Maybe you’re ready to try camping after an exhilarating visit to a nearly forest park. Maybe you want to introduce your kids to the great outdoors. Or maybe you’re a longtime hiker who just needs a refresher after too much time away from the trails.
Trekking or hiking carries with it a world of benefits, the most obvious being the health factor. Regular hiking can bring about weight loss, prevent heart disease, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce stress and depression, among others. Also, escaping to nature brings with it psychological benefits that will add to your well-being.
Whatever your goal, this general guide to getting started as a hiker will help you enjoy safe, scenic, and satisfying adventures.
Choose a destination within driving distance, so you can reschedule if bad weather threatens.
Stick to well-marked routes with easy terrain, established campsites, and access to a nearby water source. Or get a guide who is familiar with the place.
Learn when the bugs are biting, if you need permits, what weather to expect, and where you can find a post-trip beer.
Let someone at home know your plans, and stick to your route so you’ll be easy to find if necessary.
Go light! Pack only the absolute essentials and learn to use each item.
Rent a tent. Go online and look up entrepreneurs renting out tents, packs, and other gear. It cuts initial costs and lets you experiment before buying.
Pare our threads. Pack clothes for a 24-hour period, on trail and in camp, and wear the same stuff all weekend. Throw in extra socks to keep your feet happy.
Go a little luxe. It’s not a monastery out there. Sneak a treat into your pack: a deck of cards, a good book, or camera gear.
Keep your energy up with snacks like trail mix, dried fruit, energy bars, chocolate, and cookies.
At home, repackage food and leave behind bulky, heavy containers.
Make sure to pack enough water along, as trail water may not be available or fit to drink.
If you can hike for a few hours, you can backpack for a weekend. But a little training will make the second day feel as good as the first.
Hike yourself into shape. The best way to train for an sport is to do it. Carry a full pack on your routine dayhikes – it’s also a great way to test your gear.
Master the mountains: there’s a reason hikers flock to higher ground. It’s beautiful up there. Strengthen your hill-climbing muscles (quads, hamstrings, and calves) with regular workouts on a stairclimber.
Don’t get caught with your pants down and no shovel. Learn how to dig a cathole and other essential skills, like pitching your tent and lighting your stove under all conditions (e.g. night time, under the rain)
Learn good manners. Think of camping like being a guest in someone else’s house: don’t mess it up. Camp on bare ground or rock, don’t bathe or do dishes in the creek, and leave plants and animals alone.