Hiking Preparation GuideOnly Choose Trails That You'll Be Able To Comfortably Handle
A lot of beginner hikers make the mistake of "biting off more than they can chew". Novice hikers can get their hopes up to tackle a trail that's designed for intermediates/experts, and then be disappointed when they have to turn back because it's too difficult.
And it's not only their pride that's at risk. Certain trails designed for expert hikers can require climbing gear and other accessories most hikers don't carry. If a beginner hiker tries to traverse these trails, he or she can encounter an injury, become stranded, or even worse!
Air on the side of caution. If you know you're a novice hiker, then use your available hiking time to build up REAL hiking skills, and leave any notion of "false confidence" behind.
Bring A Hiking Companion For Added Safety
Not only do hiking companions make hiking more enjoyable by giving you someone to talk to, they also give you the added benefit of safety. If you and a companion hit the trail, and one of you ends up sustaining an injury that prevents walking ability, then the proper emergency services can be called.
Believe it or not, there have been times where someone gets stranded deep on a trail, and they become stranded! Having more than one person reduces the chances that this will happen.
Also, wildlife is a bit of a danger when in the great outdoors hiking. If you've got a large group of hikers, the loud noise from your group is often enough to scare away large animals. Otherwise, you run the chance of being "singled out" if you choose to hike alone.
Appropriate Gear To Take With You
Footwear - Trail shoes are great as a footwear choice for light trails, or when you don't plan on spending a lot of time hiking for the day. Hiking shoes, ones specifically designed for all day hiking/multi-day excursions, are more appropriate for long adventures.
Map/Compass/GPS - Being able to pinpoint your exact location, as well as know the direction you're heading in, is crucial to outdoor survival. Also, having a detailed map of the area you're hiking can show you how far along the trail you are, as well as point out any landmarks/point of interest to be on the lookout for.
Extra Water And Purification Equipment - Having water in the great outdoors is definitely a necessity. Should you run out of water, or decide to go a few extra miles near a water source, having water purification equipment keeps you safe from any contaminants in the water.
Rain Gear / Dry Clothing - A sporadic rain storm can happen at any time. Having suitable rain gear to keep you protected from the elements is great. Also, a hat can help to keep your face and hair dry if a storm should happen.
Flashlight, Whistle, And Firestarter - Having a way to start a fire is crucial to outdoor survival. Also, a whistle can help to scare away wild animals and alert anyone in the area that you're in trouble. A quality flashlight/headlamp can provide you with the light you need to keep walking and read a map if you need to during night time hours.
First Aid Kit And Multi-Purpose Tool - Knives are very useful for hiking excursions because they allow you to cut bandages, remove painful splinters, and perform repairs on your gear.
Your first aid kit is there to ensure you can properly dress and disinfect any cuts you sustain.
Backpack - You're backpack allows you to carry all your gear and pack anything extra you want to take along. It's best to purchase a backpack that's big enough to handle any situation, and built well enough to weather the elements without wearing down and breaking.
A Few Things To Not Do When Out HikingDON'T Push Yourself Too Hard - Many beginner hikers make this mistake. They'll set out to get a huge amount of exercise, not realize that they've exceeded their physical limitations, and get into a whole lot of trouble in the process.
If you're a beginner hiker, start simple and very small. See how your body feels traversing a very easy trail, and then gradually work your way up to larger trails. There's nothing worse than losing your love for hiking because of too many bad experiences, but even more so, the panic and feeling of being stranded is something no one should ever have to go through.
DON'T Rely On Your Cellphone - Often times, when deep on a trail out in the countryside or in a national park, your cell phone won't have the signal it needs to make your calls. Instead, train yourself to rely on maps and your own navigational abilities to find your way.
DON'T Underestimate The Power Of Nature - Nature was designed to be a competitive place where only the strong survive. If you decide to take on "Mother Earth", and you're underestimating wild survival, then you're making a dangerous mistake.
Look at outdoor trail hiking like this: If it COULD happen, it MIGHT happen. Plan for the worst and ensure that you've covered all aspects of possibility.
Rain storms happen, and often without warning. A flash flood could happen in dirt filled areas. Snow storms can happen that make the ground slippery and dangerous. Things like that.
Just be sure you're prepared to the FULLEST, and your hiking excursions should work out just fine.