Top 5 Mistakes Beginner Hikers Should Avoid

hiker mistake

Hiking is a wonderful activity to get involved in. Not only is it great exercise, but it’s also a healthy way to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life and to bond with your family, friends, or partner. It also gets you out in nature, which is always a plus. When you’re just starting out, however, it’s easy to make some common beginner mistakes that can take hiking from fun to a big pain. By planning ahead and knowing your stuff, you can avoid the five major beginner mistakes and ensure every hiking trip is a success.

Mistake #1: Choosing a Trail That’s too Difficult

Most people want their hike to be a bit of a workout. In fact, for many people, hiking is about pushing their body to its limits and seeing what they’re capable of. When you’re just starting out, however, you don’t want to put your body under too much stress; doing so can be dangerous for those who aren’t physically prepared.

To stay safe and make every hike enjoyable, gradually increase the length of time you hike and the intensity and difficulty of the trails you choose. Many parks and other hiking areas will even have trail difficulty ratings, which you should pay attention to.

With experience and practice and maybe even some extra exercise at home, you can gradually and safely increase your intensity levels. However, doing so too fast and when you’re not ready is a recipe for a disastrous and potentially dangerous hiking experience.

Mistake #2: Not Having What You Need

One of the biggest thrills of hiking is that just about anything can happen. You might suddenly find yourself caught in a rainstorm, or you might catch sight of a beautiful and rare flock of birds. And, while surprises can be nice, they’re often not-so-nice if you are unprepared for them.

If the weather turns frigid, for example, and you didn’t bring a jacket, your hike is probably going to be miserable. While it’s impossible to prepare for every potential circumstance, you can get pretty close to 100% preparedness by making sure to bring at least the following on every hike:

  • A map and compass (GPS won’t cut it when you can’t get a signal!)
  • Food and lots of water
  • Sunglasses
  • A knife
  • Sunblock
  • Warm clothing or a coat (layer your clothing for best results)
  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • A well-stocked first aid kit
  • Items for starting a fire

Mistake #3: Wearing the Wrong Shoes

Hopefully, it goes without saying that you should not be hiking in flip-flops or high heels. Most people don’t make mistakes quite that big when it comes to footwear. However, having any type of wrong footwear, even if it seems okay, is a big no-no. It can lead to blisters, pain, and even injury.

For best results, choose boots specifically designed for hiking and made of good, quality materials and that are well-fitted to your feet.

Mistake #4: Hiking Solo

As mentioned, absolutely anything can happen when you’re hiking. And, while the “unknown factor” is exciting, it can also be quite dangerous if you’re new to hiking. To make sure you stay safe, always bring someone along with you when you hike- someone who could go and get help if needed or who can just carry some of the workload of hiking.

Later, when you’re more experienced, you may want to chance solo hiking, but even for expert hikers, it’s really not recommended. At the very least, always let someone know where you’ll be and when you’ll be back.

Mistake #5: Forgetting to Stretch

Finally, hiking is taxing on your body and your muscles. If you don’t properly prepare before you set off on your hike, you could find yourself with a debilitating cramp or some other injury.

Make sure you stretch out at least your legs and calves before you start your hike, but for best results, stretch everywhere. Not only will proper stretching keep you safe, but it can also reduce soreness, which you’ll be thankful for later!

As you can see, there are many ways to stay safe when you hike and to make sure you have an enjoyable experience each and every time.