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Beginner guide to hiking

Medically reviewed by

Prof Rishi Singhal MBBS, MRCS, FRCS, MD

This beginners guide to hiking will help you plan your adventures.  

Choosing the best route

Research your route before setting out. Make sure you match your route with your fitness level.

When researching your route make sure you know total distance, difficulty, elevation points and most importantly the terrain.

Check the weather

You would be surprised how many people do not check the weather and dress accordingly. When checking the weather search for the mountain name as this will give you the weather at the top and this way you will not be caught out. Look at things such as:

  • Wind gust
  • Visibility
  • Feels like temperature
  • Humidity
  • Sunrise / sunset times

Time your route & allow extra

Most hiking routes can be found online with an average duration time, but this is just an estimate so allow for extra time if you’re not at peak fitness. Check the sunset time for the area and aim to finish at least 1 hour before, if you get lost or someone gets injured you don’t want to be trying to find your way in the dark.

Choose the right Hiking Gear

Choose hiking gear that will protect you against the elements, opt for waterproofs and insulated clothing and footwear.

Layering is the best way to prepare for all conditions. You can take extra layers in your bag in case you need them. 

Invest in a pair of quality walking/hiking boots. Footwear is the most important item that you will need! Choose a pair of boots that are supportive, sturdy and provide your feet with significantly more protection.

Take cash with you

Not all car parks in rural areas will have card payment meters. So make sure you have plenty of change and carry a little extra cash for emergencies.

Keep a change of clothing in the car

Depending on the hike you may want a change of clothes and different footwear to change into.

Fuel your hike

If you’re adventuring on a long hike make sure you fuel your body before heading off. Make sure that it is filled with carbs and protein. Ensure you drink enough water the day before so you’re hydrated. Pack water and snacks in your bag, if your energy levels drop or your hike takes longer than anticipated, you’ll need something to refuel your body and give you a boost to carry on.

Hiking essentials checklist:

  • Backpack
  • Waterproof clothing and footwear
  • Hiking / walking boots
  • Extra layers of clothing
  • High calorie food
  • Water bottle
  • Head torch (in case you find yourself in darkness or reduced visibility)
  • Emergency phone battery pack and charging lead
  • Compass and map

Remember planning is key!