Part of why we started the Roaming Parkers blog and Facebook group is because there are a lot of people who feel bogged down in a virtual rat-race and disconnected from the real, natural world – a large group of people who want to become more connected with something more natural and more real but they may not know how.
One popular way for people to unplug and get more connected with the natural world is to take up hiking as a hobby. But how do you start? Do you just go outside and start walking somewhere? That sounds kind of dodgy, so what sort of gear and preparation do you need to be safe when you start hiking?
One of the best ways to get started with just about any outdoorsy activity when you are unsure of yourself is to check out the Boy Scouts of America’s literature on the subject. The BSA has a ton of outdoors literature that has been considered definitive for more than a century, and it is very affordable.
Take hiking for example. There are three main BSA sources for info on how to get started enjoying hiking safely and beneficially.
- The Boy Scout Handbook – This is the Scout’s primary reference on everything Scouty, so as you can imagine, it has a ton of info about hiking as well as lots of preliminary skills (like first aid, navigation, etc…) that make hiking easier and safer.
- The Boy Scout Fieldbook – The Fieldbook is an expansion to the Scout Handbook. It goes into much greater detail on some subjects than the Handbook. You can think of the Handbook as a basic intro to the most necessary info, and the Fieldbook is everything that didn’t make it into the Handbook.
- The Hiking Merit Badge Book – The BSA publishes hundreds of these short booklets about every subject they can imagine Scouts being interested in. The Hiking Merit Badge Pamphlet is like a condensed version of the sections of the Handbook and the Fieldbook that deal specifically with Hiking and what it takes for Scouts to earn that particular badge.
Step-by-Step to learning to Hike Like A Boy Scout
- Go get yourself a copy of the Boy Scouts Hiking Merit Badge book. It is easily the best beginner’s intro to hiking that you can get. When you look inside, the first few pages will be the merit badge requirements. Adults and non-scouts can’t actually earn the badge, but you can use the merit badge requirements as a great outline of what the BSA thinks you ought to study up on in order to get a fun and safe start hiking. The rest of the book is divided into chapters with lots of great info about all aspects of getting started hiking.
- If there is anything that you don’t understand in the Merit Badge book, or if you think that it is starting out over your head in places, then go get yourself a copy of the Boy Scout Handbook. This book is both more comprehensive and more basic than the Merit Badge book. Here you can find info about all the foundations that you might not have gotten from the merit badge book.
- Once you have gotten started and have taken a handful of hikes and are feeling more comfortable settling into your new hobby, you might consider getting the Boy Scout Fieldbook because it will open up a whole new realm of possibilities for improving and expanding your hikes into different environments and climates and maybe even stepping up into pack camping!
- At any point in your journey into your new love of hiking, If you need help or just to chat, Contact a Roaming Parker and we’ll see how we can help you out!