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How to start hiking mountains – A beginners guide

start hiking mountains / commencer la randonnée

Write by Jonathan Lessard

2020-09-06

Ever dream of seeing in person those fantastic pictures people put online from the top of a mountain?

I see a lot of people asking what it takes to start hiking mountains because it seems more and more people want to do it, but a lot are afraid to start. The truth is that you don’t need anything. I start with old running shoes and a school bag to put food and water (this last one probably the most important). But as I did more and more hike, I realize it was not enough. I will go through what is the best to have to start hiking.

Beginners Gears

Equipment Recommendations:

Shoes or boots: Those are probably the essential tool to have except food and water. If you hike for the first time, I suggest using shoes with crampons and be sure to be comfortable in it. If you’re feet hurt during the hike, you will not like your walk, I assure you! Further along the road, you can start looking for a better tool for your feet.

Shoes or boot? I am not an expert, but I use both. Shorter hike, or if I know I want to run in the trail, the running shoe’s usually winning and on a long hike, or technical mountains, the boots win. The boots are generally more comfortable and hold your ankle better, reducing the risk of ankle twist or injury.  But the best move is to try it. I know people who hate wearing boots in a trail. Here is what I use:

Salomon trail shoe*

Colombia hiking boots:

Backpack: Even if the bags are the other tool you need, I often find that people put too many thoughts on it. For more than two years, I was hiking with an old school bag.  Yes, you have better gear, but those can be some significant investment! What you should look for in a hiking bag is to be sure to take one with the front attached to remove some weight off your shoulder. And also, don’t take too big a bag. You will probably put too many things in it if he is too big. In a short hike, I have a small water bag that I buy on amazon. And for a longer walk, I recommend a 30 or 35-quart bag. I only suggested a more oversized backpack for multiple day’s hikes.

What I use:

Miracol Hydration Backpack*:

See bags on sails website: Sails.com 

Water and Food: Probably the most important one, even if I didn’t put it first on the list.

I see a lot of people making the mistake of putting too much food in the bag and not enough water.  Especially in summer, it is vital to bring enough water. Your body can survive much more without food than without water. When you start hiking, make sure to calculate more water than needed.  Further away along the road, you can buy a water filter, but you are probably not there yet.

I recommended a water bag. I hate always stopping to get my water bottle (yea that’s the lazy part of me), and usually, with 2L or 3L of water, you should be good to go! For the food, you need to choose things that will give you energy. We can talk a lot about what food

to bring on a hike. But I usually bring a cliff bar* for a snack, healthy and full of energy. I also get almond nuts and a Rio tuna salad. Cause it is small and full of protein.  No matter what you want to bring, be sure to bring food with good fat or with good sugar to give your energy for your hike. (Probably the only time I recommended sugar)

Aid kit: When you start hiking mountain, be sure always to bring a first aid kit. Maybe it sounds paranoid, but hiking is an outdoor sport with some risk. Even if the first hike I propose for the beginner has less chance than others, always remind yourself that injury can happen every time. A small cut, a twist ankled, sliding on a rock and broking something can happen. Mountain hiking is a great sport, but having a first aid kit can save yourself when you are in the wild. It helps me and others during the years.

Portable first aid kit*

Which mountain to hike?

Tired of that equipment talk, and you want to start hiking mountains? Here is some of my recommendation, but you can read more and this article about which mountain to hike for beginners

No matter which mountain you hike, remember one thing: go at your rhythm. Don’t kill yourself because you want to go faster and faster. When you start, it can be difficult, but no matter the mountain difficulty, you can do it if you walk at your rhythm and take your time.

If you have difficulty finding trails, Alltrails is a great app to find a hike of any level near you. I use it all the time now.

A personal recommendation to start hiking mountains

If you are from Quebec, there is a lot of mountains where to start hiking: Mont Saint Gregoire, Saint Bruno, Saint Hilaire all have a great easy trail and are only inside one hour of Montreal.  When it is not in winter, you also have Mont Bromont by the path “la prétensieuse” for getting up the challenge. In the same section, you also have mont Sutton with some easy hike but also some more demanding trek. Mont ham near Drummondville is also a pretty great beginner’s mount. If you want to know more about those hikes, enter these names in all trail or read my article in the just a little bit higher in the post.

Note that I am only talking about the mountain here. But Alltrails also offer some flat wood trail if you want to start here.

*A view of Sutton

That’s it

If you follow those recommendations, you are ready to start hiking mountains. That’s what you need to start going out on an adventure, take some great picture or see those autumnal colours from up high. I will never say that enough; be careful.  Even after more than three years of hiking, I manage to make a face to face with a rock. Needless to say that the rock wins. But I guarantee, the adventure Is worth the risk! Now, go out there and have fun!

*  Those are affiliate links. It means if you decide to buy the object I will receive a small percentage. it is okay if you don’t want to click on the link, just search for the name on amazon and you will find it!

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