A Beginner's Guide on How to Start Hiking: Everything You Need to Know


Table of Contents

  • What is Hiking?
  • Planning and Enjoying Hiking 
  • Types of Hiking
  • Essential Gear for Hiking
  • How to Enjoy Hiking Safely


blackbriar hiking green fields hills


What is Hiking?

Hiking refers to outdoor activities related to walking or climbing in natural environments, such as mountains, lakesides, deserts, forests, and national parks.

Hiking offers a leisurely way to experience naturally beautiful landscapes up close and is known for its lower difficulty level compared to other activities like mountaineering, and making it easy for beginners to start. It can be an activity for enjoying nature or setting a goal to reach a mountain summit.


Planning and Enjoying Hiking Safely

Because hiking encompasses various outdoor activities, it's crucial to determine your preferred style—whether you enjoy leisurely walks while appreciating nature, aim to climb summits, or prefer walking around valleys or lakes for a specific duration. Before planning your hiking journey on where and how to start hiking, understanding your preferences and desires is key.


Considerations and Safety Tips for Hiking

blackbriar Considerations and Safety Tips for Hiking


Choose a Suitable Trail for Your Group

  • Select a hiking trail based on the group's fitness level, skills, experience, and age.
  • Familiarize yourself with the entire route from the starting point to the destination before setting out.
  • Research any potential risks or emergency situations along the chosen hiking route and compare them with the group's capabilities and experience to choose a safe destination.

Allocate Sufficient Hiking Time

  • For beginners, it's recommended to start hiking early in the morning to avoid hiking during unfavorable weather or unforeseen circumstances. Also, prepare a contingency plan in case of bad weather or unexpected emergencies, and know alternative routes to avoid any emergencies.

Prepare Necessary Food, Water, and First Aid Kit

  • Depending on the hiking schedule, distance, and weather conditions, ensure you have enough food and water supplies.
  • Pack convenient snacks (e.g., energy bars or chocolates) to keep you energized during the hike.
  • Prepare an emergency kit and a first aid box in case of unforeseen situations.

 Estimate Expenses

  • Calculate the cost of the hiking trip, including the trail, food, water, accommodation, and other necessities. It's best to budget for more than the estimated cost in case of unexpected expenses.

Check the Weather

  • Especially for beginners, avoid hiking during heavy rain, snow, typhoons, or strong winds. It's safer and more enjoyable to hike on sunny and warm days.

Travel Insurance

  • Before hiking, make sure you have travel insurance or backpacker insurance that covers your specific needs. Carefully review and prepare the insurance that suits you best.


Types of Hiking

blackbriar forest hikers backpacking

Before you decide on how to start hiking, it would be best for you to know about the several types of hiking you can choose from:

  • Day Hiking: This refers to the typical form of hiking where people walk in nature for a day.
  • Backpacking: Backpacking involves camping overnight and hiking for multiple days, carrying camping gear in nature.
  • One-Way Hiking: This activity involves walking from point A to a designated point B or returning to the starting point.
  • Summit Hiking: This type of hiking aims to reach a specific summit or peak, usually involving beginners climbing small and low peaks in a day.


Essential Gear for Hiking

blackbriar backpack enjoy hiking

For beginners who want to enjoy hiking or who want to learn about how to start hiking, it's essential to check the list of necessary items beforehand and purchase any required gear. The following is a minimum list of essential gears:

Hiking Backpack

Select a backpack that can hold essential items and additional gear conveniently. Look for a backpack with many pockets, good water resistance, durability against scratches, light weight and features like an anti-theft wire and TSA lock for added security.

Choosing a backpack depends on 2 main factors.
Dominik Raschner climbing with BlackBriar Sports Backpack

For short and close-distance hikes, where you might be out for a day, you'll want a lightweight backpack with a capacity of around 18 liters to 20 liters. This size allows you to carry essentials like water, snacks, light clothing, and a compact first aid kit.

BlackBriar sports backpack

However, if you're planning on embarking on longer hikes that last for more than a day or cover greater distances, you'll need a larger backpack with a capacity of 35 liters or more. This way, you can comfortably carry not only water and snacks but also clothing, food, and other essential items required for your journey. A backpack with a capacity of 35 liters or more is well-suited for such travel needs.


Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are a crucial item as they need to be comfortable for long hours of wear. Choose hiking shoes based on the terrain and your personal preference. For less challenging routes with fewer obstacles, lightweight trekking shoes are suitable. However, for rough and uneven terrains with rocks, tree roots, and streams, hiking boots might be a better choice.


Hiking Clothing

Hiking clothing consists of base layers with good breathability and quick-drying properties, insulating mid-layers, and outer layers with high wind and water resistance. Choose items based on their functionality.


Hiking Socks

Select socks with varying heights, cushioning levels, and materials, depending on the length of your hike. Properly fitting socks are essential to prevent blisters and ensure comfort.


Hat & Sunscreen

Cover your head and face from strong UV rays, and also consider the hat's insulation for winter hiking.


Rain Gear

Prepare rain gear in case of sudden showers, even if the weather seems fine at the start.


Wrist Watch

Having a wristwatch will help you manage your time and progress according to your planned schedule.



Carry a headlamp in case of extended resting periods or if the hike takes longer than expected and it becomes dark.



Keep a map to track your route and ensure you are on the right path.



A towel can be used for wiping sweat, as sun protection, or as an alternative to bandages in emergency situations.


In addition, depending on the situation, it's advisable to carry a mobile battery, compass, batteries, whistle, and other necessary items to enhance your hiking experience.

Be packed and ready for adventurous hiking.


How to Enjoy Hiking Safely

Holding a notebook and a compass for hiking

To ensure a safe hiking experience, observe the health conditions of your fellow hikers, manage your condition appropriately, and enjoy the journey.

Condition Management

Take frequent breaks to avoid fatigue and stay hydrated by consuming water regularly. Dress appropriately to maintain a comfortable body temperature by layering clothing that provides ventilation, insulation, and protection.


Inform Others of Your Hiking Schedule

Inform friends or family who are not part of the hiking group about your planned distance and current location. In case you cannot respond for an extended period, contact park services or rescue teams.

Dealing with Wildlife Encounters

Dealing with Wildlife Encounters

Keep a safe distance of at least 100 yards from all wildlife. Even seemingly harmless animals like squirrels should be kept at a distance. If you encounter wildlife at a close distance, avoid shouting or running away. Instead, calmly and slowly move backward and wait until the animal leaves.

September 19, 2023 — BlackBriarUSA