A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking: Everything You Need to Know

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.

I’m going to make a bet with you.

By the end of today’s article, I bet I can convince you to say the following, “Damn Steve! Now I want to go hiking. FINE.”

After all, Hiking is one of the greatest things you can do for your health, both mental and physical:

  • It’s amazing way to get off your ass and explore your local surroundings.
  • It requires next to nothing to get started.
  • It’s a great bonding activity with friends, family, and significant others
  • It’s a great date idea for the right person!
  • You already have everything you need to get started.
  • It’s free. As in, zero dollars.
  • It’s a great reminder that this world in which we live is pretty amazing.

Our community members love hiking too. In fact, one of our recent success stories specifically cited hiking as one of the fun activities she loved to do to help her lose 50 pounds.

Today I’m going to teach you how to hike with a little help from our furry-footed friends.

By the end of today’s post, my goal is convince you to have picked a trail, picked a date, and identified a fella or gal to join your fellowship (galship?).

I took the above picture while hiking through Killarney National Park in Ireland many years ago, and every time I look at it, I couldn’t help but think of Tolkien’s middle-earth masterpiece, so I apologize (not really) for all of the Lord of the Rings nerdery running throughout this post!

Let’s get you hiking.

Hiking 101: How to Get Started With Hiking

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

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

If you’re just beginning your journey to a better lifestyle, just thinking about serious hiking can be enough to keep you inside your comfy hobbit hole.

Although hiking can an epic undertaking, it doesn’t need to be!

It can also be super simple and fun:

  • A quick jaunt (such a great word, right?) around your local park after work.
  • Exploring the woods behind your house with your kids on a saturday morning.
  • A half-day hike with your friends on a fun nature trail.
  • A full day or overnight hike that also includes camping.

Here’s my definition for hiking: A person (or self-aware robot) exploring their surroundings and their feet are on actual ground. Like, dirt. And grass.

Some might say it needs to be difficult, have a certain elevation change, require a blah blah blah. It literally doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you go outside 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 looking for a fun “cardio” activity and want to exercise in a way that’s exciting, hiking is a great way to get your legs, feet, and body used to strenuous activity.

You get to pick your speed and difficulty, you can always find a way the right amount of challenge for you.

HIKING101: 5 STEPS TO PLAN OUT YOUR ADVENTURE

1) Decide how long you have to hike.  This is a beginner’s guide to hiking, we’re not looking to hike the Appalachian Trail. Instead, we want to start with  trails that can be done in less than a day, that won’t require you to pack a tent, or bring extra change of clothes.  Pick a hike based on how much time you have – do you have the entire Sunday? Or do you just have a few hours on a Tuesday afternoon? It took Frodo and Sam 6 months to get to Mordor, but you probably don’t have that much time.

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

2) Decide if you’ll be hiking solo or with a friend/group – I love hiking solo – it’s mobile meditation for me.  However, it’s also more dangerous should anything happen while you’re out on the trail! If you’re heading into the wilderness, I’d recommend buddying up with a friend or your significant other for your hike. It’s the perfect bonding opportunity. This is especially true if they have more hiking experience or they know the area that you’re hiking in.

3) Determine your level – if you are a hiking newbie and horribly out of shape, sending yourself out on an eight hour hike through the unmapped wilderness is incredibly unintelligent. And as your mom has probably told you before, “I thought you were smarter than that.”

Start slow, and pick places around your town that will allow you to stop when necessary and get back to your car or home quickly. No need to be a hero; it’s always better to come back excited and say “wow that was easier than I expected!” than to realize you’re six hours from home and out of steam. Well, being a hero is cool. But not THAT kind of hero.

4) Pick your hiking location – Keep it simple! Go to AllTrails.com, put in your zip code, find your hiking trail!

Or pull up Google Maps and look for big green plots of land. We call those “parks.” Google the park name, learn about it, and decide if that’s where you want to go. Do not over complicate this step. Just get started.

Ask your active, adventurous friends or coworkers if they know any good spots.

The world is FULL of hiking trails and awesomeness – you just need to know where to look.

5) Regardless of where you are going, let somebody else know where are when – if you are out hiking alone, take the time to email or call somebody and let him know that you’ll be hiking and when you expect to be back.

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

You don’t need to tell them the brand of your underwear (please tell me you’re wearing underwear) or how many almonds you’re bringing, but let them know the important details so if they don’t hear back from you by a certain time they know to alert the proper authorities.

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

  • How much time you can dedicate to hiking.
  • Who you will be hiking with.
  • Your level of experience
  • Using AllTrails.com or GoogleMaps to pick your hiking location.
  • Who you will tell about your hiking experience.

HIking Footwear: What to Wear on your Feet Hiking!

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

In all seriousness, I’m a big fan of being comfortable without breaking the bank. Like, you probably already have most of the clothing you need to go hiking.

