Hiking and camping are very tightly related.
Hiking is a lengthy, strenuous stroll in the countryside on trails or pathways. “Hiking” is the preferred term in Canada and the United States; the term “walking” is used in these regions for shorter, particularly urban walks.
Camping is the process of sleeping in the outdoors usually in a tent, camper or RV. Camping’s adaptability makes it a perfect location for planning and conducting treks.
Hikers may carry all of their camping gear on their backs and simply pitch their tent as required at the end of their hikes. Comfort is much more important to us. We established our family campground, with the family tent serving as the focal point of our trekking activities.
Although this essay examines the distinctions between hiking and camping, we feel there are far more parallels than differences.
How to Plan Your First Hike
How do you plan your first hiking trip anyway? Play to your strengths when planning your first hiking excursion. You must choose a route that best suits you or your family’s difficulty level, capabilities, and the distance you’re able to travel, and be properly prepared.
Before embarking on your first trek, there are several fundamentals to learn. I’ve compiled some of the more important information you need to get started.
Planning Your First Hiking Trips
How to Choose Your First Hiking Route
You can’t embark on your first trek without first choosing a path! The most crucial variables to consider while selecting your first hiking route are your ability. This will assist you in selecting a trek that is the appropriate distance and difficulty level for you and your family.
Hiking paths in the United States cater to hikers of all levels of experience and ability, from wheel-chair accessible trails to strenuous mountain treks. I’ve made a table of hikes from different states to showcase different options available that reflect your capabilities to help you choose a trail near you.
|Trail Name||Difficulty Level||Description|
|Ashuwillticook Rail Trail||Beginner||A 12.7 mile long, 10 foot wide asphalt route in Massachusetts.|
|Valley View Glades Trail||Beginner||2.5 miles through Missouri woodlands and open fields.|
|Fern Falls Hike||Intermediate||A 5.4-mile hike in Colorado to a misty waterfall.|
|Wa’ahila Ridge Trail||Intermediate||4.5 miles round trip on the island of O’ahu.|
|Half Dome Cable Route||Expert||Yosemite National Park in California is 14 km round trip.|
|Devil’s Path||Expert||A 23-mile track in New York’s Catskill Mountains.|
Even if this is your first trek, you may not need to choose anything simple. An active person would be able to handle a longer hike with difficult terrain versus someone who leads a more sedentary life. Choose a trek that is within your ability, regardless of your fitness level. This may discourage you from future hiking adventures or even lead to accident or injury.
There are even treks that last many weeks. Famous examples include the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian trail, where you have to have supplies sent to posts along the way.
The Pacific Crest Trail is a whopping 2,653 miles with an elevation change of 420,880 feet if you hike the entire trail. The Appalachian Trail is somewhat shorter at 2,193 miles and 464,500 feet in elevation change.
Some hikers, known as thru’hikers, set out to trek the whole length of these routes in one go, although much more people prefer to tackle just one or two portions.
Whichever path you select, be sure to thoroughly investigate it. It’s best to know beforehand the length and location of the trail, as well as what resources are available on the trail, like restrooms, so you are able to plan properly.
A topographical map might help you prepare for the height you’ll encounter on the trek. You don’t want to be surprised by a steep climb, incline, or descent, completely unprepared.
Clothing and the Basics of Layering
You’re probably thinking what sort of clothing you should wear once you’ve decided on your first hiking path. This varies widely based on the location of your path, the season, and the forecasted weather. Layering is essential in every situation.
Dressing in layers for a hike, especially a longer or more demanding hike, will prepare you for any weather possibility. But you can’t simply pour on the layers. If you have to wear all of your layers at once, they should be comfortable and useful.
A hike in the summer or in a desert environment wouldn’t need as many warm or insulating layers as a mountain or winter hike would. I’ll go through the fundamentals of layering, but for more in-depth information, see this hiker’s guide.
- The Base Layer is precisely what it seems to be. This is the layer closest to the skin. Select a moisture-wicking material, such as polyester, over cotton for this layer.
- Insulating layers Fleece, down, and synthetic fibers, for example, will retain your body heat and shield it from the chilly air.
- The Outer layer is your defense against the elements. This piece should be water-proof, dry quickly, and be made from a durable material.
Combine your knowledge of layering with keeping up on the predicted weather for your hike. Check the weather days before your hike to plan your clothing. Check the weather once again a few hours before the trek to make any last-minute changes. When it comes to the weather, you can never be too prepared.
