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How To Hike Your First Mountain: Preparation For Beginners | THE SHED KNIVES BLOG #74

How To Hike Your First Mountain: Preparation For Beginners | THE SHED KNIVES BLOG #74

Welcome back to The S.K. Blog for edition #74. If you're new here, welcome! In this guide, we'll be taking a deep dive into what you need to pack and how you need to prepare for your first mountain hike. Whether you're a complete novice or someone looking to transition from casual trails to more challenging terrains, this resource will equip you with the knowledge and preparation needed to make your hike a successful adventure.

Section 1: Choosing Your First Mountain

How To Hike Your First Mountain: Preparation For Beginners | THE SHED KNIVES BLOG #74

1.1 Researching Suitable Mountains

Heading out on your first mountain hike requires careful consideration of the mountain's difficulty level, trail conditions, and accessibility. Research potential mountains, read trail reviews, and choose one that aligns with your current fitness level and hiking experience.

  • Easy:

    • Well-marked trails with minimal elevation gain.
    • Suitable for beginners and those with little hiking experience.
    • Generally, well-maintained paths with clear signage.
  • Moderate:

    • Moderate elevation gain and varied terrain.
    • May involve uneven surfaces, rocks, and steeper sections.
    • Suitable for hikers with some experience and reasonable fitness.
  • Challenging:

    • Significant elevation gain and varied terrain.
    • Potential for steep ascents, rocky sections, and challenging trail conditions.
    • Requires a higher level of fitness and hiking experience.
  • Difficult:

    • Substantial elevation gain, challenging terrain, and potential exposure.
    • May involve technical sections, such as scrambling or rock climbing.
    • Recommended for experienced hikers with advanced skills.
  • Advanced/Technical:

    • Steep ascents, technical terrain, and exposure to potential hazards.
    • May require specialized skills like rock climbing or mountaineering.
    • Suitable for experienced mountaineers and those with advanced outdoor skills.
  • Alpine/Extreme:

    • High-altitude terrain with severe weather conditions.
    • Involves technical climbing, glacier travel, and exposure to extreme elements.
    • Reserved for highly experienced mountaineers with specialized training.
  • Multi-Day Expeditions:

    • Involves extended periods in the wilderness with backpacking and camping.
    • Requires navigation skills, self-sufficiency, and preparedness for changing conditions.
    • Suitable for experienced backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Winter/Backcountry:

    • Hiking in winter conditions with potential for snow, ice, and cold temperatures.
    • Requires specialized gear, knowledge of avalanche safety, and winter camping skills.
    • Suitable for experienced winter hikers and backcountry enthusiasts.
  • Technical Rock Climbing:

    • Involves climbing on rock faces, cliffs, or peaks.
    • Requires rock climbing equipment, knowledge of rope techniques, and safety measures.
    • Suitable for individuals with advanced rock climbing skills.
  • Technical Ice Climbing:

    • Involves ascending frozen waterfalls or ice-covered terrain.
    • Requires specialized ice climbing equipment, techniques, and safety precautions.
    • Suitable for experienced ice climbers with advanced skills.

1.2 Trail Length and Difficulty

Opt for a mountain with a well-marked trail suitable for beginners. Look for trails with moderate difficulty ratings and shorter distances. Gradually increasing the challenge as you gain experience will ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience.

PRO TIP: If you've never hiked a mountain before, start with a mountain that has a 500ft / 150m elevation increase or less. 

Section 2: Physical Preparation

How To Hike Your First Mountain: Preparation For Beginners | THE SHED KNIVES BLOG #74

2.1 Cardiovascular Conditioning

Mountain hiking demands cardiovascular endurance. Engage in activities like brisk walking, jogging, or cycling to improve your stamina. Include interval training to simulate the variable intensities of mountain trails.

2.2 Strength Training

Build strength in your legs, core, and upper body. Squats, lunges, and core exercises will enhance your stability and make ascending and descending slopes more manageable.

2.3 Hiking-Specific Training

Practice hiking with a loaded backpack to simulate the conditions of your mountain hike. Start with shorter walks and progressively increase the distance and elevation gain.

Section 3: Gear Essentials

How To Hike Your First Mountain: Preparation For Beginners | THE SHED KNIVES BLOG #74


3.1 Proper Footwear

Invest in sturdy, comfortable hiking boots that provide ankle support. Ensure a proper fit to prevent blisters and discomfort during the hike.