WHAT SHOES SHOULD I WEAR TO HIKE IN?

We cover footwear extensively in our healthy feet article, but I’ll cover shoes specifically in the case of hiking here, but we at Nerd Fitness are huge fan of Merrell products – Merrell shoes of various types have treated me well for the past decade.

Just don’t a lack of quality hiking boots keep you from a hike. If you’re concerned, pick an easy paced hike with your current shoes to be safe and ramp up when you can ramp up your gear!

Some people hike the Appalachian Trail in their bare feet (must be part-Hobbit), so whatever you do: don’t let your footwear choice keep you from getting started. Just make sure you break your shoes in and take them on test drives! Don’t take the tags off a new pair of shoes and then go on a multi-day hike – that’s a recipe for blisters and a miserable time.

Okay, let’s look at our feet. 

Now that we’ve done that, let’s look at some shoe options:

LEVEL ONE: Hiking shoes – “hiking shoes” are great if you’re going to be doing simple day hikes or hiking occasionally: they have good grip on the bottom, give you enough support, but aren’t too heavy that they are a hindrance.

Here are my favorite options if you in the market for some new hiking shoes:

  • Merrell Vent Hiking Shoe
  • Merrell Trail Glove 4 (Men) – I have the blue ones. They rock.
  • Merrell Trail Glove 4 (women)Oh what’s that? “Steve I don’t have hiking shoes! Is this the end of the world?” Well, do you have any sort of athletic shoe? Depending on the grip on the bottom, they could be decently okay for you to get started with when it comes to a basic hike.If sneakers are your only option, lace em up, pick a beginner hike, and see how they do. Just be careful on slippery surfaces – your kicks might not give you the grip won’t give you the grip you need to get over them.

LEVEL TWO – Hiking boots – I don’t hike enough or do enough multi-day hikes to justify the cost of hiking boots, but again I would point to Merrell boots if you’re in the market.

“Why boots over shoes, Steve?” 

Although many prefer trail shoes (like yours truly), I can absolutely see the value in a great pair of hiking boots if you’re going on a serious hike, traveling for multiple days, or more. They have more ankle support, thicker tread, thicker shoes, and provide your feet with significantly more protection.

REI has a great article helping you pick between Trail shoes and Trail boots. My advice? Start with what you currently have before deciding whether or not to invest in big boots. Once you build up the habit of hiking and decide you want to make it a bigger part of your life, you can make the investment.

My advice? If you are going to buy boots, go to a professional store, get fitted properly, and then break them in over many weeks before going out on a trail.

WEIRD BUT FUN FOR SIMPLE HIKES: Vibram FiveFingers I hiked all around the globe, in various situations, wearing my Vibrams for close to 4 years. They made me feel like a ninja monkey, and a hobbit. I got weird looks, but something just felt right about being able to feel the contours of the ground beneath me. I will say, when hiking in Vibrams it can be easier to twist an ankle when stepping on a root or rock, stepping on sharp rocks can hurt, so I found myself watching my feet much more than expected.

These days, I’m much more of a trail shoe kind of guy, but some still swear by Vibrams!

If you’re in the market for buying new boots, this quick video is a good primer:

WHAT SOCKS SHOULD YOU WEAR?

If you’re wearing boots or sneakers, you want to wear socks that aren’t going to give you blisters or make your feet all sweaty and gross.

Depending on how long the hike is, how serious you are about hiking, and your budget, you can look into merino-wool socks.

Like the rest of your outfit, what you wear on your feet will largely be dependent on a few things:

  • Weather! Are you hiking in the a forest and it’s 72 degrees out? Or are you hiking up the side of the mountain in cold conditions?
  • Shoes! Are you in lightweight hiking shoes, lightweight hiking socks for the win. Hiking in big boots in cold months? Big thick warm socks are almost a requirement.
  • Budget! Are you shopping for specific socks? Tall or short? Great. If you are brand new to hiking, just wear whatever athletic socks you wear while exercising.
  • What’s the environment? If you’re hiking through grass, tall plants, etc. I’d go with tall socks (with your pants possibly tucked into them too). You’re not out there to win a fashion show!

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

What to Wear While Hiking: Clothing

SHOULD YOU WEAR PANTS OR SHORTS?

Pro tip: Don’t go pantsless through the wilderness. I cannot stress this enough.

The real advice when it comes to pants/shorts is heavily dependent upon your environment. If it’s going to be cold, shorts might keep you shivering. If it’s going to be hot, pants might get too uncomfortable.

Jeans? Ehhhhh. Sure. ONLY if its going to be a comfortable temperature and you have no other option. Being sweaty and hot while wearing jeans isn’t very fun.

I’m a big fan of my nerd pants – the Columbia Silver Ridge pants. Although they look kind of goofy, they’re incredibly light weight, dry quickly, and can transform from pants to shorts in mere seconds!

