Let’s admit it— hiking is a really, really good sport and the best thing about it is that it doesn’t need a professional league to start a hiking career.
When you’re in the mood for some physical activity or some adventure, you can just set out on your own at the nearby national park and hike to your heart’s desires— but only if you’ve done this a couple of times already.
Here’s the thing, hiking may be an accessible activity for most of us, but it does require some preparations prior to the actual bustle. That’s where first-time hikers commit common blunders. To carry the notion that hiking is literally just a walk in the park is a not an ideal practice for first-timers.
While this activity won’t require you to secure a professional hiking license to be able to do it, everyone’s who is interested should be aware of how they should prepare for the adventure.
Here are 9 common mistakes that first-time hikers make so that you can avoid them and rise above the fun hiking challenge better!
1. Not preparing physically
Like any other sport out there, hiking is a physical game. It’s a real test of leg, arms and core power, as well as your stamina level.
But unlike any other sports, hiking is not extremely demanding when it comes to training. It won’t push you to commit several hours at the gym just so you can achieve the highest and the most intense level of physical strength.
Preparing physically means you need to make sure that your legs and core are in good condition. There will be a lot of walking, and a couple of inclined pathways that will test your strength.
You also need to do some cardiovascular exercises to keep your heart and your endurance in check during the whole activity.
2. Not prioritizing safety
Safety should always be a top priority and there’s no need to explain much why.
When it comes to our well-being, we should never take it for granted. Besides, it is our physical bodies we rely on during the whole activity, so it’s only right to give it the attention that it deserves.
There are two common mistakes that first-timers often overlook when it comes to their safety. One is they don’t bring a first aid kit at all, while the other one is that they carry too many medicine kits that they don’t actually need.
Both of these mistakes should be addressed properly. You MUST bring a first aid kit that’s fit for the activity, and I cannot stress that enough. Gauze, wound solution, and some basic medicine tablets for common ailments like headache and pain should be inside your pack.
Meanwhile, bringing too many of these items would only weigh your bag down which might result to back pain! It’s ironic, but do you really intend to use all the medicine that’s in your kit during this excursion?
3. Wearing inappropriate clothes
Some would say wear anything that feels comfortable to you. And for sure, first-timers would think, ‘oh I could wear my most comfortable cotton shirt.’
We’re not saying that wearing anything comfortable isn’t right. But old-timers would tell you that cotton shouldn’t be one of your options. Why? Cotton is heavy, and it gets heavier when soaked wet from sweat.
You need to wear something that dries fast. Your hiking clothes should also be able to work well with your body temperature to avoid any complications brought about by the sudden changes in weather.
4. Forgetting important items
For a beginner, a well-packed backpack is crucial.
In normal circumstances like going to work or meeting a friend outside, forgetting important items at home isn’t that much of a problem because you can always just come home or ask someone in your house to bring it to you. But when you go on an adventure like hiking, having all the essential stuff with you from the get go is a dealbreaker.
You can’t just easily retrace your steps back to the base camp and then drive home because you forgot something really important like let’s say your phone for navigation and communication concerns, or worse, your snack pack.
Create a list of things that you should bring with you, and make a conscious effort to check it from time to time prior to your hike day just so you won’t go through the hassle of forgetting something once you’re out in the middle of the woods or the mountain.
5. Choosing a trail above your capability
Making hiking as a workout routine is okay. It’s a good sign that you want to challenge yourself to do better and better everyday. But the question is, are you well enough to go beyond your body’s capabilities?
Choosing the perfect trail for you, especially if you’re a beginner, could be a little bit of a challenge. You have to consider the fact that you’re doing this for the first time and that your body and your current health condition might not be fit to do anything that is extreme.
You have to listen to what your body tells you. You don’t have to push yourself into doing something that isn’t right for your physical strength. It’s not ideal, not to mention dangerous.
If you really want to test your limits, do it slowly and carefully. You can start by picking an easy trail and then the next time you go hiking, try a more difficult trail.
6. Wrong choice of gears
Once you’re out there, your gear is one of the things that could help you reach the summit in one piece.
Oftentimes, first time hikers don’t give much care about bringing any hiking gear. Well, that shouldn’t be the case. Investing in the proper equipment for a hike means you’re ready for the adventure ahead and that you acknowledge that all those trekking and walking would be easier if you have helpful gear with you.
For instance, you find yourself in the middle of an uneven terrain and not far ahead, you see steep steps, the first thing a first-timer might think is to pick up a thin branch of tree or a twig to help them balance their steps, which doesn’t sound right. The fact that it might give you blisters or that it might break anytime is a clear sign that you should bring the proper gear with you. That’s what hiking poles are for.
7. Not checking weather forecasts
Getting excited to do something for the first time is normal. But oftentimes, because we’re too excited to go out and hike right away, we forget to do some research about the mountain we’re about to explore and the weather condition we’re exposing ourselves to.
More than anything else, the first thing that you should do proper research on is the weather forecast during the days that you intend to hike. This will help you prepare for the activity well, especially if you imagine sunny skies to greet you on your first-time hike only to find yourself soaked because rain decided to pour on that very same day you went out.
8. Not packing snacks
Again, hiking is a physical activity. It uses most of our energy so not bringing any snacks to last your through the entire hike is unimaginable.
You need to refuel the energy that’s lost by munching on energy bars and proper hiking meals so that you can last long. Drinking lots of water will help you as well.
Trust me, hiking will leave you starving so you better load your backpack with snacks!
9. Bringing too many items
While it’s understandable for first-timers to carry a mindset that says it’s better to bring too many than come up short once you’ve started the hike, it isn’t highly encouraged.
Aside from the fact that it’s hard to fit them all in one bag, bringing too many items means carrying a heavy weight upon your back. And that doesn’t sound comfortable, especially during a hike.
To avoid this dilemma, re-evaluate the contents of your bag and then identify which needs to be left behind and which you should bring during the hike.
Learning from your own mistakes will definitely teach you a lesson. But do you really need to go through those mistakes just so you can learn? Lets learn from other first-timers mistakes and you’ll definitely have a wonderful time hiking.
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