5 Hiking Mistakes You Shouldn’t Be Making

Hiking mistakes happen.

Like any mistake, there are mistakes in everything.

But we should try our best to avoid mistakes whenever possible. The same goes for the mistakes we make during our hiking adventures.

It’s easy to make some hiking mistakes, after all.

But if I can help you avoid some mistakes I’ve made by writing this article, that’s what I was meant to do.

Hiking Mistakes You Should Avoid

Let’s take a look at five hiking mistakes worth avoiding today.


1 – Too Much Weight

Many of us make this hiking mistake, especially at the start of our hiking experiences.

We add too much weight to our packs.

And with that, we don’t wear our packs the right way. We don’t adjust it the way it’s supposed to be. We don’t pack it the way we should. See how easy it is to make hiking mistakes?

It’s essential only to pack what you need. If you can buy something lighter, you should consider it. You should get fitted for a pack and understand the capacity of how much it holds. That’s usually determined in liters.

Make sure you adjust your pack every time you put it on, so it properly fits you.

Pack your pack in a way where the weight is equally distributed and not all on one side or in an area that will end up promoting strain or injury to your body.

Hiking mistakes like these can make you hate hiking. So it’s best to avoid them at all costs.


2 – Clothing and Footwear Hiking Mistakes

Hiking isn’t a walk in the park.

It’s rugged trails. It’s uneven terrain. It’s poison ivy and potentially venomous snakes. There are weeds and undergrowth. There are ticks, mosquitoes, and biting flies.

Much of that is gone in the colder months, but then you have wind-chill and frozen precipitation.

Add all that on top of hilly terrains, and you have a challenging walk ahead of you. Hiking isn’t for everyone. It’s for adventurous people.

And some of the most common hiking mistakes made in what clothing and footwear you choose.

Blue jeans and cotton t-shirts are not ideal for the woods. Instead, stick with hiking-specific clothing or athletic synthetics like leggings or running shorts. You want to choose clothing that wickers moisture and is breathable. In the winter months, you want to practice the art of layering.

And for the love of all things holy, leave the flip-flops and crocs at home. Instead, wear hiking-specific footwear such as hiking boots or trail running shoes. Wear synthetic wool hiking socks in the winter. Keep your feet warm and dry.

Bring rain gear. Dress for the season, temperature, and predicted weather conditions.

Hiking Mistakes

3 – Wrong Gear Choices

There is such a thing as bringing too much gear.

But you can easily bring too little gear, too.

The most important thing you can pack with you is hydration, fuel (food and snacks), and first aid. Bring water and a water filter. Bring trail snacks and a lunch. Bring first aid supplies you know how and would likely use while out in nature.

It’s always good to bring the ten essentials of hiking, too.

Hiking mistakes in choosing the wrong gear or not bringing the right gear could result in a very negative to even dangerous result.

Anything can happen in nature, and having the right gear with you is being prepared.


4 – Hiking Mistakes in Distance and Abilities

Just because you’re a runner, walker, or avid cyclist doesn’t mean you can hike as hard and long as you want.

Hiking is its own monster.

Nature is unforgiving, not controlled by humans, and is rugged. If you underestimate its power, you can suffer from the hiking mistakes you make.

Start out small as a beginner hiker.

Don’t go for the hardest and longest trails until you have experience and you’ve worked your way up to those conditions.

I’m what people like to call an expert hiker. But after ten miles, I’m pretty exhausted. I would have to work up to being able to hike 20+ miles like many of the thru-hikers do on the AT or the R2R.

We’re not invincible. We have to adjust to dramatic athletic changes, or we can get hurt in the process.


5 – Not Practicing Hiking Etiquette

It’s important to respect other hikers on the trail.

Practicing proper hiking etiquette is the responsibility of all hikers and other trail users.

For example, all hikers and cyclists should always yield to horseback riders. Horses can be unstable and can’t be controlled as we can control our feet and bicycles. Yielding to the rider will promote their safety, the horse’s safety, and your safety.

Another practice of hiking etiquette is to practice Leave No Trace and to pack out what you pack in. There is absolutely no excuse for littering. That even includes how you poop in the woods if you have to do that.

These hiking mistakes can make hiking hard for everyone else around you. Of course, you wouldn’t want the same disrespect done to you, right?

If it sounds disrespectful, it’s probably disrespectful.

Think of others when you’re enjoying the trail.


Now that you know about five hiking mistakes worth avoiding, you can take the proper steps to avoid them. I’m sure you’ll come upon other mistakes you’ll experience and know how to avoid them, too. Comment below with a sixth hiking mistake to avoid that you would add to this list. If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more like it, subscribe to my free monthly newsletter.

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Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!

Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman

Founder, Hiking with Shawn

Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman

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