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first hike planning tips

Hiking is one of the most rewarding outdoor activities anyone can experience. It takes a person away from their everyday routine and allows them to spend time in nature while providing an excellent physical activity opportunity. I started thinking about this why doing some practice hikes last fall during a visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park and I can't wait to continue building my way up to reach some even more epic places. However, it all starts with some basically planning. You can't just go from nature walks to scaling mountain peaks.

This article offers hiking tips tailored explicitly to guys embarking on their first adventure into the wilderness. From what supplies to bring with you to how to stay safe out on the trail, these guidelines will give any newbie hiker the confidence they need before heading outdoors.

So whether you're looking for a short day trip or a longer backpacking journey, use this advice so that your inaugural hike won't be your last one!

Prepare Your Body, Mind, and Spirit

We're going to assume that your first hike isn't be something epic that will put your life in danger through physical exhaustion or risky terrain. However, even basic hikes on well-marked trails at National Parks will need you to be prepared. For instance, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle and are out of shape ... maybe try doing a few mile or two-mine walks around town at a brisk pace before heading off into the woods where nobody can help you.

Likewise, not only is your cardio a factor here, but also basic stuff like making sure your feet and legs are up to the task. In the United States alone, 120-150 people die while hiking each year. This number excludes accidents that happen off of designated trails and other unfortunate situations like assaults, murders, and suicides.

A good hike is more than a nature walk ... you need to be prepared for an adventure that matches your skills and ability!

Choosing The Right Route For Your First Hikes

When planning your first hike, choosing the right trail is key. Consider the terrain and difficulty of the route you are looking at before selecting a path that fits your capabilities. If it's too difficult for you, then it won't be an enjoyable experience. Also, pay attention to factors such as elevation gains, trail length, and nearby landmarks or points of interest.

Be sure to do plenty of research on the hiking route you intend to take. Take into account reviews from other hikers who have been on this particular trail previously. This will help inform your decision-making process when deciding which trail to choose. Additionally, be aware of any seasonal changes in weather or landscape that could affect the safety and enjoyment levels while completing the hike.

It's essential to plan ahead to ensure your chosen trail is suitable for what you're looking for out of a hike - whether its challenging yourself physically or just enjoying nature - there's something out there for everyone!

What To Wear And Pack

It is a common misconception that any clothes will do for hiking. In reality, it is important to consider the type of clothing you wear and what items should be packed to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. Here are four tips on how to dress properly and pack essentials when planning your first hike:

  1. Choose appropriate hiking clothes - Choosing an outfit specifically designed for outdoor activities like hiking is essential. Pick clothing made with breathable fabrics that can also protect you from sun exposure while keeping you warm if necessary. Bring hats or caps, sunglasses, shirts with long sleeves, trousers/shorts, socks, etc.
  2. Pack proper footwear - A good pair of trail-specific shoes or boots is key for providing traction and support on different terrains during your hikes. Look for waterproof models that provide adequate cushioning and ankle protection since rocks and roots sometimes make trails uneven.
  3. Consider weather conditions - The climate where you're going may vary drastically from where you live, so check local forecasts before leaving home and pack accordingly. Try layering up instead of bringing bulky winter jackets or heavy raincoats if possible. This way you can adjust easily depending on changing temperature levels throughout the day. You'll also want to consider other things here such as sunscreen and bug spray to keep you safe and comfortable.
  4. Communications and navigation can keep you safe - Navigation tools can help you stay on the right track and avoid getting lost. Bring a map and compass, and make sure you know how to use them. A GPS device or smartphone with a GPS app can also be helpful, but bring a backup battery or charger. Similarly, investing in tools such as the iPhone 14's satellite messaging and a good long-range two-way radio is also good to bring.
  5. Knives and multi-tools are your friend - A multi-tool or good bushcraft knife can be a useful tool for a wide range of tasks, from cutting rope to opening cans. Look for a lightweight and compact multi-tool that includes a variety of useful tools.
  6. Select backpack size wisely - Depending on the length of your hike, pick either a small, lightweight daypack if all you need is water, snacks, and basic supplies. Or, go with something bigger if camping overnight or if you need more supplies. Keep in mind however, that regardless of its capacity, the pack shouldn't weigh more than 20% of your body weight otherwise it might feel uncomfortable and impact your stamina on the trail.

Fueling The Body: Keep Hydrated And Fed

Now that you know what to wear and pack for your first hike, it's time to focus on keeping hydrated and fed. To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, proper hydration is essential.

Bring plenty of water - at least one liter per hour of hiking is recommended. Consider investing in a lightweight water storage container or Camelbak-style canteen so you have easy access while walking. More advanced hikers may want to consider investing in filters or chemical water treatments but for your first hikes - planning to bring ample amounts of ready-to-drink water is the best choice.

Pack snackable healthy and easy-to-eat food - In addition to water, remember to bring energy snacks and trail snacks such as nuts and dried fruit. These are ideal for providing an instant boost of energy along the way – just be sure to avoid foods that can spoil quickly in warm temperatures. Additionally, packing a few lightweight meals such as instant noodles or pre-prepared sandwiches, could come in handy if you decide to take longer hikes.

Plan and prepare accordingly to ensure all your needs are met during the trip! Check the weather forecast beforehand so you don't take more than expected from your body due to extreme heat or cold conditions. Hydrate often and eat regularly throughout your journey - this will help keep your energy levels steady until it’s time to go home!

