Are you new to hiking? Then our thorough post for hiking for beginners will be helpful for you.
There are lots of things to learn. Following the helpful after-hike recovery post, we thought to share an advanced one on what to do and know before you start hiking. You will avoid the common mistakes beginners to hiking make; 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 reacts a lot.
Minor 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 ways to work around all mind and muscle fatigue. All this information is for hiking for beginners and 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 are fine, but that is not true.
So, let’s start learning. By the way, if you are after some severe survival gear advice, do check our post(s).
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 to beginners hiking.
Choose a Backpack for Beginners
Did you spend time on 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 did you just order 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 and reach them fast if needed?
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.” Better ask your back and legs first.
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 particular 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 on flat ground too. Their correct usage will take the weight from your back and knees.
If you don’t believe us, walk a problematic route without poles and try the same with poles. You will notice the difference.
Despite their immense help, you give yourself a pretty good upper body workout.
We mention poles (plural) and not “a pole.”
A pair of good poles weigh very little and provide 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 to use two poles. Take a few classes in a Nordic Walking class (sounds weird, right?).
We did that and learned to walk fast; it was like hovering. Not to mention that we learned to walk with our entire body and correct posture.
Try to find one near you.
Read this thorough post for choosing the suitable Trekking Poles for Men and Women.
Pain from Hiking Gear is a Friend Who Talks
Pain while hiking is not something you want, but there are many kinds of pain.
Sharp pain in joints and muscles is not a good sign, while soreness pain can mean that you are tired for 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 manifests in the form of these: sharp or intense pain, heat, stiffness, swelling, and 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? Sometimes, improper pants limit movement, and legs get strained. After many hours this leads to pain and soreness. The 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, incorrect weight distribution, or even carrying too much weight for many hours without resting.
- Pain on the head can mean improper nutrition, hydration, heatstroke, and many other things, even vision issues.
Make necessary adjustments and deal with inflammation and pain before it becomes a chronic case or worsens on 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 sore the day after the first one and much more the day after that.
You need to eat, drink, and exercise appropriately 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 like steam from water.
Your mind is tricky and can relax your body on command if you train it like that.
Hiking for Beginners: Is your Body Ready for Hiking Trails?
Stretching is great, but your body needs to be in good condition to hike for many days or cope with a demanding single-day hiking route.
Do you work out?
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 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, and even dancing are some of them.
- Do you do 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 beginners in hiking.
- 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 the weak spots in your body and handle them properly during your hiking.
Do you need motivation, or do 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 make, and exercise simultaneously.
In all ways, you need to build up your multi-day hiking and hiking soreness prevention capability.
Hiking for Beginners: Warm-Up
Ever been to a gym? Most probably, you are.
Rule number one is to warm up your muscles before attempting any heavy exercise.
That is the case. You reach your hiking entry point with a bus or drive there. Your body is stiff after all these hours, and you are about to put it under strenuous work for more than one day.
It needs some foreplay by heating 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 hiking days. 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 for proper hydration, but it is better to explain it more.
What water will do for you (on any day and your hiking):
- Flushes out things not needed
- It helps to build up your energy
- It helps and allows flexibility to your muscles
Hikers and climbers have one rule: You are already dehydrated when you feel thirsty!
That is why you must drink before walking and drink as you walk.
A CamelBak is a norm here.
You don’t need to ruin your pace; simultaneously, 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 carry a water filter to convert dirty water into potable.
Start “water training” yourself before the hiking trip despite the equipment. Drink double the amount you usually drink.
Any kind of “soda” or coffee and tea are not considered “water.”
If you consume such while you walk, you pull 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 you feel uncomfortable or have belly pains after drinking lots of water, you may 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 ready-to-consume sticks or as a powder you can add to a water bottle (follow proper dosage).
If you plan to hike during scorching days, having some spare is not wrong.
Why Eat Well Before and After Hiking?
Two words: Proteins and Carbohydrates. Muscles need food. They (have to) work hard for you day in and day out. Are you getting enough every day?
Not enough protein, and gradually, your muscles will reduce their performance.
Carbs will fuel you too, but there are good 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 energy spikes, 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 daily hiking. In addition, 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 strengthen.
For meat lovers, dried meat and fish are good sources 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 weight you carry in your backpack and crucial for your health.
