Hiking: An Inexpensive Hobby that Doubles as Great Exercise

hiking Bald Butte Parkdale Oregon

“I slow down when hiking. The rhythm of nature is more leisurely. The sun comes up, it moves across the sky, and you begin to synchronize to that rhythm.”

– John Mackey

If you haven’t been hiking before, you might think getting started will be expensive. This may true if you’re planning overnight trips or technical hikes, but short easy hikes in decent weather require little equipment.

Comfortable shoes

Hiking shoes or boots are a good idea if you plan to hike more difficult trails or long distances, but if you’re walking on a smooth path for a few miles, your sneakers will be just fine.

Comfortable socks

You don’t need a $20 pair of socks, but you do need to avoid socks made of cotton. To prevent blisters, try socks made of nylon, wool, or special wicking fabric.

Appropriate clothing and outerwear for the weather

For a short easy hike, just wear what you would for a long walk around the neighborhood. Remember a brimmed hat for sun and a raincoat if you might get rained on.

A pocket first aid kit

You’ll want at least some band aids and moleskin. Make sure you bring sunscreen too, if appropriate.

Water and food

Bring more water than you think you’ll need. Pack healthful food that will give you energy, like trail mix or peanut butter sandwiches on whole-grain bread.

Some way of carrying this stuff

A fanny pack (bum bag) or small backpack will be fine.

Bringing your dog

Want to bring your dog with you? Our 15-pound Sheltie loves going on hikes, but even our pug and Boston terrier enjoyed short easy hikes in cool weather. For more information about bringing your dog along with you, see Hiking or Backpacking with Your Dog.

When you need to spend more money

If you’ve enjoyed your short easy hikes and want to get more involved, you will need more gear, for safety reasons as well as comfort. Luckily, unless you’re going overnight, the cost isn’t too bad except for the shoes. Good shoes are well worth the money, even if you have to save up for a long time to afford them.

For more information on what you’ll need for longer or more difficult hikes, or even a short easy hike in an isolated area, see How to Get Started Hiking and Day Hiking Checklist.

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.