7 Essential Tips for Beginner Hikers


If you are a beginner or have recently enjoyed activities in nature, such as mountain trekking, hiking, or backpacking, you should have known that hiking requires a lot of endurance both physically and mentally. Trekking a mountain can relieve stress and have a relaxing effect on the mind so that it can make us happier. Now many young people are starting to pursue this hobby. But before trying to hike, there is a lot of preparation that needs to be done for novice hikers. This is necessary for their safety and security while exploring nature. In order for hikers to get the maximum positive impact and reduce the risk when trekking, here are some tips that may be applicable.

1. Determine the trek and understand its location

Not all hiking trails are created equal. If this is your first chance to trek a mountain, you are not recommended to go straight to the hard-to-reach locations with a high level of difficulty. You can choose a location with a hiking trail that suits your abilities and get to know the hiking trails from the location you choose by asking or reading hiking reviews but also, by considering the time it takes to hike. For practice, you can choose a location that is close to the area where you live and can be reached in just a few hours. So, you don’t need to bring a tent, a change of clothes, or other items. You always need to understand the rules and cultural norms of the locals since Indonesia has hugely diverse cultures. That is why respect is always expected.

2. Train your physical and mental endurance

There are two essential things you need to remember before you hike. When you hike, you are immediately confronted with nature that you do not know what will happen. Unexpected things can occur; therefore, you need to adaptably adjust to any situations testing your mental strength. It is not enough if you only work on your mental strength, you also need to increase your physical ability. You can do it by going jogging, running, swimming and practicing some simple exercises such as squats, pushups, lunges and so on. It is highly suggested to do it a week or two weeks before the hike. Any health risks can happen to anyone, both advanced hikers and beginners. Because when you rise to an altitude of more than 2 thousand meters above sea level, your body must be able to adjust to the depleting amount of oxygen. To ensure your physical fitness ahead of a day of hiking, you’ll need to build balance, flexibility, and strength in your legs and back muscles to get through the trail. Exercise can also help you strengthen your back and shoulders to carry a mountain backpack that can weigh up to a dozen of kilograms in total. It is however not recommended for those who have a respiratory health record.

3. Keep informed of the weather

It is important to know what the weather will be like at the hiking site so you can prepare and change plans if needed. You can verify the weather through the weather forecast or by asking the post guard or supervisor at the location. Check if there will be heavy fog, heavy rain especially thunderstorms, or even an eruption alert because several mountains in Indonesia are still active volcanoes. These considerations are needed, whether the trekking needs to be continued or postponed and waiting for better weather. The risk of bad weather while climbing can have fatal consequences ranging from getting lost on the way or hypothermia, therefore, it’s always best not to force yourself and you can come back another time.

4. Never trek alone

Will you be hiking solo, with friends or in a group? For most people, hiking alone may become an escape to achieve inner peace. However, hiking alone is too unsafe, especially for beginners and if something happens when you’re caught off guard and off course as Indonesian mountain hiking trails are not yet labeled. Instead, you can always invite some friends or join a group planning to hike on the same day as yours.

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5. Prepare your personal gear and equipment

You can start buying your personal gear and equipment if you have a budget for that. It is not uncommon to see novice trekkers are not well geared and equipped. However, you need to think about what gear you have to bring for your upcoming trek such as backpack carriers, shoes, and clothing. Equally important, your personal equipment should be prepared before the hiking day as well. If you see that you will continue this hobby for a long term, you can purchase a durable pack of gear and equipment.

6. Bring only what you need

The items you need to bring depend on the location, the number of the group and hiking time, whether you want to spend overnight or not. Thus, you can divide tasks for shared equipment, items and supplies such as tents, portable stoves, cooking utensils, and others. As for personal items, you can bring only the needed ones such as food, a change of clothes, flashlights, mattresses, sleeping bags, and others so that you have no difficulty carrying them. No matter the location, time of day, how many people in the group, or the difficulty level of the hike, you should always carry these items with you on your trips: maps and compass or GPS; a first aid kit and a Swiss knife.

7. Enhance your cooking and surviving skills

Mountain hiking activities also require additional skills, namely cooking or processing food and surviving ability. You are, then, advised to have cooking basic skills so that you have no trouble processing and cooking food on the mountain. You can get the logistical materials by purchasing from the nearest village around the foot of the mountain. In addition, you need to learn the basic skills of survival. They will be applicable and helpful, especially in case of urgency.