This is probably going to be one of those articles that isn’t necessarily trying to convince you to hike, but on the contrary, sharing the experience of going from hating hiking to being just okay with it (and maybe enjoying it a little bit).
I spent the majority of my adult life hating hiking, because to me, it sounded strenuous for no reason. But besides being a nice “walk in nature,” it actually does feel somewhat rewarding once you get up there and realize that you were able to walk an incline, enjoy cleaner air, and get some clarity of mind.
So, if you’re like me, and you just started being okay with the idea of hiking, but do feel yourself warming up to it, here’s a quick guide to hiking from someone who used to hate hiking.
The potential benefits of hiking
Hiking is actually a great form of exercise (but you probably already knew that). It benefits your bones, blood sugar, cholesterol, muscles, heart health, and muscle growth and development. It enhances sleep and lowers your risk of heart disease and cancer. But definitely one of the best benefits of hiking is the that fact that it will surely enhance your mood, as it is pretty much a form of meditation. Not only is it good for your physical and mental health, but it is also known to boost creativity and enhance your subconscious need for play and freedom.
The first thing you must do as a beginner hiker, is choose a hiking trail. Always start small and locally, then build up to a longer hike. You may never want to go for intense weeks-long hikes, but you really never know unless you try to gradually build up from short hikes.
There probably is some sort of hiking grounds in your surrounding areas, even if you live in a large city. A non-technical, half-day hike is doable by almost everyone. However, there are a few considerations to make: Trails are often rated as Easy, Moderate, or Challenging. The terrain is meant by this. A simple hike will include primarily flat terrain and not much rocky terrain. You can certainly complete a moderate trail if you’re physically fit.
What you need to know is that an ideal beginner hiking trail is anywhere between 3-6 hours long.
So, what do you need in order to go on a hike?
You actually don’t necessarily need any fancy or advanced hiking gear in order to start hiking. Sure, if you want to start doing it regularly, you may want to get some proper gear, but you certainly shouldn’t hit the hills in a pair of flip flops with no preparation.
The 5 essential pieces of gear for beginners are the following:
- Hiking boots, (you can use sneakers, they’re just better with shoes made for hiking)
- A backpack
- A head lamp
- A water bottle
- And finally clothes that are breathable, easy to move in, and quick-dry
So really, that’s what you need to know as an absolute beginner. See you on the trails.