a hint saying, “Hey guys, let’s start moving.”
Stretching will send more blood to the muscles. It is like having them well greased before any usage.
Hiking for Beginners: Hydration and Food
Get hydrated or get smashed.
Many think that proper hydration is limited to the hiking day. It starts days before. It has to do with your overall hydration habits and knowledge.
Why Drink Water During and Before Hiking?
Your body is 70% water. That should be enough to say for proper hydration, but it is better to explain it a bit more.
What water will do for you (in any day and your hiking):
- Flushes out things not needed
- Helps to build up your energy
- Helps and allows flexibility to your muscles
Hikers and climbers have one rule: When you feel thirsty enough, you are already dehydrated!
That is why you need to drink before you start walking and also drink as you walk.
A CamelBak is a norm here.
You don’t need to ruin your pace while at the same time, you can sip as much as you need.
But is it OK to drink as much as you like? At the same time, how much water can you carry?
If you carry lots of it, then that is extra weight. Extra weight means you get more tired and thus hungrier and thirstier.
Sounds weird, correct? That is why you need to know where water springs are along your route, and also carry a water filter to be able to convert dirty water into potable.
Despite the equipment, start “water training” yourself before the hiking trip. Drink double the amount you usually drink.
Any kind of “soda’s” or coffee and tea are not considered as “water.”
If you consume such while you walk, you are pulling water out of your blood, which gets out of your system with urination.
Too much water is not good either. Try to find a balance.
If, after drinking lots of water, you feel uncomfortable or having some belly pains, then maybe you drink too much.
In rare cases, drinking a significant amount in a short time can be dangerous to your health.
It can cause the levels of salt or sodium in your blood to drop too low.
That has a name. It is a condition called hyponatremia (or water intoxication). It can be fatal.
Be moderate, and give yourself the gift of proper hydration.
Your kidneys will thank you and your skin too. Your muscles will be more flexible also.
Proper hydration is a must to avoid muscle soreness.
Some people love to enhance their water with electrolytes. That is an additional good idea as your body loses salt with sweat.
Electrolytes come in the form of ready to consume sticks, or as a powder, you can add to a bottle of water (follow proper dosage).
If you plan to hike during scorching days, it’s not wrong to have some spare.
Why Eat Well Before and After Hiking?
Two words: Proteins and Carbohydrates. Are you getting enough every day?
Muscles need food. They (have to) work hard for you day in and day out.
Not enough protein and gradually your muscles will reduce their performance.
Carbs will fuel you up too, but there are good carbs and bad carbs.
Good carbs will be released slowly into your system, and you will have the energy for longer.
Bad carbs (usually sugary sweets) will give you spikes of energy, and then it will drop fast, and you will need more to keep up.
Whole grains are a must to start the day and at lunch.
But -as mentioned- you need protein, especially after your daily hiking. Your muscles go under stress, and micro-tears are happening.
That is normal. It also happens in the gym when you lift heavy weights. Muscle tears apart, and you need protein (among other things) to help the muscle repair and get stronger.
For meat lovers, dried meat and fish is a good source of protein. For non-meat eaters, there are alternatives, and they will need more significant portions.
Proteins will also make you feel fuller and stabilize blood sugar for longer.
Nuts are another thing to eat, as they additionally provide healthy fats. They can be a snack or supplement to meals.
Your hiking menu must be well prepared and calculated before your hiking. It is part of the overall weight that you carry in your backpack and crucial for your health.
This information here is a general guide and not a nutritional plan or medical advice. Each person has unique needs depending on their health status, age, sex, etc.
Know Your Body and Mind Limits
“Putting one foot in front of the other and start your journey of a thousand miles” might be a mantra in many philosophical books.
Keep walking is another “haiku,” and a famous brand slogan.
But are these enough? No.
You need to know how to walk on different terrains, under different weather conditions.
Depending on your age or your knee’s health, some routes may not be suitable for you.
There will be moments in your trip where it will feel great when you do that “extra mile,” but you need to know what that means for you.
It is good to have practical knowledge of your fitness level.
The Mind Is Your Enemy & Friend
Either traveling solo or with a friend, there will be times that along the path, your mind will play nasty games as you hike.
Some of such thought trains will be about abandoning everything, while others will be about becoming too risky.
Using your common sense and being focus on the present is the best way to both enjoy your hiking trip and be safe.
If your “gut feeling” says “don’t do that detour,” then listen to your gut. It is better to stay safe.
