Hiking for beginners
Hiking is a fantastic way to work out, unwind and take in some spectacular scenery.
However, it’s important to be properly prepared before you set out on your own Wild adventure.
According to a news.com.au investigation in 2018, bushwalkers go missing almost every day in Australia.
The call of the wild is natural, but the Aussie bush is dangerous for inexperienced trekkers and far too many people continue to push the boundaries.
Genuine survivalists are a rare breed, but the knowledge, skills and equipment required for a safe adventure are easily accessed from hiking and outdoor specialists.
According to Bob Cooper, author of Outback Survival, “What you think governs your action and knowledge dispels fears”.
Appropriate equipment makes hiking for beginners much safer, and here is what you need to know.
Putting your best foot forward
Almost all accessible locations in Australia, including our most majestic national parks, are free (or inexpensive) to enter, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on quality footwear in the heady excitement. Your boots will do the walking, making comfortable hiking footwear an essential purchase.
Poorly fitted shoes lead to a miserable experience with every step, and while others forge happily on ahead, you will miss out on the fun stuff while attending to your blisters. If you are a hiking beginner, heavy-duty runners will suffice for short hikes while you gain experience and explore personal hiking gear preferences. Check out name-brands such as Merrell, Keen and Salomon.
Protecting your back
Experienced hikers know how and when to safely push through the pain barrier, but novice hikers don’t. Unless you are travelling with a donkey, you will be your own pack horse, and you shouldn’t carry more than you can comfortably manage. Your gear should include a quality back pack such as a BlackWolf McKinley Hiking pack.
Take your time to choose a pack that suits your build and frame. Try some backpacks on for a few minutes and find out what suits you best. Your back will thank you in the long run. If possible, purchase your back pack after you have assembled all your other hiking gear, so you know precisely the size pack you require. Here are some packs and bags by the best names in the business.
Dressing for the occasion
Select appropriate hiking gear suited to the climate and terrain. Jeans won’t cut it in the wild; they will weigh you down and can’t resist cold or rain. Explore genuine hiking pant options instead, such as Mountain Designs Women’s Cargo Pants.
Hiking apparel should be breathable and purposeful, incorporating moisture wicking fabrics worn in layers for a comfortable experience in all climates. Here are some great men’s, women’s and children’s apparel ideas.
It seems a no-brainer to carry enough water, but an inordinate number of hikers continue to get into serious difficulties due to dehydration. As a rough guide, it’s recommended to carry at least a litre of water for every 2-3 hours walking in cooler weather, and triple the amount during hot weather. Locate guaranteed fresh water sources on the map prior to heading off so you can top up along the way. However, even if you want to be an ultra-light hiker, you should never skimp on water. Keep hydrated with a purpose-designed hiking water bladder or bottle that won’t split, burst or spill.
Keep heading in the right direction
Exploring is fun, but getting lost in the wilderness shouldn’t be an option. In fact, with technology on your side you can remain in the loop with family and friends back home wherever you are. However, there is no substitute for a quality map, compass and GPS tracking equipment in case of emergency. If you are part of a large hiking group, walkie talkies will help you keep track of everyone and round up the stragglers whenever required.
Know your limitations
We can’t all be a Bear Grills or Ben Fogle, and if you are new to hiking it’s best to focus on the basics from camping and hiking specialists, including a purpose-designed hiking tent for longer journeys. Check with your GP if you suffer from any medical conditions, and make sure to carry a medical kit and a food/ hydration pack. You will work up a thirst and appetite while hiking and little luxuries can make a big difference in the great outdoors.