How to Navigate the Trail
Knowing your chosen trail means much more than getting to the start point. A good understanding of the trail map is recommended. If you’re hopeless with directions like me, bring a map and a compass at the very least. Bring a more experienced hiker if feasible.
One of the hazards of hiking is becoming lost. If you aren’t going too deep into the wilderness, a navigation app on your phone may be all that is needed. These are some pointers I gleaned from this useful essay.
- Practice reading a map and compass on a known or simple trail before you try a more challenging hike. Before venturing into unfamiliar land, make sure you are familiar with these tools.
- Pay attention to your surroundings and keep a close eye on the map.
- Utilize a topographical map to determine the kind of terrain you may encounter on your journey.
- Never try to find your way in a hurry. Take the additional time to ensure you’re on the right track. If you’re on a backpacking trip and it’s becoming late, set up camp and resume your journey in the morning.
- Keep an eye out for plainly identifiable landmarks. If the worst happens and you do lose your way, this can be a life-safer.
A GPS device on your trek should be seen as a useful complement to your navigation tools, rather than the only source of guidance. Technology is not without flaws. If GPS is your only source of navigation, a damaged battery or a poor signal might endanger you and your family.
In severe weather, when vision is low to nonexistent, a GPS gadget might be very useful. When there are no discernible landmarks in a region, GPS may be useful. To summarize, carry a GPS gadget with you on your trek, but don’t rely on it.
Staying Safe on Your Hike
Being well-prepared for your first trek might be the difference between a pleasant family adventure and a tragic accident. Learning your way around is only the beginning. A well prepared first aid package, as well as a means of contact in case of an emergency, is essential regardless of the duration of your journey.
The number of items in your first aid kit will vary depending on the length of your hike, and how many people will be hiking with you, but there are some basics that should be included in every hiker’s first aid kit. I discovered a list on this useful website and added some more information for each item to assist you comprehend their significance.
Whether you construct your own kit or purchase one that has already been assembled, be sure it contains these crucial things.
- Ibuprofen and antihistamines. Ibuprofen can help with a surprise headache, or reduce a dangerous fever until you’re able to get medical attention. Antihistamines may assist with moderate allergies or a life-threatening allergic response.
- Antiseptics and antibiotic ointment. If you get a scrape or a wound while hiking, these products may help avoid an infection.
- . Wound closures and bandaids. They will protect any cuts or scapes from the elements.
- Bandana and bandages. These can be used to cover an injury too big for a bandaid or to immobilize sprained or broken limbs. Pack safety pins as well to keep them on securely.
- Tweezers may help extract a troublesome splinter from the skin or dirt out of a wound.
- Moleskin or duct tape. Blisters are going to happen on longer or more difficult hikes, even with the best shoes. It is preferable to be prepared for them.
Whether you are planning a short day hike with your family or a week-long backpacking trip through the rough wilderness, make sure you share your trip and location with family or friends. If you become lost or in distress, someone you trust will know to call 911. Have an itinerary in your vehicle or at your campground.
Possessing a GPS gadget is not only useful for navigation but also for safety. GPS devices like the Garmin inReach SE+ can track and share your location as you hike should you need to be rescued or if you get lost. Never go on a lengthy, arduous, or risky walk without first informing others of your intentions.
How to Avoid a Wildlife Encounter
Although spotting animals on a trek is rare, it might happen depending on your location and other conditions. Let’s go over how to lessen your chances of running into an animal on your hike, and what to do should it happen. Source.
- The most dangerous thing about running into an animal like a bear on the trail is surprising them. Make a lot of noise when hiking. Hike in a group or whistle if you’re alone. Don’t be a quiet hiker when in an area known for wildlife encounters.
- Take note of your surroundings. Using headphones will prevent you from hearing any signs of an animal nearby. Take note of any unusual odors, since they might indicate the presence of a wild animal.
- Don’t allow your kids or pet to hike ahead or lag behind. Bears, wild cats, and wolves may find them easy prey.
- Hike when most animals are active, such as at dawn and dusk.
It is particularly vital to stay a safe distance from animals while trekking during breeding or mating season. Animals that would normally run away at the sound or the sight of a human will be more compelled to attack or be on the defensive.