This information is a general guide, not a nutritional plan or medical advice. Each person has unique needs depending on their health status, age, gender, 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 other weather conditions.
Depending on your age or knee health, some routes may not suit 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
Whether traveling solo or with a friend, there will be times that along the path, your mind will play nasty games as you hike.
Some thought trains would abandon everything, while others would become too risky.
Using common sense and focusing on the present is best to 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 hikes and then moving 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. That way, you will have the time to think repeatedly about what you need to carry along.
Don’t leave things to the last minute.
Have a safety plan. A way to communicate with friends and relatives is needed, as much as your map, compass, and GPS device.
Explore our advice deeper to find all the critical things we mentioned here.
Recovery and Hiking for Beginners
As you end the day, here are some essential tips to help you recover and rest.
Slow down: Are you reaching your end-for-today time?
Then gradually start slowing down your pace and rhythm.
Allow your body and mind some time 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 stressed.
The first 45 minutes period, after you stop for resting, is considered a window where the intake of proper food and liquids gives the maximum benefits to your body.
You may have heard that you take the proteins in the first 45 minutes after you stop exercising in a gym.
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 of 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 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, which 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 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 hiking tips for beginners, especially those considering starting hiking to exercise. However, many hikers like to walk during some weekends or less frequently than that.
These hikers like the soft part of hiking adventures. They are not “professional” hikers, and they are not after each bit of detail about hiking hi-tech equipment. Thus, you may hear them called soft adventurers, even if they don’t care about such labeling.
This article is for any newbie in the hiking activity.
It refers to the equipment, why we use it, and what to know before shopping. It talks about the legs up to the waist part of your body.
Hiking Boots or Hiking Shoes?
You’ve heard that like one zillion times. That is correct. You need to wear the proper hiking shoes. That and your good mood should be fine…, but is it?
The proper shoes are essential. 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; no, it is not about “buying more.”
The wrong shoes will create blisters and all kinds of pain in your feet. This may drive you to dislike hiking.
It would be best 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 about the hiking you like or want to do and what time of the year. Do not hide that you are new to hiking or know bits and pieces about hiking.
Before you go there, think first. What kind of hiking do you like to do? In what type of weather? For example, many like rain and mud. On the other hand, some are fine with rocky terrain. Where do you go most?
These things matter as the moment you 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. Make sure you wear both shoes while doing that. How do they feel?
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 and then brush it off. For some shoes, there are even special coatings. 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 latter is more comfortable, and you avoid overusing your hiking shoes.
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 “sandal” or semi-sandal type. You don’t want small pebbles between your toes while you walk, along with any danger of getting bitten or scratched.
How To Tie the Shoelaces of your Hiking Boots
It may sound unnecessary, but many walk-in discomforts because their shoes are not properly tied. In such shoes, there are precise holes at the top area. Plus, there are specific ways to connect such shoes.
You must not loosely wear them. They need to be firm but not too tight. You need to be able to walk steadily without pain.
Especially on downhill paths, your foot will slip at the front. Of course, you can’t avoid that, but a loose shoe will lead to a 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. Instead, 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 it a little tighter.
Just follow your perception of 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, lots of pressure (your whole body) is applied to your toes. Feet move forward in downhills and thus meet the hard interior front of the shoe since there is always a tiny space between.
This pressure is applied on toenails, so whatever protrudes will bend and strain.
While in a long route with many ground types and inclinations.
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 downhill.
It would be best if you chose 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 a unique material. Do not choose socks that will make your feet boil. Your feet, up to your crouch, get hot as you walk. At the same time, 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 issues caused by extreme humidity. Getting cold feet is one of them, too.
Use Hiking Gaiters
Everything will be wet and muddy if you hike on a rainy day or after. By using hiking gaiters, you will avoid:
- It is tough to clean to end up with muddy (more than wanted) hiking trousers.
- 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 they are in a freezer.
- The interior will slip a lot with the wet socks and all to have an extra slippery shoe.
Lots of discussions occur for this thing alone. Avoid short trousers/pants in forests or places with lots of sun/cold. There are perfect hiking leggings if the weather permits that.
Avoid sweat pants or any kind of trousers/pants made from such material. These are to comfortably sit on your couch or -maybe- for the 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 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 in the trouser/pants selection. Your feet are constantly moving, so you must wear something to protect you but not overheat you.
