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As the desert southwest grows into an economic powerhouse for the country, attracting new residents every year, we know many of you will try your hand at this appealing form of physical activity.

So we thought we’d help you get started with some helpful hiking tips and tricks to ensure you are prepared for your first time – whether you hike in the Rockies, Joshua Tree, Ozarks, or Zion.

1. Establish a Kit of Essentials

Make your list now; mother nature can be unpredictable, and she pulls no punches!

So ensure that you are ready by picking essential items for your hike, preferably in an industrial hiking backpack. This list of hiking basics includes the following:

  • Pocket knife/tools
  • Food and water, and plenty of it; this one is a given. 
  • Map of the area (phones are not always as reliable as old paper and ink!)
  • Raincoat
  • SPF/Sunscreen
  • Fully stocked First Aid Kit
  • Toiletries/hygiene
  • Insect repellent 

2. What To Wear (And Not Wear)

Depending on the climate of the terrain you are traversing, you will want to ensure you have the proper clothing. Let’s start with what not to wear. Hot or cold, jeans are not a good idea.

They are not efficient in keeping the body warm in cold weather, and they trap moisture and irritate the skin in scorching weather.

Ensure that any pants you wear are comfortable, breathable, and durable.

Shorts can be a good idea if it is hot, but be sure to use insect repellant and do your best to avoid shrubs or bushes that may irritate your skin or otherwise cause an allergic reaction. 

Layers, layers, layers if it is a cold-weather hike.

Wear sturdy, supportive hiking boots, preferably low-top boots that are not prone to blistering or irritating your feet while walking long distances.

3. Familiarize Yourself With the Trail

For your first trail, you will want to make some calculated decisions.

First, would you consider yourself in decent shape? Depending on your answer, you will want to choose a trail that matches your capabilities.

If taking up hiking is your initial foray into getting in shape, select a route that helps you acclimate to the surroundings, the weather, and the difficulty level (usually, the difficulty level and average hike time are notated at the mouth of the trail).

You can always work your way up to more challenging trails as you become a more seasoned hiker. 

4. Know Your Body, Protect Your Body

A sound mind and sound body are the best weapons in your arsenal if you are exploring a new method of staying in shape.

Hiking may be a slow burn, but make no mistake, it is a workout through and through.

Rougher terrain does a number on your joints, while extended periods of uphill traversing can leave your newly worn-out quads and calves needing TLC and soothing.

PureKana’s CBD roll-on muscle and joint gel provide soothing, quick relief for achy joints and muscles, helping you adjust to the lactic acid buildup and soreness while adjusting to a new normal. 

5. Notify Friends and Family of Your Planned Hike

Safety is of the utmost importance when you are going on a hike, regardless of whether you are new to the enterprise or not.

It matters not if you are alone or with a group either; multiple trusted friends and family members should know your hiking location and planned activities and when to expect you home.

This provides a check and balance so that if anything goes wrong, you have multiple resources to get you help when you need it.

Most hiking trails are safe, of course – but any level of remoteness is worthy of taking precautions. 

6. Mind the Weather Forecast!

An obvious but easily overlooked consideration is what you are in for when you set out on your hike.

Even in relatively uneventful locations weather-wise, like the desert southwest or placid Southern California, freak events happen when you least expect it.

From strong windstorms to severe thunderstorms, getting caught in harsh conditions is not fun for anyone, even if you have the necessary equipment and tools to ride it out.

So check your forecast, hour by hour, and plan accordingly. 

7. Pack Plenty of Food, Water, and A Reliable Light Source

A day in the sunshine and wilderness will inevitably stimulate your appetite.

If your party includes more people than just you, you must pack a solid amount of food to snack on during lulls, mainly if this is a more extended hike!

The body needs fuel during hiking, and having healthy snacks on hand can give the body a needed jolt of energy.

If your hike runs longer than expected, you will also need a light source (no, your phone’s flashlight won’t cut it!). Having a source of light ensures your safety if darkness falls, and you can navigate accordingly.

8. Have Some First-Aid Know-How

While you do not need to be a medical doctor or a certified EMT, having some basic know-how in the case of an emergency sure does not hurt.

Something as simple as a bug bite, a scrape, or a mild allergic reaction may need some quick relief and knowledge as power.

Adventure Medical Kits has terrific options that would do well in any hiking context; when you bring friends, you want to ensure their safety and your own and create a fun environment where everyone feels safe and capable of seeing the hike through. 

9. Respect the Ecosystem and Habitat Around You

We have already put Mother Earth through so much as our industrialized society has polluted, razed, and endangered our beautiful planet more than ever in recorded history.

Do your part to respect the natural world by ensuring you never litter, disturb, or otherwise disregard the environment around you on your hike.

We have the privilege of being able to consciously absorb the stunning beauty our country and world have to offer.

Let’s not throw it all down the toilet in the name of laziness or convenience. Your experience (and our planet) will be better off for it. 

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