If you feel tired, then rest. That is why to “train” by starting with some easy hike and then move to longer walks.
If you are in pain, stop and deal with it. Don’t ignore the pain, especially when you have more days ahead.
Be aware of the surroundings and be prepared.
Start preparing your gear a few days before your hiking day. In that way, you will have the time to think over and again on the things you need to carry along.
Don’t leave things for the last minute.
Have a safety plan. A way to communicate with friends and relatives is needed, as much as your map and compass and GPS device.
Explore our advice deeper to find all the details about the critical things we mentioned here.
Recovery and Hiking for Beginners
As you are about to end the day, here are some essential tips to help you with your recovery and resting.
Slow down: Are you reaching your end-for-today time?
Then gradually start slowing down your pace and rhythm.
Allow some time to your body and mind to slow down and adapt to the upcoming resting as you approach your campsite.
Stretch enough: We mentioned that many times already.
Stretching is crucial before and after your hike, for recovery. It will also calm your mind along with your muscles.
Skip stretching and get prepared for some limping tomorrow.
Eat before you camp: Sounds strange, but your body has been under lots of stress.
The first 45 minutes period, after you stop for resting are considered a window where the intake of proper food and liquids gives the maximum benefits to your body.
You may have heard that in a gym, to take the proteins in the first 45 minutes after you stop exercising.
That is the maximum absorption window. Eat good carbohydrates and protein and nuts, not sweets. That food prepares your muscles for the next day.
Some claim that a reasonable amount for carbohydrates is approximately 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight, but don’t count that as medical advice as each person is different.
Hydrate: Your next day’s performance depends on it. It is as simple as that. Your brain will work better too.
End the day with a proper meal: You need to have a complete and adequate meal.
Do not go to sleep without having such. You need a balanced meal of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Yoga for Hiking for Beginners: Post Hike and After Hike
Yoga helps prevent injury that is caused by stiff muscles.
Even if you trip and fall, your body has more chances to fall gently when it is flexible and not stiff.
You can help reduce minor aches and pains and recover faster from sore muscles.
You need no gear other than your body to do yoga, and that is a good thing. If there is grass where you hike, you don’t even need a mat.
Here is a beneficial video with post-hike stretches that you can do at the end of each day.
As I have practiced Ashtanga yoga for a couple of years, I know that these exercises work and people who fall under a “hiking for beginners” status can practice most of them.
Lower Body Hiking Tips for Beginners
There are many articles around hiking, and hiking tips for beginners, especially for people who think to start hiking as a serious way to exercise. However, there is a large part of hikers who simply like to walk during some weekends or less frequently than that.
These hikers, like the soft part of hiking adventures. Thus, you may hear calling them soft adventurers, even if they don’t care about such labeling at all. They are not “professional” hikers and they are not after each bit of detail about hiking hi-tech equipment.
This article is for any newbie in the hiking activity.
It is referring to the equipment and the reason we use it, plus what to know before going for shopping such. It talks about the legs up to the waist part of your body. There will be a new one talking about waist-to-neck, so it is a good idea to subscribe to our Newsletter and follow up.
Hiking Boots or Hiking Shoes?
You’ve heard that like one zillion times. You need to wear the proper hiking shoes. That is correct. That and your good mood should be fine…, but is it?
The proper shoes are very important. Depending on the ground type, you will find out that you may need a trekking shoe or a boot. There is no such thing as a “one kind fits all”. There is a reason a variety exists, and no it is not about “buying more”.
The wrong shoes will create blisters and all kinds of pain to your feet. This may drive you to dislike hiking.
You need to buy shoes from specialized hiking and climbing stores. Do go there and try them out. Customer service in these stores will (should) ask questions on the type of hiking you like or want to do and what time of the year. Do not hide the fact that you are new to hiking or that you know bits and pieces about hiking.
Before you go there, think first. What kind of hiking do you really like to do? In what kind of weather? For example, there are many who really like rain and mud. Some, are fine with rocky terrain. Where to do you go most?
These things matter as the moment you are going to step your foot on the ground and make your first steps, with your new shoes, these shoes will carry the feeling of the road in your mind.
So, go to your local store, wear them and make a few steps in the store. How do they feel? Make sure you wear both shoes while doing that.
