Before you step foot within the nice outside, learn this guide!

There’s nothing extra embarrassing than a city slicker getting lost in the woods, so let’s make certain you know the place you’re going, what to put on, and what to convey.

That way your first hike shall be enjoyable, adventurous, and more importantly safe!

Today we are going to cowl:

I’m joyful you’re excited about hiking and I can’t wait so that you simply can get started!

I took the above image while hiking via Killarney National Park in Ireland a few years ago, and each time I take a look at it, I can’t help however think of Tolkien’s Middle-earth masterpiece, so I apologize (not really) for the entire Lord of the Rings nerdery operating throughout this post!

Our neighborhood members love hiking too. In truth, considered one of our recent success stories particularly cited hiking as one of the fun activities she beloved to do to help her lose 50 kilos:

By the tip of today’s post, my goal is to have you ever pick a trail, pick a date, and establish a fella or gal to hitch your fellowship (galship?).

Before we leap in, are you here as a result of you’re studying to hike to lose weight? Did you hear it’s a enjoyable approach to train and get your physique moving?

If so, you’ve come to the proper place!

As I mentioned, some clients in our uber-popular 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program used hiking as a half of their weight reduction training. These folks would somewhat head exterior than jump on a treadmill, and our coaches designed a program so they could do just that!

Here’s how it works: your NF Coach will build a custom workout plan based on your experience stage and targets. Training to climb up a literal mountain? Maybe you should eliminate an old ring? We’ll create a plan to get you to the top!

Start working out in a enjoyable way you enjoy!

Alright, let’s get you hiking!

How Do I Find Hiking Trails Near Me? (How to Start Hiking)

When you think of hiking, you may imagine a bunch of road-tested perma-travelers with outsized backpacks, hiking via epic mountains for weeks upon weeks at a time.

Or perhaps, a pair of hobbits setting out on a worldwide journey to destroy a ring of awe-inspiring power.

If you’re just beginning your journey to a greater lifestyle, simply serious about critical hiking may be sufficient to maintain you inside your comfortable hobbit hole.

Although hiking may be an epic endeavor, it doesn’t need to be!

A hike additionally may be tremendous easy and enjoyable:

1. A fast jaunt (such a great word, right?) round your native park after work.
2. Exploring the woods behind your home along with your children on a Saturday morning.
3. A half-day hike with your folks on a fun nature trail.
four. A full day or in a single day hike that also contains tenting.

Here’s my definition for hiking: A person (or halfing, or self-aware robot) exploring their environment and their ft are on the precise ground. Like, filth. And grass.

Some might say it needs to be troublesome, have a sure elevation change, require a blah blah blah. It actually doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you just go exterior and do something you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Here in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, hikers would fall into the Adventurer class.

If you’re on the lookout for a enjoyable “cardio” activity and need to train in a means that’s thrilling, hiking is a nice way to get your legs, feet, and physique used to some strenuous exercise.

You get to choose your speed and problem, and you may at all times discover the right amount of problem for you.


1) Decide how long you have to hike
This is a beginner’s information to hiking, we’re not looking to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Instead, we want to start with trails that can be accomplished in lower than a day, that won’t require you to pack a tent, or deliver an additional change of clothes. Pick a hike primarily based on how much time you have – do you might have the complete Sunday? Or do you just have a couple of hours on a Tuesday afternoon? It took Frodo and Sam 6 months to get to Mordor, however you most likely don’t have that a lot time.

However, if you DID need to “walk to Mordor,” I got you lined there too. You’re welcome!

2) Decide if you’ll be hiking solo or with a friend/group
I love hiking solo – it’s cell meditation for me. However, it’s also more dangerous ought to something occur while you’re out on the trail! If you’re heading into the wilderness, I’d advocate buddying up with a pal or your vital other in your hike. It’s the perfect bonding opportunity. This is especially true if they have more hiking expertise or they know the realm that you’re hiking in.

3) Determine your degree
If you’re a hiking beginner and out of form, sending yourself out on an eight-hour hike via the unmapped wilderness isn’t a fantastic concept.

