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A Beginner’s Guide to Day Hiking


Preparing for your first day hike is exciting because there are so many new places to explore, and you never know what you might discover in your local area. Before you head out, there are a few things you can do to ensure you’re properly prepared and have a great time.


Happy feet


Your shoes and socks can genuinely make or break your hike. Walking on trails and loose terrain is harder on your feet and shoes than on paths, so it is key to make sure you’re wearing suitable footwear. That doesn’t have to be an expensive pair of hiking shoes to start with; a quality pair of sneakers or trail runners that fit well can work. Make sure they fit properly with some room at the front. We have a Choosing The Best Footwear Article which will come in handy for those needing some tips. 


Pairing your shoes with a good pair of hiking or sports socks is also important. Avoid cotton like the plague – when it gets wet, it stays wet and can be a quick way to guarantee unpleasant blister action. Avoiding cotton is a good idea for all your hiking clothing. That doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy a whole new outdoor wardrobe before you hit the trails. Any merino- or synthetic-based activewear that you’ve already got should be fine.


Choose a suitable hike


You don’t have to conquer Everest on day one. There are plenty of varied and challenging trails to explore, but it’s best to start with a comfortable hike suitable for beginners. Aim your first walk for somewhere between 5 and 10 kilometres. Check the elevation profile before you head off to ensure you’re not walking directly uphill the entire time (unless that’s your goal!).


Take a friend


If you’ve got a keen friend who’s willing to join you, it can make the experience all the more fun. You can also walk point-to-point routes if you can leave a car at the start and the finish. If you’d rather go out alone, that’s fine, too; just make sure you’ve let someone know where you’re heading and when you’re planning to get back. Take a photo or two of the amazing views to send home!


If you’ve picked a walk in an area where dogs are allowed and yours is up for the adventure, you might have found your new adventure buddy. Make sure your furry friend is well-behaved and check the regulations before you go.






Check the weather before you head out, as things can change quickly, particularly during the temperamental shoulder seasons. If it’s a warm day, consider the heat and the amount of water you’re carrying and pace yourself. No matter the weather, pop some snacks into your pocket or pack in case you need an energy boost. 


Technology is your friend


While plenty of us head out to the bush to wind down from day-to-day life, there are several fantastic apps to help plan your hike and ensure you’re on the right path. A Paddy Pallin staff favourite is AllTrails, which is packed with thousands of trails all around the world. You can download your route for offline use, which is handy when you don’t have a phone signal. It’s also a great resource for finding local walks that suit your requirements. You can even check the elevation profile of your route and suss out the hills coming your way.


To podcast or not to podcast


If you’re walking somewhere familiar and you feel comfortable doing so, listening to a podcast or playlist can be a great motivator to get up those hills. Be aware of your surroundings and always keep one ear open to listen around you. Keep in mind that if you’re on a busier trail, while you might enjoy belting out a rendition of ‘I Will Survive’ at the top of your lungs, the group a kilometre ahead may not appreciate it so much!


Take only pictures, leave only footprints


If you carry something in, make sure you carry it back out, whether it’s the wrapper from your snack bar, the core of your apple or fruit peel. Food scraps can make native animals unwell, and any fruit seeds can turn into bush weeds.


Most importantly, have fun! Keep in mind the parts of your walk that you’ve enjoyed the most, whether that is getting to the top of a certain hill or a particular type of scenery. The more hikes you do, the more you’ll discover the parts you love, and the more you’ll want to get out there.

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