Traveling through woods, not sure what you’ll encounter? Wear lightweight pants. I am horribly allergic to poison ivy and who knows what else, so I like to keep as much of my body covered while hiking to make sure I don’t make contact with anything I’m allergic to. [2]

WHAT TYPE OF SHIRT SHOULD YOU WEAR? 

My favorite options are merino wool long shirts and t-shirts: they’re light, wick away moisture, hide odors, and breathe well – though you will be paying top dollar for them.

If you’re just starting out, pick an old t-shirt and rock that – you can work on optimizing performance once you’ve got a few hikes under your belt.

Shameless plug: the Nerd Fitness t-shirt does hold up quite well to wear and tear over long periods of time – I’ve been rocking my shirt in heavy rotation on lots of hikes for years. It can also withstand gamma rays and makes you invisible.[3]

if you’re on a multi-day hike in various conditions then having lightweight merino wool shirts you can layer and not need to wash would be great. But just going for a hike in the woods in your back yard? Whatever you would wear while running, training, etc. Aka whatever won’t chafe!

SHOULD YOU BRING A JACKET?

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 keeps me dry when it rains, and heavy enough to block the wind to keep me warm when it’s chilly.

Don’t go out of your way to buy a new jacket if you have a decent wind breaker, but if you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking or you’re in the market for a new coat, here’s my advice: go to a local store and try out all of the jackets until you find one you like.

Once you find the perfect jacket, go home and check online (you can sometimes find the same jacket for up to 60% less) – then, ask the local store if they’ll price match or just buy it online.

SHOULD YOU WEAR A HAT?

You should definitely bring a hat. I’m usually rocking my Nerd Fitness hat or my Red Sox hat (booo Yankees), but while hiking in Australia I wore a hat with a giant floppy brim to keep my ears and face protected from the sun.

The tops of your ears and back of your neck are highly susceptible to getting burned while on the trail, so either get some sunscreen or wear a hat that keeps them covered.

The same is true for keeping pesky things out of your hair, the sun from burning your ears and face, and keep you a bit cooler.

WHAT KIND OF BACKPACK SHOULD YOU BRING?

Digging into the ins and outs of backpacks is far beyond the scope of this article. I’d recommend you check out my friend Chase’s Bag Review Youtube channel – guaranteed to be the most fun you’ll ever have learning about bags.

So what would I recommend for a beginner on a hike? The bag you currently have! If you’re going on a short hike, you can start with simply whatever bag you have. The lighter and more comfy it is, the better.

Multi-day hikes where you’re living out of your bag, packing up and building a tent each day – this is beyond the scope of this article. I 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 have the means and the time, and you’re planning to go on certain hikes, go to a outdoor speciality store, speak with a professional, and get fitted for your body type and type of hike you’re doing!

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: VERSATILITY

If your weather forecast is “75 and sunny,” and you’re hiking for the afternoon through a gradually sloping wooded forest, you can severely limit what you’re bringing with you.

If it’s questionable or looks like things might change during the day, versatility is your best bet – a jacket, pants that can become 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 activity you want to invest in.  Borrow from friends, make do with what you have

Just get started.

BY NOW YOU SHOULD HAVE A ROUGH IDEA OF WHAT YOU WILL BE WEARING! 

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

I just decided:

  • I’d hike in my current gym sneakers.
  • I have a pair of gardening pants and tall socks I can wear.
  • I have a floppy hat.
  • My new Nerd Fitness t-shirt.

I feel like I’m good to go!

Perfect.

How Much Water Should You Bring On Your Hike?

If there’s ONE thing you should not leave home without, it’s a water container so you can stay hydrated.

“How much water should I be drinking on my hike, Steve?”

Great question. I knew you were smart from the moment you started reading this article.

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

FAVORITE WATER CONTAINERS:

I’m partial to stainless steel bottles or aluminum bottles over Nalgene or reused plastic bottles, but make do with what you have.  Make sure you bring enough water with you to keep 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 only that, but make sure you have been consuming water before you go hiking so that you’re not starting at a hydration deficit.

Hangovers + early morning hikes – water = bad news bears.

Important Gear to Bring On Your Hike.

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

Here’s what I’d recommend you bring with you on your adventure:

SunscreenIf it’s sunny outside and you’re hiking through the woods or up a mountain with a cool breeze in your face, you probably won’t be able to tell that your ears and face are getting absolutely torched.  Get yourself some waterproof sweatproof sunscreen (SPF 30 minimum) to cover up those ears, cheeks, and back of your neck.

Bug spray especially if it’s “that time of the year” in your area where bugs are out in full force.  Nothing worse than coming home to arms and legs covered in bug bites.

