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Beginner's Guide to Hiking

Fall's the perfect time to go hiking; here's how to get started.

By Amy Ahlberg

tags: WALKING AND HIKING



Beginner's Guide to Hiking

Before setting foot on the trail, match your footwear to the terrain.

You’ve always wanted to get out there and go hiking, and the onset of fall’s crisp weather is kicking your desire into high gear. But sorting out what equipment you really need and doing the actual planning of it all? That part’s always been a bit intimidating. To help get beginners out on the trail feeling confident and prepared, we turned to Peter Koop, customer service manager at outdoor gear retailer Campmor (www.campmor.com). He suggests taking these steps:

#1: Go prepared, but don’t overload yourself.
According to Koop, typical dayhikes require a simple, comfortable daypack between 1200 and 2000 cubic inches big. Some of the basic items to bring along when you go hiking include water, food, a first-aid kit (including a blister kit), a rain garment, and, potentially, an extra sweater/jacket, depending upon conditions.


Get fit and have fun this fall!
Start running: 10 Expert Tips for Beginning Runners
Learn to kayak: Beginner’s Guide to Kayaking
Ride a mountain bike: How to Start Mountain Biking
Try sculling: How to Start Sculling for Exercise


So what’s optional? Things like a compass or GPS, a hiking staff, and trail maps appropriate for the area may prove helpful if you're in a remote or unfamiliar area. Capturing great views will require binoculars and/or a camera. But Koop warns against bringing the "kitchen sink," adding “there’s no need to overload to the point where your load begins to take away from the enjoyment.” One piece of equipment you definitely want to bring: one or more friends. Not only is hiking a great social activity, but also the buddy system is a must for safety. And if your friend is a more experienced hiker, so much the better.

#2: Wear appropriate shoes.
Investing in footwear should come down to finding a pair of shoes/boots that are comfortable. You don’t have to go super high-end, as this goal can be accomplished at various price points. The key is to know where you'll be hiking: Different trails require different choices. “Select footwear designed for the terrain anticipated," says Koop. Gentle, smooth trails really don't require much more than a good pair of running shoes, while rocky, rough trails are best approached with a more traditional hiking boot that offers some height for ankle protection and support.

Published on: September 24, 2009
Updated on: January 20, 2012



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Pennsylvania Trails Website

Here's a great (and convenient) Pennsylvania trails website run by the PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources. Find a trail, an event, a hiking group, upload pics from your hiking trip, etc. An all-around great site:

http://www.explorepatrails.com/

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