By Chana Billet
LOOKING TO CONNECT with the great
outdoors? As part of the trend to unplug and
be physically active, hiking is an easy and
accessible way to get close to nature. And you
don’t need much specialized gear to get started.
“Hiking is a great way to stay in shape,”
says Peter Potterfield, a Costco member and
author of Classic Hikes of the World and
Classic Hikes of North America (both published by W. W. Norton & Company, neither
available at Costco). “More importantly, it
gets you out of the house, away from your
cellphone, and takes you into the natural
world. You will see beautiful landscapes you
can’t view by car.”
Proper clothing and footgear
In inconsistent climates, be prepared for
changes in weather. Even on short hikes, carry
a small pack with a waterproof windbreaker,
poncho or light jacket.
Avoid wearing clothes made from natural
fibers, like cotton, because they do not dry
well. Instead, opt for synthetic fabrics or wool.
In terms of footgear, while regular athletic shoes are OK for beginners, once you
graduate to rocky or elevated trails, investing
in a good pair of shoes is a must.
“Today’s hiking boots are more comfort-
blog. “Experienced hikers or staff at an out-
door shop can give you recommendations for
or against a specific route,” says McCharles.
“For example, a good trail in September may
be swampy and mosquito-plagued in June.”
Bring a map and know how to read it
before venturing out. Pay attention to the
route, especially when hiking on a trail that
To avoid mistakes, McCharles recommends not only taking a map and a GPS, but
checking the trail conditions with a ranger
before heading out.
“It’s amazing how often hiking plans may
change due to last-minute advice from a
ranger,” says McCharles.
Kathy Kupper, spokesperson for the
National Park Service, advises you to always
let someone know when you are leaving and
when you expect to return. This way, the fam-
able than ever,” says Potterfield. “Make sure to
break them in before you go. If your feet hurt,
you won’t have fun.”
Rick McCharles, an expert hiker and edi-
tor of besthike.com, which lists the best hikes
and treks around the world, recommends
“approach shoes,” hybrid footwear he believes
are more comfortable than boots. These light-
weight shoes combine the best features of hik-
ing boots and rock-climbing shoes, and can
be worn comfortably while walking long dis-
tances. Their specialized sticky rubber soles
help maintain traction on uneven terrain.
How to get started
Hiking, like running, has a natural evolu-
tion. “The important thing is to gradually
strengthen one’s ability,” Potterfield advises.
“Start with simple trails at nearby parks and
branch out by exploring state parks and places
outside the neighborhood.”
Most cities have hiking clubs and guide
services, which can accelerate the learning
curve. Group hikes provide a motivating social
atmosphere, with veteran hikers often sharing
hiking stories and recommending trails.
McCharles recommends independent
hiking once you gain confidence in your hiking skills.
“It’s more fun, more adventurous, than
going with a group,” McCharles explains.
“The feeling of accomplishment is greater
when you set off on your own.”
Before heading out solo, get suggestions
from local hikers, a guidebook or a reputable
The Costco Connection
Costco warehouses and Costco.com carry
hiking and camping essentials such as backpacks, snacks and water, trekking poles and
other items. Activewear is also available at
various times throughout the year. CONTINUED ON PAGE 36
ily member, friend or park ranger can send
out a search team, should you get lost.
“When lost, it’s best to remain in one
place and let people find you,” says Kupper.
“In an extreme situation where you [must
move], look for water and follow the route
downhill, because it will lead to a road and,
Learn the area
Make sure to find out about the wildlife
before you hit the trails, advises Potterfield.
From alligators in the Florida Everglades to
Kathy Kupper, spokesperson for the National
Park Service, offers these five principles for
“Know before you go.”
Don’t leave home without a map.
“Stick to the trail.”
To avoid getting lost, never wander from
the marked path.
“Leave only footprints.”
Whatever you bring in the woods must
go back with you in the car.
“Mind the wildlife.”
If you don’t bother the animals, they won’t
“Take only pictures.”
Leave nature in the state in which you find it.