Ultimate Guide to Hiking for Beginners

Hiking for beginners can be challenging especially when you see other experienced hikers quickly cover much more trail. However, hiking is a simple activity that can suit everybody. People start hiking for different reasons like weight loss, pleasure, training, relieving stress and to discover the beauty of nature.

Many first time hikers can experience a number of challenges. Some encounter difficult trails, lack the right protective gear and inadequate information on weather among other challenges. Hiking and backpacking requires a little planning and preparation. In this guide, you will get some essential hiking for beginners tips to make your hike safe and fun.

hiking for beginners

Hiking For Beginners

-What You Need To Know Before You Start-

Hiking as a beginner requires you to know a few things before you hit the trail. Whether you want an epic nature journey or a walk in the woods, here are a few things you need to know.

Choice of a trail.

While Hiking for the first time, you need a short trail. It should a distance that you can be able to walk. Furthermore, you need to understand the elevation gain of the trail. Avoid steep trails as they will put additional strain on your body and it will consume extra energy and time. This can be daunting on a first time hiker. Go online and check hiking trails near you and you will get information on distance, ascent and decent.

Understand the trail condition.

After settling on a trail, it is time to understand your trail. Use the internet to get information like technical difficulty and the ground cover of your trail. Furthermore, look out if the trail has water sources. In this case, there is water, you will need a light backpack as you will carry less water.

Notify somebody about your upcoming hike.

Decide on who should know where you will be. Chose a close friend or family member who should know the itinerary and when they should be worried and call for help. In this case, the worry time can be many hours later when you planned to finish the hiking. It is a basic safety measure for any hiker. Furthermore, ensure you have emergency devices like trackers that are in perfect condition. Such devices enable you to seek emergency services through satellite.

Ensure all essentials are in order.

Packing does not mean you over-pack. Bring the things you need. Remember a heavy backpack will slow you down along the trail leading increased aerobic demands. Basically hiking for beginners requires a number of essentials to carry along the trail. The essentials include navigation, sun protection, insulation, illumination, first-aid supplies, food, water, and emergency shelter.

Right dressing and footwear is key.

As a first-time hiker, you need basic clothing like sports pants, quick-drying base, and a backpack. With time, you will get to understand the appropriate hiking gear as you cover more trail in the future. When it comes to footwear, it varies based on the trail. Normal trail needs ordinary jogging shoes. To determine the correct footwear, understand the ground cover of your trail. For rocky trails, running shoes might cause you harm. As you continue hiking in the future, you will get the knowledge on the right footwear you will need.

Hike at the right time.

When you embark on hiking, ensure you have enough time to return to your starting point before dark. You also need enough time to locate trail markers. Furthermore, having enough time will cover for unplanned obstacles along the way.

hiking for beginners

Hiking For Beginners

-Hiking Gear-

Whether you are going to hike for a few hours or months, we have the ten essentials to bring along. This year will come in handy during the hike.

Appropriate footwear.

The type of footwear you chose will largely depend on the trail you chose. For short hikes carry ordinary trail shoes. For elongated hikes, you need heavy loads and tough terrain you should go for hiking boots.

Map, GPS, and Compass.

Maps and GPS are essential in helping you know where you are. Furthermore, it will help you locate other hikers, campsite and exit routes in the event we have an accident. Do not rely on GPS alone, maps and compass act like a viable backup.

Read more about the how to choose the right GPS device for your hike.

Additional water.

Carry enough water because by now you understand the importance of remaining hydrated. Water will help muscles function well in return curbing exhaustion. Dehydration will put you at the risk of suffering hypothermia and altitude sickness. In case your water supply runs out, ensure you have purifier.

Carry extra food.

Food is vital to keep your energy levels high. Furthermore, when you are well fed, your morale to hike will be boosted making the experience memorable.

Carry rain gear and extra clothing.

The weather is always unpredictable and you should be prepared at all time. Dress in layers so that you are in a position to adapt to the changing weather pattern. Dressing while hiking entails two major rule, avoid cotton and carry a hat.

Carry safety items.

Safety should be the primary concern while hiking. Consider items like lighters, torch, whistle. Sometimes, it can get cold making you susceptible to conditions like hypothermia. A fire will be enough to keep you warm. Additionally, if lost, fire can act as a signal. In case you run late, a flashlight or headlamp is a must-have item to see your map and where you’re walking.

First aid kit.

The market has plenty of pre-packed first aid kit for hikers. While hiking as a beginner, make time and get yours. Ensure your kit has been certified by organizations like Red Cross. Approved kits will increase your effectiveness.

You Need a Knife.

