Along with several other outdoor activities, hiking is a popular pastime for several reasons. Not only is traversing across rolling hills, dramatic mountains and meandering coastlines one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature; heading out for a hike will also get your blood pumping and help to keep you fit and healthy. If you’re just starting out on your hiking journey, these six tips are a must before you venture out into the great outdoors:
1. Work on Your Fitness
For beginners especially, building up your fitness to a reasonable level before heading out on a hike is essential for several reasons. While you may be able to tackle lengthy walks at ground level, hiking up mountains – even the small ones – is a whole new ballgame that is sure to put your body through its paces. As such, instead of attempting something challenging straight away, opting for a smaller route will enable you to establish your body’s existing capabilities and discover the areas that you need to work on. Once you are able to complete shorter walks comfortably, you can then move onto tougher terrain!
2. Pack the Essential Supplies
Having the right supplies can make or break a hiking experience, and if you find yourself in a sticky situation, it may even end up saving your life. While experienced hikers have their own list of must-pack items, the basic supplies that every hiker will need include water, a first-aid kit, a map, extra clothing, a torch and a mobile phone or emergency device. For those embarking on longer hikes, additional food and a compact emergency blanket should also be added to the list!
3. Check the Weather Forecast
Checking what the weather will be doing both days and hours before heading out for a hike is incredibly important, as it will enable you to determine how to dress for your hike or whether you should even be hiking in the first place! While it is never advisable to hike in heavy rain, snow or wind, there are items you can pack to deal with milder conditions, such as fleeting showers or blazing sunshine, e.g. a raincoat or sun cream.
4. Opt for Light Layers
Whether you’re heading out into the stunning Snowdonia National Park or embarking on winter walks in Devon, most people automatically throw on thick or heavy layers for fear of getting cold whilst out on a hike. While in the midst of winter, this may seem like the most logical thing to do, it is often better to wear several light layers for two main reasons. Firstly, instead of having to lug around several items of clothing all at once, lighter layers will allow you to peel one or two off with ease without the burden of weighing you down afterwards. Secondly, less clothing means you will be able to move more freely, something that is always useful when hiking.
5. Wear the Correct Shoes (and Socks)
This is a common mistake for many novice hikers, and while trainers or wellington boots may be the most accessible shoes already in your wardrobe, both often result in painful feet, a problem that is sure to ruin your hiking experience. Investing in some proper hiking boots and socks will ensure you are comfortable throughout your route meaning you can enjoy hiking for longer and will not have to cut short due to blisters.
6. Respect Your Surroundings
While the UK is home to an abundance of beautiful hiking trails, they will only stay this way if we, the hikers that traverse them, make a concerted effort to look after them. As well as ruining the surroundings for fellow outdoor enthusiasts, leaving rubbish or not having a general awareness for the world around could also impact the wildlife living in the area that you are hiking, so it always pays to be thoughtful.
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