Hiking is a great way to stay in shape and get in touch with nature. Young and old alike can enjoy this activity. Hiking is great to do alone or with friends, and minimal equipment is necessary for beginners.
The first thing a hiker is going to want to look at is boots. Boots help to protect our feet from the elements and ensure that no injury will be sustained from our excursion. REI, an industry leader in hiking boots, recommends that, when purchasing hiking boots, one should consider the type of hikes you’re planning on taking (ie short day hikes, mountain hiking, etc.), and the second most important factor is fit. A boot is considered a good fit when toes can wiggle easily, feet do not slide freely inside of the boot, and the “bulk” of the foot is secured inside of the boot.
The second thing a hiker should consider, even if you only have short day trips in mind, is a sturdy backpack. Any good sporting good store should have associates available to help fit you for a backpack. The website Wild Backpacker has an excellent guide on how to pick out a backpack. They suggest first leaning your head forward and finding the bone that protrudes out of your spine, then measuring from that bone to your hip bone in order to find your torso length. From there you can choose the proper frame size using your torso measurements. Hip measurements may also be necessary, if the type of backpack you are considering has a waist belt.
Time to Hit the Trails
Now that you’ve been fitted for your equipment, congratulations, it’s time to hit the trails. Unless the hike will be through a state park, the trails are completely free. The library should have handy guides to trails in your area. Trails.com is another excellent resource to search for trails and to find reviews from other hikers. No matter how long or short your hike may be you’ll want to make sure you have a few essentials along for the trip. Snacks, water, a first aid kit, along with a charged cellphone are all must haves. Some other things you may want to consider taking along is a Swiss army-style pocket knife, some twine, and some toilet paper for when nature calls.