Whatever you buy must be treated well. After your hiking you will have to clean them up. You can allow the wet mud to dry down and then brush it off. Others prefer to wash the exterior of their shoes, immediately at the end of each route and wear a 2nd pair of not-for-hiking shoes. Indeed the later is more comfortable and you avoid overusing your hiking shoes. For some shoes there are even special coatings.
Just take care of them and you will enjoy them for a long time.
When you are ready to buy your hiking shoes, make sure you try them on while wearing proper hiking socks or ask the store to provide a pair. Do not use socks that are not suitable for hiking.
Avoid any kind of the “sandal” or semi-sandal type. You definitely don’t want small pebbles between your toes while you walk, along with any kind of danger about getting bitten or scratched.
How To Tie the Shoelaces of your Hiking Boots
It may sound unnecessary to know but many walk in discomfort, because their shoes are not properly tied. In such shoes there are very specific holes, at the top area. Plus, there are specific ways to tie such shoes.
You must not wear them in a loose manner. They need to be firm but not too tight. You need to be able to walk in a steady way without pain.
Especially in downhill paths your foot will slip at the front. You can’t avoid that but with a loose shoe this will lead to lack of balance. Plus, you will damage your shoes and toenails.
A shoe must “break” when it is new. This means: Do not wear your new shoes directly on a hiking trip. Wear them a couple of times before that and walk in them. They will become softer and thus more sturdy. Shoelaces must follow along. This means that you tie the shoe to be stable and as it gets softer you tie a little tighter.
Just follow your perception on how it feels. If it hurts, it is wrong. This is more than true for hiking boots.
Clip your Toenails
Of course this doesn’t apply just to hiking. You need to cut them to avoid a variety of injuries.
As you walk there is lots of pressure (your whole body) applied on your toes. Feet move forward in downhills and thus meet the hard interior front of the shoe, since there is always a small space between.
This pressure is applied on toenails, so whatever protrudes, will bent and strain.
While in a long route with many ground types and inclinations this will shuffle around.
So, clip them otherwise you will end up with pain very soon (before the trip ends). You will also avoid the “black toenail syndrome”.
This is something neglected by many. They tend to wear regular socks with trekking shoes/boots. Soon, they discover that the shoe interior gets slippery and their toes hurt like hell. Especially in downhill.
You need to choose the proper socks. Ask at the store. Ideally, they have to be of the seamless type. Depending on the type of hiking, you need to wear proper socks made from special material. Do not choose socks that will make your feet to boil. Your feet, up to your crouch, get really warm as you walk. while the upper body is more exposed.
Better to have a 2nd pair of socks to change after completing your hiking. Thus, you will avoid growing fungus and any other issue caused by extreme humidity. Getting cold feet is one of them, too.
Use Hiking Gaiters
If you hike on a rainy day or after such, then everything will be wet and muddy. By using hiking gaiters you will avoid:
- To end up with muddy (more than wanted) hiking trousers, it is tough to clean.
- To end up with wet socks up to your ankles. You don’t want that on a cold day.
- To have your shoes completely wet, even internally. If it gets cold, your feet will feel like in a freezer.
- To have an extra slippery shoe, as the interior will slip a lot with the wet socks and all.
Lots of discussions occur for this thing alone. In general, avoid short trousers/pants when in forests or places with lots of sun/cold. There are very good hiking leggings if the weather permits that.
Avoid sweat pants or any kind of trouser/pants made from such material. These are to comfortably sit at your couch or -maybe- for gym. When these get wet, their weight is multiplied and it takes ages to get them dry while walking.
Avoid jeans, and ladies, avoid skirts of any length.
Many think that wearing long trousers/pants is not something comfortable on a hot day, but this will protect you from the sun. Remember when we said to avoid sandals. The equivalent here is long trousers. You will avoid getting scratched along with any insect bites. That alone is a good reason.
The temperature, ground type and ground inclination play a significant role on the trouser/pants selection. Your feet are constantly moving so you need to wear something to protect you but not overheat you.
You will get sweaty.
So, wearing something warm, while looking at a “looks-chilly” weather may not be the proper selection. If you produce lots of sweat, this means a need for lots of water, not to mention the energy you loose.
So, make a little research on the conditions you expect to find along your hiking and dress accordingly. If you go with a team, find out the number of breaks, the inclination and type of ground (i.e. rocky, muddy, or other).
Many catch a cold after their lower body is wet and sit somewhere where a small breeze is blowing…
Unless you hike through snow, do not worry about your feet during a break. Your feet will be warm again 2 minutes after you start walking again. As said, it is not like the torso.