Take Breaks And Mind Your Limits

It's important to take breaks when you're planning your first hike. When you plan ahead, make sure to factor in taking a few breaks into the timeline of the hike. Not only will it give you time to rest, but it can also help prevent injuries due to overexertion. Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Have a snack or drink of water at regular intervals throughout the day
  • Make sure that everyone takes occasional short breaks along the way
  • Set realistic goals for yourself and don't push past your physical limits
  • If someone starts feeling unwell during the hike, stop immediately and assess the situation

When hiking your first trail, getting caught up in the excitement and pushing yourself beyond what may be safe for you is easy. It’s essential to pay attention to your body's limitations and respect them if any signs arise indicating overexertion. This could include fatigue, dizziness, nausea, or other symptoms that should not be ignored. Taking frequent breaks allows hikers to stay within their physical abilities while still enjoying all aspects of nature with friends or family members.

So before setting out on your next adventure, remember these two key points: always keep an eye on both yours and others' physical limits by taking small breaks every so often; and make sure you're properly prepared with snacks and drinks as well as knowledge about potential dangers associated with the terrain. This will ensure that everyone has a great time while staying safe!

Staying Safe On The Trail

Safety should be a top priority for anyone planning their first hike. As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; exercising caution and being aware of your surroundings are key to having a fun and safe experience.

When it comes to hiking safety, there's no such thing as being over-prepared. Before you set out on the trail, research any potential dangers that may exist in the area. Look up bear sightings or other wildlife activity, read reviews from previous hikers about terrain conditions and weather patterns, and check online resources for tips on how to stay safe when exploring nature.

Be sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and essential items like sunscreen, insect repellent, chapstick, and sunglasses. Additionally, wear appropriate clothing for the climate — layers can help if temperatures change during the course of the day — and always pack extra supplies in case you get lost or injured while on the trail. Remember: even if you're only going for a short hike, it's important to take necessary precautions before setting out!

Make Sure That People Know Where You Are Going

When planning your first hike, it's important to make sure that people know where you are going. Start by deciding on a hiking destination and route before you start packing for the trip. Once you have chosen your destination and planned out your route, notify friends or family of your plans in case something goes wrong. It is also wise to create an emergency plan with those close to you, so they will be able to track your whereabouts if necessary.

It can be useful to map out exactly which trails, roads and campsites you'll pass along the way; this will help anyone who may need to come looking for you should anything happen during the hike. Before starting off on the trail, this information can be shared via text message or email. Additionally, consider using GPS tracking technology while on the hike as another layer of safety when venturing into unknown terrain.

No matter how prepared one might feel, accidents and unexpected events do occur while outdoors - having someone else aware of your location at all times can act as a valuable safeguard against any potential danger encountered while hiking. Taking these extra steps beforehand can ensure both peace of mind as well as physical safety throughout the journey. Planning ahead is key for a successful and enjoyable experience!

Common Hiking Mistakes To Avoid

Preparing poorly for a hike can be perilous and put you in peril. Before taking your first trek, there are several mistakes to avoid so that your journey is safe, successful, and stress-free.

Poor Choice Of Footwear:

Wearing shoes or boots that do not fit correctly or provide enough grip will make walking difficult and dangerous. Furthermore, wearing sandals or flip flops could result in an injury from uneven terrain or stepping on something sharp.

Not Checking The Weather:

Even if it looks like clear skies when you start out, pack rain gear just in case. There have been many times when I've looked up at the sky mid-hike and realized there was a rain wall a few miles away with water that would soon come down the mountain to where I was standing. That's why it is important to not only check the weather locally - but also look at what's going on in the terrain around you too.

Also, consider changing temperatures as you may need layers to stay warm throughout the day. Additionally, try not to bring too much stuff with you - remember what goes up must come down! Having too heavy of a load increases exhaustion and makes it harder to enjoy the experience.

Pushing Your Limits Too Far

Everyone has different limits and there are various limits to consider - mental exhaustion, physical exhaustion, skill level, and even just your interest level in the hiking destination that you've set out to explore. Understanding your limits is especially important for novice hikers since going too far beyond your capabilities is when accidents happen.

Not Packing Enough Water

Always have backup supplies such as food, water, medication and a flashlight/lantern should darkness fall unexpectedly; additionally make sure you’re familiar with the area by bringing along a map – nothing beats being prepared!


It's important for guys planning their first hike to consider the tips that we've mentioned in this article. It can be easy to get excited and forget some of these simple steps, but ensuring a safe and successful hiking experience is essential.

I recommend choosing a route that suits your level of ability, ensuring you have the right clothing and supplies with you, staying hydrated and fuelled throughout your journey, taking regular breaks if needed, informing people where you are going before setting off, and avoiding common mistakes that could ruin an otherwise enjoyable experience.

By following these instructions, I'm sure any guy embarking on his first hike will have nothing but good memories and great stories when he returns home!

Written by:
#MenWhoBlog MemberBlogging GuruThought Leader

James' passion for exploration and sense of duty to his community extends beyond himself. This means he is dedicated to providing a positive role model for other men and especially younger guys that need support so that they can thrive and be future positive contributors to society. This includes sharing wisdom, ideas, tips, and advice on subjects that all men should be familiar with, including: family travel, men's health, relationships, DIY advice for home and yard, car care, food, drinks, and technology. Additionally, he's a travel advisor and a leading men's travel influencer who has been featured in media ranging from New York Times to the Chicago Tribune, and LA Times. He's also been cited by LA Weekly "Top Travel Bloggers To Watch 2023" and featured by Muck Rack: "Top 10 Outdoor Journalists for 2022".

He and his wife Heather live in St Joseph, Michigan - across the lake from Chicago.