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Hiking for beginners: how to get started

Hiking for beginners: how to get started

Hiking is one of the easiest, yet most fun activities to get yourself outdoors. You can experience what nature has to offer at your own pace, and explore the world around you! With the following tips, you’ll make sure that your first time hiking will be a good one:

  • Decide if you want to hike alone or with a partner
  • Pick a route
  • Bring the right gear
  • Essential tips for beginning hikers

Decide if you want to hike alone or with a partner

As a beginner, it would be a good idea to do your first hike with a friend that has more experience. Also, hiking with a buddy is just more fun and safe, as you’ll look after each other. If you’re a dog person, you can even go hiking with your dog.

Alternatively, you can opt to join your local hiking club. By doing this, you’ll easily find like-minded people and make friends that also love to go for a hike. Speaking from experience, such clubs will also encourage you to get the best out of yourself and improve your hiking skills. 

Or, you can go alone. Doing this can bring you into a certain space of freedom and stillness you can’t get anywhere else. However, you should always notify someone of your whereabouts, and hiking route. Bear in mind that, if or when something would happen to you, someone should be able to help you when in need.

Pick a route

Picking a hiking route that’s right for you can be done in a couple of ways. Firstly, talking to locals that are into hiking can give you some (undiscovered) routes and spots to hike through. Buying a guidebook or browsing the internet can also be a good source to find a suitable beginner’s trail. Especially if you're just starting out, these sources can give you a lot of information about the difficulty of the trail, the length etc.

After picking a route that you’ll think is right for you, you should familiarize yourself with it. check the weather forecast and check if you need to pack extra items if you’re going on a multi-day hike. Our ultralight backpacking checklist can help you to get started. 

Bring the right gear

Hiking does require some essentials to make your hike go smoothly, and keep you comfortable while being outside. We’ve jotted down the essentials we always bring on our day hikes, if you’re planning to hike for more days, check out our first backpacking trip article for overnight items to bring.

  • Navigation: This could be either in the form of a map, or telephone.
  • Insulation: We recommend fleece for warmth and comfort. (Here you can find our fleece jackets for men or women fleece jackets.)
  • Hiking boots: It’s suggested to visit your local hiking store to try on hiking boots that fit comfortably and will keep your feet dry and protected.
  • First-aid kit: Specifically if you're going on a solo hike or multi-day trip.
  • Hydration: When you’re hiking you need to stay hydrated. For multi-day trips, you can consult our solo backpacking tips to find the easiest way to facilitate hydration over an extended period.
  • Backpack: Essential to carry your items during your hike. Preferably one that you can carry for multiple hours without getting any pains from it.
  • Protection from the sun: depending on the weather conditions, you should bring a hat and sunscreen with you.
  • Clothes: Depending on how many days you’ll be hiking, bringing enough clothes is essential. Specifically for pants, hiking specific pants are recommended to prevent chafing (e.g. with jeans).

Essential tips for beginning hikers

We want to round off by giving you some essential tips as a starting hiker. We consider these important to know, to have you become with the hiking culture and unwritten rules. 

As a new hiker, it’s important to respect the current hiking culture. With the 7 principles of ‘leave no trace.’ you’ll be off to a good start! the rules set guidelines for the hiking community on how to respectfully take they're of the environment their hike in and each other. 

Also, some hiking etiquettes are important to consider such as: staying on the right side of the paths when crossing other hikers, not making unnecessary noise (like music or shouting) and respecting the wildlife.

Be mindful of wildlife: to touch on wildlife a little more, it’s important to keep a safe distance from the local animal and not feed them to keep the natural balance in the area intact. Researching the local area and its wildlife is important to know what you can possibly come across and what to do in certain (dangerous) situations.

All in all, hiking can give you an unmatched feeling of freedom and fulfilment in an amazing outdoor setting. We’re certain with the tips and tricks we’ve given you, you’ll be up for an amazing first experience. 

Let us know where and what trail you’ve hiked on our Instagram page @cortazu.We’re curious to see what our community is up to.

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