Hiking is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the outdoors and get yourself into the hands of nature. Transported by your own two feet and carrying only what you need for the day on your back, you can discover the beauty of nature at whatever pace you are comfortable with. However, with a little planning and preparation, it’s an activity that almost anyone can do. With the help of this article, we will try to figure out some of the hiking essentials for beginners, so that performing hiking does not become a daunting task anymore.
What is Hiking
Hiking is an activity of moderate difficulty, which involves walking across long distances generally on trails or paths. The duration of the activity varies between short half-day programs and longer itineraries of over 20 days. It is usually an activity that allows groups of different sizes. Such type of activity has proven health benefits and acts as a boon for our health.
It is mentally stimulating, helps to reduce stress, and keeps you physically fit; it is an excellent way to exercise both the body and the mind. Hiking inspires people to come up with life-changing and creative ideas.
How to Physically Prepare for Hiking as a Beginner
When you are first starting out hiking, we recommend choosing trails that are in line with your current fitness levels. Of course, hiking is a way to kick-start your exercise routine and get in shape, but if you pick a trail that is way above your pay grade, you won’t enjoy it and might never hike again. Initial physical preparation and establishing a healthy awareness of your body will help grow your confidence as a beginner hiker.
Benefits of Hiking
- Great For Heart – Hiking is great for cardiovascular health. Even light hiking can raise the heart rate to a moderate level which helps improve aerobic fitness and endurance. Over time, your body adjusts to new fitness levels and you can hike longer, faster, and harder without feeling as fatigued or out of breath. Hiking can also improve markers associated with cardiovascular health like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol. Studies have shown that going on regular moderate hikes can significantly reduce hypertension, improve glucose tolerance, and decrease ‘bad’ cholesterol levels over time.
- Improves Balance – Hiking improves balance, as it helps to increase proprioception, which is the mind’s awareness of the position and movement of the body in relation to its surroundings. As you hike, the brain is processing every rock and root and gauging what it will take to step over obstacles. With practice, the brain becomes more adept at judging these obstacles, and as a result, balance improves.
- Great For Muscle – Performing hiking helps to build and stabilize muscles in the legs and core to improve balance. But hiking also strengthens other muscles of the body including the arms and back. In fact, hiking is a great exercise for almost every major muscle group in the body. Walking uphill engages the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves while hiking downhill engages the ankles, hips, and core. The arm and back muscles can be strengthened while hiking through the use of trekking poles or carrying a moderate to heavy pack.
- Helps To Reduce Weight – Hiking is great for weight loss. The number of calories burned during a hike depends on a lot of factors like weight, gender, and aerobic intensity, but if you are just starting out, even light hiking can result in gradual weight loss. The recommendation for physical activity for adults is at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) per week. If your goal is weight loss, try starting out with three 50-minute hikes per week on a local trail.
Best Hiking Essentials for Beginners
1.) Hiking Footwear – Footwear is one of the best hiking essentials for beginners. This is one of the most important items you need to choose from, and it’s a very personal choice. Some hikers prefer supportive over-the-ankle boots, while others enjoy lightweight trail-running shoes. Whatever you choose, make sure the boots or shoes are well broken-in and comfortable for long distances. Remember to wear wool or synthetic socks, not cotton.
2.) Trekking Poles – Trekking Poles are one of the best hiking essentials for beginners. Get a good pair of trekking poles that are lightweight and adjustable to help you protect your knees on the trail. It’s a great tool for staying balanced, evenly distributing weight, and keeping a good pace on varied terrain. Plus, most are easily attached to your pack, so you can go hands-free when you need.
3.) Hiking Clothes – Comfortable hiking clothes are one of the best hiking essentials for beginners. Every beginner hiker’s gear starts with comfortable clothes. Never make the mistake of backpacking in jeans or cotton. Jean’s chaff and gets soggy and heavy when wet. Cotton is generally bad for hiking clothing because it doesn’t dry when wet. Instead, wear quick-drying, lightweight, durable sports clothes that are specially made for active outdoor use. It’s okay to go hiking in short sleeves if you are not going in the cold, but always have a rain jacket with you.
4.) Reusable Water Bottle – Water Bottle is one of the best hiking essentials for beginners. To combat dehydration, a reusable water bottle is a smart key during hiking. Try to have water bottles that can fit into backpack pouches so you don’t have to hold them in your hands, and fill them up with water. Filled water bottles aren’t exactly environmentally friendly, and it’s bound to become warm and unpleasant after a while. You should also have water treatment on hand so that you can treat any clean water that comes your way if you run out.
5.) Backpack – A backpack is one of the best hiking essentials for beginners. A backpack is considered a piece of must-have hiking equipment that one should carry at any cost. A good hiking backpack should be lightweight, strong, made of breathable material, large enough to hold everything you need on your walk, and should grant you easy access to your hydration bladder or water bottles. From the material to the strap length, the size, compartments, and fitness, it is very important that you pick the right backpack. For women, it is suggested that they should use a backpack made specifically for women rather than one made for men. Women’s backpacks are designed to rest on a different part of the back, so they would therefore be more comfortable for you.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.