First aid kit – Having some first aid stuff with you is a good idea: band-aids and moleskin for blisters and cuts, Neosporin or some type of disinfectant for cuts/scrapes, and maybe a bandage or two just 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 things in your medicine cabinet anyways – and then you’ll know exactly where everything is!).

Pocket knife – Not essential if you’re in a park, but a good thing to have with you out in the woods so you’re prepared for anything. Like McGyver.

Sunglasses – No need to go blind while out on the trail.  You probably already have sunglasses floating around your house: I’d recommend bringing the $5 ones rather than $250 Ray-Bans.

Cellphone – a phone can help bail you out in case of emergency, and if you have a smart phone it can multitask as your compass, distance tracker, mapper, and so on. Even if you have a cellphone, bringing a compass or GPS system isn’t a bad idea (unless it’s bright and sunny and you’re good at orienting yourself).

If you’re going on a longer hike, bringing a lightweight phone charger that you can use to charge your phone up quickly is usually pretty easy.

Great Hiking Snacks and FOod!

FOOD!

You know, the stuff that keeps us alive.

The answer to this will vary greatly depending on how long you plan on hiking for, the time of day, your love of snacking, so the advice here is going to largely mirror the advice we give in our nutritional posts!

Although by no means a complete list of snacks, this is usually what I like to pack in my bag before a hike:

Nuts – Almonds or walnuts. Great for snacking on, loaded w/ healthy fat and protein.

Nut butters are a good healthy fat option too – my favorite is trader Joe’s raw unsalted almond butter. Ingredient: almonds!

They are high in calorie content however, so if you are trying to lose weight, don’t do a 10 minute walk and eat 4000 calories worth of nuts.

We in the business like to call that “counterproductive.”

Fruit – I throw two or three apples in my bag; apples and nuts mean I’ve pretty much got all of the fat, protein, and carbs I need for my day.

Things like bananas, raisins, and other fruit are good options as well – pick based on your personal preference and tastes.

Fruit (especially dried fruit) can have lots of sugar and calories, so don’t kid yourself into eating 5000 calories worth of dried fruit and call it healthy!

Beef jerky! Make your own or go with some high quality store bought stuff.  Lots of protein, easy to pack, and keeps well. Mmmmmm.

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

If you’re gonna go with trail mix, make your own with dried fruit and raw unsalted nuts. If you DON’T have other options, tossing a few granola bars in the bag isn’t the end of the world.

More food advice here:

Primal Trail Food

A book (optional) – I LOVE READING (more than I love lowercase letters), so I always travel with my Kindle. Although hiking with friends can be fun, I also 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 book so that I can spend a few hours getting lost in a story.

If it’s a multi-day hike and you’re avoiding technology, then bringing a dead tree book is worth the extra weight in your bag!

A camera (optional) – Although I have a camera that I travel with, most of the pictures I’ve been taking recently have been done with my iPhone using apps like Camera+ or ProHDR (which I freaking love). Both apps are worth the price.

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

Tips and Tricks

**KNOW THE LOCAL WILDLIFE!** Do a quick search of your hike to know what sorts of critters you’ll encounter on the trail. If you are hiking in bear country or snake country, these are things it’s very important to know. Whether it’s carrying a can of bear mace or knowing what to look for, this can help you prevent serious problems.

Also watch out for wild ostriches.

**CLEAN UP, CHECK FOR TICKS** – if you’re in a heavily wooded area and carving through the wilderness, check yourself for ticks and make sure you take a shower with hot water and soap immediately when you get home in case you came in contact with any poisonous plants or things like that. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up with a swollen face as a kid because of my hike through poison ivy the day before.

Aim for the high ground – I love hiking to tall things: the top of a mountain, the high point in a town, the roof of a building.  It gives you a great halfway point to stop, eat some lunch or dinner, and enjoy the view; plus, you already know exactly how far you need to go on your way down.

One piece of advice on going DOWN a steep mountain or a lot of steps: Shorten your stride, and take care to land on the balls of your feet with a bent knee if possible – if you’re landing on your heels for thousands of steps, it can wreak havoc on your knees and joints as there’s no shock absorption.

I remember how sore my knees were the day after hiking down Colca Canyon in Peru with my buddy Cash because I didn’t make an effort to soften my steps and take care of my body.

Urban Hiking – “But Steve I live in a city, I can’t go hiking!” Why the hell not? Load up your backpack, map out a route on Google maps, maybe even find a tall building – avoid the elevator, climb the steps.

Or walk until you find a park, sit on a bench and read a book. Sure, it’s not the same as hiking the Rockies, but it will still get your heart pumping and feet moving!

Like The Goonies teaches us, adventure can be found in your own backyard with the right attitude!

Keep track of it – If you have an iPhone or Android, download a hiking or running app to keep track of how far you go and how much hiking you do.

