Last Updated: January 29th, 2020
At last! The H-Bug has bitten you. H-Bug? Ah! Hiking Bug. You don’t know where and how to begin. Everything is so damn expensive. You don’t know if you will continue your hiking expeditions.
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Don’t worry. We got you covered. Our guide on “Hiking For Beginners On A Budget” is exactly what you need.
Hiking for beginners on a budget
Before we jump into the essential gears that you will need, let’s go through some basics.
Benefits of Hiking
Hiking has it’s own perks. The clean air, sound, smells and the freshness of nature.
Along with all these, it is a great form of workout. Here are some couple of them:
- Lowers the risk of heart discease
- Improves your blood pressure
- Improves your sugar level
- Your bone density becomes more as walking is a weight-bearing exercise
- Works on all your leg muscles and add definition to them
- Strengthens your core
- Improves balance and coordination
- Helps in weight loss
- Mood booster
- Gives you confidence
- Enhances you spiritually
- Makes you adaptable
- Enhances your survival skills
Don’s And Don’ts
For a hike, you must follow some guidelines. Other than that you will be more prone to injury and failure.
Stretch – Hiking is a demanding sport. If you want to be successful in your first hiking adventure, then be in a top notch condition.
Nah! that’s a lie. But you should be decently fit, to make it through the hike.
Start your hike with a proper stretch, especially your leg muscles.
Your hike will be much easier and will your knees will be less pressurized.
Start Slowly – Trying to do, too much too soon will make you lose steam.
Completing the hike will be next to impossible. Start slowly and enjoy every step.
Choose the hike wisely – Let’s be honest. You are just a beginner. You need to take baby steps.
So, choose an easy hike. This will encourage you to continue.
Wear layers – Shed or Add more layers to keep sweating to the minimum. This is completely dependent on the hiking season.
Research the trail – This is very important. Some trails will have dangerous wild animals. Knowing them will help to avoid them.
However, if they are ‘Grizzly Bears’ kinds, then better stay away from the trails.
Also, some insects can be very poisonous. Be prepared for them as well.
Don’t Litter – Leave the trail the way you found it. Animals and your fellow hikers will be thankful to you.
As, an alternative, some garbage bags with you. Dump your waste in them and dispose of it in the right place.
Don’t Forget Emergency – Emergency can strike anytime. You need to be prepared.
Get extra batteries for your flashlight, first aid kit, extra water bottle, poncho, matches, lighters and mobile phone.
Don’t go alone – This is your first hike. Things can go a bit crazy. You will not have the necessary skill or knowledge to manage them.
Hence, someone experienced to come with you. This can save you a lot of heartburn.
Now let’s look into the gears that are absolutely essential for a hike.
Essential Hiking Gears
1. Hiking Boots
Trails are unforgiving. There will be uneven surface, buried stone, tree roots and underground animals.
A good pair of boots will ensure that your feet remain safe when you stumble upon rocks and pebbles.
Also, you will remain blister free, for longer period of time.
More than 8000 people think that Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boots are the best.
However you can choose something that fits in your budget.
What to look for in a hiking shoe?
Grip – This is primary. The sole should be able to grip the ground quite firmly. Even under wet conditions.
You should be looking for aggressive lugging. This will ensure that you will not slip on the uneven ground.
Ankle and Heel Support – A good hiking boot will provide extra support to your ankles.
This will minimize the chances of getting it twisted.
Also, the extra padding will ensure that you don’t end up with bruised skin.
Comfort – You must be comfortable wearing your boots for a long time.
They should be well cushioned and must have good shock absorption capability.
Without that, it will be useless.
Test it out. Wear the shoe for more than three hours, during your regular activities.
If you are still comfortable, then good, else get a new pair.
Toe protection – The boot should protect your feet well. For this, most of them comes with an additional protective layer near the toe region.
This ensure that your toes remain safe in those unfamiliar terrain.
If you have a trail running shoe, use it. They provide similar protection.
But if you have to purchase one, then price wise, you will not have much leverage.
For your knowledge, the best one out there is Salomon Speedcross Trail Runner.
However, they are more expensive than the Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boots.
Decide based on our preference.
2. Backpacks / Hydration Pack
For hiking, you need to carry some basic stuffs with you.
First aid kit, Dry food, Spare clothes, etc. are bare minimum.
carry them comfortably, in a backpack or a Hydration Pack.
Back Pack Vs Hydration Pack
Both can carry all your hiking essentials.
However, a hydration pack comes with a bladder (made of rubber or flexible plastic) and an attached tube.
You can store some kind of liquid in it and you don’t need to tag along a water bottle.
Now comes the fun part. Research for purchasing.
What should you look for in your hiking backpack?
Breathability – Not for the backpack, but for you. Just to make it clear, in-case you are wondering.
Backpack will cover your back and the portion under the straps.
If the backpack lacks ventilation, then you will end up extremely sweaty in a very short amount of time.
Build Quality – What you are looking for is a rugged bag. It should be tear resistant and the zippers should take a lot of stretching.
Also, this applies for the stitches. Otherwise you are in trouble.
Pockets and Compartments – In short there should be a lot of them. This will help your to keep all the essentials organized.
If not, then you will have to go through a lot of struggle, when you need some thing.
Then you have to put in additional efforts to repack them back. And believe me, this is very frustrating.
Ergonomic design – Yes, you read it right. If your backpack, doesn’t fit your back or support its contour, it will be troublesome to lug it around.
So look for something, that fits comfortably on your back.
Weight – Once you fill in a backpack with your hiking stuffs, it will become heavy.
