I want to get started/have developed a strong interest in Hiking.
I'm one of those people that doesn't like to start something unless she has all of the facts/tid bits of knowledge read- for safety's sake. I was wondering if anyone had advice on how to get started with hiking? Any advice is appreciated, from what kind of merch to get to what routes to take to the types of hiking.
I live in London so I'm eager to get started and just get out!
In my opinion, (as someone who has hiked many thousands of miles in various countries - not boasting I am simply old...), you have already made possibly the most important point yourself: "...just get out!"
The beauty, to me, of hiking is that it is simple as long as you allow it to be. Sure you need to be safe but most of that is common sense. And you certainly want to be comfortable particularly regarding your feet so shoes or boots are important as is a decent backpack if you intend to carry a load. Both these things you need to try on and make sure you get good instore advice.
There will be umpteen different pieces of advice about taking care of your feet but what works for you works for you so a degree of trial and error is going to be required. A few years ago I walked from Aldershot to a place in Spain near Gibraltar. This entailed a few changes of shoes and a careful regime of foot care - I like to wear a micro thin sock inside a thicker one and put vaseline on my feet. The theory being that everything slides and moves freely with little friction. On my roundabout route I covered more than 2500 kilometres and yes, I still got blisters but never enough to stop me.
Clothes must clearly be comfortable and suitable for the terrain and weather but after years of trying different brands I am now a dedicated follower of Decathlon. The quality is great and the prices are very sensible. In particular I use their T-shirts and underwear (non cotton) all the time - hiking or otherwise and in my experience it is truly unbeatable and a fraction of the price of what I used to buy. (If you have the wrong type of pants and they start to rub it can feel like your leg is being sawn off.) If you go on an extended trek then gear that is easy to wash and quick dry is very important too. And my basic rule is one on, one off and one in the wash...
And never, ever forget the importance of hydration even if only walking afew hours round one of London's parks. You must drink and water is usually the easiest and most convenient.
As to the point of safety, map reading is very useful if not on a marked trail and is a good backup even then. If you have a map and are someone who carries a mobile then should you get into difficulty you can give someone your location should you need assistance.
I could go on but I think you get the idea - even if you put on a pair of comfy trainers and head for a few miles of green in and around London you will hopefully get the bug. On my long trek to Spain I spent most of my time on my own and that kind of solitude gives you a wonderful opportunity to really appreciate the environment and moments to reflect on how simple life can be. You, a bag with all the possessions you really need and the path ahead.
Even though I was not the person with the original question, I really appreciate your answer. Usually, articles you can find online are full of ads or don't even answer your question so you have to look through many different pages until you find all details you need. Here you answer all my questions at once and even gave some tips so thank you very much!
I am only beginner, but so far I love it and I try to have longer and longer journeys with sleeping outdoors and the wildlife and disconnecting from everything. I am planning to go to Portugal in a month so just ordered my new QUECHUA ARPENAZ 100 MID WOMEN'S WATERPROOF WALKING BOOTS online and cannot wait to try them out. Need to not to forget the socks you recommended!
Thanks again for your answer and if you will have more recommendations, please add them- would be nice to hear from someone with experience.
Enjoy your walks everyone!
Here's a recommendation: Quechua Techfresh T-shirts!
A couple of years ago I bought some of the older ones that were so cheap I thought that even if they lasted one 6 month hike they would be worth it. Still got them and still wear then and they are in better condition that some big brand shirts I have that cost many times the price.
I currently live in Germany and went to a Decathlon store there the other day and they have new T-shirts for a stunning 3.99. A softer fabric that is a delight to wear so I had to have some. They make great under garments or as a shirt and are just the best I have tried too date. No rubbing or chafing but remember that as a 'tech' fabric they can get a bit smelly if you perspire as lot as they draw the moisture away from your skin - essential I think. And you might pespire in Portugal. On the other hand they are so easy to wash it is not a problem.
I have walked a fair bit in Portugal and it is v. good but never underestimate the heat. Sometimes fierce...
some useful comments already - and like others I have been converted to Decathlon kit from other brands (you wouldnt believe how much I have spent on Mountain Equipment and Lowe Alpine kit over the years)
My top tips would be :
1. find some good walking books / guides that suit the style of walking you like - the folks that wrote the good ones have already done the hard work for you. We start by borrowing from the library and buy the ones that get used
2. carry layers, so thin base layers, fleeces, waterproof etc - it will give you much more flexibility as the weather changes
3. a waterproof / warm hat is worth its weight in gold in nasty weather - as are comfort foods like cereal/chocolate bars
4. a sit mat weighs nothing and makes break time nicer
5. if you get in to out of season walking (which is my passion) tell someone where you are going and take a stove - you can't beat a hot drink while out on the hills