Start slow, and decide locations round your town that may permit you to cease when essential and get back to your automobile or house rapidly. No have to be a hero; it’s always higher to come back again excited and say “wow that was simpler than I expected!” than to realize you’re six hours from residence and out of steam. Well, being a hero is cool. But not THAT type of hero.

4) Pick your hiking location
Keep it simple! Go to, put in your zip code, discover your hiking trail!

Or pull up Google Maps and look for massive green plots of land. We call these “parks.” Google the park name, learn about it, and resolve if that’s the place you want to go. Do not overcomplicate this step. Just get started.

Ask your energetic, adventurous friends or coworkers in the occasion that they know any good spots.

The world is FULL of hiking trails and awesomeness – you simply must know the place to look.

5) Regardless of where you’re going, let anyone else know where and when
If you are out hiking alone, take the time to e mail or name somebody and let him know that you’ll be hiking and if you count on to be again.

We don’t want to hear about any 127 Hours[1]stories on NF…that would make taking half in video video games way more troublesome.

You don’t want to inform them the brand of your underwear (please inform me you’re wearing underwear) or what number of almonds you’re bringing, however allow them to know the important details so in the occasion that they don’t hear back from you by a sure time they know to alert the proper authorities.

So right now, you want to have answers to the following questions:

1. How a lot time you’ll be able to dedicate to hiking.
2. Who you will be hiking with.
3. Your degree of experience
four. Using or GoogleMaps to pick your hiking location.
5. Who you’ll tell about your hiking experience.
6. How much XP will I earn by doing this?

That last point is about our fun new habit-building app, which lets you level up (literally) by occurring walks or hikes.

You can strive it free of charge proper here:

What Shoes Do I Wear Hiking? (Proper Footwear)

This is simple: stilettos, your favourite mini skirt, a fishnet halter high, and a vest made out of uncooked meat.You’re welcome!

Wait, don’t do that.

I’m a big fan of being snug without breaking the financial institution. Like, you in all probability already have many of the clothes you should go hiking.


We cover footwear extensively in our wholesome toes article, however I’ll cover shoes specifically in the case of hiking right here.

We at Nerd Fitness are large fan of Merrell products – Merrell sneakers of varied types have handled me well for the past decade.

Just don’t let a scarcity of high quality hiking boots maintain you from a hike. If you’re concerned, decide an easy-paced hike together with your current sneakers to be safe and ramp up when you can ramp up your gear!

Some people hike the Appalachian Trail of their bare toes (must be part-Hobbit), so no matter you do: don’t let your footwear choices keep you from getting started. Just make sure you break your footwear in and take them on check drives! Don’t take the tags off a model new pair of shoes and then go on a multi-day hike – that’s a recipe for blisters and a depressing time.

Okay, let’s look at our feet.

Now that we’ve accomplished that, let’s have a glance at some shoe options:

LEVEL ONE: Hiking shoes – “hiking shoes” are nice if you’re going to be doing easy day hikes or hiking sometimes: they have a good grip on the bottom, give you enough assist, however aren’t too heavy that they’re a hindrance.

Here are my favourite options if you are out there for some new fundamental walking/hiking sneakers:

Oh, what’s that? “Steve, I don’t have hiking shoes! Is this the tip of the world?”

Well, do you could have any type of athletic shoe? Depending on the grip on the underside, they could probably be decently okay so that you just can get began with in phrases of a fundamental hike. If sneakers are your solely possibility, lace em up, decide a newbie hike, and see how they do. Just watch out on slippery surfaces – your kicks may not give you the grip you should get over them.

LEVEL TWO – Hiking boots – I don’t hike enough or do sufficient multi-day hikes to justify the cost of hiking boots, however once more I would level to Merrell boots if you’re out there.

“Why boots over sneakers, Steve?”

Although many favor trail shoes (like yours truly), I can completely see the value in an excellent pair of hiking boots if you’re occurring a severe hike, traveling for multiple days, or more. They have extra ankle assist, thicker tread, thicker sneakers, and provide your ft with considerably extra protection.