For hikers, a knife is a must-have tool. It will help you tie bandages, get rid of splinters, and perform other forms of repairs.

Sunscreen and sunglasses.

When you decide to go on a hike in the summer, you will be faced with a skin-scorching sun. Sunglasses will help you prevent blindness while sunscreen will protect you from sunburns. Sunglasses also come in handy during the snow as they prevent snow blindness.

Day Pack or Backpacking Pack

Day-pack or backpack will come in handy as they will provide a place to comfortably carry your gear. Go for multipurpose backpacks like the ones with rain covers

hiking for beginners

Hiking for Beginners

– What To Consider When Choosing A Hiking Trail-

It can be hard to choose a trail that will be challenging, fulilling, and ensure that your hiking trip is a success.

One thing to note is that with experience, choosing a trail becomes much easier. For all hikers, there are many things to confirm that a certain trail is appropriate. As a hiking beginner, here is what you need to know before choosing your trail.

Fitness Level

The hiking path should match up to your fitness level and abilities. Before starting a hike, you need to have a better understanding of your fitness level and health status. This knowledge will help you select the perfect hike based on your abilities. Determine if you are able to walk for a mile with ease. Put into consideration if you suffer from any allergies, do you have ankle problems and how long can you walk before running out of breath.

The bottom line is that, chose something that is within your comfort zone. Being able to manage the hike, will give you a good feeling. However, it is fine to push a little bit further.


It is advisable to choose a location you are familiar with when hiking as a beginner. The area should be near your home. This is important because you understand the climate and the weather of the area all year long. Additionally, you know the wildlife that lives in the area.

Furthermore, pick a hiking trail that is more popular with other hikers. Chances are high that you will run into other hikers along the way. In the event you get lost along the way, it makes it easy to find you.


For both beginners and inexperienced hikers, safety should come first on the list. Hiking is all about staying safe as you enjoy your walk. Select a trail that will not put you at risk. Furthermore, the trail should make it easy for emergency services to access you in case of an accident.

Hiking For Beginners

-Safety Tips-

As seen above, hiking is a great way to get fit and explore your surroundings. After selecting your trail, you need to put some precautionary measures into place and take care of yourself in the course of hiking. While hiking, always remembers that you are responsible for your own safety on the trail. Here are a few hiking safety tips you need to consider before setting out the trail.

Don’t hike alone.

As they say, we have safety in numbers. Since you are a beginner in hiking, you are prone to encountering unfortunate events that you could not foresee due to lack of experience. Such events can put your health and safety at risk. Hiking as a team will provide options on overcoming some challenges like dangerous wildlife.

In the event, you don’t find somebody to hike with, at least let a close friend or family member know that you will be out on the trail. Let them know when you are expected back from your first hike. In case you don’t return on time, they will be able to call emergency services.

Learn basic first aid skills.

While going hiking, always carry a first aid kit in case of an emergency. Having knowledge in first aid will guide you on dealing with specific injuries. If you don’t have knowledge in first aid, know where you can get quick medical services. If you are hiking in a forest, you can ask a ranger for guidance. Knowing where the nearest clinic is located can save a life in case of an accident.

Dress in layers.

While out on the trail, the weather conditions can change instantly. It is therefore vital to understand the best fabrics and dressing that will prepare you to in case we have extreme weather conditions. It is advisable to go for athletic dressing made from synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester. Such materials will make movement easy as well as pull sweat away from your skin. Avoid clothes made from cotton as they will retain water making it hard to dry quickly.

If you are hiking in the cool weather, wear lightly woven fleece fabrics that offer great warmth and wind protection.

Hike during the day.

Always plan your hike during the day. It easier and keeps you safe. If you hike in the dark, the trail might be inhabited with dangerous wild animals that come out at night.

In the event, darkness is approaching and you are still hiking, it is advisable to turnaround. The risk is not worth it. To avoid being caught up in the dark, always begin the hike early and stick to the predetermined time.

Carry enough water.

Despite the season, you should carry plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the hike. According to experts, after every two hours of hiking, you should consume at least one liter of water. Dehydration will easily lead to exhaustion hence not be able to enjoy the hiking experience. Carry a portable water filter that will come in handy if you run out of your water supply.

hiking for beginners

Hiking For Beginners


Every group of people has some rules that govern their coexistence. Hiking is no exception. We have some guidelines that all hikers should adhere to make the experience enjoyable for everyone. Here are the unwritten rules any hiker should stick to.

Don’t cause noise pollution.

One of the essence of hiking is to enjoy the sound of nature. Always speak in low tones and turn your cellphone volume down. If you chose to listen to music, always use headphones. If you are not interested in enjoying sounds of nature, don’t be an obstruction for others.