On top of that, if the weight of the bag itself is too much, then, it will unnecessarily put a lot of stress on your back.
Try to find something which is lightweight and fits your budget.
Mountaintop Hiking Backpack with Rain Cover fits this profile perfectly.
Hydration packs like Vibrelli are nice to have, however, they are not essential.
If you have a normal backpack to stuff your essentials is more than enough for your first hiking trip.
Just see to it that it is light weight and has a lot of pockets.
3. Global Positioning System (a.k.a GPS)
If you cannot do that, then the entire hike will go in vain.
Also, it can be become a fatal mistake.
Trails can have lots of forks and branches and some may lead to some unsafe territory.
If you don’t have a GPS and your hiking trail is not marked properly, you will be in real danger.
You can use Google Maps, but most of the time they need internet.
You can use your phone, but it will get discharged soon
Also, on trails, there will not be any charger or internet
These devices are fantastic and as you have guessed, expensive.
So, you can use your smart phones maps.
They are generally pretty accurate. Don’t rely on Google Maps as you may not have cell reception.
Also, you can install some custom hiking apps like MapmyHike
But, do a trial run, several days before the hike day.
Get familiar with it. You should not get any last minute surprises.
Also, get a spare fully charged mobile if you are following this.
However, rather than going through all these uncertainties, go for a GPS device.
Your life depends on it. Literally!
Anyways, you get the point.
You are going out and there can be a rain. You need something to protect you.
And you will not have a shed to protect you from the rains.
So, rather than, buying a Raincoat, go for a poncho.
You don’t need anything additional to protect yourself and your gears.
Also, once the rain is over, you can use it as a seat on the wet surface.
This looks like a ghost or is it just me?
What to look for in a poncho?
You are buying the poncho for one and only reason.
To protect yourself from the unexpected rain. Hence get a decent poncho like LINENLUX Rain Poncho
Water Proof – This is obvious.
Material – I prefer fabric, instead of plastic. So, for me polyester is better. Also, it should be quick drying.
Tear Resistant – This is another reason to go for a polyester poncho. They are tear resistant, unlike their plastic counterparts.
Portable And Compact – Most of them are. But just in case.
Breathability – If a poncho is not breathable, it will suffocate you. Hence, it is an essential factor when selecting a poncho. Yet! Another reason to go for a fabric poncho.
Don’t want to spend money on a poncho?
You will just need some garbage bags. 1 Medium, 1 Small and 2 Big.
Cover your Backpack with the Medium Garbage bag and Your Head with the small one.
Cut out a hole at the closed end of one of the big garbage bags.
This is your poncho. Slip it on and over your head during rain.
The 2nd Big one is optional. It will protect your trousers. Cot off the closed end.
So, you will have a bag open from both ends. Slip it on and tuck it in your trouser. This will cover your legs
5. First Aid Kit and Safety Equipment
And you need to survive that before help arrives.
Your survival kit should contain the below bare minimum.
- Lighter – This will be the fire starter
- Ear Plugs – If you sleep on ground, insects can crawl in. You need this close the ear holes.
- Vitamins – This will help you to deal with added stress from hike.
- Ready made soup cubes – At-least you will not starve.
- Sanitation – Wet wipes (Leaves are not helpful. Trust me ;))
- Medicines – Basics like for diarrhea, vomiting, fever, cold, etc.
- Knife – This will save you in a lot of ways
- Antiseptic, Bandage, Gauge and Cream for cuts and injuries.
They can sometimes cause you more damage than good.
You will definitely find people suggesting super glue and stuffs for fresh wounds. (Obviously with disclaimer)
But that is extremely unhealthy and can cause a lot of problems after wards.
If you still want, alternatives, please Google.
I cannot provide you with that. Sorry!
6. Sleeping Bags
You need to sleep.
Mostly, your hike will be for multi days.
So, at night you need something to sleep on.
Nothing fancy, but a sleeping bag is a minimal requirement.
It will provide you with the much needed comfort at the end of a tiring day.
In-fact there are couple of very good ones like Envelope Sleeping bags that come at a very affordable price
Sleeping Bags: What to look for?
This will be your bed, for the next couple of days. So, it should be as comfortable as possible.
These are the qualities to look for:
Waterproof – Water proofing is essential. Otherwise you may not be able to spread it on ground after a rain.
Comfort – The inner lining should be comfortable. Most of the times they are soft. But check before you buy
Lightweight – You have to carry it on your back. If it is heavy, you will just get buried under its weigh
Portable – It should not take up too much space and should be compressible.
Temperature Support – Your sleeping bag should be able to keep you warm, even if the temperature drops a couple of degrees.
Envelope Sleeping bags is one of the best and the cheapest option available.
However, if you don’t want to spend, you can take some rugs with you.
Your garbage bags will come in handy.
You should spread them on the ground first, and then put the rug on it.
This will serve two purpose.
You will be able to water proof your rug and if you use multiple layers of garbage bag, it will serve as a insulation against cold.
Some Additional Tips
When going on a hike, you don’t know what kind of situation you will face. You will be far away from civilization and there will be no-one to help.
Carry some food with you:
Nuts – Peanut, almond, cashew, raisins are good option
Bread and butter – Bread stay fresh for at-least three days and butter for longer.
Fruits – Like apple, banana, oranges
Energy bars – Like RXBAR Whole Food Protein Bar. They come in a pack of 12
Bouillon Cubes – This will be your ready made soup. Boiling water doesn’t taste that good.
And at-last! I’m..
Calling in the PRO hikers
Do you have any tips for our beginner friends? Let us know.
Also, I encourage our beginner friends to ask any questions
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