by Diane Spicer
So glad you found these best day hike tips for how to get ready for a great day on the trail!
I think we can agree on this:
The best day hike tips for beginners should be easy to understand.
And easy to do.
There may be many reasons
why you aren't getting out on a trail
for a day hike.
I encourage you to fill in your "but(s)" here.
You want to start hiking.
Frustrating, isn't it!
No need to stay trapped within your "buts".
We're going to use REI Co-op as our trusted source for information and gear as we go through the best day hike tips to smash through your buts.
Full disclosure: As an REI affiliate and decades long fan of REI gear, Hiking For Her receives a small percentage of your purchase price when you use the links on this website.
There is no extra cost to you.
And because HFH recommends only what is used and trusted on the trail with great results, you're getting the best day hike tips for choosing gear and outdoor clothing from REI.
And that makes you ready to hit the trail in comfort and safety.
Now you know!
Did you also know about the member rewards you enjoy as an REI member?
But (there's that word again!) did you also know that getting ready for a day hike is both an art and a science?
Let's get off to a great st(art).
What does art have to do with dayhiking?
A lot, actually.
The art of day hiking includes knowing how to finesse your way onto a trail with grace and ease.
And the art of having just what you need in your day pack - and not one ounce or gram more - will make you the envy of your trail buddies.
Here's exactly what you need to make that happen.
As you're learning the art of hiking, think of the trail as your canvas.
So where are your paint brushes?
Here's one of the best day hike tips I can give you:
Economize on everything else you'll need as a beginner hiker, and spend the most money on the best hiking boots or trail shoes you can find.
Hiking For Her's recommendation for great boots for beginner day hikers:
If your trail conditions are going to be dry and relatively easy, these trail shoes will artfully ease your feet into the reality of hiking:
And just like an artist, once you fully commit to your art you'll need several different types of
brushes trail footwear.
Sock choices abound, and here's where you're going to have to decide on brand loyalty versus shopping around.
The brands that deserve your full attention include:
Now that your feet are all squared away, another "but" might surface in your mind:
But how do I decide where to go?
This question reflects the hiker's version of "all dressed up in gorgeous boots and nowhere to go" ;)
Let's return to the art of hiking analogy.
Your paintbrushes (boots) need a canvas (trail).
Here's an easy way to get started with creating your "must do" hike list:
The US National Park Service offers a similar approach.
Next order of business: using a little science razzle dazzle to tackle some more of those stubborn "buts".
As a scientist AND hiker, I'm all about crafting the best day hike tips using facts and figures.
So let's leverage the power of science to help you solve these day hiking challenges:
Logic dictates that we start with not getting lost.
You've selected a few trails, now it's time to consult a few maps before you get to the trail head.
You've got two map options, both with pros and cons to consider.
REI's map selection makes it easy to figure out the nitty gritty of day hiking options near you.
Or daydream about an area you'd love to explore on your next vacation, semester break, or long weekend.
Regardless of which navigational aid you choose, heed this best day hike tip when choosing a hike:
As you fit day hiking into your weekly schedule more and more often, your fitness (endurance and stamina) will improve.
So don't beat yourself up, or wear yourself down, with first time, overly ambitious hiking plans that make you regret putting on your boots.
And know that it's okay to plan a day hike - but not finish it.
Build up to the challenging distance and terrain you aspire to, while staying safe and healthy as you learn.
It's easy to spot the connection between navigation and science. All that math, right?
Yet serious science underlies the gear and clothing you want to use as a day hiker.
If that sounds seriously boring, don't worry.
And while we're at it, a science based news flash for you.
As a female, you have definite advantages as a day hiker:
Yet as well designed as you are for day hiking, it just makes sense to give yourself an additional edge by wearing well designed athletic clothing.
There are every day fabrics you can wear for outdoor clothing on warm, sunny days.
Cotton T shirts come to mind.
But not for you, dear day hiker.
There's no need to go overboard on a new hiking wardrobe when you're starting out as a day hiker, but you certainly don't want to pass up a chance to stay as dry, temperature regulated, and comfortable as possible.
Plan to get the most out of your day hike with these great choices for hiking clothing:
Now let's use science based facts to stay fueled up!
Because you're leaving the refrigerator behind, you need to be strategic about your food choices for a day hike.
Food calories are muscle fuel, and you
want need to make every bite count.
Carbohydrates (carbs) are the name of the game.
Great high carb snack choices for your day hike:
Best part about this list?
You'll also notice an increased appetite for 24 hours or so after your hike, so plan accordingly.
It's good practice to bring along extra food no matter how short or easy you made your hiking plan.
Click on this infographic for more easy-as-ABC day hike food ideas.
Water is a nutrient, and a very important one for a day hiker.
Your thirst level on a day hike might seem weirdly low when you compare it to the amount of effort you're exerting.
That's easy to explain:
Unfortunately, ignoring your thirst sensation can cause your energy level to drop precipitously, making it tough to get back to the trail head with your dignity intact.
Two approaches you can try for maintaining your hydration level:
Hydration trail tip:
Either way you go, don't wait for a thirst sensation to grab your attention. Drink early and often along the trail.
Other "buts" that may have occurred to you:
Tips for eliminating these show stoppers coming soon!
What if your "buts" aren't on this list?
It pains me to think of you NOT day hiking because you don't have answers to your day hiking questions.
I can rustle up some of the best day hike tips just for you, and then you can take it from there.
And as long as you're here, dip into a few more beginner hiking tips to shorten that learning curve even more.
You already know way more than a lot of day hikers just starting out - because you took the time to search for some of the best day hike tips.
Long story (or learning curve) short:
Concentrate on just two things.
Get those right, and you'll enjoy your trail time.
Add in water, the right hiking clothes and maps, and you'll stay safe, too.
To streamline things even more for you, REI Co-op has created a comprehensive free pdf day hike checklist.
You don't need to own everything on this list in order to get started, though.
Best Day Hike Tips For Beginners:
The Art And Science of Getting Ready
About the author
Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.
She’s been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for nearly five decades & loves to share her best hiking tips right here.
All rights reserved.
Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer except where noted.
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