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Hiking in Ireland grew massively over the multiple covid lockdowns and now everyone seems to want to get out in nature. If you have recently made the decision to get in shape or you just simply want to spend more time in the great outdoors, then hiking might be the perfect activity for you. In this article, we will prepare you to get out on those hills and start hiking.
The beauty of hiking is that there is something out there for everyone. Here in Ireland, we have many amazing trails for both beginners and experienced hikers. Like every sport, a basic level of fitness is needed but this can be obtained by going on short forest walks and building your fitness level up to the point that you are ready to tackle the hills and mountains of Ireland.
A key tip for when you start hiking is that you should never be afraid to turn around. If the trail feels like it will be too much for you, it’s safer to just turn around and hit up a more manageable trail or find somewhere nice to enjoy the views. Build up your distance gradually and you’ll be surprised how quickly you are marching up something you felt was unmanageable at the start.
This is where you have lucked out! Ireland has an abundance of trails for you to choose from, from short forest walks to long treks through the mountains. Check out our article on the best walks and hikes in Ireland for some inspiration.
When starting to hike, you should stick to well-signposted routes with visible trails like boardwalks and forest paths. These routes will help you get used to the idea of hiking and how to navigate.
Hiking gear can make or break your experience when out exploring the hills so we’ve given you a quick list of what you need and links to the best beginner gear on the market.
If you’re going to invest your money anywhere when starting hiking, invest it in a good pair of boots. Your boots can make or break your hiking experience and believe it or not, it’s very difficult to find boots that fit you just right. Great Outdoors is the place you need to visit to buy a pair of boots. They do an in-depth boot fitting in store, where their expert employees go to great lengths to ensure the boots you choose fit you just right. The fitting includes an explanation on how to tell if the boots fit well, foot measurement, sole measurements, a foot scan, and then insole suggestions based on where on your foot you put your weight.
We Recommend: Great Outdoors
The weather in Ireland is so changeable that waterproofs, or at least a rain jacket, are always essential to have in your hiking bag. Good quality, lightweight waterproofs are your best friend as you don’t want to be lugging up unnecessarily heavy items in your bag.
We Recommend Great Outdoors for great quality waterproof clothes.
Walking poles can be of great assistance or no use at all. Many people swear by them and call them their “second pair of legs”, but others don’t find any use for them. We personally think they are a great way to reduce the impact that hiking can have on your knees. Either way it’s no harm to try them when you start hiking and see if they work for you.
This is another, “it’s Ireland, you’re better safe than sorry”, item. Even if it’s warm and sunny at the foot of the mountain, it might be cold at the summit. You should always be prepared and a hat is light enough to squeeze into your hiking bag without any hassle. Maybe throw in a neck warmer too if the conditions look like the picture.
We Recommend: These Hats
If you don’t pack a pair of gloves in Ireland, you must be mad. Granted, not every hike will include a snow-covered peak but gloves are still essential for every hiker of all levels, especially in Winter. Finding a good pair of gloves is easy enough but we’ve made it even easier by giving you our favourite pair below.
We Recommend: Great Outdoors’ Range
Hiking trail apps are one of the best ways for beginners to find and follow new trails. Even the free versions of trail apps have helped so many beginner hikers start their hiking journey. We recommend getting used to the app on a couple of smaller trails before tackling bigger, more challenging ones.
We Recommend: Hiiker
Flasks are a must when out and about in the mountains. They can keep your hot drinks hot on cold days and your cold drinks cold on hot days. If you want to start hiking we strongly recommend picking up one of these bad boys, especially for when you move into longer-distance hikes.
We Recommend: Kambukka Etna Flasks
You’re going to need a hiking bag to carry all your gear with you and for beginners, we would recommend bags up to 35l. This is assuming you’re not attempting multiday hikes just yet.
We Recommend: Lowe Alpine Edge 26 Black Unisex
An absolutely essential hiking item. Good hiking socks will transform your hiking experience. They might seem like a small and perhaps insignificant Item but believe us when we say good hiking socks are essential!
We Recommend: Smartwool Hike Light Cushion & Horizon Socks Merino Outdoor 2 Pack
We have all experienced how temperamental the Irish weather can be, but on the hills, it is always amplified because there isn’t much protection from the elements. We would recommend using Mountain Forecast to get your weather updates before going hiking as it shows the weather at the summit and foot of the mountain you will be tackling.
The worst feeling in the world is being out on the hills and trying to rush back down before your phone dies. Our best bit of advice is to ensure your phone is always fully charged before your hike and bring a power bank with you just in case.
The hiking community in Ireland is so friendly and welcoming to new members and there are so many social hiking groups out there for you to check out. Sliabh Hiking and Galz Gone Wild are just two examples of the great hiking communities in Ireland. Check them out if you’re serious about getting into hiking.
Water is essential! There is nothing more important on your hike than staying hydrated so be sure to bring plenty of water with you.
Anything you bring with you on a hike must go home with you. We’re out in nature to enjoy the beauty of our country and we should respect it by leaving it the way we found it.
By Killian Andersen
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