Popular hiking shoe brands:

  • Merrell
  • Salomon
  • Keen
  • The North Face
  • Columbia

3.2 Clothing Layers

Dress in moisture-wicking layers to regulate body temperature. Include a waterproof and windproof outer layer in case of unexpected weather changes.

3.3 Backpack

Choose a backpack of appropriate size to carry essentials like water, snacks, a first aid kit, and additional clothing layers. Ensure the backpack is comfortable and fits well.

3.4 Navigation Tools

Carry a map, compass, or GPS device to navigate the trail confidently. Familiarize yourself with basic map reading skills before hitting the trail.


Section 4: Mental Preparation

How To Hike Your First Mountain: Preparation For Beginners | THE SHED KNIVES BLOG #74

4.1 Mental Resilience

  1. Stay Positive:

    • Cultivate a positive mindset before and during your hike. Focus on the excitement of the adventure, the beauty of nature, and the sense of accomplishment you'll feel at the end. Positive thinking can significantly impact your overall experience.
  2. Be Adaptable:

    • Understand that nature is unpredictable, and challenges may arise. Be flexible in your plans and ready to adapt to changing weather conditions, unexpected obstacles, or alterations to your route. Embracing adaptability enhances your ability to navigate challenges effectively.
  3. Embrace the Journey:

    • Instead of fixating solely on reaching the summit, appreciate the entire journey. Take time to enjoy the scenery, connect with fellow hikers, and take note of the small victories along the trail. The journey itself is an integral part of the hike.
  4. Accept Discomfort:

    • Acknowledge that some discomfort will be endured during the hike. Whether it's the physical strain of ascending steep trails or exposure to the elements, accepting discomfort as part of the adventure allows you to focus on the bigger picture and overcome obstacles with resilience.
  5. Mindfulness Practices:

    • Incorporate mindfulness practices into your hiking routine. Take moments to breathe deeply, tune into your surroundings, and be present in the moment. Mindfulness can help alleviate stress and enhance your overall mental well-being during the hike.
  6. Set Realistic Expectations:

    • Establish realistic expectations for the hike. Understand your current fitness level, the difficulty of the trail, and potential challenges. Setting achievable goals ensures a positive experience and prevents unnecessary frustration. Your first hike should not be Everest. Set your ego aside and take it step by step. 
  7. Visualization Techniques:
    • Use visualization techniques to picture yourself successfully navigating challenging sections of the trail. Visualizing success can boost confidence and mental resilience, making it easier to overcome obstacles when they arise.
  8. Connect with Fellow Hikers:

    • Engage with fellow hikers on the trail. Sharing experiences, tips, and encouragement can create a supportive atmosphere that positively influences your mental state. Human connections contribute significantly to a positive hiking experience.

Remember, mental preparation is an ongoing process. When you adopt a positive mindset, stay adaptable, and accept discomfort, you'll not only enhance your hiking experience but also build mental resilience for everyday life.

Section 5: On the Trail

How To Hike Your First Mountain: Preparation For Beginners | THE SHED KNIVES BLOG #74

Knife Featured: 2023 Shed Knives Skur

5.1 Start Early

Commence your hike early in the day to allow sufficient time for rest breaks and unexpected delays. It also ensures you complete your hike before nightfall.

5.2 Pace Yourself

Adopt a steady pace that suits your fitness level. Take regular breaks to rest, hydrate, and appreciate the scenery.

  • 2 - 3 mph is an average mountain hiking pace

5.3 Hydration and Nutrition

Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly. Pack energy-rich snacks like trail mix, energy bars, and fruits to replenish your energy levels.

PRO TIP: Peanut butter packs a lot of nutrients, is stable, and can be easily packed for your hike.

5.4 Mind Your Footing

Watch your step, especially on uneven terrain. Use trekking poles for added stability during ascents and descents. Proper footwear is also a key component in your stability. I've hiked with guys who have chosen perfect footwear and I've also hiked with guys who have chosen terrible footwear - the difference in the quality of their hikes was quite noticeable.

Section 6: Summit Success and Descending Safely

How To Hike Your First Mountain: Preparation For Beginners | THE SHED KNIVES BLOG #74

Knife Featured: 2023 Shed Knives Sheepsfoot

6.1 Celebrate Your Achievement

Reaching the summit is a momentous occasion. Take the time to celebrate your accomplishment and enjoy the top. Take photos, sit down, take a deep breath: these are things that will add to the enjoyment of the your summit.

