Nothing beats being able to enjoy the great outdoors with a great hike. Aside from allowing yourself to immerse in nature, hiking can also help you keep your body in tip-top shape. Indeed, the American Hiking Society points out that hiking can lengthen and improve the quality of our lives, as well as reduce our risk of developing heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Hiking is a pretty straightforward activity — you don’t need any special skills or equipment to get some fresh air and see stunning sights on a hiking trail. However, you do have to take extra precautions in order to make your hike fun, safe, and fuss-free.
All that being said, we’ve listed below our top tips to help you fully enjoy an excellent hike.
Don’t Pick a Trail That’s Too Challenging
Before going on a hike, make sure that you choose a trail that best fits your level of physical fitness — especially if you’re just starting out. Beginners who pick a hike that has too much climbing or is too long can put their health at risk.
The key is to start slowly; choose a hike that’s under 5 miles and doesn’t have a lot of climbing. If you plan on doing a longer hike in the future, you should take your time training and building up your resistance to avoid injuries. After all, nothing spoils a hike faster than a sprained ankle.
Always Remember to Leave no Trace
All hikers must have respect for the outdoors and other hikers. This means that you should properly dispose of your garbage, avoid bothering the local wildlife, and be considerate of your fellow hikers.
Exploring is good, but try not to stray away from the official trail too much to avoid disturbing the local ecosystem. We’re lucky enough to enjoy what Mother Nature has provided us, and we should try to protect it and keep it pristine. If you see a fellow hiker littering while on the trail, be sure to remind them to pick up after themselves and help keep the trail clean and litter-free.
Don’t Be Afraid to Talk to A Ranger
You can feel safe hiking in a national or state park, as they’re filled with park rangers who are ready to assist you if things go sideways. Before your hike, be sure to talk to the guides first as they’re a treasure-trove of valuable information who can help you stay safe in that particular park.
From toxic flora and fauna and dangerous animals, to changes in the terrain that you need to keep an eye out for, a ranger can tell you how to keep safe in the park and have an awesome hike.
Be Sure to Take Lots of Photos With a Portable Camera
Hikes are a great way to bond with nature, as well as your loved ones. So why not immortalize these precious memories in photos? And while using your phone is a quick option, for truly spectacular pictures (and who doesn’t want truly spectacular pictures on a hike) you should invest in a high-quality portable camera.
Adorama’s selection of photography equipment highlights how mirrorless and DSLR cameras are now very portable, making them ideal to bring on your hike. The Sony Alpha a6400 is a powerful camera packed in a compact body, allowing you to take photos and videos of your hike with ease.
If you prefer something smaller, the Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS80 is perfect for you as it only weighs 11.53 oz while still providing you with 30x optical zoom and 20 megapixel HD photos.
Don’t Forget Your Sunscreen
Whether it’s sunny or not, slathering on a generous amount of sunscreen is mandatory before every hike. This is because harmful UV rays can still damage your skin, regardless if the sun is at its peak or not.
The American Academy of Dermatologists explains that sunscreen is a must-have whenever you’re outdoors, as 80% of the sun’s rays can still make it to the ground even on a cloudy day.
When choosing a sunscreen for your hike, be sure to get a good sports sunscreen since these are formulated to withstand sweat and adhere to the skin better. Despite that, you should still re-apply your sunscreen every two hours to ensure that your skin is fully protected.
Choose the Appropriate Hiking Gear
If you’re going on an easy trail, you can probably go on a safe and enjoyable hike with the activewear that you already have. For clothing, be sure to wear clothes that are designed for sports activities to help you stay cool and chafe-free while on the hike.
Additionally, long-sleeved shirts and pants can help protect you from the elements and ensure that your limbs won’t get scraped up along the trail. Any pair of good sneakers will do for light hikes, but a sturdy pair of hiking boots will prevent you from slipping and getting blisters.
If you’re looking to invest, the North Face Ultra 109 GTX Hiking Shoe are ideal for slippery mud and climbing high boulders. For women, the Merrell Chameleon Shift Traveler Hiking Shoe provides great traction and flexibility too. In addition, a light backpack to hold your water, snacks, and first aid kit is also a hiking must-have.
Whether you’re a first-time hiker or a long-time explorer, these tips are useful to keep in mind. But if you’re looking for a more in-depth beginner’s guide, head over to our article ’15 Best Tips On Camping For Beginners In 2021′.