REI has a fantastic article helping you choose between Trail footwear and Trail boots. My advice? Start with what you presently have before deciding whether or to not invest in big boots. Once you construct up the behavior of hiking and resolve you want to make it a much bigger part of your life, you also can make the investment.

My advice? If you will buy boots, go to knowledgeable retailer, get fitted correctly, after which break them in over many weeks earlier than going out on a trail.

WEIRD BUT FUN FOR SIMPLE HIKES: Vibram FiveFingers – I hiked throughout the globe, in varied conditions, carrying my Vibrams for close to four years. They made me feel like a ninja monkey and a hobbit. I got weird looks, but something simply felt right about having the ability to really feel the contours of the ground beneath me. I will say, when hiking in Vibrams it might be simpler to twist an ankle when stepping on a root or rock, stepping on sharp rocks can hurt, so I discovered myself watching my toes far more than expected.

These days, I’m far more of a trail shoe sort of man, but some nonetheless swear by Vibrams!

If you’re in the market for purchasing new boots, this fast video is an efficient primer:


If you’re carrying boots or sneakers, you need to wear socks that aren’t going to offer you blisters or make your toes all sweaty and gross.

Depending on how long the hike is, how critical you’re about hiking, and your finances, you’ll be able to look intomerino-wool socks.

Like the relaxation of your outfit, what you put on on your toes will largely be dependent on a few things:

1. Weather! Are you hiking within the forest and it’s 72 degrees out? Or are you hiking up the facet of the mountain in cold conditions?
2. Shoes! Are you in light-weight hiking footwear, light-weight hiking socks for the win. Hiking in huge boots in chilly months? Big thick heat socks are nearly a requirement.
3. Budget!Are you shopping for specific socks? Tall or short? Great. If you are model new to hiking, just wear whatever athletic socks you wear while exercising.
4. What’s the environment? If you’re hiking by way of grass, tall crops, and so forth. I’d go together with tall socks (with your pants possibly tucked into them too). You’re not on the market to win a fashion show!

Here’s Switchback Travel’s best hiking socks of 2018, and here’s a fantastic article from Art of Manliness on proper feet care after a hike or ruck!

What Do I Wear While Hiking? (Clothing)


Pro tip: Don’t go pantless via the wilderness. I can not stress this sufficient.

The actual advice in relation to pants/shorts is closely dependent upon your surroundings. If it’s going to be cold, shorts may hold you shivering. If it’s going to be scorching, pants would possibly get too uncomfortable.

Jeans? Ehhhhh. Sure. ONLY if it’s going to be a cushty temperature and you have not any other choice. Being sweaty and scorching whereas wearing jeans isn’t very fun.

I’m a giant fan of my nerd pants – the Columbia Silver Ridge pants. Although they look kind of goofy, they’re incredibly lightweight, dry shortly, and may remodel from pants to shorts in mere seconds!

Traveling by way of woods, unsure what you’ll encounter? Wear light-weight pants. I am horribly allergic to poison ivy and who knows what else, so I prefer to maintain as a lot of my body coated while hiking to verify I don’t make contact with anything I’m allergic to. [2]


My favourite choices aremerino wool lengthy shirts and t-shirts: they’re mild, wick away moisture, cover odors, and breathe properly – though you will be paying top dollar for them.

If you’re simply starting out, decide an old t-shirt and rock that – you’ll have the ability to work on optimizing efficiency as quickly as you’ve received a few hikes underneath your belt.

If you’re on a multi-day hike in numerous conditions then having lightweight merino wool shirts you’ll have the ability to layer and never want to clean would be great. But simply going for a hike in the woods in your backyard? Whatever you’ll put on whereas operating, coaching, etc. Aka whatever won’t chafe!


I’ve been wearing this Mountain Hardware jacket on most of my hikes and it has been awesome (10 years and counting) – very lightweight so packing it isn’t a hassle, waterproof so it retains me dry when it rains, and heavy enough to block the wind to maintain me heat when it’s chilly.

