11 Myths About Hiking: Busted

There are many myths about hiking that are simply not true. They can even deter people from lacing up their boots and hitting the trails, which is a terrible shame as we know it is a great pastime with so much to offer.

Myths about Hiking

Hiking is one of the most popular and accessible ways to get outdoors.

It’s a great way to get in shape, spend time with family and friends, or just enjoy nature.

Still, there are lots of misconceptions about hiking that make people avoid it or think they can’t do it. We’re here to bust some of those myths.

1. Hiking is Only for Exercise-Obsessed Outdoorsmen

Hiking is a great way to get exercise, but it’s also a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

It can be done by anyone and with friends and family, so you don’t have to worry about being in shape or having any experience. Just make sure to choose a route that is suitable for your ability level and overall group.

Hiking with kids is especially fun because they’ll be able to enjoy nature while exploring new things along the way.

Stats about Hiking
Jackets for Hiking

2. You Must Have a Group of People to Go With

For many people, hiking is an activity they even prefer to do solo. To be alone out in nature is both rewarding and empowering.

It can be a way of escaping the hustle and bustle of daily life, but it’s also a great way to get in some exercise. When you hike by yourself, there’s no pressure to keep up with anyone else or move faster than you are comfortable with—you choose your own pace and decide how long you want to spend on the trail.

Man and his dog in nature
©Leio Mclaren

The key word here is “choose”. Hiking isn’t a race. Take it at your own pace and build up the difficulty levels of your trails gradually over time as you build confidence.

3. Myths about Hiking: You Need to be in Good Shape to Hike

There is no pre-requisite for how fit you need to be before you start.

Obviously make sure that you start on easy and short trails if you have lower levels of fitness. But hiking itself is one of the best ways to build general cardiovascular health and burn fat.

When combined with an intelligent nutrition plan, hiking can be an excellent way to lose fat.

4. Myths about Hiking: You Have to go Far and you have to go Fast

This is a popular misconception. In fact, it’s the most common mistake people make when they’re deciding to hike.

Hiking isn’t about how far you go or how fast you travel. It’s about enjoying the journey and having an unforgettable experience with your friends or family members along the way (or even by yourself).

Lesser known hiking trails

Similarly, hiking is not just about reaching your destination; it’s also about enjoying every second of the adventure there as well.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel like going on long trails every day! Hiking doesn’t require special physical training or much equipment—it simply requires good shoes and enough water for yourself (and maybe some snacks).

myths about hiking with people
©Kevin Wolf

If you have never hiked before but would like to try it out for yourself, start small: pick a trail close by so that if something goes wrong with your shoes, or backpack straps break off it is not a huge deal.

As you become more experienced you will naturally find which bits of equipment will become necessary for you to add to your collection.

5. Hiking is the same as Walking in a Line of People with Sticks

This is one of the myths that gets me the most annoyed. Hiking is a much more diverse activity than walking, and it can be done solo or in groups (depending on what you prefer), for fitness or just for fun.

You can take your dog hiking, or go hiking by yourself. The same goes for people who are scared of hiking alone: they don’t have to! There’s no need to feel intimidated by the idea of going out on your own; there are plenty of trails that are safe enough without having company nearby.

Stay warm on your hikes with Yak wool!

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it alone or together with friends, what matters is enjoying yourself while getting fit at the same time! Most hikes aren’t so difficult that you’ll end up panting and sweating like crazy—and those who do get exhausted will probably feel accomplished afterwards anyway because they did something challenging.

Hiking is also an excellent way to reconnect with the natural world, something you don’t get from spending hours on a treadmill.

6. You’re in Danger every time you Hit the Trail

While it is true that hiking can be dangerous in some conditions, you are actually in more danger when you’re doing many other things.

A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that there were more injuries on the road than on the trail.

Hikers in a line on a trail
©Justin Buisson

The study also found that hiking was safer than many other outdoor activities, including golfing and sailing. A report from Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) said about 0.4 deaths per 100,000 participants for all mountain sports combined between 2011 and 2013—that’s less than half of what you’d get from driving a car!

7. You Need Expensive Gear or Equipment to Enjoy Hiking

You don’t need expensive gear to enjoy hiking. You can rent equipment, make do with what you have, or even buy cheaper gear if you’re on a budget. For example:

  • If you want to go hiking but don’t own a tent or backpacking stove, there’s no need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on your first trip. Instead, try using a tarp for shelter and cook over an open fire.
  • If you’re looking to save money on clothing and footwear by borrow from friends who already own these items.
  • You can join groups like Meetup which offer free rentals at events all over the world so people can test drive new gear before they buy it themselves.

8. Small Dogs can’t Handle Steep Terrain

  • Small dogs are not fragile. In fact, they’re really strong!
  • They can climb up and down steep terrain with ease.
  • They’re agile enough to navigate tricky trails without falling or getting hurt.
  • Their ability to handle long hikes makes them great for multi-day adventures.

And if you want to take your dog on shorter hikes instead? No problem! They can do that too.

9. Myths about Hiking: Families can’t Hike Together

I think you’ll be surprised by how many families are out there hiking together.

In fact, I would even argue that kids can be a great source of exercise for parents and older children can help carry gear.

Learn how to leave no trace

If you have younger children, they will enjoy the extra attention and support from their parents while on the trail.

There are many ways that children can help with navigation as well: they can spot landmarks or recognize signs in their native language (especially if they were born with one and then took up another).

Man and woman on mountain top
©Justin Buisson

Finally, once your child reaches an appropriate age (if he/she hasn’t already), teach them how to identify edible plants along the way so he/she knows what is safe food vs poisonous plants.

10. Myths about Hiking: Hikes aren’t Safe for Kids

This myth is a persistent one, and it can be hard to get people to let go of their fear.

When we think about hiking, we think about dangerous climbs, steep drops, and the hot sun beating down on us. Children are small and not as capable as adults—and therefore they can’t be trusted on the trail without supervision.

But there’s no reason why kids can’t enjoy hiking if they’re prepared properly. This means having the right equipment (such as helmets if neccessary), clothing (which should be appropriate for weather conditions), food (especially plenty of water), first aid supplies (in case someone gets hurt), and other essentials like sunscreen.

Hiking in Scotland
Hiking for Kids in the UK Lake District

It also means making sure that everyone who goes out into nature knows how to use common sense about where they walk, so that they don’t fall off cliffs or otherwise hurt themselves in unexpected ways.

11. Myths about Hiking: The Young are Better Hikers than Older Adults

This myth might have some truth to it, but it’s not because the youth are better equipped for hiking. It’s because they tend to be more energetic, fitter and able to keep going longer than older adults.

However, many older hikers are much more experienced and knowledgeable. Hiking is a very forgiving activity when it comes to developing functional fitness without destroying the body.

There are Plenty of Myths about Hiking, but it’s an Activity that Anyone Can do and Enjoy

Hiking is a fun way to get exercise, see some of the world around you and connect with nature. Make sure you understand these myths about hiking so that you can enjoy your time outside without worries or preconceptions.

It’s also a great activity for people who want to try something different from their usual routine. As long as you go into it with an open mind—and some good hiking shoes—you will have a great time on your next adventure out in the great outdoors.

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