Although I haven’t been tracking my hikes abroad (I leave my phone in Airplane mode while traveling), I’ve heard great things about RunKeeper and EasyTrails. If you have more apps or suggestions on how to keep track of your hikes, let me know in the comments and I’ll add them here.

I personally use a cheap Fitbit Flex 2, which tracks my steps and elevation. Good enough!

Geocaching – Great fun can be had while geocaching.  Simply go to the website, track your location, and then decide on which cache you’re going to track down. Think of it like a real life version of Indiana Jones or Uncharted, minus the Nazis and undead warriors. We geocached around Sydney for a Nerd Fitness meetup, and it was delightful!

Give a hoot, don’t pollute – Pack it in, pack it out. If you bring anything with you, it better be coming back with you. Don’t leave trash in the woods, and pick up any extra trash you see out there. The wilderness thanks you for your service, citizen!

Not all those who wander are lost

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

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

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

Get some great snacks, strap on your shoes, grab a friend, and go explore.

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

Leave a comment below and let me know:

  • Where you’re going.
  • When you’re going.
  • And what you’re most excited about!
  • Promise that you won’t hike pants-less.
  • Any tips you have for your fellow hikers.

-Steve

PS: We’re celebrating “Outsiders Month” here at Nerd Fitness, so if you have pictures of yourself rocking your Nerd Fitness Gear outdoors doing something epic, send a photo to contact@nerdfitness.com so I can feature you!

PPS: Today’s Rebel Hero: Saint, whose success story has inspired hundreds of thousands of people. 8 years since publishing that success story, Saint is now happily married, a father of two, and just built a new swing set for his kids!

Notice that little rock climbing wall? I’m sure his 1 year old daughter and 3 year old son (both Rebels already!) will be scaling sheer rock faces in no time. He’s a Rebel hero indeed.

###

photo credit: 77krc Mixed Nuts

All other photos from my Photostream

 

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  • Haniyyah ChumChum Chapman

    This is pretty great, and you’re quite a character. Hike on!

  • Rebecca

    Hubby and I are going hiking tomorrow. This blog was a great find. Thanks for all the tips.

  • Joseph Taylor

    hey guys,,,,,,, Know Your Limits: The biggest peak in the Adirondacks is Marcy and I have heard so many people climb that for their first hike. Its 12 hours round-trip! Start off easy, little incline, nature walks. Get your legs working but not overworked. A good ‘cutting your teeth’ hike is around 3 miles round-trip and then off you go from there! Find Your Rhythm: Easier said than done of course. There is a whole school of thought about how fast/slow you should hike that usually involves what your sweat point is (don’t be grossed out, it’s the outdoors!). http://physictourism.com/category/adventure/hiking/

  • Terance Ona Mission Mcleod

    Really enjoyed your post im trying to get into more hikes

  • onefishtwofish1

    Just found your site. Bringing my 6,5,2,and 8 month old hiking for the first time. Nothing too intense of course, but thanks for the tips!!

  • Alex Ann Lee

    hi guys it is good article. .. admittedly, when I was hiking my first peaks and I saw people on the trail with hiking poles I thought, ha-ha, losers with their ski poles. Silly me, these things are great! They save on the back going up and save on the knees going down. They really can support you, trust me, so if you are planning on making hiking a regular thing, look into them. http://physictourism.com/

  • Crystal Kelly Yzaguirre

    you and I need to get married. Hot AND you love LOTR? sign me up =]

  • jam

    Thank you so much for these tips. I’ve been toying with the idea of hiking for a while and there are some awesome places near where I live that have awesome views. I like to walk, and I’ve already walked all over my city, but I think it’s time I venture out of the city limits. My goal is Tinagong Dagat in Lambunao, but I’m intimidated by the whole idea of finding a guide and collecting some hiking buddies. But just a few secs here, as well as googling some other places have given me some confidence that it might actually be doable.

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  • Deborah-Jane Garvin

    Great information, interesting… This as given me a lot to go at before i start hiking. Thanks Steve

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  • Bharu

    Interesting and useful blog 🙂

  • Wil Layton

    Great resource for beginning hikers! I would make one adjustment to the shoes portion, while I do agree with you that bulky boots isn’t cool, but the Vibrams, might be a little too geeky – might be better with some trail running shoes like New Balance Minimalist or Merrell has a few good pair. Their lightweight, usually waterproof and do the job well!

  • Court

    “Pants – Don’t go pantsless through the wilderness – best tip I can give you all day.

    [Nuts] are high in calorie content however, so if you are trying to lose weight, don’t do a 10 minute walk and eat 4000 calories worth of nuts. We in the business like to call that “counterproductive.”

    HAHAHA Steve, I just came upon this blog for the first time, and I have to say, you seem hilarious and awesome. Namaste! Your nerdiness rocks.

  • Breanne Wilkinson

    My biggest advice is to clear your mind while hiking. Focus on each and every step, breath, take small strides to avoid muscle fatigue, and don’t let yourself get in the way. I hike 2-3 times a week in South Korea (some of the most steep trails I have ever seen), and still struggle with this sometimes and notice other people who join our group (especially beginners) let themselves get in the way of their enjoyment of what is around them. Appreciate nature, lose yourself in the calm and peaceful surroundings.

    Also, don’t be afraid of the weather!! Prepare for the weather, yes, but don’t altogether run away from it. I started doing snow hikes this year (even though I used to hide during the winter) and they are now my favorite hikes to do!! Rainy hikes, sunny hikes, snowy hikes are all so different. Appreciating the changing seasons and the changing weather has been so amazing for me and also made me a better hiker all around.

  • hardi

    Books on tape! Great while solo bombing forrests and well wooded areas. Great article.

  • Daniel

    The Kingkiller Chronicles are phenomenal! Look out for the novella of Bast (The Lighting Tree) coming out in September (I think?).

  • Kelly

    Thank you! I’m interested in hiking and this has helped me feel a little bit more confident in approaching my future in hiking!

  • Neechie

    Loved this post. I’ve been taking more pictures lately, so I am ready to start my hiking adventures.

  • Annu

    Quite valuable post for people that are about to start their first hike.
    Back in the days when I got my first hikes there wasn’t any internet or GPS. To this day I don’t use GPS when I go somewhere I think some of the magic is lost.

  • Great information. I love all the posts, I
    really enjoyed, I would like more information about this, because it is very
    nice, Thanks for sharing. I like the site best.

  • Aaron

    I feel like Vibram might be missing out by not making a pair of hairy hobbit five-fingers.

  • Pingback: How Nick the Tobacconist Lost Over 60 lbs: A Nerd Fitness Success Story | Nerd Fitness()

  • Jess LeAnne Bear

    I Googled ‘hiking tips for beginners’ and when I saw ‘Nerd Fitness’, I was like, ‘Yay!! A site after my own heart!’ This site is great. Thank you for the great tips. I live near Colonel Denning State Park in Pennsylvania and never utilized its great trails. This year is going to be the year I start hiking. If only by myself. I know their trails are well marked and not that long. So, I think it would be a great start. Thanks again!!

  • liz

    My favorite app is the family of apps by name of map my fitness it tracks anything you do and they give you achievemint points so you can earn money for being active. You have to be a member of achievemint but its free just make sure you request membership

  • ❤️Breanna Breeze❤️

    I like the 5 finger socks! Great quality wool! I am usually into rain forests and the like, so I wear the keen hiking sandals… how will these work for say Mt Baldy (starting small)

  • OneToughMama

    I’m a hobbit fanatic so I award you a cool million nerd cred points! I also have stood at that same vantage point in Peru, so I’m now hooked on nerd fitness. Awesome job!

  • Mt Everest

    Kanchenjunga Trek (North & South Base Camp) – 24 days

    • Details

    Highlights:

    30 minutes flight to Biratnagar or Bhadrapur with stunning
    view of Himalaya ranges including Mt. Everest

    Ilam Tea garden on the way drive to Taplejung

    Close interaction with local people

    Stunning view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the World’s 3rd highest
    mountain

    Visit of North and South base camp of Mt. Kanchenjunga

    Warm hospitality of Sherpa, Rai & Limbu people

    High mountain passes of Sele La & Mirgingla

    Spectacular forest of rhododendron & Pine

    • Kanchenjunga
    Trek (North & South Base Camp) – 24 days

    from US$ 2820.00

    Overview:

    The Kanchenjunga Trek – 24 Days of pure raw adventure. this
    trip will, most probably, help you get rid of your demons, if any

    Description:

    Eastern Nepal is wonderfully known by its greater diversity
    on many accounts; ethnic groups such as the Rai, Limbu & Magar communities,
    a fertile range of flora due to the higher summer rainfall in the region, and
    some of the most breath-stopping mountain vistas anywhere in the Himalaya. By
    following the glacial torrent of the Tamur and Ghunsa Rivers to their source on
    the North West side of the Kanchenjunga Himal, we enter into a lesser known
    world where the beauty of the landscapes is downright rugged…but simply
    beautiful…& breathtakingly awesome.

    Dwarfed by an alpine opulence in almost every direction,
    peaks such as Pyramid Peak, Jannu, the Twins and of course Kanchenjunga (8586m)
    dominate the regal skylines of this region. It is no less dramatic on our
    southern traverse of the mountain on the return journey by way of the Mirgin La
    Pass at (4500m). This is a challenging traverse through a region seldom
    frequented in recent years…this adds up to the uniqueness of this area…where
    its just ‘us & the mountains & everything else it has to offer.

    This trek approaches the North Face Base Camp of the world’s
    third highest peak, Kanchenjunga (8598m) which lies in the eastern frontier of
    Nepal. Mt. Kanchenjunga, one of the world’s most challenging peaks to climb,
    geographically lies on the Nepal-Sikkim (India) border. The trek gets into gear
    right after arriving in Taplejung and goes through captivating green, crop
    growing villages and immaculate forests to the awe-inspiring North Face Base
    Camp at Pangpema (5065m), before crossing to Oktang – 4370m) the South Base
    Camp of Kanchenjunga via 3 PASSES OF SINION LA (4440m), MIRGIN LA (4480m) and
    SINELAPCHE BHANJYANG (4646m).

    Day 01: Arrival day in Kathmandu, pickup assistance and
    transfer to hotel.

    Day 02: Trek permit preparation and guided city tour of
    Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, Swoyambhu & Kathmandu Durbar Square. Overnight
    at hotel.

    Day 03: Flight Kathmandu – Bhadrapur or Biratnagar and drive
    to Phidim (6-7 hours drive). Overnight at hotel.

    Day 04: Drive Phidim – Taplejung (1820 m)- 3-4 hours drive;
    trek to Mitlung (920m) for 3 hours. Overnight at local tea house.

    Day 05: Trek to Chirwa (1300m)- 4-5 hours.

    Overnight at local tea house.

    Day 06: Trek to Sekathum (1670m) – 5 – 6 hours.

    Overnight at local tea house.

    Day 07: Trek to Amjilosa (2520m) – 5 – 6 hours. Overnight at
    local tea house.

    Day 08: Trek to Gyabla (2730 m) – 5 – 6 hours.

    Overnight at local tea house.

    Day 09: Trek to Ghunsa (3595 m) – 4 – 5 hours.

    Overnight in a guest house.

    Day 10: Acclimatisation day in Ghunsa

    Hike upto 4200m on the way to Dudhkunda (milky lake). 4 – 5
    hours.

    Overnight in a guest house.

    Day 11: Trek to Kambachen (4050 m) – 5 – 6 hours

    Overnight at local tea house.

    Day 12: Trek to Lhonak (4780 m) – 4 – 5 hours

    Overnight at local tea house.

    Day 13: Day hiking to Pangpema (5065 m) to view the Mt.
    Kanchenjunga and return to Lhonak for overnight stay at local tea house. 5 – 6
    hours.

    Day 14: Trek back to Ghunsa (3595 m)

    Overnight in a local guest house.

    Day 15: Trek to Selele (4300 m) – 5 – 6 hours

    Overnight in a basic tea house.

    Day 16: Trek Sele La – Sinion La Pass (4460 m) – Mirgin La
    Pass (4480 m) – Sinelapcha La Pass (4646 m) – Tseram (3870 m) – 7 – 8 hours.

    Overnight at local tea house.

    Day 17: Day hiking to Oktang Base Camp – 5 – 6 hours.

    We go for day hiking to Oktang to observe the Kanchenjunga
    South and return to Tseram for Overnight stay at local tea house.

    Day 18: Trek to Torangden (2995m) – 3 – 4 hours

    Overnight at a local tea house.

    Day 19: Trek to Yamphudin (2080m) – 5 – 6 hours

    Overnight at a local tea house.

    Day 20: Trek to Khebang (1910m). – 4 – 5 hours.

    Overnight at a local tea house.

    Day 21: Trek to Khandembe (1420 m) – 5 – 6 hours

    Day 22: Trek to Medibung (1510 m) – 3 hours and drive to
    Ilam (2150m) – 4 – 5 hours.

    Overnight in a guest house.

    Day 23: Drive to Bhadrapur / Biratnagar and fly to Kathmandu

    Day 24: Departure. Fly back home or onward journey. ***End
    of Tour***

    What’s Included:

    Airport pick up / drop off by car. Guided city tour as per
    above program. 3 nights accommodation with breakfast at tourist class hotel in
    Kathmandu. An experience Guide (trained by Ministry of tourism), 1 porter
    between 2 members Transfer to and from Biratnagar / Bhadrapur on jeep. Meals
    (breakfast, lunch, dinner with tea / coffee) during the trek. Accommodation at
    tea houses on the trek (best available) Kanchenjunga special trek permit &
    Conservation permit. Domestic flights (Kathmandu / Biratnagar or Bhadrapur /
    Kathmandu) Satelite phone for emergency uses Government taxes and office
    service fee

    What’s Not Included:

    Any meals in Kathmandu other than breakfast.

    Travel insurance

    International air fare to and from Nepal.

    Nepal Tourist Visa fee US$ 25 or equivalent foreign currency
    with multiple entry for 15 days, US$ 40 or equivalent foreign currency with
    multiple entry for 30 days. You may easily issue the visa upon your arrival at
    Tribhuwan International Airport – Kathmandu.

    Items of a personal nature

    Any kind of alcoholic drinks, hot water, hot shower, cold
    drinks, laundry, phone call, internet.

    Trekking Equipments (down sleeping bag and down jackets are
    available to hire or buy in Kathmandu, which would cost approximately US$ 1 per
    day per item to hire and US$ 60 to US$ 100 per item to buy).

    Tips for guide, porters, driver.

    http://nepalguideinfo.com/kanchanjunga-trek/

    http://nepalguideinfo.com/

    http://www.hikehimalayas.com

    Email-:sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com

    Mobile+9779841613822

  • Great resource indeed! And I cannot emphasize the importance of water and a hat — not a baseball cap, but a real hat with a brim that goes around your entire head.

  • Ainsleigh

    Its like he speaks my language or something.

  • J.M Black

    Hi, I’m a newbie and I want to start hiking eventually travel the world. I am a big fan of Lord of the Rings as well. I’m thankful for your post, as much as I would like to go hiking on my own I can see from your advice that it is not a wide decision especially since I have terrible sense of direction.
    Will do small ones at a time until I’m good at it. Thanks again.

  • Gina Marie

    Great advice and well written article! I wish I found this BEFORE I went to Norway this past June. (Love your photo in Geiranger.)

  • Gina Marie

    Great article & well written. Wish I read this BEFORE going to Norway! (Love the pic of you in Geiranger!)

  • Debber

    Thank you for the great advice for novice hikers. And I too, am a Hobbittown nerd along with my husband. Love the sweet song of the Shire at the end. I need a tin whistle now.

  • Kel Taye

    THAT WAS FUNNY, you put funny on the map for hiking Steve lol

  • Tabitha McInvaille

    Well you marry me! Lmao.

  • Ayaan

    I started hiking over the summer and loved it. On my first hike I unfortunately didn’t think to get some sunscreen and didn’t realise until after I got home that my face was red raw, however, this didn’t stop me from going on my next hike the following week.

    I really enjoyed reading this post and wish that I had found it earlier but it has definitely given me plenty of info to keep in mind.

    I’m off to the Devil’s Punchbowl in Surrey this Saturday and can’t wait.

    Happy Hiking to everyone!

  • Trinity

    My dad and I are very unhealthy. Tonight at 12:00 a.m exactly he said “We need to lose weight we could die any second.” I told him I couldn’t think of anything and then I thought… well I love adventures and nature… so I thought hiking. I looked up different places… and then what I needed to wear… and that is how I found your article. I could not have asked for a better helper! Thank you so much!!!!!!!! Do you have an instagram? I would love to see your hiking pictures!!!!!

  • kate

    funny and informative:)

  • Wildflower Hiker

    Love your blog! I really liked the passage about Urban Hiking–important to remember that even those living in cities can still get exercise and adventure.

  • Obi-Wan Thruhiker

    Darn Tough (merino wool) socks are my number one choice, they are more durable than smartwool. Darn tough probably followed by point6 and smartwool coming in 3rd place.

    Darn tough also comes with lifetime replacement warranty they’re so dang tough.
    Point6 is a newer company and founded by creators of smartwool post sale of the smartwool brand.
    Smartwool is excellent and comfortable and well established brand name with ultra quality products. I prefer the Phd type smartwool.

    5 weeks and 500 miles hiking with 3 pairs of socks, all merino wool lightweight styles of the 3 above brands and I can tell you all 3 are top notch performing socks.
    The smartwools began to get holes around 250-300 miles and the darn toughs are still going with 500 miles.

  • laura

    Hey thanks! Its my first hike of the season coming up (with a bunch of avid hikers who I don’t know well), and I was stressing about it. This post eased my mind, nerds can hike too!

  • Lana72

    I have been on no less than 50 websites looking for hiking tips, pointers and advice. Yours is by far the best I have found and man am I happy I finally found you ! Thanks for all the wonderful information , it will go a long way in planning my first hiking adventure 🙂

  • Katie Siller

    Really liked this page till I seen “Boo Yankees”

  • Jess

    I think in love with you!

  • Annie J.

    I know this post is old, but I have a criticism regarding the shoe/boot section – you don’t actually recommend any type of shoes. You say the boots are too bulky, sneakers aren’t designed for hiking, and Vibrams are for people used to wearing them. So what do you actually recommend?

  • Cassandra McFarland

    Thanks for all the fantastic advice/ tips! I am a beginner!! I love all your pictures of the amazing places you have seen! Definitely going to keep up with your page, and hopefully soon will be able to share some of my hiking experiences 🙂

  • Heidi Perron Jaehne

    Enjoyed the read…unpacking the stilettos :/.

  • Awesome writing Steve. Not all those who wander are lost, well said. I don’t know why i got to read this blog so late. I am going to check out all your posts. Cheers!!

    If you are interested, then please my site: Hiking in Nepal. Hope you love this. 🙂