Best Beginner
Hiking Tips You Need
To Get You Started

by Diane Spicer

Meet Hiking For Her's Diane

If you want to start hiking but aren't sure how to get on the trail, start here. #starthiking #hike #hiking #howtohike #hikingtips #beginnerhikes #womenhikers  #beginnerhikers

How does a person start hiking?

To answer that question, these beginner hiking tips are laser focused on 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!

To show you how serious I am, let's capsulize what you need to know as a beginner hiker.

Top 10 essentials
for beginner hikers

1. Treat your feet right: happy feet = happy trails.

2. Bring enough food and water to fuel your hike.

3. Start where you are in terms of physical conditioning, and then build from there with each hike.

4. Carry ten lightweight hiking essentials for safety & comfort.

5. Use established, well marked trails and carry a map every time.

6. Know the forecasted weather and plan accordingly.

7. Wear clothing in layers so you can adjust to fluctuating weather.

8. Leave an itinerary of your plans with someone you trust.

9. And leave no trace of your visit to the outdoors.

10. Be gentle with yourself by adjusting your pace and destination as needed.

Now it's time for some detailed beginner hiking tips!

Hiking basics:
start here

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

Did you feel surprised about the "mental" part of beginner hiking tips? Hold that thought!

Let's call out the expected physical stuff first:

Beginner hiking tips:
physical hiking equipment

The absolute basic physical requirements for a hiker include:

  • comfortable footwear
  • the best beginner gear
  • 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
  • a destination, with a plan to get there and back.

You can search this website for any of these words.

Just use the green box at the top of this page!

The blue word TOP over there on the right will take you there fast.

It's a good idea to take a close look at what an experienced hiker considers basic hiking gear before you go shopping for beginner trailwear and gear.

So let's do that!

Beginner gear guide:
an overview before you shop

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

The first and most important tip to succeed as a new hiker:

You can quickly find some of the best tips for beginner day hiking success right here.

To avoid information overwhelm, look over this beginner gear guide I put together just for you, using REI Co-op as the source of high quality, durable and trustworthy hiking gear and outdoor clothing.

  • Lots of photos and details

Not an REI Co-op member?

You're missing out!

A one time membership fee of $20 US rewards you, again and again.

Now it's time to get specific about what you need to hit the trail in comfort, safety and style as a beginner hiker.

Beginner hiking tips:
The best hiking footwear

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

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.

  • The guide is 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.

Whew! That's plenty to get you started on the right foot (groan).

Now let's 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 myself, year after year, mile (or kilometer) after mile.

Best hiking shoes & boots
recommendations 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.

Read my recommendations for the best beginner hiking boots and shoes.

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 free of blisters.

  • Read more about why technical hiking socks are your friend here

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

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

What's the best day pack
for a beginning hiker?

Let's be realistic.

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

You won't be going very far.

Your chances of having to navigate off trail are low.

And 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 with Backpacks 101. 

But that guide is not TOO basic.

  • You want to buy a pack that will serve you well on the trail a year from now, not just tomorrow.

Two trustworthy brands
for beginner hiking backpacks

I have two brands which I absolutely recommend for a beginning hiker.

Here are a few words about why each brand is so trustworthy.

Deuter daypacks are incredibly sturdy and engineered for comfort.

This backpack is low volume (22 liters), just large enough to carry your essentials.

Deuter Speed Lite 22 SL Pack - Women's | REI Co-op
  • I've been wearing Deuter packs for more than a decade, and have never been disappointed.
  • This day backpack is what I currently use on short day hikes.

Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack - Women's | REI Co-op

Osprey also makes great hiking day packs which I use frequently.

  • This is the pack I use on moderate day hikes, and also as carry on luggage when I travel by plane to hiking destinations.
  • It has clever design features and fits well without being too bulky.
  • 24 liters is just right for a day hike.


If you're on a budget, share this Best Hiking Gift Guide with your loved ones when they ask you what you need to get started.

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.

And they help you Leave No Trace, another important hiking principle.


Hiking For Her offers you the detailed beginner hiking tips you need in each of these 10 categories.

But this handy hiking infographic will remind yourself of the essentials of starting off your hiking career as prepared as possible.

Beginner hiking essential tips for comfort and safety infographic from Hiking For Her #beginnerhiker #hikingessentials #hiking #femalehikers #newbiehiker #hikinginfographic #womenhikers

The best athletic clothing for hikers:
beginner hiking tips

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.

Cotton absorbs water nicely, but then takes its sweet time releasing it, leaving you clammy and potentially hypothermic in cool weather conditions.

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 layers
for mild weather

This is the layer up against your skin, so make some careful selections to guarantee your comfort.

Hiking sports bras are designed to prevent chafing and bouncing while wicking away sweat.

