You don’t have to be an outdoorsy pro or a seasoned backpacker to feel confident when exploring the vastness Mother Nature has waiting for you. Hiking may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly has its benefits — which we will soon go over. Whether you’re a complete newbie that hasn’t the slightest idea where to start when it comes to hiking without much guidance, or you’re just looking to get more informed about some do’s and don’ts (+ other general tips) about hiking, you’ve clicked the right post!
I am far from a hiking expert, but I’ve learned some decent hiking etiquette, some tips/hacks on how to get the most out of your outdoor experience, and some things to be aware of so that you feel locked, loaded, and ready to get out there, beaming with excitement and confidence as you hit the trail. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
WHY HIKING IS SO BENEFICIAL:
- Offers a free, functional workout. Whether you walk or run, it is great cardio, not to mention it uses a tremendous amount of various muscles in the body to keep you moving in a balanced and effective manner.
- Helps you appreciate nature, in your own lived experience.
- Gets you out of your head… if you allow it.
- Boosts creativity.
- Scientifically proven to help prevent and treat depression/anxiety.
- Naturally reduces stress — this means better sleep, higher sex drive, enhanced personal relationships (with others, the earth, the Self…), lower blood pressure, and all the other stuff you already know that comes along with reduced stress levels.
- Decreases risk of not-so-awesome health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, etc.
- Gives you a chance to switch off: phones can be left behind, work calls and emails = see-ya-later-alligator, and all other mundane responsibilities are left in the dust as you embark on your journey.
1. Plan ahead, and properly: What’s the weather going to be like? Do you need any permits? Do you need specific clothing or gear? If it’s a beginner hike, you probably don’t need much other than a sufficient amount of water, maybe some sunblock if you’re sensitive and it’s hot/a long hike, and a positive attitude — positivity isn’t 100% necessary, but highly recommended. Of course a first aid kit is cool to have on deck too, but feel it out for yourself.
2. Tell someone where and when you’re going: Just a simple text to someone you know, or a note left for a roommate/family member is a good idea juuuuust in case your hike takes an unexpected turn. It’s very unlikely that you’ll need rescuing of any kind, but if someone knows when and where you are going (if they know the trailhead name too, bonus points!), and they have a general idea of when you’re planning to be back, this can drastically increase the likelihood of you getting help, ASAP.
3. Leave no trace: Obvious, but still important. Don’t litter, don’t disturb the environment around you, blah blah blah… you get it.
4. Wear footwear that will make your body the happiest: Whether you dig hiking boots, sport/hiking sandals, toe-shoes, or if your feet can handle it, going barefoot… whatever fits your fancy, go for it. Just make sure they are comfortable and functional.
Here are some shoe options we like:
- Vivobarefoot Women’s Primus Trail Runner
- Vibram Five Fingers Men’s V-Alpha Hiking Shoe
- Vibram Five Fingers Women’s V-Trek Trail Hiking Shoe
- Teva Men’s Hurricane Xlt2 Sport Sandal
- Teva Unisex Original Universal Sandal
- Teva Women’s Hurricane XLT2 Sport Sandal
5. Get your timing right: Timing your hike properly can make or break the experience. Don’t stress over it too much, but consider it when planning. Starting hikes as early as possible is my recommendation, seeing as the later you go — even 9am or 10am — the more crowds are likely to show, depending on your spot. Sunrise hikes are breathtaking, and if you know where you’re going and/or it’s a mellow trail, sunset hikes are also beautiful.
6. Know your hike’s details: When researching your hike, note the duration of the hike, as well as the elevation gain as you move along the path. A two mile hike on flat ground is very different from a two miles hike with 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Mentally prepare yourself for what’s ahead of you, especially if you’re not in the mood for a strenuous trek or you’re on a time budget.
7. Be considerate of other hikers: Enjoy yourself and live your life, but contemplate leaving your loud as heck bluetooth speaker behind (or just kept at a lower volume), keep your dogs ‘n such controlled for the most part, and also, if you’re in the mood, give a little “hello” and a smile to your fellow hikers. 🙂
8. Backtrack if you get lost: Don’t freak. People have gone 7-10 days without water and 60-70 days without food. You’re smart, strong, and capable. You have this all inherently in you as a human being, so don’t let fear prevent you from getting out there.
9. Be outwardly aware: Look around at the path + your surroundings: where the sun’s at, any signage/visible markers to see where you are on the trail, potential environmental minefields, sketchy wildlife (be it in animal or plant form), etc.
Having an outward awareness is not just for cautionary purposes, but also, remember to notice the wonders of the world around you. This is usually what drives us to go on a hike anyway, so don’t miss the glories of the journey when you might be more focused on the destination (and other fortune cookie tales). Observe the details on the trees or in the plants you pass by; smell the air; listen to the creatures that encircle you, or the wind that whispers love notes to you. Open yourself to the magic!
10. Be inwardly aware: See how you’re feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically in your body. Are you getting winded? Slow down or take a sit-down rest. Over-heating? Find some shade and drink some water. Getting nervous or stressed? Give yourself space to feel it out — explore the heart and mind, connect to the Bigger Picture + your Self… that’s why you’re on the hike in the first place, remember?
Being prepared is never a bad thing. However, don’t let your feelings of potentially-unpreparedness hinder your experience. Awareness outshines preparedness — at least in my eyes. Just be aware of your surroundings and yourself, and you will be a-okay, friend.
Get out there! Breathe some clean freaking air. Feel nature’s pulse, and how it pulls you closer into union with it. It’s all for you… take it!