Looking for hiking tips and advice before hitting the trail? Hiking isn’t rocket science, but there are some things you need to know. This awesome list of hiking tips will give you the confidence you need and help keep you happy and comfortable on the trail.
Dear Beginner Hiker:
What kind of friend would I be if I let you hit the trail without telling you about the good, bad, and ugly of hiking? I’ve compiled these hiking words of wisdoms, hiking tips, and nuggets of hiking advice to have you hiking like a pro.
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1. If your feet hurt you will be miserable. Painful feet will bring your hike to a halt. Except that you have to keep going to get back to the trailhead, your campsite, or car!
2. Find the best hiking shoes for YOU. I love these trail runners. I have battled plantar fasciitis and have a hard time finding a shoe that provides the support and comfort I want. I ordered them from Amazon without trying them on, and they worked for me. Plus I knew I could return them if they didn’t!
3. Your feet swell when hiking. Buy your hiking shoes a half size larger to accommodate for this.
4. Never wear new shoes on a hike. Always break them in first and be sure they fit properly and don’t hurt before hiking. Though I have read of people that hit the trail with my trail runners out of the box.
6. Don’t ignore hot spots. Moleskin is your friend. The minute you notice any irritation on your feet, stop and treat those hot spots to keep them from becoming blisters.
7. Learn different ways to lace your hiking shoes. You can prevent your foot from sliding in your shoe, accommodate high arches etc. by lacing your shoes differently.
8. Your toenails may turn black and fall off after long hikes. This is less likely to happen if you have plenty of room in the toe box of your shoes. Some people buy a larger shoe, but if you aren’t careful, your foot will just slide forward and your toes will hit the front of your shoe. You can also buy a shoe brand that has a larger toe box. This is one thing I love about my trail runners -the large toe box. But sometimes it doesn’t matter -your toes can take a beating, especially if you are hiking downhill a lot.
9. Cotton clothes can kill. Wear wool or synthetic. Cotton takes forever to dry once wet and if it is cold, can lead to hypothermia. It also doesn’t wick moisture away if it is hot and you are sweating. But hey, I do wear my favorite t-shirts when the weather is nice!
10. You can wear wool year round. Most people think of wool as a winter fabric, but lightweight wool and wool blends are available and provide great moisture wicking properties.
11. Layer your clothes.
12. Ever heard of thigh chaffing? I know if your thighs are skinny this may not happen, but the friction created by the constant motion and contact with skin and clothing can be a problem for some people.
13. Body Glide works.
14. Bring raingear even if it is sunny when you leave home. A lightweight, inexpensive rain jacket like Frogg Toggs will work. Later, you can upgrade to a better quality rain jacket.
15. Know if the area you are hiking in is prone to flash floods. Flashfloods can be deadly, especially if you are hiking in a canyon with no escape. Check the weather forecast before you leave. Flash flooding can happen even if it isn’t raining where you are hiking. The river can be flooded upstream.
16. You can get sunburned in the winter. Wear sunscreen and consider wearing a hat year round.
17. Buffs are great in the heat and cold.
18. Pack as light as you can. Don’t leave important things behind, but there is no sense in loading your pack with non essentials.
19. Bring the 10 essentials.
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20. Invest in ultralight products in the beginning. You will be glad. Ultralight products usually cost more, but not always. You can actually save money in the long run if you are not replacing heavy gear with lighter options.
21. You don’t have to buy premium gear starting out. Use what you have, buy what you can afford, or borrow from a friend if you want to try something out. I know I just said to buy ultralight, but don’t let not being able to afford expensive gear keep you from the trail.
22. You may end up owning a lot of gear! It is fun to shop for gear and there is some pretty neat stuff available!
23. Bring extra food or a snack at least. Hiking makes you hungry, and you never know when your short hike may end up a long ordeal….
24. Water – H2O – Hydrate – Always bring water. Never hike without water. There may not be a dependable water source on your hike.
25. Giardia is real. Treat water before drinking – use a water filter or at least water purification tablets.
26. Drink plenty of water several days before a high altitude hike. Being properly hydrated can help ward off some of the symptoms of altitude sickness. It helps to start hydrating early.
27. You can drink too much water. Crazy, huh? But if you are sweating alot, too much water can dilute the electrolytes in your body. Try Nuun to replenish those electrolytes. Some hikers carry salt to add to their water.
28. Elevation is more important than mileage when considering a hike. It is harder to go a short distance gaining elevation than to walk farther on flat land.
29. Hikers going uphill have the right of way. If you meet other hikers on the trail, step aside and let those going uphill pass.
30. Don’t believe other hikers when they tell you that you are almost there.
31. Spiders build webs on the trails at night. The intricate designs can be beautiful, but it is no fun to walk into a web on your morning hike.
32. Trekking poles can save your knees and help keep your hands from swelling (and knock down spider webs).
33. Never take a shortcut off trail. Do not blaze your own trail. Always stay on the trail, unless nature calls or you are setting up camp.
34. Trail mileage on apps and websites can be wrong. They are close, but keep in mind many sites are crowd sourced so the information may not be totally accurate.
35. Leave No Trace
Related Post: How To Leave No Trace Outdoors
36. You will learn to pee and poop in the woods. Ladies, Pstyle is the way to go.
37. Check your head and body for ticks when you get home if you have been hiking in woods.
38. Most wildlife does not want to encounter you.
39. Snakes can look like sticks. Watch your step.
40. You can hike alone. Some people prefer to solo hike.
41. A hike is not a race. The journey is as important as the destination.
42. Always leave a hike itinerary. Just in case you don’t return from your hike, your friends and family will know where to look for you. Don’t miss my FREE hiking itinerary form with tips!
43. Don’t worry if you don’t look like an Instagram model or YouTube star on your hike.
44. Hiking is addictive. You have been warned.
45. Hiking is healing. Time spent in nature has been proven to lower stress levels, improve health and your sense of well being.
46. Your body is more capable than you think. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.
47. You will be proud of yourself.
48. The view is worth the climb.
Share Your Hiking Tips!
So, are you excited about hiking? What have you discovered on the trail? Be sure to let me know of any hiking tips and tricks you’ve learned along the way!