What to Do Should you Encounter an Animal
Bring bear spray (not pepper spray) in case you can’t dodge the animals or any other escape attempts fail. Should an animal attack, bear spray can help you reach safety while not mortally wounding the animal, or permanently injuring it. Keep in mind that you are trespassing on their property, not the other way around.
It is critical to utilize bear spray rather than pepper or wasp spray. The nose of a bear is very sensitive. Pepper spraying it might inflict severe pain and irreparable harm.
If you come across a deadly animal, do not run away. Maintain your gaze on the animal and gently back away. If you need to communicate, do so softly and quietly. You want to make sure you don’t seem like a threat.
The exception to this rule is big wild cats. Don’t turn your back on the cat if you spot it before it strikes. Instead of remaining silent, make loud sounds and swing your arms as wide as you can. You want to seem larger to the cat and convince it that you are not prey.
Most people that are attacked by animals like mountain lions aren’t aware until it is too late. Trekking in these creatures’ recognized territory necessitates making noise and being mindful of one’s surroundings.
If you are ambushed by a mountain lion or any comparable animal, you must fight back. Take anything you can and aim at the head and eyes, or use pepper spray if you have it. The idea is to cause oneself so much grief that it is no longer worth continuing the assault. Source.
What to Bring for a Day Hike
If you’re going on a quick 20-minute trek on a regular path, you won’t need to pack anything. There are, however, important goods to bring or wear for each day trip, as well as some additional gear for back-country excursions. Pack these goods in a comfortable, appropriately sized backpack. Source.
- Additional layers are recommended depending on the weather and location.
- Blisters and sores may be avoided by wearing properly suited hiking boots or shoes.
- Pack enough food and drink for the day, as well as some additional food and a water filtration device.
- A map and compass, especially if you are not familiar with the area you are hiking. A GPS gadget is also beneficial.
- A multi-purpose tool or knife may be quite useful.
- A whistle or mirror in case you need to call assistance to your position.
- Carry a lighter and an emergency fire kit in case you lose or damage the lighter.
- Hand sanitizer and menstrual products if needed.
- Don’t forget about any medicines you use on a regular basis. Worst case scenario, you will have the necessary medicine to keep yourself in good health.
- Use appropriate clothes, caps, sunscreen, and SPF chapstick to protect oneself from the sun.
For any trip longer than the day, be sure to include shelter, flashlight, extra batteries, toilet paper or sanitary wipes, a trowel if no restrooms will be available, biodegradable soap, insect repellent, gear repair kit, and a small camp stove. There is no such thing as a flawless list. Take the time to prepare your vacation and only pack what is absolutely required for you and your family.
Leave No Trace!
This is one of the most essential things to remember while hiking, and something you should educate your children. To keep the great outdoors great, we have to be mindful of the mess we leave behind. Clean up after yourself. Make sure the beautiful trail you enjoy stays that way for many generations to enjoy.
Regrettably, this counsel will not be followed by everyone. Go a step further if necessary, and leave the trail or your campsite cleaner than when you arrived. You may not have left the garbage, but we can all work together to keep outdoor places clean. Always bring a trash bag with you, to contain your trash, and maybe even someone else’s.
Respecting the place you are visiting is part of leaving no trace. Be mindful to native vegetation and fauna. Know what types of plants or flowers should stay rooted in the earth, and any extra sensitive plants that might not survive a trampling.
Take the extra time to learn about the importance of any wild area when traveling in a foreign country or a new state. As a visitor or tourist, be courteous. What seems fine to you may be seen as disrespectful to the residents of that state or country.
Be a Mindful Hiker
This ideology has really stuck with me ever since my first trip to Texas. I went down to pick a lovely bluebonnet from the ground and was abruptly halted. These wildflowers are so beloved, most residents don’t mow their yard while the bluebonnets are blooming and seeding. Although it is not illegal, it is strongly discouraged.
In this day and age, many people are more concerned with getting the perfect photo than with respecting the natural world around them. A little self-awareness and awareness of your environment may go a long way.
Several social media sites are devoted to exposing irresponsible hikers and influencers. If you see someone doing something dangerous or harmful to your surroundings, contact a park ranger or take the time to educate them if you feel comfortable and safe doing so.
The Benefits of Hiking
Some of the advantages of hiking are evident, while others are not. The answer to “Why you should hike” is an easy one. Source.
