But never forget that early on, HOW FAR, DOES NOT MATTER!! Because you have accomplished mission #1 which is to get outside, it’s totally fine to adjust your first hikes to your relative fitness level.
Preparing for your first hike
Drink lots of water, as a habit. It is essential to drink lots of water days before your hike. If you get tired or begin to feel bad while hiking, it is often attributed to dehydration, rather than muscular or cardiovascular issues. For days leading up to the hike begin to up your water intake, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Drinking water on the hike, but not hydrating before, is too late. Electrolytes may also be consumed to boost hydration levels.
It is important to first determine if you’ll be hiking (single day activity) or backpacking (multiple day journey).
Backpack: You will need a small day pack to carry your gear, and pretty much any pack you have lying around the house will do. If you are in the market for a new day-pack, consider one that has a water bottle side pocket or a water bladder compartment for easy drinking access. Waist and chest straps are also helpful features on a day-pack that help distribute the weight and keep the pack from shifting as you walk.
Water bottle: Water is the most essential item for a hiking expedition, so make sure you bring plenty of water. Two to three liters is generally a good rule of thumb, but if you are hiking in a hot, dry climate with a lot of elevation gain, you may need more. If you can afford it, hydration bladders make it easy and convenient to drink water, and they can also help build endurance because you can drink without stopping and taking off your pack.
Socks & Shoes: For most non-technical trails, your most comfortable pair of sneakers will do. Then once you’re hooked and want to start hiking more advanced trails, you can progress to a trail shoe or lightweight hiking boot with decent tread. The more important decision is your choice of sock. Avoid cotton socks, which often lead to blisters and can ruin what could have been a good hike. Instead choose a good wool sock; they breathe well, don’t shift around on your feet while hiking, and are made to last.
Clothing: The main thing to consider is the weather. The last thing you want is to be too cold, too hot, or to get caught in rain unprepared. Check the weather and bring appropriate layers so you can adjust as needed. As you are choosing what to wear, if you can, it’s best to avoid cotton since it retains sweat and moisture.
Snacks: Depending on how far you are hiking, you may need to refuel. Bring some healthy snacks, whether it be some trail mix, a piece of fruit, or your favorite bar. For more special hiking occasions, you can pack a picnic set and have a lovely light lunch under full glory of the mountainous skies with your fellow trailers.
Other items you might want to carry along: sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, bug spray, a map, torch, powerbank & an emergency kit (gloves, ointment, bandages, swabs, disinfectant, asthma pump and a pocket knife).
How to Choose a Hiking Trail
If you have never hiked before, you will want to choose something somewhat short, relatively flat, and easy to navigate. This is so that you will be within your abilities, likely enjoy yourself, and want to go again!
We post a few hiking trails on here and on our social media pages to give you an idea of the different trails and experiences. You can participate in any one of our upcoming trails.
As you progress, you’ll also want to learn the basics of reading a topographic map. There are numerous resources on the web to teach you how to tell a mountain from a valley, a saddle from a summit, etc.
Some Common Hiking Fears
No animal fear should keep you from hiking. If you see a snake, don’t panic. Simply slow down and cut them a wide berth on trail, and that slithery creature will likely be uninterested in you. Your trail leader should be an avid trailer who is knowledgeable on how to react around snakes and similar animals.
“I’m too out of shape.” “I will get tired.” “I’m afraid I can’t do it…” These are all things that everyone that has ever wanted to be a hiker have told themselves. It just isn’t true! Don’t put any limits on yourself, especially mentally. No matter how out of shape you are, you can day hike. In the beginning, it’s just a matter of how far. But never forget that early on, HOW FAR, DOES NOT MATTER!! Because you have accomplished mission #1 which is to get outside, it’s totally fine to adjust your first hikes to your relative fitness level. Even half a kilometre is good for you. So grab a friend and get out there, and over time you’ll be able to push yourself to meet new challenges.
If you are serious about becoming a better hiker, it helps to log your hikes. Write down how far you went, how long it took (minus any breaks), and how you felt. This way you can track your progress, be encouraged by all of the progress you are making, and develop realistic goals. And take loads of videos that you can share with other club members! It’s part of the fun.