Don’t go out of your way to buy a brand new jacket in case you have a good windbreaker, but if you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking or you’re available within the market for a new coat, here’s my recommendation: go to a local retailer and check out all the jackets until you find one you like.

Once you find the proper jacket, go home and examine on-line (you can generally discover the same jacket for as a lot as 60% less) – then, ask the native store if they’ll price match or just buy it on-line.


You ought to positively bring a hat. I’m usually rocking my Nerd Fitness hat or my Red Sox hat (booo Yankees), however whereas hiking in Australia I wore a hat with a large floppy brim to maintain my ears and face shielded from the solar.

The tops of your ears and back of your neck are extremely prone to getting burned whereas on the trail, so both get some sunscreen or wear a hat that retains them coated.

The similar is true for keeping pesky issues out of your hair, the sun from burning your ears and face, and maintain you a bit cooler.


Digging into the ins and outs of backpacks is far past the scope of this text. I’d advocate you check out my good friend Chase’s Bag Review Youtube channel – guaranteed to be the most fun you’ll ever have studying about baggage.

So what would I advocate for a beginner on a hike? The bag you currently have! If you’re going on a short hike, you can begin with simply no matter bag you have. The lighter and comfier it is, the higher.

Multi-day hikes where you’re dwelling out of your bag, packing up, and constructing a tent each day – that is beyond the scope of this article. I actually have rocked a Kelty Coyote bag that I’ve lived out of for months at a time, and have also used on multi-day hikes.

If you could have the means and the time, and you’re planning to go on certain hikes, go to an out of doors specialty store, communicate with knowledgeable, and get fitted on your body type and the type of hike you’re doing!


If your climate forecast is “75 and sunny,” and you’re hiking for the afternoon by way of a progressively sloping wooded forest, you probably can severely limit what you’re bringing with you.

If it’s questionable or seems like issues may change during the day, versatility is your finest wager – a jacket, pants that can turn out to be shorts, a long sleeve shirt that you can take off or roll the sleeves up, etc.

Don’t go out and buy all new stuff until you’re sure hiking is an exercise you wish to put money into. Borrow from friends, make do with what you might have

Just get started.


In your head you should be saying, “Steve how are you going to read my mind?!

I just determined:

1. I’d hike in my present fitness center sneakers.
2. I have a pair of gardening pants and tall socks I can put on.
3. I have a floppy hat.

I feel like I’m good to go!”


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How Much Water Should I Bring On My Hike?
If there’s ONE thing you should not depart house without, it’s a water container so you’ll have the ability to keep hydrated.

“How a lot water ought to I be ingesting on my hike, Steve?”

Great query. I knew you have been good from the moment you started reading this text.

You ought to be ingesting 1 liter of water every two hours as a rough guideline. Increase this amount if you are hiking in very warm/desert climates.


I’m keen on chrome steel bottles or aluminum bottles over Nalgene or reused plastic bottles, however make do with what you have. Just be certain to deliver sufficient water with you to maintain you hydrated through your adventure.

Going on longer hikes?

Get yourself a hydration backpack (which can double as your hiking pack!) to transplant water more conveniently.

Not solely that but ensure you have been consuming water earlier than you go hiking so that you’re not beginning at a hydration deficit.

Hangovers + early morning hikes – water = dangerous information bears.

What Gear Should I Bring on My Hike? (Sunscreen, Knives, and First Aid Kits)

If you’re just getting began, I’m going to guess you won’t be climbing to the highest of a mountain in Alaska, but quite going on an introductory hike that will help construct your confidence and get you rolling.