There are many kinds and fabrics to choose from. If you go for hiking all year around, you will need more than one types of trousers/pants. There are fabrics that dry very fast, after getting wet, while some are of the elastic type. The latter are very comfortable when you have a difficult ground to walk through and need to stride.
Better to choose a waterproof one. Through this website (there is a huge variety of such websites though) we located a variety of things when it comes to hiking gear.
There are also convertible ones where the lower half is unzipped and you end up with short trousers.
Some like to have lots of pockets. That’s OK but keep in mind that whatever protrudes will get entangled. Additionally, whatever is places in trouser pockets is heavier than in your backpack.
Finally, when it comes to color, the rule is simple. Bright colors reflect light and heat, while dark ones do the opposite. Choose per condition.
This sounds funny but this small detail is something many times encountered and discussed in hiking trips.
The thing is, as you walk you get sweat. Your feet get tight and thus get a bit thinner. Same thing happens with your waist. This results to getting a bit thinner overall, as you walk.
This combination -along with sweat- makes your trouser/pants loose. Then you see them drop a little. In a big trip they drop more.
To avoid that, better to wear a hiking belt. Many hiking trousers/pants come with a small plastic belt but that will not last long, and will not fit well.
One thing that really works well is… suspenders. These keep your trouser/pants up no matter what, and can be easily and accurately adjusted. Especially those with a bit larger waistline, will find this solution a comfortable one.
Don’t forget. The whole case is about having a good time.
Yes, those are the ones that keep your “jewels” protected, no matter if you are male or female.
Walk for some hours and find out that “that area” is very wet, and not of the sexy type of wet. The only thing you don’t need is a wet underwear twisting and entering at places that make you suffer.
Avoid isothermal underpants, unless you choose to walk in extremely cold areas. The produced heat will create “cooking” conditions at your sensitive areas.
The proper choice is to buy some thin elastic underpants (of the boxer type). These exist both for men and women. Women need to totally avoid underpants of the string/thong type, unless you welcome extreme pain and irritations.
To make this even more comfortable, better to have a 2nd pair to change after your trip, especially if you have to drive a long way back.
Upper Body Hiking Tips for Beginners
Do believe us… The first time you will find yourself dressed up properly for hiking, you will experience the difference during your walk.
As we said already, our torso is the part of our body that doesn’t constantly move, i.e. as our feet do. However, our torso usually carries something (from kids to backpacks) so it gets hot too.
Our advice here is not “medical” related but comes from our hiking experience, plus through discussions with other experienced hikers. The whole purpose is to know what to wear/have during hiking in order not to get sick while having fun at the same time.
If your mom ever told you something like that, time to think it over. In hiking, being dressed like that is the secret to success. You may have heard it as the “layers”. The whole point is to be dressed in a way to be able to remove/add clothes depending on the temperature and the effort you apply.
So, if you get cold you wear some, which you will remove when you get hot. In that way, your temperature will stay relatively stable, while reducing excess sweating. You need that balance in order not to lose energy and lots of water. Clothing, along, with the weight you carry needs to balanced too.
Do not just wear 1 or 2 heavy sweaters or jackets as you will experience heavy discomfort.
Wear a Hiking T-Shirt?
Actually you must not wear a t-shirt but what is called as a base-layer. Such clothing has a dual role. It will get you warm in winter, while in summer it allows the sweat not to be trapped between the cloth and your skin.
That is why we must not wear cotton based layers, which get really soaked and trap water on your skin, while they do not dry up fast enough. Wearing cotton clothing may end up like wearing a wet towel after a while.
Trapped sweat will lead to catching a cold, when breeze blows. So, keep it out.
Such layers dry very fast, so they are suitable for other trips too. They can be washed and in a couple of hours, they are ready to wear them again.
There are isotherm cloths based on polyester, and some are knitted with elastic fibers to stretch better, or even with wool.
Short Sleeves Hiking Blouse or Long?
A long sleeve jersey or shirt will be very helpful in hiking. It is better to ask someone at the store for the best possible option since there are specialized hiking shirts that let your body breathe.
However, we suggest wearing something with long sleeves because:
- You get protected from insects bites and any scratches from plants and branches
- They protect you from both the sun rays and cold
Of course such clothing is usually very stylish and you can wear them in many other cases too.
Hiking Sports Bra for Women
Many female hikers feel that painful “bouncing” when they wear an improper bra.