I turn to Title Nine (female owned and operated) for their functional, well designed and attractive choices in high performance sports bras.

Plus size sports bras for hikers can be difficult to find. 

Wicking underwear is also essential for your lower half.

I turn to ExOfficio when I want durable and wicking briefs.

  • More hiking underwear tips here

But your current cotton or nylon underwear might be just fine when you're starting out in warm, dry weather.


Mid layers
for mild weather

You'll get overheated if you wear too many layers on a nice day.

Here are the styles of shirt that I wear for day hikes, in three versions:

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.

You can also hike in great pair of shorts.

Read HFH's review of a cute hiking outfit: shorts & tank top

Mild weather outer layer

You probably don't need an outer layer for a day hike, but extra clothing is one of the famed Ten Essentials.

  • Bring along whatever jacket you already own.
  • Or read about the best hiking jackets here.
Female hiker looking at lupine along a hiking trailTake time to smell the flowers on your first few day hikes

Pay close 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.

  • That's what it feels like to be an endurance athlete a.k.a. a hiker :)

So begin to think of food and water as fuel.

Bring high quality nutrition along on every hike, and 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:

  • Bring a lunch with easy to digest carbohydrates, with a bit of protein and fat
  • No sugary highs that will crash you into fatigue, so avoid candy bars and sweet drinks.
  • Here are some ideas for suitable hiking snacks that will give you energy, stamina and no digestive upsets.

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

Now about those mental requirements as a beginning hiker...

How to get your head
in the hiking game!

The mental game plan you should bring on every hike includes:

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

No hiking gear store in the world sells these :(

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

You'll have to build your own mental game plan, and record it in your trail journal (a great habit to develop as your skills develop).

Use these links to get started:

A few more tips
to get you started

Hiking For Her loves infographics as a great way to summarize essential hiking tips, so here is one more for you!

Hiking For Her's infographic for sweet trail time will make any hike more safe and enjoyable. #hikingtips #dayhikes #backpackingtips #howtohike #safehiking #womenhikers #hikinginfographic

Join our Over Forty Hiker
community of hiking women

Need some encouragement and advice as you're starting out?

Or as you work to attain that next level as a hiker?

This supportive, private virtual community welcomes hikers of all ability levels.

That means a beginner hiker is in exactly the right place to find support, answers, and maybe some hiking buddies!

  • Details about joining this virtual hiking community are here.
  • Meet some members here.

Go on a group hiking trip
to learn basic hiking skills

Group hiking trips run the gamut from an overnight to a beautiful destination, to a week or more backpacking through the backcountry.

You can leave all the logistics and planning to experienced guides, and concentrate on your gear.

Or take a hiking class to build skills

Being a beginner hiker is hard.

You don't want to make mistakes, or look silly.

So why not take a class with other beginners?

REI Co-op makes it low cost and easy to build skills. And once you build skills, your trail confidence soars. Great deal, right?

Here's how to pick exactly the right hiking or camping class from REI.

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.

  • Explore, enjoy and educate - it's the Hiking For Her way ;)

Get on the trail today with tips for beginner hikers from Hiking For Her. #starthiking #hike #hiking #howtohike #hikingtips #beginnerhikes #womenhikers #hikingwomen #beginnerhikers

Find fast answers to your
beginner hiking questions!

And don't forget, you can email me directly.

You know, just in case I didn't answer that one burning question you still have ;)

And please don't be shy.

  • Send your hiking question and expect a personal answer!

More ways to get your questions
answered in detail

As you search for beginner hiking tips, you can dip into the Hiking Question archive here.

  • Maybe your question has already been answered.

Or use the search box at the top of every page to find detailed articles on the topics that interest you the most.

  • The blue TOP button over on the right side will get you back up there quickly

Or this HFH Best Hiking Tips For Dayhikers book might be the best place to start.

Need some free hiking stuff
to get started?

I thought you might!

You can enter for a chance to win all sorts of hiking and camping gear, athhletic clothing, books, and fun outdoor products on this Hiking For Her current giveaways page.

  • Bookmark it, and check back often so you never miss a chance to be a winner on the trail of life.

You can also join our free weekly update list to receive the latest hiking news and be notified of flash giveaways.

  • Use the gray "why wait a whole month?" box below!

By the way:

You're already a winner!!

This is just a chance to fill up your gear closet :)

You might like to read these next!

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  • Best Hiking Tips To Get You On The Trail Today

    These essential best hiking tips for gear, food, safety and comfort takes you through Hiking 101 all the way up to expert hiking level.

Home page > Best Hiking Tips >

Beginner Hiking Tips

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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 only the tip of the iceberg, so please look around and use all of the resources that are provided for you.

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Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer.