Mindful Hiking Guide for Beginners: Top Tips To Remember Before You Step Out
Hiking is a workout not just for the body but also for the mind and soul. It can look deceptively easy to some or rather intimidating to others, which is why it’s best for beginners to tether themselves to these mindful tips that will help them in the great outdoors!
A great hike begins with a proper preparation, which includes your gear. As a beginner, you’d like to get both quality and affordability and there are but few brands providing that. I recommend using Decathlon coupons to purchase clothes, camping gear, backpacks but if you’re not on a budget, you can approach the higher-end market as well.
Choose the Trail That Suits You
Finding a trail for you requires a lot of consideration- you should ideally start small and look for a trail that fits your strength. Other factors such as trail difficulty, weather, elevation gain, directions, water sources, trail features should also be assessed.
TIP: Pick a hike a little shorter than the distance you usually walk on a level ground.
Fitness, weather, distance, elevation
Pack the Right Hiking Gear
This includes your essentials that you need to survive, not your high-tech gizmos. Every hiker needs 10 essentials that includes first aid, objects for navigation (map & compass), sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen), insulation from cold (clothing), illumination (headlamp/flashlight), fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle), repair kits, nutrition (food), hydration (water) and emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag).
Don’t Slack on Good Shoes
This should be a given- you can’t hike with painful feet. A good pair of shoes is a must. Having said that, your footwear is a personal choice- while some prefer over-the-ankle boots, others enjoy lightweight trail-running shoes. Let the terrain guide your pick. An easy trail can be tread with lightweight, low-cut hiking shoes whereas sturdy boots may serve you better on a rugged trail with rocks, roots and streams.
TIP: Cotton socks might feel like the good option but wool or synthetic socks are the way to go.
Choose your Clothing Wisely
When I say clothing, it mostly means the fabric. Picking quick-drying, moisture-wicking fabrics, such as wool or polyester helps a lot in treks and hikes. It’s best to avoid cotton, which takes a long time to dry when wet.
- Base layers: These are the first layers that get in contact with your skin. They should be ideally made of wool or polyester depending on the temperatures of the hike.
- Hiking layers: These include nylon and/or polyester pants, T-shirt, sun shirt, sun hat.
- Insulation: Prepare yourself for the cold nights and windy hikes by bringing along a puffy vest or jacket, lightweight fleece pullover, warm hat and gloves.
- Rain Protection: It’s wise to carry a waterproof jacket no matter the weather forecast. If you’re expecting wet weather, bring the rain pants along, too.
Leave No Trace
This simply means leave minimal impact on your surroundings. Leave No Trace encompasses seven principles that motivate enjoying the hike in a sustainable way that avoids human impacts.
- Plan Ahead and Prepare: Efficient trip planning and preparation helps travelers accomplish trip goals safely and enjoyably, while simultaneously minimizing damage to the land.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Selecting an appropriate campsite requires information about the level and type of use in the area, the fragility of vegetation and soil, the likelihood of wildlife disturbance, an assessment of previous impacts, and your party’s potential to cause or avoid impact.
- Dispose of waste properly: Proper disposal of human waste is important to avoid pollution of water sources and to maximize the rate of decomposition. Hikers generally dig cat holes at least 200 feet from water, trails and camp where other people will be unlikely to walk or camp. The cat hole should be covered and disguised with natural materials when finished.
- Leave what you find: When you pick a flower, a leaf, a rock or a plant, you rob others of a similar sense of discovery. Avoid damaging live trees and plants, leave natural objects and cultural artifacts for others to discover as well.
- Minimize campfire impacts: The natural appearance of many areas has been degraded by the overuse of fires and an increasing demand for firewood. The development of lightweight efficient camp stoves has encouraged a shift away from the traditional fire for cooking.
- Respect wildlife: Your two seconds of amazement might impact the wildlife for years. So, observe wildlife from a distance, quietly, do not touch, get close to, feed or pick up wild animals.
- Be considerate of other visitors: In other words, behave! It;s important to maintain courtesy toward other visitors so that everyone enjoys their outdoor experience. Excessive noise, uncontrolled pets and damaged surroundings take away from the natural appeal of the outdoors.