When relieving yourself, ensure it is in the appropriate manner.

While out on the trail, always relieve yourself at least 200 meters from the trail and water sources to avoid contamination. Always bury your waste and pack the used toilet paper to dispose of after the hike.

Your pet is your responsibility.

Bringing a pet along the hike can be a good idea. However, you should keep it leashed all the time. If it is a dog, control it as a way of keeping it safe on the trail. Just like human waste, you should dispose of your pet’s waste instead of leaving it along the hiking path.

Always share the trail.

If you are heading downhill give room to hikers going uphill. The same applies in cases you are hiking in the group. Always ensure there is enough room for others to pass with ease. If the hiking path is wider, stick to the right so that the left is for passing.

Leave no trace of your activities on the trail.

When enjoying the hiking experience you should remember to leave a similar experience for those who come later. Always leave the trail the way you found don’t. Don’t cause environmental pollution by tossing waste around. The golden rule is to always leave with everything you came with.

You can learn more about Leave No Trace Principles here.

Stick to local laws.

Before embarking on a hike, go through local regulations to familiarize yourself with them. In some case, most authorities usually pin rules along the hiking trails. The rules are meant to enhance your safety as well as the safety of other hikers.

Recognize other hikers.

If you are hiking along a popular trail, chances are high that you run into other hikers. Courtesy requires that you acknowledge their presence with greeting or smiling. It is considered being good manners. A majority of people who take part in outdoor activities are friendly, so it won’t hurt if you node to recognize them on the trail.

Walk through mud, not around.

Most trails have mud and water puddles around. It is recommended you go through it to sustain the trail. Going around the trail widens the area which might be bad for animals living near the trail. The goal is to preserve the trail by sticking to it. Going around a puddle is easy but it is definitely the wrong move.

Don’t feed wild animals.

Nature has wild animals that are not shy and they might be curious to interact with you. You might get the temptation to feed them. However, this is a wrong idea. Feeding wild animals disrupts their natural foraging habits. Furthermore, some animals might be carrying zoonotic diseases which you can easily contract through sharing of food.


Hiking for Beginners

-Tips For Successful Hiking-

When you start any journey, the goal is to make it successful. This is similar to hiking. Here a few tips that will make hiking as a beginner successful.


Before hiking, you need to be fit and therefore you need training. They say the best way to be in shape for a sport is by doing that sport. As a hiking beginner, you might be nervous about the experience. Look for a nearby trail that can assist you in the preparation phase. If there is no trail near, then you should hit the gym and use your feet as much as possible. You can also make climbing stairs a frequent activity.

Eat and drink enough.

A successful hike needs you to be well hydrated and have a full stomach. Have a solid breakfast and carry some light snacks. Remember to carry foods rich in healthy fats and natural sugars. Carry foods like dried fruits and nuts as they carry a lot of energy besides being delicious. Furthermore, always stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and carrying some extra. Water is the most essential commodity to carry. This is quite important to note as it can save your life.

Use your mind.

One thing to remember is that physical fitness is key in hiking but also your mental strength will play an important role. Hiking is all about endurance which largely depends on your mental strength. Have an inner dialogue and keep positive throughout the session. Avoid terms like can’t or won’t. If you believe in yourself, hiking will be much fun and successful in the end.

Respect nature.

To make it a successful hike, respect other hikers and nature at large. Stick to the hiking etiquette as a way of protecting the trail. This is not the last hike and you would like to come back later. Ensure, you leave the trail the way you found it to enjoy next time.

Leave a trip report.

Write down details about your hike. Let your note indicate details about your hiking plan, trail and the time you will be back. Make sure to indicate the time when family or friends should worry and call emergency services. If you are running late, remember to check in. In case you carry your phone, call to give an update about your progress. Do not cause a scare.

Check the weather.

Sometimes weather can be unpredictable, as such monitor local weather forecast a few days ahead of your hike as well as a few hours prior to the hiking activity. Information on weather will guide your dressing code. In case the weather will be extreme you can change your plans and hike on another day. Rescheduling is necessary if we have thunderstorms and lightning.

Start easy.

As a beginner, stick to a trail that is moderately challenging. Remember your trail should match up to your fitness level. Don’t go for a trail that will put a strain on your body. Conduct sufficient research on the best time to go hiking, elevation gain, distance, and what other hikers are saying about the trail. Start easy and don’t rush because hiking is not a race but all about enjoying yourself.

Final Thoughts On Hiking for Beginners

Hiking is a fun activity that everyone should embrace. Hiking for beginners is not easy. However, if you stick to some basic rules, your experience will be memorable. Always remember while hiking, safety comes first.

Happy hiking