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3 Essential Tips for First-Time Hikers


Photo: Mariah Krafft

You may be asking yourself, what are the “must-haves” for packing and trekking up the mountain. What do I need for a short day hike? What if I’m going on a hiking trip for three days? The truth is, there are a few things that are essential to keep yourself safe, but other than that it is up to personal preference and your outdoor needs.

Let's break it down.

1. Safety First!

Whether you’re going for a long trek or strolling out for a day hike, it is important to take a precautionary step before heading to the trailhead: pack a first aid kit. This way you can enjoy your hike without worry. You can buy one that is premade or make one yourself. Every kit should include:


  • Bandages (multiple sizes)

  • Moleskin or blister plasters

  • Cleansing wipes

  • Adhesive tape

  • Compression or elastic bandage

  • Safety pins


These are the essentials, but feel free to add other items that you deem necessary. Assemble your kit, throw it in your car or pack, and that way you have it on hand should you need it. Hopefully, you won’t!

2. Nutrition and Hydration

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Photo: Klean Kanteen

This tip goes along with safety because having enough energy and staying hydrated are ways of keeping your body safe. The number one thing to keep in mind for hydration is to make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes. Electrolytes are essential minerals that your body needs to maintain the balance of fluids inside and outside of your cells. You can buy packets of electrolytes that you add to water or you can make your own. According to Raising Generation Nourished, it’s easy; all you need is:

  • 1 ½ - 2 Cups water

  • Juice of ½ a lemon

  • ⅛ - ¼ tsp Himalayan or Sea Salt

  •  2 tsp honey

Down it before you go or add it to your water bottle that you already have packed.


As far as nutrition goes, make sure you’re packing nutritional, high-energy foods that are lightweight and easy to carry. Some ideas include:

  • Nutrition bars

  • Trail mix

  • Dried fruit

  • Nuts and nut bars

  • Apples 

  • Bananas

  • Dehydrated food (especially for longer trips)

  • Beef jerky

  • Sandwiches


An excellent way to organize and pack your food for a hike is to use a food box or an insulated canister. You want your food to stay organized and fresh. Klean Kanteen has got you covered. They have an assortment of food boxes and insulated canisters to choose from that are perfect for any outing up the mountain. Check them out so you have one less thing to worry about while packing. 


Listen to your own body and pack accordingly!

3. Gear


Photo: Alice Donovan Rouse

It is important to make sure you have the right gear for your hike. No one wants to be stuck on the side of a mountain in a downpour with no raincoat, or halfway into a hike and regret your shoe choice. Gear will make or break your experience so make sure to plan ahead.


Hiking Boots

Choose hiking boots that fit well and protect your ankle and arch. Make sure to wear a good pair of thick socks. Your boots need to be broken in before your hike up a mountain. Otherwise, you will need to break out that first aid kit. If you recently purchased a new pair, wear them around the house or go for a walk to make sure they’re fully broken in.



The key is layering. Start with a base layer, then a warmth layer, and throw in a rain jacket (just in case!). You can always take layers off, but you can’t put on what you don’t have. 



Depending on your needs you may also want a pair of trekking or walking poles. These can provide protection for your knees, aid in balance and stability on unlevel terrain, and help with posture. They’re a good option to help with stamina as well.




Lastly, you’ll want a backpack to carry all of your essentials. Ideally, this is something compact and lightweight. You won’t be needing anything fancy like a backpacking pack, but something that fits everything you need, and fits your body.


Grab your gear, water, and snacks, and throw in that first aid kit. You’re ready to embark on a hiking adventure.

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