6.2 Descending Techniques

Descending requires a different set of skills. Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Maintain a Controlled Pace:

    • Descend at a controlled and steady pace. Avoid rushing down the mountain, as it can lead to slips, trips, and falls. Maintain balance and be deliberate with each step.
  2. Use Short, Controlled Steps:

    • Take short and measured steps when descending. This helps maintain balance and stability, especially on steep or uneven terrain. Keep your center of gravity low.
  3. Bend Your Knees:

    • Keep your knees slightly bent while descending. This provides shock absorption and allows for better balance. Avoid locking your knees, as it can increase the impact on joints.
  4. Side-Stepping:

    • On steep slopes, use a side-stepping technique. Face sideways to the slope and take lateral steps. This technique provides better stability and control.
  5. Backward Descending:

    • In situations where visibility is limited or the terrain is challenging, consider descending backward. This allows you to use your uphill foot to test the stability of each step before committing your weight.
  6. Utilize Trekking Poles:

    • Trekking poles are valuable tools for descending. Plant the poles in front of you to provide additional stability and reduce the impact on your knees. Adjust the length of the poles based on the steepness of the descent.
  7. Maintain Three Points of Contact:

    • On extremely steep or rocky terrain, maintain three points of contact with the ground whenever possible. This could involve having both trekking poles and one foot on the ground or using your hands for stability.
  8. Glissading:

    • Glissading is a technique for descending steep snow slopes. Sit or squat and slide down the slope using the natural contours of the snow. Ensure the slope is safe and free from obstacles before attempting glissading.
  9. Use Switchbacks:

    • When the trail allows, follow switchbacks (zig-zags in the trail) instead of descending straight down. Switchbacks reduce the steepness of the descent and make it more manageable.
  10. Be Mindful of Loose Rocks:

    • Watch for loose rocks or scree while descending. Test rocks before putting your full weight on them, and avoid dislodging rocks that could pose a danger to yourself or others below.
  11. Control Your Speed:

    • Maintain control of your descent speed. Avoid running downhill, especially on uneven terrain. Descend at a pace that allows you to maintain control and react to changes in the trail.
  12. Stay Mentally Alert:

    • Descending can be physically demanding, but it's crucial to stay mentally alert. Pay attention to the trail, obstacles, and changes in terrain. Fatigue can affect decision-making, so take breaks if needed.

6.3 Leave No Trace

An overlooked part of hiking, leave no trace. Make sure you leave the mountain as pristine as you found it. Pack out all trash, follow designated trails, and avoid disturbing wildlife. If you find trash along the way, pick it up and throw it away later. Keeping our trails looking good keeps our environment looking good. This will also set an example for surrounding hikers.


Congratulations! You've successfully conquered your first mountain. As you descend from the summit, take a moment to reflect on the challenges you overcame, the stunning landscapes you witnessed, and the personal growth achieved during this adventure. Remember, every mountain hike is a unique journey, and with each step, you become a more seasoned and resilient explorer. Until next time, keep exploring, stay safe, and continue on your conquest of the mountains. Enjoy the outdoors, my friends.

To explore a wide range of high-quality knives, like the entire 2023 Shed Knives Collection, visit the Shed Knives website HERE. Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next edition of The Shed Knives Blog.

Know another outdoor enthusiast who may find value in this blog? Feel free to share the link of this blog with them so we can continue to educate & encourage our fellow outdoor & knife enthusiasts. Thank you for your support. - WJB



About The Author:

W. Jack Billings - CEO & Founder, Shed Knives

Jack Billings is the 19 year old CEO and Founder of Shed Knives, a rising manufacturer of high-quality fixed blade bushcraft knives. With over 5 years of experience as a knife maker, he has developed a reputation for crafting durable, reliable knives that are designed for outdoor enthusiasts and bushcrafters alike. Jack started making knives at the age of 13 and has been refining his craft ever since.

In addition to his expertise in knife making, Jack has a High School Degree from POLYTECH High School, where he studied Automotive Technology and obtained his ASE Certification. He is also a content creator for Shed Knives and has reached the eyes of over 1,000,000 people on Shed Knives platforms across the world through his work.

When he's not working on knives, Jack enjoys exploring the outdoors and has a passion for bushcraft. He also has a passion for the automotive world and enjoys learning about new technologies and advancements. Additionally, he has a great interest in language and is studying Spanish, German, and Arabic.

Jack's personal mission is to constantly improve himself, his products, and his processes in order to stay ahead of the rapidly changing interests of the knife industry and to surpass the competition. He takes great pride in American manufacturing and is committed to contributing to the growth of the world knife industry through his work.

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