These useful hiking tips are sure to make your outdoor experience the best it can be.

Tackling the great outdoors may seem like a daunting task. Every new hiking destination has its own challenges and unique experiences. There is so much to take into consideration when preparing to go on a hike; it can be difficult to know what is the most important. If you are a beginner hiker especially, it can be difficult to know just where to start. Of course, no matter what, you can always learn more about outdoor adventuring. As you navigate through various suggested hiking packing lists and peruse “Hiking for Dummies,” refer to this basic list for some timeless adventure advice. We have narrowed down basic hiking tips and counsel to these top seven suggestions to know before you go.

Check out these seven best hiking tips for the beginner outdoorsman.

1. Plan your route.

While spontaneity is a principle I regularly try to apply to my life, it is not something I utilize when hiking. The last thing you want to do is wander aimlessly through the woods for hours whilst in a place without cellular service. This is both impractical and unsafe. It is always wise to navigate your intended hiking route before you go, so there is clarity as to just how far you are going. 

Your route difficulty and length largely has to do with what you are prepared for. If you are a beginner hiker and do not yet know your own limitations, it is not wise to attempt a 14-mile round trip hike with difficult terrain. It is okay if outdoor adventure is a challenge, but not to the point of putting yourself in physical danger. If you want to start building your hiking repertoire, then start small and work your way up to some challenging trails.

2. Protect yourself against the sun.

hiking tips - sun protection

Three words: Always apply sunscreen. Personally, I have learned my lesson by not wearing sunscreen before embarking on a hike. I grossly underestimated just how much damage the sun could do to my skin in just a few hours. There is nothing like slathering Aloe Vera lotion over your blistered, lobster-like skin to make you rethink your life choices. Even if the weather is overcast, you are still exposed to UV rays, so prepare accordingly. Wear a hat and apply sunscreen to the exposed parts of your skin. If you prefer natural skin protectant, there are many different organic sunscreen brands to choose from.

3. Bring enough water.

Water intake is likely the most important of the hiking tips to consider before stepping outside. A priority over sun protection and food, water keeps you alive and your body energized. Always calculate how long you anticipate hiking for, and bring the amount of water you need. It is ideal to bring a few extra liters along, just in case. There are some really nifty water carrying devices to help alleviate the extra weight. Look up what works best for you and your hiking style. 

It is also important to note that some websites featuring hiking routes also offer a recommended amount of water to bring, so be sure to look into this. When I hiked Half Dome in Yosemite, the National Parks Service recommended bringing an entire gallon of water. Fortunately, I did this, and drank every drop along the way. It is also a good idea to bring along your own water purifier. This way, if you run out of your own supply, or simply want to enjoy some fresh spring water, you have a way to ensure it is drinkable.

4. Check the weather ahead of time.

hiking tips - check the weather

If you have ever been outside, you understand how quickly the weather shifts. A thunderstorm can happen in an instant out there. As you plan which day you want to head outside, make sure you know the weather conditions beforehand. The last thing you want is to trudge through a downpour in hiking boots that are soaked through to your socks. It is also dangerous to hike in adverse weather, so if at all possible, avoid getting outside during times like this. Of course, the weather is unpredictable, so if you are caught in a bad situation, make sure you are prepared. Bring a rain jacket, hand warmers, and a space emergency blanket just in case.

5. Dress accordingly.

Is the weather extremely humid? Do you plan to summit a 14,000-foot mountain peak where a blizzard may occur? These questions are all important to ask before you embark on that hike. An ill-planned hiking wardrobe is at the very least uncomfortable, and at the very worst, perilous to your health. Check the local weather beforehand and plan your clothing accordingly. Also look into hiking tips forums for the place you plan to hike to find any advice from other adventurers. It is also smart to pack some extra clothing, such as a rain jacket, a shirt, or extra socks.

6. Always tell someone your travel plans.

Anything can happen out there, so always, always tell somebody where you are going. This is especially critical if you are solo hiking. Of course, there is allure with getting off the grid and going where nobody knows you are. But quite frankly, this displays poor judgment on the hiker’s part. Telling somebody where you plan to hike could potentially be the difference between life and death in many situations. 

The wilderness is a big place, so if an accident happened, it could take days to find you if nobody knows your location. Be smart about it and let a few people in on your outdoor adventure plans. This includes sharing the location of your hike of choice as well as the time frame you plan to hike. If you are hiking alone, arrange to communicate with somebody after you complete your hike, so they know you are safe. These little things are actually quite critical to your survival, so don’t neglect them.

7. Respect your surroundings.

hiking tips - sorroundings

Enjoying nature is a privilege, not a right. Bearing this in mind, it is essential to treat the outdoors with utmost respect as you explore. The ‘Leave No Trace’ outdoorsman campaign is a campaign for outdoor ethics that is rising in popularity. Be sure to educate yourself on these principles before you go. A good hiker is one who leaves no sign that they were there. Preserve the delicacy of nature by leaving plant life and rocks as you find them. Don’t approach or feed wildlife if you encounter any along the way. It is also important to have an effective waste disposal system, as not to leave anything behind. Our job as outdoor adventurers is to care for and preserve the environment so it lasts for generations to come. Make sure you do your part.

Conquer the great outdoors with these helpful hiking tips.

Whether you are a seasoned outdoorsman or are just learning the ropes, these hiking tips remain relevant. If you adequately plan for it, exploring the great outdoors is an extremely fulfilling activity. Use these seven hiking tips as you consider the next place in the great outdoors you want to experience.

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Faith is a writer and social media manager residing in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is passionate about people and currently attends university in pursuit of a degree in Clinical Psychology and Counseling. A nomad by nature, Faith finds utmost joy in trekking around the globe and strongly advocates backpacking as the best way to explore anywhere. Being a bookworm and an avid coffee drinker, she is likely to be found sipping an Americano and mulling over a classic novel.

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