All the jumping up and down, walking, or running downhill carries the action on the muscular system and protruding parts of the body. It will get painful after many hours.
So, wear a sports bra. You do want all your body elements to be stable and in place after i.e. hiking for 5 or 6 hours.
Wearing such will also prevent you from scratches and irritations from a regular bra, plus you will sweat less in the covered area.
For all ladies that wear a big size bra, it will help them to avoid back pain. Better avoid the t-shirt/jersey bra’s as they are usually not so efficient.
Fleece Jackets or Mid-layers?
We do love that material. Its very lightweight and warm at the same time. We wear it all the time, even if not hiking.
Combine it with a long sleeve or isotherm clothing and you have a very comfortable set of layers for hiking.
Apart from fleece jackets there are soft shell ones, made from durable material and breathable.
Read this post for base layers and how to use layers in hiking.
Here things get a bit more complex. In case you want to go for climbing apart from hiking, it gets even more complicated. Choosing the right jacket is like choosing a backpack. It needs some thorough research.
The thing is that rarely a jacket will be suitable for all kinds of weather. There is a huge variety when it comes to materials, weight, cost, usage, etc.
Here are some data to help you out.
There are those that are called as “membranes” or/and windbreakers, but in heavy weather they are useless most of the times. This as, they are usually tight and you can’t wear something warmer under them, i.e. a fleece jacket.
There are the vest type ones, either with sleeves or detachable sleeves. They are very convenient, ανδ along with a long sleeve since you avoid increased heat through your arms when you don’t need such. At the same time they protect your exposed chest and belly. Those 2 are not moving during a hiking so they are getting cold fast.
There are vests with extra insulation, super lightweight and filled with down/feathers.
Τhere are more technical ones. Some have a detachable layer (fleece or other). These are very convenient but depending on the jacket, that 2nd layer usually comes with shorter sleeves that end just before the jacket sleeves. So, you cannot wear the internal layer alone with such short sleeves, as it will look like a couple of sizes short.
A very important factor to all jackets is the ability of the jacket to allow your torso to “breath”. This, sometimes, raises the cost of the jacket, yet is is a very important element.
The reason? Your sweat creates humidity inside your body. With all the layers this humidity is trapped between your mid layers and jacket. A jacket that has openings (with zippers) at your armpits and front, allows natural ventilation. So, you sweat less and you feel warmer.
To all the above you need to decide on how water proof you want it to be. Do not try to get one and make it such with some water proof spray. It doesn’t work and soon you will ruin your jacket.
Check your budget for selecting the proper jacket. If you can, buy one with “ventilation” and detachable layers. These are money well spent.
No. Try to walk like that in order to keep your hands warm and you will end up flat on the road.
Better, get a good pair of hiking gloves. Do not choose “fancy”, leather ones. You need to wear ones with good insulation. You may need to grab or push something that is cold, along your hiking.
There is a small range of gloves to choose from. They need to be as waterproof as possible and must be easy to wear on and off. Your fingers need to fit well inside them; not too tight or too loose.
A good choice (especially for cold weather) are the ones with fleece insulation or some wool ones, but usually wool is not so water proof.
Some gloves even have some openings at the tips of your finger, in case you need to handle some device, but this is tricky when it gets cold or wet.
Umbrella or Poncho?
You may think that you are tough and “some rain” means nothing to you.
But -as said- you also want to be comfortable. If you hike for long and it gets rainy then you will need extra effort to walk while getting soaked, even with waterproof clothing (waterproof pants will create extreme heat). The energy loss will be tremendous and you don’t want that.
You don’t want your backpack getting wet too.
An umbrella is not good to have since it will occupy one of your hands and you need both.
So, you have 2 choices.
The first is a backpack cover which covers it all except the part that touches your back (yet, water like run through that area) or one that is like a reverse pouch.
The second option is a water proof poncho. Easy to wear and remove, covers everything. You may look like a walking tent but you will be comfortable and wet.
Along with a pair of gaiters and proper shoes you will have 95% of your whole body protected.
When rain stops, you just remove it and place it at the external bottom pocket of your backpack and that is all.
Do I Need a Neck Gaiter?
Well, not exactly. A wool one will get you really hot, really fast.
Better to buy a tube one. These are like a… long tube with a coated end. These things can turn to scarf or even a head band, depending on how you want to use it.
A variation of them are the short ones, usually made from thin fleece, suitable for very cold weather.
