First-time hikers: Your questions answered

Of all the amazing adventures held by the striking Yorkshire landscape, hiking is one of our favourite ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Offering tons of variety for both new and seasoned adventurers, hiking is a fantastic way to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

Whether you’re looking to embark on a casual hike with gentle slopes or you're keen for a personal challenge with steeper cliffs and climbs, it’s essential that you’re adequately prepared for whatever nature can throw at you. Today, we’ll detail some of the key questions and answers for first time hikers so you can set off on your next trek with confidence.

HOW DO I GET STARTED?

Determine the type of hike you’ll be embarking on and consider all outcomes. These key trekking preparation tips will help in having a positive and memorable first hike.

As a team designing around the unpredictable and often rough English weather, we know how important it is to think ahead. A critical part of your hiking process is planning around the right factors, particularly before making any serious investments in clothing, footwear and accessories. Start by considering the types of hikes you’ll be taking on, factoring in the terrain you’ll be crossing, the altitude / difficulty, the hike length, and the likely weather conditions. This will dictate your decision when choosing walking boots, as well as what you select to bring with you.

Once you’ve decided on your hiking area or route, get researching. Locate key landmarks in advance, including your start and endpoints, where the best views are, and any amenities along the way. If you’re going on a day hike, consider planning a round trip route so you end up back at your accommodation or vehicle without crossing the same terrain on the way back. For several day hikes requiring overnight stays or camping out in nature, be sure to factor in bookings, costs and fees, and the time it takes to get settled in for the evening. With your journey prepared, it’s time to think about your kit.

 

YOUR ESSENTIAL HIKING BOOTS GUIDE

Here is our short but handy guide to answer your biggest questions around hiking boots, including how to make the right choice, how to clean boots, and how to break in boots.

What hiking boots should I buy?

With your route adequately planned, it’s time to begin considering the footwear, clothing and accessories that you’ll wear on your hike. While all play an important role, footwear is by far the biggest priority here - your feet will be taking the brunt of the journey, and your hike can easily be ruined by an ill-fitting boot.

If you’re opting for a relaxed hike with largely flat and dry terrain (such as a pre-groomed path), simple walking shoes will do the trick. A waterproof walking shoe with high grip rubber soles is ideal for this type of hike, combining the lightness of a shoe with the necessary practicalities of a walking boot. These types of walking shoes tend to fit well from the first wear, so don’t worry about breaking them in too much.

For more difficult hikes that involve steep inclines, climbing and scaling, you’re going to need something a little more heavy duty that requires breaking in. This is especially true if you are going on a longer hike (or a series of hikes) where you’ll be carrying more in your kit.

Should you go up a size in walking boots?

Rather than applying a blanket rule of going up one size, there are a couple of techniques you can use to determine whether a walking boot fits you properly. First, the boot should never allow your heel to move up or down once they are laced up. This will lead to a lack of support for the ankle and calf and may lead to blistering. Always keep an eye on any heel movement when testing or choosing walking boots.

Second, always make sure there’s room for your toes to move around. Your feet tend to swell with long walks, so giving them adequate room to expand (in hiking socks) is important to stay comfortable. Test your boots out using the same socks you’ll be wearing on your journey, making sure to walk up and down to test some inclines to see how restricted the front of the foot feels. If a size up is required to achieve that, there’s your answer.

How do I care for my walking boots?

Regardless of the outdoor activity, taking care of your kit is critical. As a first time hiker, you may not know how to clean walking boots. Thankfully, it’s very straightforward - a simple combination of warm water and a boot brush is the best way to clean walking boots.

Avoid using chemicals that may damage the materials, and never place boots near a heat source to dry. Speeding up the drying process can not only wear the fabric down quicker but affect the shape of your boot (which you worked so hard to break in). Gently stuff your wet boots with newspaper to soak up additional moisture. Occasionally deodorizing hiking boots is also a good idea to keep them smelling fresh between uses.

It’s also a good idea to add a protective coating to your boots. If  leather footwear is left untreated the leather can crack, dry out or become uncomfortable to wear. Grangers G-Wax is naturally formulated from bee’s wax and is designed to protect against water, stains and oil whilst maximising breathability.

How do I break in walking boots?

If you’re worried about blistering and discomfort on your hike, it’s important to know how to break in boots. A good rule of thumb is to first wear your boots around your house, all the while wearing the socks and insoles you intend to wear for your hike. Many folks will also consider training for hiking - these smaller treks that lead up to your bigger journey are great for breaking in your boots and identifying any discomfort that you might encounter on the longer walk, so you can feel prepared.

 

PACKING LIGHT

For any hiker, carrying a lot of weight for long periods of time is not ideal. Not only does weight restrict movement, it increases the burden on the feet and legs, which need to endure a lot on longer walks and challenging hikes. Keeping your backpack light is another big part of any successful hike - take items that can be reused or refilled (such as a self-filtering water flask).

Go for compact versions of first aid kits and toiletries and keep clothing items light. If you’re not sure where to begin, browse the range of TOG24 lightweight backpacks, layers and thermals. In addition to our sturdy walking boots, we’ve got plenty of essentials for your first time hike.

For all you first time hikers out there, enjoy your next adventure. Yorkshire is of course filled with wonderful walks and hikes to suit any skill level, with plenty of striking sights, brilliant pubs and cafes, and friendly faces along the way. But wherever you are in the country, with the right prep this could be the start of a long and varied hiking journey.

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