When it comes to outdoors activities like camping and hiking, we all have to start somewhere. Every one of us can probably offer a funny story about our first few times camping or heading out for a long hike. However, some first-time stories don’t end in smiles. We’ve listed five of the most common mistakes that new hikers have been known to make, so that you won’t make them yourself when you tie on a pair of boots for the first time.
Packing Too Much
This is probably the most common mistake first-timers make. It makes sense that we want to be prepared, but having both hiking boots and minimalist shoes on hand just isn’t necessary. Evaluate your gear before hitting the trail by handling each item and getting a feel for its weight; do this and you’ll be surprised at how many items you can leave behind.
Not Eating/Drinking Enough
Without proper nutrition, your camping or hiking trip can quickly turn into a miserable, exhausting time. Not only is it important to eat up after a long day of hiking, but making sure to snack on things like dried fruit and nuts throughout the day will keep your legs moving and your mind sharp on the trail.
Wearing Cotton on Long Trips
Cotton shirts and pants are fine on short day hikes, but they’re not suitable for longer trips. They tend to absorb odors and retain moisture, which can make you miserable, especially in warm weather. Polyester and synthetics are made to wick sweat away and keep you dry, so it’s smarter to leave your jeans at home.
Being Unrealistic About Time
Keep in mind that your hiking pace may not be the fastest when you first start out. Many beginners take on a stretch of trail only to find that, even after several hours, their slower pace leaves them miles away from their destination by the time the sun sets. When you plan your hike, give yourself plenty of time to get from Point A to Point B.
Not Being Familiar with Your Backpack
On the trail your backpack is an extension of your body. Knowing every inch of your pack inside and out will make you more efficient at packing it and hiking with it. You’ll also want to take the time to make sure you get the right pack for your body; the wrong size pack can cause bruises, sores, or aches along your spine.
Bonus Tip: Remember to bring to bring trail-friendly toilet paper. You can thank me later.