Here’s what I’d advocate you deliver with you on your adventure:

1. Sunscreen – If it’s sunny outside and you’re hiking through the woods or up a mountain with a cool breeze in your face, you in all probability won’t be capable of inform that your ears and face are getting completely torched. Get your self some waterproof sweatproof sunscreen (SPF 30 minimum) to cowl up those ears, cheeks, and back of your neck.
2. Bug spray – especially if it’s “that time of the year” in your space the place bugs are out in full pressure. Nothing worse than coming home to arms and legs coated in bug bites.
3. First aid kit– Having some first assist stuff with you is a good idea: band-aids and moleskin for blisters and cuts, Neosporin or some kind of disinfectant for cuts/scrapes, and maybe a bandage or two simply in case. Outdoor stores sell travel first aid kits (as does Amazon), but I’d advise you to make your own (you should have these items in your medication cupboard anyway – after which you’ll know exactly the place everything is!).
four. Pocket knife – Not essential if you’re in a park, but a good factor to have with you out within the woods so you’re ready for anything. Like McGyver.
5. Sunglasses – No need to go blind whereas out on the trail. You most likely have already got sunglasses floating round your house: I’d advocate bringing the $5 ones quite than $250 Ray-Bans.
6. Cellphone – a phone might help bail you out in case of an emergency, and in case you have a smartphone it could multitask as your compass, distance tracker, mapper, and so forth. Even when you have a cellphone, bringing a compass or GPS system isn’t a bad concept (unless it’s bright and sunny and you’re good at orienting yourself).

If you’re occurring an extended hike, bringing a light-weight phone charger that you ought to use to cost your cellphone up shortly is normally fairly easy.

What Food Should I Bring Hiking? What Should I Eat on a Day Hike?


You know, the stuff that retains us alive.

The answer to it will range significantly depending on how lengthy you plan on hiking for, the time of day, your love of snacking,so the advice here is going to largely mirror the recommendation we give in our dietary posts!

Although by no means a complete listing of snacks, this is usually what I wish to pack in my bag earlier than a hike:

1. Nuts – Almonds or walnuts. Great for snacking on, loaded w/ wholesome fats and protein. Nut butters are an excellent healthy fats choice too – my favorite is Trader Joe’s raw unsalted almond butter. Ingredient: almonds! They are excessive in calorie content nonetheless, so in case you are making an attempt to shed pounds, don’t do a 10-minute stroll and eat 4000 energy value of nuts. We within the business like to name that “counterproductive.”
2. Fruit – I throw two or three apples in my bag; apples and nuts mean I’ve pretty much obtained all of the fats, protein, and carbs I need for my day. Things like bananas, raisins, and other fruit are good options as properly – choose based mostly in your private preference and tastes. Just be careful with dried fruit, because it could possibly have a lot of sugar and energy, so don’t kid yourself into consuming 5000 calories price of dried fruit and call it healthy! It’s one thing we explore in-depth in our information “Is Fruit Healthy?“
three. Beef jerky! Make your individual or go with some high-quality store-bought stuff. Lots of protein, simple to pack, and retains nicely. Mmmmmm.

What about trail combine or granola bars?You’d probably think granola bars and trail combine are synonymous with hiking, however I’m actually not a fan of either unless they’re homemade – these merchandise are usually loaded with salt/sugar and processed grains and are fairly rattling unhealthy.

If you’re gonna go with trail combine, make your individual with dried fruit and uncooked unsalted nuts. If you DON’T have other options, tossing a quantity of granola bars within the bag isn’t the end of the world.

More meals recommendation right here:

Primal Trail Food

A book (optional) – I LOVE READING (more than I love lowercase letters), so I at all times travel with my Kindle. Although hiking with friends can be fun, I additionally get a huge thrill out of hiking out to a remote location overlooking a valley or sitting on the edge of a river with a guide in order that I can spend a quantity of hours getting lost in a narrative.

If it’s a multi-day hike and you’re avoiding expertise, then bringing a useless tree book is price the additional weight in your bag!

A camera (optional) –Although I truly have a camera that I journey with, many of the pictures I’ve been taking recently have been carried out with my iPhone using apps like Camera+ or ProHDR (which I freaking love). Both apps are definitely price the value.

You don’t must be a fantastic photographer, simply have to capture the moment to look back on fondly as a crotchety old grandpa. Obviously, if you’re a severe photographer, you’ve already planned to pack your DSLR so I won’t get into that.

