First time long-distance hiking tips

June 3, 2021 by
POSTED BY June 3, 2021

Hiking is becoming increasingly popular. Many start with shorter day hikes before moving onto long-distance hiking trips. But what should you consider if you are an avid day hiker and want to take the next step towards long-distance hiking? In this post, we investigate first time long-distance hiking tips.

For many hiking enthusiasts, the transition from day trips to the first long-distance hike may seem a bit intimidating and requires a lot of planning. While on day trips you wake up in the comfort of your own home and also return there, whereas multiple overnight stays must be organized on a longer tour.

Your feet and the whole rest of the body are constantly challenged and you are exposed to the weather for hours.

This leads to higher demands in terms of planning and equipment. But there are also particularly magical moments waiting when you are on the road for a long time and adapt to the rhythm of your own steps.

West Highland Way Hiking Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Hiking The West Highland Way

Hillwalk hiking tips for your first multi-day hike

I checked with the Hillwalk Tours control center for tips for those who want to venture out on their first long hike:

Ann says 

“Pack loads of blister plasters! Allegedly, some outdoor stores now sell “1000 mile socks” with a money-back guarantee if you get a blister within the first 1000 miles you walk in them. But to be on the safe side, I would still have blister plasters with me! “

Anthony says

“There are so many little things that you should have with you on the first successful long-distance hike that I definitely recommend making a checklist.

On one of my first hiking tours, I had pretty much everything with me that I could need under the most varied of circumstances, but then I forgot one important thing: the map. This resulted in my girlfriend and I getting lost in the Donegal mountains. Fortunately, we did find the way eventually but it certainly wasn’t ideal.

We’re married now so there was a happy ending but since then, I’ve always used a checklist before starting a hike. “

Richard says

“My recommendation from one of my recent hikes: always bring sunscreen! People are not made of steel! “

Even weak sunshine (also in Ireland!) Is deceptive and can quickly lead to severe sunburn. 

James says

“I remember talking to a hiker about the particularly wet weather that befell him on his tour of Ireland. I was impressed by his comment: “Don’t worry, we didn’t come to Ireland for the sun!”

One of the reasons hiking is so popular in Ireland (England, Scotland & Wales) is the wonderful green landscape. So, as long as you are prepared for it, rain is actually a good thing.

My tip for hikers is to invest in good rainwear such as rain jackets, pants and light hiking boots. The equipment does not have to be particularly insulated because it is not very cold here, but it should be waterproof! I don’t make any compromises! A dry hiker is a happy hiker! “

Hiking the Rob Roy Way

Important hiking equipment

So you see: the right equipment and, above all, the right footwear are essential for a pleasant trekking tour.

You don’t have to worry about digging too deep into your pockets before your first tour. These three most important pieces of clothing protect you on a long-distance hike (and are also a good purchase for everyday use).

# 1 – Good walking shoes / foot care

Your feet are almost part of your equipment and deserve special attention. Waterproof hiking shoes that wrap around the ankle and have a sufficient profile enable you to be out and about for hours. Hiking socks, blister plasters and petroleum jelly also belong in your luggage.

* Extra tip: Halfway through the hike, take off your shoes and socks, air your socks briefly and massage your feet. Cream any pressure points with petroleum jelly, this reduces friction and prevents blisters.

# 2 – Rain layer

As James recommends in his tip, it is worth wearing weatherproof clothing. This is also absolutely useful in everyday life, does not weigh much in your luggage and makes you largely independent of changeable weather.

# 3 – Base layer

The clothing that lies directly on the skin is called a base layer. It isolates your body heat and is directly responsible for how warm or cold you are. Cotton is unsuitable as a material. A sports shirt with synthetic leggings or undergarments made of wool will keep you warm.

Also, provisions and enough water are essential.

Views of Loch Ness from the Great Glen Way

Preparation and attitude

In addition to packing and the appropriate equipment, it is of course also important to strengthen your body before the first multi-day tour. Movement in everyday life can be helpful.

It is also important that you are confident in your ability to reach the destination that you are aiming for. Fitness helps just as much as good knowledge of the route. Acquiring basic map reading skills is also definitely worth it.

You will also be amazed at how much your fitness level increases during the hike. The psychological aspect and getting used to the constant walking should not be underestimated.

If on the second day, you walk with sore muscles, perhaps for the first time, the third day in particular can be challenging because you are now really getting into the experience of long walks. However, you will often find that by the fourth day, you body has acclimatized and you have gotten in a walking rhythm.

Hiking The Kerry Way Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Hiking The Kerry Way

Why it’s worth it

After the acclimatization phase, in my experience, you arrive completely new in your own body. Your legs now move a lot more of their own accord and have discovered their own intelligence, for example when it comes to uneven ground.

In this way, the mind can also relax deeply and leave the stress of everyday life behind. It also has a special charm to sleep in a new place every evening. Arriving at a specific destination becomes a reward for the distance covered.

On the way you will get to know the area in which you are hiking, and you will be surrounded by breathtaking nature. In these moments you sometimes don’t want to go back to “civilization” and forget all efforts.

Beara Way Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Views on the Beara Way

Make your life easier

When it comes to all questions relating to logistics, Hillwalk Tours offers valuable support. The route is planned for you, signposted and easy and moderate versions for beginners are offered.

Also luggage transport makes life a lot easier on long-distance hikes. Those who are ambitious can set off with equipment for a week, tent and sleeping bag, but having only the bare essentials in a daypack is a great relief, especially for newcomers to this wonderful outdoor sport.

Spending every evening in cozy B&Bs where you  get to know local hosts also makes a long-distance hike a very special experience.

But be warned: hiking is highly addictive. So it is quite possible that on your first long-distance hike, you will decide that you would like to spend all of your next vacations also immersed in nature. 

Walking the Cornwall Coast Path, Hillwalk Tours
Walking the Cornwall Coast Path with Hillwalk Tours

We hope that you enjoyed this guide to first time long-distance hiking tips. For more information on taking a long-distance hiking holiday, just get in touch.