Hiking is good for your health. Hiking is essentially an enjoyable outdoor exercise. Depending on the trail’s difficulty level and the weight of your pack, there are multiple health benefits to gain from hiking.
- Hiking may help you lose or maintain weight, lowering your risk of heart disease.
- This activity may reduce blood pressure and even enhance blood sugar levels.
- Hiking, like other weight-bearing activity, helps enhance bone density.
- Hiking is a core-strengthening workout since the more difficult terrain will put your balance to the test.
Hiking is not only a fantastic workout that will enhance your physical health, but it is also a fantastic activity that will help your mental health. Although hiking cannot and should not replace any prescription recommended by your doctor, it may be used to combat the negative effects of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Even if you are unable to walk for extended periods of time, going for a brief stroll or walk outdoors may be good to your physical and mental health.
Hiking with friends and family to strengthen your bonds. Life may be quite hectic at times, and we may not be able to fit in all of the things that are most important to us. Hiking is both healthy workout and a mood enhancer. Hiking with friends and family enables you to spend quality time with the people who matter the most to you.
Is Hiking an Expensive Hobby?
Hiking may be costly, but it does not have to be so. The more equipment you’ll need, the longer or more challenging the walk. Short hikes on clearly marked or paved trails won’t require much equipment if any at all. You could just need a water bottle and your phone.
Don’t let pricey equipment keep you from longer hikes or backpacking trips if it is something you really want to do. There are cost-cutting measures available.
- Always check thrift stores for camping gear and layering clothes. You may be able to discover a high-quality item for a lower price.
- Look for inexpensive goods on local internet markets.
- Check stores for sales, or purchase items in the off-season when they may be discounted. In the summer, invest in an insulated sleeping bag, and in the winter, ice packs.
- If you’re not sure whether hiking is for you, borrow equipment from your more adventurous acquaintances.
- Remember that not every item on a checklist may be necessary for the hike you are planning. Purchase what you need rather than what you want.
Avoiding Beginner Hiking Mistakes
There is so much information online detailing mistakes made by seasoned hikers when they first picked up this hobby. This knowledge might help you avoid making the same errors. Check out these wonderful sites for much more information: here and here.
One of the most common blunders is failing to dress appropriately and failing to consider the weather forecast. Cotton may be ideal for a summer picnic, but it has no place on the hiking trail. Denim is the same way. These fabrics take a long time to dry and are not particularly insulating. You also want to check the weather so you don’t get caught unprepared with a cold-snap or a dangerous storm
It is critical to nourish your body before, during, and after a hike. Many inexperienced hikers might underestimate how much food and water to bring on a longer hike. Bring extra when in doubt, and don’t miss meals because you’re weary.
Another typical error is forgetting anything important or not knowing what is in your bag and where it is. Take the time to learn how to use each item in your bag and make sure you have everything you need for your journey.
While hiking in a group, you don’t have to follow everyone step by step, pace by pace. Recognize your boundaries and hike the route that is optimal for your body and ability. It is preferable to take your time and go at your own speed. More experienced hikers may be able to handle rough terrain, while inexperienced hikers are better off following the path of least resistance
Inexperienced hikers are prone to over-packing, just as they might under-pack or forget an item. A knapsack that is overburdened with needless goods might be tiresome. It takes experience to learn how to strike the delicate balance of packing only what is absolutely necessary and preparing for the most likely scenarios.
Break-in your new hiking shoes or boots. This is a simple step that will make your first trek much more enjoyable.
Take a Hike!
You’ve covered the fundamentals, now go out there and start hiking! You and your family are ready for your first hiking vacation if you prepare ahead of time. Keep these simple guidelines in mind, and this will be a journey you’ll never forget, rather than one you’ll want to forget.
Choose a path that is not too demanding for you. You can work up to higher elevations and more difficult terrain. Keep your family and yourself safe. Be knowledgeable of the trail you are hiking and the predicted weather.
Take attention to your surroundings and pack just what is necessary. Dress appropriately for the hike and the weather. It is definitely vital to layer your clothes.
If you recall nothing else, remember to clean up after yourself and others, to appreciate the local flora and creatures, and to have fun!
Tents for Hiking
Many hikers will bring their tents in their backpacks. There are many ultra lightweight tents designed for just this purpose.
This website is dedicated to family camping. For us, we use our family tent as a base. Once pitched our tent stays up until we are ready to go home. Our treks are designed to make the most of our campsite setting.