Hiking for Beginners

In this introduction to hiking we will look at the basics of hiking and the considerations you need to make when you set out from the trailhead on your route into the wilds. We’ll cover the basic etiquette expected of hikers ( you know, stuff like leave no trace and the best place to build a campfire, as well as hiking gear you’ll need for different weather conditions and scenarios).

What is hiking?

Hiking is the act of walking on a predetermined route for a set distance and time. Unless you get lost in which case you’ll be on an undetermined route with no set distance or time. And we don’t want to do that!

Hiking is a relatively easy outdoor activity that pretty much anyone can get involved in. For many years, this form of outdoor leisure was barred to many disabled people as many right of way thoroughfares were non-permissive to people with poor mobility. It’s good to see more and more trails and routes become more accessible.

What are the types of hiking?

What are the different types of hiking? We believe there are only 3 types of hikes. Each of them has a subcategory of hiking, each with a specific demand on fitness, gear and resources. By resources, I mean time, money and equipment. 

The 3 basic types of hiking are:

  • Day hiking
  • Summit hiking
  • Long distance hiking

Read this page for full explanation of each of the types of hiking.

Hiking vs trekking: What’s the difference?

Hiking is a type of walking that ranges from a few to many miles in distance. Some hikes will cover only a relatively short number of miles and can be completed in a matter of hours, or quicker if you fastpack (more on that later). Longer hikes, such as thru-hikes, are spaced over days, not hours, and require more planning.

A trek is like a hike, but covers many miles and days. Often, you will be self-sufficient and all your equipment, food, etc will be carried in either a backpack or some other device (like a pulka, if you’re travelling across ice and snow). Most treks involve travelling far away from civilisation and local populations, which put even more emphasis on being able to live off what you carry.

Note: regardless of the type of activity planning is essential to keep you and your team safe.

  • Read our full guide on hiking vs trekking.

Another important question is one of the right footwear. Which is handy, as we have a guide for that too…

Hiking boots and shoes

The footwear you choose for your hikes will be affected by the terrain and weather conditions. Before we move on to discuss this, there is one caveat: very few running shoes make a good alternative to dedicated hiking boots, or shoes. There are a few exceptions, like the Altra Lone Peak 4 I sometimes wear on fast moving hikes, but road running shoes are a big NO!

Many different options exist: leather boots, synthetic shoes, GORE-TEX lined boots, etc and if you’re very active you will end up owning a few pairs, each built for a specific style of hiking.

Check out our guides below:

  • How to clean hiking boots
  • How to choose insoles for your hiking boots

Now that you’ve sourced and bought your hiking gear, it’s time to consider how to prepare for, and stay healthy, whilst you’re on the trails and tracks.

Hiking health

AKA: how to stay healthy when you’re hiking. Keeping your body in tip-top condition is essential if you want your hike to be enjoyable. Painful, preventable injuries have finished many a journey before it’s even started and we don’t want that for you. This section details some of the most common injuries hikers experience and details easy ways to prevent them.

What are the types of hiking?

There are several recognised forms of hiking. They are:

  • Day hiking
  • Summit hiking
  • Long distance hiking

Whilst each type of hiking requires specific equipment and skills, the basic requirements are universal and include: navigation, nutrition and fitness. Check out this page for a full description of the different types of hiking.

Choosing a GPS hiking

There are many types of GPS available for hikers, many of which have features you don’t require. In this section, we’ll dive into the most common functionality found in GPS devices and show you which you really need.

The guides below will walk you through GPS selection and usage, including how to choose the right model.

  • Choosing a hiking GPS
  • The best hiking GPS options

Most hiking GPS devices use similar features so we wrote a guide on how to use the Garmin eTrex 10.

Navigation

Knowing how to use a GPS is far less important than being able to navigate with a map and compass, which is a key skilll every hiker should have. We’ve put together a series of guides that will help you master this ancient art in no time at all.

  • How to choose a compass
  • How to use a compass
  • How to use a map
Back to top button
/