Words: Stephanie Major, Altitude Sports writer
The Beginner’s Guide to Hiking: Head for the Trails with Keen
Lindsey’s children are always up for a hike. They learned from an early age how to make themselves feel at home on the trails, amongst the trees and wildlife. Photographer, content creator, and yoga instructor Lindsey Hill didn’t need too much time to discover what she thinks is the secret to happiness: hiking.
She’s not the only one. Urbanites and young families that have never set foot outside the city are heading to the trails and discovering a real passion for the outdoors. This past year had its fair share of uncertainty, but it also gave us the chance to rediscover something many of us had forgotten about: playing outdoors.
But hiking isn’t just reserved for a select few. Anyone can get on the trails and enjoy lush green forests, crystal clear waters, and valleys rising and falling as far as the eye can see.
Your Daily Dose of Nature
To understand the cause of this sudden resurgence of interest in outdoor activities, you have to go beyond both this past year and the need to stay in shape - mental health is the motivation. Hiking, in addition to the benefits to our physical health, offers a connection to nature that’s difficult to find elsewhere.
For Lindsey, getting outdoors has a meditative quality about it: “As you focus on your breath, the surroundings, and let go of the everyday life/work stresses, you’re creating more space and clarity in the mind. I always seem to gain a greater appreciation for the simple things.” Studies show that spending twenty minutes outside a day can significantly reduce stress. Nature is a natural treatment for anxiety.
It also helps to slow things down by offering a welcome break from the hectic pace of modern life. It’s a callback to times when the world was a vast wilderness, waiting to be explored. Today, the proverbial concrete jungles take us further away from nature. Hiking is an escape into a universe full of wildlife and natural wonders.
A Shoe that Fits
Although it’s an activity that requires very little, hiking does require some preparation. That starts with what you plan on wearing on your feet. knows all about it. “There are a few things to keep in mind as you shop for hiking boots. The first is the type of terrain you’re going to be on, the time of year, and the potential weather. Beginners should opt for a lightweight shoe, with a breathable upper. Otherwise, the most versatile choice would be a waterproof shoe that keeps you dry when crossing streams.”
It’s the same thing for kids, says Lindsey. “Mine spend all of their time jumping over rocks and soaking their feet in the river...something that would be impossible with normal shoes!” KEEN offers a large selection of shoes and boots for the whole family, particularly for those just starting out. Why? To make hiking more accessible for everyone.
So should you go for a shoe or a boot? According to Matthew Merko, Marketing Director for Keen, it comes down to preference. “Some people prefer a boot that comes up over the ankle and adds an additional level of support and comfort. Others prefer the lighter styling of a shoe, especially when you wear them with casual clothing for everyday use.” Those tricky downhill runs are the perfect place to sprain your ankle while running. A good boot will help reduce that risk.
A good boot like the Ridge Flex, a standout from Keen’s latest collection. As Matthew tells us, “We designed the Ridge Flex for hikers that are looking to get the most out of their hiking footwear and their hiking days. The KEEN.Bellows Flex technology allows the boot to flex easier in the forefoot, which saves energy when you’re out on the trail. From the seasoned hiker to those just getting started, this boot will not hold you back.
“Do I have what it takes?”
Are you able to run errands at the grocery store or pick up a cortado at your local cafe? If so, you’ve got what it takes to hike!
In all honesty, we’re not talking about rock climbing or mountain biking. For Lindsey, the answer is simple: “Hiking is essentially walking on a dirt path. If you can walk on dirt, you can hike! Hiking is for everyone.” Start with an easy trail, a wooden foot bridge, or a paved route. A three or four kilometre trail along a river or with a slight incline is easy for anyone to hike. Turns out you don’t have to go that far to discover some of nature’s wonders.
Discover Lindsey Hill’s hiking go-tos for her and her family:
Walking through the woods is an activity as old as time. Modern research shows us just how much we need it - and as we’ve discovered, it’s not nearly as hard as it seems. The benefits of hiking for the mind and body are becoming well-known, thanks to advocates like Lindsey who spend a good part of their life outdoors. Beginners can draw encouragement from people like her, and brands like KEEN are there to help. As Matthew Merko tells us, KEEN is just trying to “make what people of all ages need to get outside and have fun.” It looks like it’s working.