Hiking over mountains and trekking through thick forests may seem to be a tough and demanding sort of activity, but in fact all it takes is a good fitness level, some basic equipment and a sound understanding of a few key concepts. The key for those new to hiking, as with most other learning experiences, is to take things slowly.
So where should you start? An excellent idea to begin with would be to find a suitable location in your local area in which to practice; a park or an area of the nearest suburbs for example. By staying local to residential areas you are ensuring the terrain remains reasonably tame and that you are never too far from help if something should go wrong. Walking in a group with experienced hikers is always a good idea; it increases your own safety and that of the other members of the group and also allows you to ask questions if you are unsure about anything or would just like some extra guidance.
Anticipating weather conditions and equipping yourself accordingly is another important element of hiking and although you should only consider hiking in good conditions to begin with, it is still crucial that you remember to pack equipment and clothing for any outcome. Clothing is another element of paramount importance to a good hiker, with footwear being the most crucial attire of all. However, expensive hiking boots are by no means imperative; any footwear that is consistently comfortable and durable will be suitable for most hikes. It is vital, however, that you test a range of products and choose something most suitable to your own preferences. You should never wear a new pair of boots or shoes straight out of the box on a hike, instead wearing them for a few days in advance to allow yourself to properly adjust to them and ensuring that they are \’broken in\’ and will remain comfortable for the duration of the hike.
As with footwear, the rest of your clothing should be chosen primarily for the sake of comfort. Ideally, you should be wearing reasonably loose fitting clothes; they should not restrict your movement in any way, but should not be so lose as to become a hindrance. Weather conditions on your planned hike must also be taken into account and clothing that will maintain a constant and comfortable body temperature should be worn, with layering being the key here. Having chosen clothing to begin the hike in, you must also ensure you pack spares in case of changes in weather conditions; you should also never leave without a few extra pairs of socks!
Finally, there are a few items of basic equipment with which new hikers should familiarise themselves. The most important and potentially lifesaving of these are a good quality topographic map and compass. The ability to find your bearing and read a map accurately is the by far the most important skill for hikers. Other equipment to consider ranges from basics, such as sun lotion and sunglasses, through to potentially important items such as a first aid kit and water purifying tablets.
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Article by Simply Hike
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