You will get sweaty.
So, wearing something warm while looking at “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 lose.
So, research the conditions you expect to find along your hiking and dress accordingly. For example, if you go with a team, find out the number of breaks, the inclination, and the type of ground (i.e., rocky, muddy, or other).
Many catch a cold after their lower body is wet and sit somewhere where a slight breeze is blowing…
Unless you hike through the 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 hiking all year round, you will need more than one type of trousers/pants. Some fabrics dry very fast after getting wet, while others are elastic. The latter is very comfortable when you have hard ground to walk through and need to stride.
Better to choose a waterproof one. We located various things for hiking gear through this website.
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 placed in trouser pockets is heavier than 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 often encountered and discussed on hiking trips.
The thing is, as you walk, you get to sweat. As a result, your feet get tight and thus get a bit thinner. The same thing happens with your waist. This results in getting a bit lighter overall as you walk.
This combination -along with sweat- makes your trouser/pants lose. Then you see them drop a little. Of course, on a big trip, they fall more.
To avoid that, better to wear a hiking belt. Many hiking trousers/pants come with a small plastic strap, which will not last long and will not fit well.
One thing that works well is… suspenders. These keep your trouser/pants up no matter what and can be quickly 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 hours and discover that “that area” is very wet and not the sexy type of damp. The only thing you don’t need is wet underwear twisting and entering places that make you suffer.
Avoid isothermal underpants unless you choose to walk in icy areas. The produced heat will create “cooking” conditions in your sensitive areas.
The proper choice is to buy some thin elastic underpants (boxer type). These exist both for men and women. However, women must avoid underpants of the string/thong type unless they 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 find yourself dressed appropriately 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 is not “medical” but comes from our hiking experience and discussions with other experienced hikers. The whole purpose is to know what to wear/have during hiking 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. You may have heard it as the “layers.” The whole point is to be dressed in a way to remove/add clothes depending on the temperature and the effort you apply. In hiking, being dressed like that is the secret to success.
So, if you get cold, wear some, which you will remove when you get hot. In that way, your temperature will stay relatively stable while reducing excess sweating. Clothing, along with the weight you carry, needs to be balanced. It would be best if you had that balance not to lose energy and lots of water.
Do not just wear 1 or 2 heavy sweaters or jackets as you experience severe discomfort.
Wear a Hiking T-Shirt?
You must not wear a t-shirt but what is called a base layer. Such clothing has a dual role. It will warm you in winter, while it allows the sweat not to be trapped between the cloth and your skin in summer.
That is why we must not wear cotton base layers, which get soaked and trap water on your skin while they do not dry up fast enough. So wearing cotton clothing may be like wearing a wet towel.
Trapped sweat will lead to catching a cold when the breeze blows. So, keep it out.
Such layers dry very fast, so they are suitable for other trips too. They can be washed and ready to wear again in a couple of hours.
There are isotherm cloths based on polyester; some are knitted with elastic fibers to stretch better or even wool.
Short Sleeves Hiking Blouse or Long?
A long sleeve jersey or shirt will be very helpful in hiking. However, it is better to ask someone at the store for the best possible option since specialized hiking shirts 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.
Hiking Sports Bra for Women
Many female hikers feel that painful “bouncing” when wearing the wrong bra.
All the jumping up and down, walking, or running downhill carries the action on the muscular system and protruding body parts. It will get painful after many hours.
So, wear a sports bra or hiking bra. You 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 scratches and irritations from a regular bra, plus you will sweat less in the covered area.
All ladies wearing an enormous bra will help them avoid back pain. Better avoid the t-shirt/jersey bras as they are usually not efficient.
Fleece Jackets or Mid-layers?
We do love fleece. It is 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 comfortable layers for hiking.
Apart from fleece jackets, soft shell ones are made from durable material and are breathable.
Read this post for base layers and how to use layers in hiking.
Here things get a bit more complex. Choosing the right jacket is like selecting a backpack. It gets even more complicated if you want to go climbing apart from hiking.
The thing is that rarely a jacket will be suitable for all kinds of weather. There is a wide variety in materials, weight, cost, usage, etc.
Here are some data to help you out.
Some are called “membranes” or/and windbreakers, but they are useless most of the time in heavy weather. 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, αnd 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 two body areas are not moving during hiking, so they get 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 significant factor in all jackets is the ability of the jacket to allow your torso to “breath.” This, sometimes, raises the cost of the jacket, yet it is a crucial element.
