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7 mistakes beginner hikers make

  • Sep 16, 2015

If you're new on the trail, it's easy to commit a beginner blunder. With experience,  you'll get a feel for how much water you need or how far you can travel before it gets dark. But there are a few other mistakes you'll want to avoid before ever experiencing them yourself.

Here are seven.

1. Leaving the map at home
Smartphones have made traditional maps all but obsolete. That is, unless you're out hiking on a trail. Without a wireless signal, you won't be able to pull up a map of your location that easily. Even if you have an offline resource like an app or picture, your electronics could always malfunction or run out of battery.

You don't need cutting-edge tech in the woods. You need reliable tools. Always bring a paper map and wear a watch compass

2. Moving forward after getting lost
Oddly enough, few wilderness explorers backtrack when they stray from a trail. Many people think they have a better sense of direction than they actually do, and this can cause a lot of problems when you mistakenly forge away from the campground around dusk. 

If you lose track of where you are, consult your map and compass or start backtracking. It's far easier to return by heading back the way you came, even if it's not the most efficient path.

3. Packing cans of food
While cans of food may seem like a great choice for backpacking, you'll start to see why more hikers don't bring them along on their travels after walking for a few miles. Sure, cans are durable and their contents have a long shelf life, but they're not the lightest. A far better option, keep your food in plastic bags. A vacuum-sealed plastic bag is especially space effective and will keep your food fresh for longer than a regularly sealed bag.

4. Wearing cotton
It may be light and breathable, but cotton is terrible for wicking away moisture. That's because the fabric retains moisture and takes a long time to dry. More than that, denim is possibly the worst type of hiking fabrics because jeans restrict your range of motion and they can freeze at low temperatures.

Stick with polyester, blends or even linen when the temperature is high.

5. Wearing new boots
You'll likely have to purchase a pair of hiking boots if you're a beginner. Unfortunately, this sets you up for one of the most common footwear follies: hitting the trail in new boots. There's a reason hikers like to break in their footwear before trekking several miles. Namely, stiff boots can really hurt your feet. Get some travel out of them before going on a long hike.

6. Not checking the trees by the campground
Dead branches and trees are a real danger for campers. So much so, that they're commonly called widowmakers. Take care scanning the trees around your campsite, and steer clear of anything big that looks like it has the potential to fall. Even if that tree doesn't hurt you, it could crush your equipment or startle you in the middle of the night. Also, remember that this tip goes double in windy weather.

7. Not properly stocking the first aid kit
Even some veteran hikers think that a proper first aid kit contains dozens of tools and items. That's not always the case. Packing is always a balance between carrying little weight and being well-prepared. Use that same strategy with your kit and pack with a little context. Use more supplies for longer journeys and bring items based on location if applicable.

Don't get lost because your phone lost signal or battery. When you are out in the wilderness the PRW6000SYT-1 is all you need. It has a built-in compass, barometer, thermometer, and a solar rechargeable battery. So, you can leave your phone at home and enjoy the wilderness.