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Beginner Hiking Tips:
Start Off On The Right Foot

If you want to start hiking but aren't sure how to get on the trail, these tips are for you!

These beginner hiking tips are all about getting you started hiking as fast as possible.

You're here for how to hike advice, and I'm going to deliver.

This page outlines exactly what you need to get started hiking, based on hundreds of reader's questions and my 45+ years of trail experience.

I won't let you down!

Find answers to your hiking questions fast!

And please don't be shy.

  • Send your hiking questions by using the CONTACT link at the top left of any page on this website.

You can dip into the Hiking Question archive here. Maybe your question has already been answered.

If not, this HFH Best Hiking Tips For Dayhikers book might be the best place to start.

In case you're not quite convinced that hiking is for you, read these 4 great answers to the question Why Hike?

And because snowshoeing is just winter hiking, you might enjoy 8 reasons to snowshoe when your favorite hiking trails are buried in snow.


Hiking basics: beginner hiking tips

To get started hiking, you need things in both the physical and mental realms.

The absolute basic physical requirements for a hiker include:

  • comfortable footwear,
  • a way to carry Ten Essentials,
  • food and hydration that works with, not against, you on the trail,
  • a hiking clothing system that can be adjusted as needed,
  • and a destination with a plan to get there and back.

The mental requirements:

  • motivation,
  • common sense,
  • good attitude,
  • first aid and navigation knowledge,
  • and enough self awareness to know your own blind spots (also called "know when to lead, when to follow".)

This page focuses on the basic hiking gear and clothing you'll need to start down the trail of your choice.

The first tip: always use reliable hiking gear sources as you begin to fill up your gear locker and hiking clothes closet.

Female hiker and Mt. RainierBeginner hiking tips - let's get started up the hill.


Beginner hiking tips:
The best hiking footwear

If your feet are sore, cramped, blistered or too hot, you're not going to hike.

Or your hiking time will be pure misery, which means you'll give up your hiking goals.

Before you do anything else to join the hiking community, get the best hiking boots or most comfortable trail shoes you can afford.

Read how to do that here. It's loaded with beginner hiking tips for your feet.

For specific tips on how to choose the best hiking boots for your particular arch and foot shape, read this Ultimate Guide to choosing trail footwear.

Then take a close look at what I recommend for beginner hiker foot comfort in moderate price ranges.

The brands I recommend are the ones I use, year after year, mile after mile.


Best hiking shoes & boots
for a beginner hiker

It will take some trial and error before your trail footwear is error free, so here's what I recommend:

Start off on the low end of the hiking boot price range if you are going to stick to well established, mostly flat trails.

In fact, trail shoes might be your best bet.

Here's what's on my feet:


Best beginner hiking tip:
Hiking socks are really, really important

I think of hiking boots/shoes and hiking socks as one unit. Both have to perform well in order for my feet to stay dry, cool and unblistered.

I have two hiking sock companies that I turn to over and over and over again:

  • Thorlo socks. I use medium weight crew style socks, like these.
  • If you want lighter weight socks, I'd recommend these SmartWool light hiking socks.

Liner socks are used under these hiking socks to wick moisture away from your skin, thus preventing blisters.

I use Fox River liners as well as liners like these.


The best daypack for
a beginning hiker

Female hiker looking at lupine along a hiking trailTake time to smell the flowers on your first few day hikes


On your first few hikes, you won't be carrying much weight.

You won't be going very far.

You don't need fancy stuff like an ice axe loop or a hydration system on your day pack - unless you want them.

So start basic, but not TOO basic. Be careful to buy a pack that will serve you well on the trail a year from now, not just tomorrow.


Here are two brands I absolutely recommend for a beginning hiker, with a few words about why each brand is so trustworthy.

  • Deuter daypacks are incredibly sturdy and engineered for comfort. I've been wearing Deuter packs for more than a decade, and have never been disappointed. Here's what I currently use on short day hikes: Deuter 22 liter pack.


  • Osprey is another brand I use frequently. Here's the pack I use on day hikes and also as carry on luggage when I travel by plane to hiking destinations. It has clever design features and fits well.


Fill up your pack with the
famous hiking Ten Essentials

Once out on the trail, you're responsible for your own safety and comfort.

Your pack will carry your food and water, but it should also be loaded up with these ten essentials.

Essentially, they keep you safe & buy some time if something should delay your return to the trail head.


The best athletic clothing for hikers

Let's get this out of the way right now as far as beginner hiking tips go:

Don't wear cotton for anything except the driest, hottest hike.

And maybe not even then!

You need clothing that wicks your sweat away from your body and doesn't stink while doing it.

You also need hiking clothing that moves with your body as you bend, twist, and step over rocks.

Here's the absolute minimum hiking clothing that will work for you on the trail, based on what I wear and know that it works.

Base layer for mild weather:

  • Hiking sports bras are designed to prevent chafing and bouncing while wicking away sweat. I turn to Moving Comfort again and again, specifically this bra.
  • Plus size sports bras for hikers can be difficult to find. Read this for some hints.
  • Wicking underwear is also essential for your lower half. I turn to ExOfficio when I want durable and wicking briefs. But your current cotton or nylon underwear might be just fine when you're starting out in warm, dry weather. Experiment!


Mid layer for mild weather:

  • You'll get overheated if you wear too many layers on a nice day. Here's the style of shirt that I wear for day hikes, in two versions: Short sleeves and long sleeves.
  • Hiking pants need enough room for your knees and hips to move freely. Avoid really tight fitting clothing because it compromises your circulation and literally cuts into your muscle power. You can get away with lightweight pants like these when you're just starting out. 
  • If you're searching for plus size hiking pants, these tips will help.
  • Or pick a pair of shorts

Outer layer for mild weather: You probably don't need one, but extra clothing is one of the famed Ten Essentials.

  • Bring along whatever jacket you already own.

The best hiking tips to make your trail time safe and enjoyable are found on Hiking For Her. Free monthly newsletter, too.

Pay attention to your trail food

You might be shocked at how hungry you get during a hike.

And the huge appetite might linger into the next day.

It pays to bring high quality nutrition along on every hike, and to train your body to hike on lots of carbohydrates and water.

  • Calories from carbohydrates give you quick energy.
  • Staying hydrated allows these calories to be delivered quickly to your muscle cells (among others).

If the whole idea of hiking nutrition bores you, please take a few moments to at least consider the fact that you need to eat a bit differently as a hiker: easy to digest carbohydrates, but no sugar highs that will crash you into fatigue.

If you're really into the idea of trail nutrition, start here.


Beginner hiking tips all wrapped up

Now you know how to get started with the basic hiking gear and athletic clothing that you need for hiking.

You also have a heads up that eating for the hiking trail is a bit different than your usual diet.

Use this link to the Hiking For Her site map to explore the reasons why I make these recommendations as solid beginner hiking tips.

And don't forget, you can email me directly using the CONTACT link at the top left of any page. You know, just in case I didn't answer that question ;)

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If you purchase hiking gear through one of the links, you pay nothing extra but Hiking For Her is rewarded with a very small percentage of your purchase price.

I only recommend, and link to, the stuff I know, trust and use myself. You can see it being used in the photos on this site.

These beginner hiking tips are just the tip of the iceberg, so please look around and use all of the resources that are provided for you.

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