A Beginner's Guide to Hiking
Editor's Note: At the time of posting (August 24th, 2021) Washoe County is under an emergency shelter in place order due to poor air quality. Please avoid any outdoor activities at this time but especially strenuous ones such as hiking. We encourage you to read this blog, find gear that you like now, then try it out at a later date when conditions improve. Happy reading!
Would you like to get into hiking but you aren’t sure where to start? When you go hiking it's important to keep in mind a couple of important details. Hiking requires planning, some basic gear, and finding a group or friend to hit the trails with!
The most important detail to consider is what's on your feet! Which trail you decide to take can determine the type of shoe you want. Boots, tennis shoes, trail runners, even sandals can be a viable choice depending on the hike you're looking into. In my personal experience, I would recommend wearing boots for most situations. Hiking boots provide sturdy ankle support and a waterproof housing for your feet to live in. However, everyone’s preference in regards to boots varies. Some people prefer trail runners because they offer a little more room for your feet and more breathability. My advice would be to visit REI or your nearest gear shop to see which boot/shoe fits best! Another important factor to consider is the type of socks you are wearing. When you're hiking and spending time outside, choosing a sock made of a wool/synthetic blend is your best bet for blister prevention and foot cushioning.
Other clothing item must-haves are a hat and sunglasses! Sun protection is key for having an enjoyable hike and protecting yourself from powerful UV rays!
*TIP* You can find some great deals on gear on REI.com if you go to the “Used Gear” tab. Other sites I love are Moosejaw, Steepandcheep, and Walmart, all of which have affordable gear. If you're in the Reno area, I would highly recommend visiting Gear Hut which is a locally owned used gear consignment store.
When I first started hiking I thought I needed the most expensive boots and the nicest gear. Don’t get lost in finding the “best gear” or feeling like you don't have enough experience. All you need to focus on is the earth beneath your feet and the trees and birds surrounding you! Just start hiking!
Some people prefer to hike alone and take in the great outdoors with no distractions, but if you're like me and prefer to hike with a friend there are a couple of different resources you can look into! You could join the Truckee Meadows Trails Challenge or participate in a Discover Your Parks walk to find some new hiking partners! Meetup.com has tons of local hiking groups in the area or you could join a local Facebook group as well.
Choosing a trail
Finding the right hike for you or a group of hikers isn't as easy as it seems! Before you start your hike, you should consider your ability level, the elevation of the hike, how much water/food to bring, and the total distance. If you're looking for new trails to explore I would recommend using the apps AllTrails or Komoot. They provide maps of trails near you and you can log the hikes you have already completed! They also provide information on the trail distance, elevation, average hike time, and real time reviews from other hikers on the trail’s conditions! If you're in an area you're unfamiliar with it's good practice to visit a visitor’s center and ask for hiking recommendations. If you're hiking alone make sure to tell a friend or family member where you're hiking and for how long, just in case.
Other helpful tips:
1. Make sure to pack the essentials while hiking:
Navigation: map, compass, or GPS device
Safety Items: knife, matches, multitool
Extra water (usually 1 liter of water every two hours of hiking)
Extra clothes/light rain jacket
2. Always check the weather forecast before embarking on a hike or adventure, you never know what mother nature might bring.
3. Remember to Leave No Trace, stay on trails, and leave trails better than you found them.