7 Tips to Make Your First Hike Successful

We are Carlos and Grace Luna. We didn’t grow up hiking or camping. We come from Mexican families who worked very hard to provide for us but didn’t think about the outdoors. We were both fortunate enough to get an introduction to the national parks a few years ago, which fostered our love of getting outside. We’ve picked up a few hiking tips along the way, and we can’t wait to share them with you.

1. Start easy and find a good trail that meets your fitness level.

Find a local, short but moderately challenging hike and familiarize yourself with it. Do online research on the best time to go, elevation gain, how much of a distance you’ll be hiking and what people are saying about the trail. Once you begin, pace yourself. Don’t rush it, you’re not on a race. Take your time to enjoy the landscape and surroundings. It’s not every day that you leave your office or home to see views like these.

2. Check the weather.

The weather can be unpredictable, which is why it’s important to always to check the forecast a few days ahead of your hike as well as a few hours before. This information will allow you to pack and dress accordingly and change your plans if you need to. You might need to reschedule if thunderstorms are in the forecast.

Grace Luna hiking

3. File a trip report.

Tell someone (and write it down for them, too) the exact location you plan on going to, when you plan to be back and when they should worry and call for help. You don’t want to have an emergency in the outdoors and be mad at yourself for forgetting this simple step. Running late? Do everyone a favor and check-in.

4. Pack the Ten Essentials.

These 10 things are important to pack in order to stay safe in the outdoors. You can change them depending on the season. They will become your best friends on the trail, so get to know them. (Find the list here.)

5. Function over fashion.

You will be miserable on your hike if you’re caught wearing the wrong clothes and shoes. Leave the jeans and fashion boots at home! Go for synthetic, moisture-wicking clothing and skip the cotton! We repeat, skip the cotton! Wool is the way to go. It provides warmth and dries quickly in cold conditions. Wear light hiking shoes with synthetic/wool socks to prevent blisters. Painful feet on the trail are no fun.

(Optional but highly recommended: Pack a few blister dressings. You’ll thank us later.)

Grace Luna hiking at Rainier

6. Drink and eat well.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to drink water before, during and after your hike. Carry at least 32 ounces of water in your pack to combat dehydration. Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol—it won’t get you far.

To fuel your adventure, it’s just as important to take some good snacks to keep you strong. Bring carbs and protein so you don’t end up with dizziness, low blood sugar or fatigue. Some of our favorites are:

  • peanut butter/banana sandwiches
  • packets of almond butter
  • trail mix/nuts
  • protein bars
  • jerky
  • fruit strips

Also pack a victory snack. This is the snack you save for the end because you deserve it.

7. Follow trail etiquette aka Leave No Trace.

The wonderful thing about the outdoors is that it’s for everyone. With that being said, treat the trails and outdoors with respect. Learn and practice Leave No Trace principles on your hike. Pack out your trash, leave the trail better than you found it, abide by the rules on signs, respect the wildlife and be considerate of others. Don’t blast your music while others are trying to find peace and quiet. Seriously, don’t be that person. We all share these spaces and it’s our responsibility to keep them wild and special.

Happy hiking!