The reason? Your sweat creates humidity inside your body. This humidity is trapped between your mid-layers and jacket all the layers. A coat that has openings (with zippers) at your armpits and front allows natural ventilation. So, you sweat less, and you feel warmer.
You need to decide how waterproof you want it to be to all the above. Do not try to get one and make it such with waterproof 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. Again, this is money well spent.
No. Try to walk like that 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 cold along with your hiking.
There is a small range of gloves to choose from. They must be as waterproof as possible and easy to wear on and off. Your fingers must fit nicely inside them, not too tight or loose.
A good choice (especially for cold weather) is the ones with fleece insulation or some wool, but usually, wool is not waterproof.
Some gloves even have openings at the tips of your finger if you need to handle some device, but this is tricky when it gets cold or wet.
Umbrella or Poncho?
You may think you are tough and “some rain” means nothing to you.
But -as said- you also want to be comfortable. For example, if you hike for long and it gets rainy, 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 since it will occupy one of your hands, and you need both.
So, you have two 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 waterproof poncho. Easy to wear and remove, covers everything. You may look like a walking tent, but you will be comfortable and wet.
You will have 95% of your whole body protected with a pair of gaiters and proper shoes.
When the rain stops, you remove it and place it in 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 hot, really fast.
Better to buy a tube one. These are like long tubes with a coated end. Depending on how you want to use these things can turn into a scarf or even a headband.
A variation is the short ones, usually made from thin fleece, suitable for icy 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 will you have one for all cases? They come from lightweight versions (i.e., of the Camelbak type) to plain ones and rise to very technical ones for mountain climbing.
While many think of a backpack as… just a backpack, it is far from that. It is a tool, and someone needs to learn how to use it and even wear it properly.
If you wear it correctly, it will help you out. If not, it will bring many issues and pains.
For example, a good backpack must allow your back to breathe. A backpack must sit properly on your shoulders, especially on your waist, since that is the backpack’s area. 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 adjust to your body, so it becomes one with it and can contain your hiking equipment.
Since this article we write primarily for the amateur hiker, we will present the elements to know for choosing a backpack for such.
Do not buy a backpack and then figure out how to fit and squeeze everything you want to carry. It is the other way around. It would be best to consider what you will bring and buy the proper backpack. It would be best to decide what you want to carry for single or multi-day excursions.
So, there we have the term “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 acceptable 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 straightforward hiking routes. The detachable ones are easier to wash.
- Ventilation: Their back part is made of a particular frame and in a unique manner that 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 ease of access. 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, pouches on the belts that fit in your waist, and 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 seals with a cord.
- Low back area: Some have an extra “pillow” to reduce pressure during walking.
- Nooses and nets: These are used to hang things and be flexible to access them. There are ones with loops to strap on your walking batons too.
- Bottle pocket. This is used for the Camelbak set.
Finally, here are two essential elements to help you choose the proper one for your body.
- Check to see if the backpack fits the length of your torso. We usually measure the proper length from the top of the shoulders down to the upper hip area. See the numbers that are mentioned on the backpack.
- 80% of your weight relies on your hips/waist. So 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 essential hydration backpacks. It is very lightweight, with a narrow back, and can contain a big bottle of water and some basic stuff (wallet, phone, snacks). These are incredibly comfortable if your route doesn’t need any other equipment.
Leave No Trace
What does that have to do with hiking for beginners and getting prepared for hiking? Well, it has a lot.
When you are “out there,” 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 for everyone to enjoy. That stands not only for our country’s parks but also for other countries.
Read this post from the Mountaineering Association (UIAA). It contains lots that are apt for hiking too.
Let People Know Your Location and Schedule
Before any hiking trip, 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.
Sometimes cell phones won’t get a signal (like hiking GPS).
You also have to let others know where you will be and when you expect to come back or/and reach different stations in case of multiday trips.
Things may get tricky if you get lost. But, if you do, remember that getting higher is a solution in many cases.
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 and allow you to overcome obstacles through lakes and forests and climb rocks.
We hope we transferred some of our experience and some helpful hiking tips. Make sure to subscribe to our Newsletter and follow up.
Have fun, and do share this with your friends.