Seven Hiking Tips for Beginners

1. KNOW THE LOCAL WILDLIFE!Do a fast search of your hike to know what kinds of critters you’ll encounter on the trail. If you would possibly be hiking in bear country or snake country, these are issues it’s essential to know. Whether it’s carrying a can of bear mace or understanding what to look for, this may help you prevent critical problems. Also, be careful for wild ostriches.
2. CLEAN UP, CHECK FOR TICKS – if you’re in a closely wooded space and carving via the wilderness, verify your self for ticks and be positive to take a bathe with sizzling water and cleaning soap immediately whenever you get residence in case you came in contact with any toxic vegetation or issues like that. I can’t inform you how many occasions I awoke with a swollen face as a child because of my hike through poison ivy the day earlier than.
three. AIM FOR THE HIGH GROUND – I love hiking to tall issues: the top of a mountain, the excessive point in a city, the roof of a constructing. It offers you a fantastic halfway point to cease, eat some lunch or dinner, and enjoy the view; plus, you already know precisely how far you want to go in your method down. One piece of advice on going DOWN a steep mountain or plenty of steps: Shorten your stride, and take care to land on the balls of your toes with a bent knee if attainable – if you’re touchdown in your heels for hundreds of steps, it could possibly wreak havoc on your knees and joints as there’s no shock absorption. I remember how sore my knees have been the day after hiking down Colca Canyon in Peru with my buddy Cash as a result of I didn’t make an effort to melt my steps and take care of my physique.
four. URBAN HIKING – “But Steve I reside in a city, I can’t go hiking!” Why the hell not? Load up your backpack, map out a route on Google Maps, perhaps even find a tall building – avoid the elevator, climb the steps. Or stroll till you find a park, sit on a bench, and browse a guide. Sure, it’s not the identical as hiking the Rockies, but it will still get your heart pumping and toes moving! Like The Goonies teaches us, journey may be found in your personal backyard with the proper attitude!
5. KEEP TRACK OF IT – If you’ve an iPhone or Android, download a hiking or working app to maintain observe of how far you go and how much hiking you do. Although I haven’t been monitoring my hikes overseas (I depart my cellphone in Airplane mode whereas traveling), I’ve heard great issues about RunKeeper and EasyTrails. If you have extra apps or ideas on tips on how to hold track of your hikes, let me know in the comments and I’ll add them here. I personally use an inexpensive Fitbit Flex 2, which tracks my steps and elevation. Good enough!
6. GEOCACHING – Great enjoyable could be had whereas geocaching. Simply go to the internet site, monitor your location, and then resolve on which cache you’re going to track down. Think of it as a real-life model of Indiana Jones or Uncharted, minus the Nazis and undead warriors. We geocached around Sydney for a Nerd Fitness meetup, and it was delightful!
7. GIVE A HOOT, DON’T POLLUTE – Pack it in, pack it out. If you convey anything with you, it better be coming again with you. Don’t depart trash in the woods, and decide up any further trash you see out there. The wilderness thanks you on your service, citizen!

Not all those who wander are misplaced (sTART hIKING tODAY)

This article is just a primer, meant to whet your appetite and make you excited to go hiking and exploring the great world around us.

Here are a few other resources on hiking if you want more info. Feel free to let me know extra in the comments:

I challenge you to plan a hike for this upcoming weekend. YES, even when you’re in the opposite hemisphere and it’s really cold out!

Get some great snacks, strap on your sneakers, grab a pal, and go discover.

I’d love to hear from you concerning the place you’re going hiking this weekend.

Leave a remark beneath and let me know:

1. Where you’re going.
2. When you’re going.
3. And what you’re most excited about!
four. Promise that you won’t hike pants-less.
5. Any suggestions you’ve for your fellow hikers.


PS:Still unsure if you’ll be ready for your massive hike? I’ll again remind you of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program. We have purchasers who successfully used this system to coach for hiking up massive mountains, and we’d like to see if we may help you too!

PPS:If Coaching ain’t your bag, you’ll be able to always use our new app to jumpstart your new adventures!


photo credit: 77krc Mixed Nuts

All different photographs from my Photostream

A Beginners Guide To Hiking What To Wear Finding Trails
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