Choose such when it is too cold, as wind will find its way in the top of your jacket, directly against your neck.
How to Choose the Best Hiking Backpack?
And here we come to your backpack. This varies depending on the kind of mountain or trekking activity you want to do. There are specialized ones even for rock climbing.
Rarely, you will have one for all cases. They come from lightweight versions (i.e. of the Camelbak type) to plain ones, and they rise to very technical ones for mountain climbing and such.
While many think of a backpack as… just a backpack it is far from that. Actually, it is a tool and someone needs to learn how to use it and even how to wear it properly.
If you wear it properly it will help you out. If not, it will bring many issues and pains.
For example, a good backpack must allow your back to breath. A backpack must sit properly on your shoulders, but especially to your waist since that is the area that carries the backpack. Many think that your shoulders do that, but that is wrong.
A backpack is chosen according to your torso length. It must have different ways to be adjusted on your body, so it becomes one with it and can contain your hiking equipment.
Since, in this article, we write mostly for the amateur hiker, we will present the elements to know for choosing a backpack for such.
Do not buy a backpack and then try to figure out how to fit and squeeze all the things you want to carry. It is the other way around. You need to think what you will carry and then buy the proper backpack. In fact, you must decide what you want to carry for single or multi day excursions.
So, there we have the term of “liters”. These are the numbers you see on different backpacks. These define their capacity.
If you are an amateur hiker then 1 or 2 different types of backpacks will be fine for you.
Let’s see some of their characteristics:
- Support frame: There are ones with external and internal support frames, even with detachable frames. The ones with a frame are lighter, for short and simple hiking routes. The detachable ones are easier to wash.
- Ventilation: Their back part is made of a special frame and in a special manner which allows air to get through. Some even have “chimneys” for the same reason.
- Accessibility: This has to do with the various external pockets and openings and their easiness to be accessed. Some, even have zippers at their sides so you can access the interior without opening the top hatch.
- “Pockets”: There are ones with external pockets on the backpack body, pockets on the belts that fit in your waist, even pockets and sleeves to strap your snow shovel.
- Hatches (top area): Some have a dual hatch, where the top one is removed and the interior one seals with a cord.
- Low back area: Some have an extra “pillow” there, to reduce pressure during walking.
- Nooses and nets: These are used to hang things and be flexible to access them. There are ones with nooses to strap on your walking batons too.
- Bottle pocket. This is used for the Camelbak set.
Finally, here are 2 very important elements to help you out with choosing the proper one for your body.
- Check to see if the backpack fits for the length of your torso. See the numbers that are mentioned on the backpack. We usually measure the proper length starting from the top of the shoulders down to the upper hip area.
- 80% of your weight relies on your hips/waist. Your backpack belt must fit there and allow for proper holding. Especially women must make sure this applies.
On top of all these, there are the basic hydration backpacks. Very lightweight, with a narrow back and they can contain a big bottle of water along with some basic stuff (wallet, phone, some snacks). If your route doesn’t need any other equipment then these are extremely comfortable.
Leave No Trace
What that has to do with hiking for beginners and getting prepared for hiking? Well, it has a lot.
When you are “out there,” make sure to treat nature with respect. Do not leave garbage in the environment. If everyone leaves trash, then that will return to all.
The National Parks belong to everyone to enjoy. That stands not only for our country’s’ parks but also for those of other countries.
Read this post from the Mountaineering Association (UIAA). It contains lots that are apt to hiking too.
Let People Know You Location and Schedule
Before any hiking trip, make sure you check the weather and carry a communication device (i.e., a cell phone), along with a first aid kit. It is also best to take a map and compass and know how to use both.
Some times cell phones won’t get a signal (same with hiking GPS).
You also have to let others know where you will be and -in case of multiday trips- when you expect to come back or/and reach different stations.
Things may get tough if you get lost. If you do, remember that in many cases getting higher is a solution.
Conclusion on Hiking For Beginners
These things are grassroots for anyone who wants to hike. Being comfortable while hiking will affect your mood. If you get annoyed and uncomfortable, you will become irritated. Irritation leads to a lack of attention and discomfort.
A small amount of discomfort will make your hiking more adventurous, but better allow that to be in overcoming obstacles through lakes and forests and climb rocks.
We hope we transferred a little bit of our experience and some useful hiking tips. Make sure to subscribe to our Newsletter and follow up.
Have fun and do share this with your friends.