12 Tips For Plus Size Hikers

Have you ever considered hiking and thought that you were too big to do it? Well great news, hiking does not discriminate! In fact, you probably hike more often than you think. You see the word hike means a “long walk”. I’m sure you’ve taken a long walk a few times or more in your life. Besides, I’ve found that being plus size hasn’t stopped me from doing anything nearly as much as fear — it’s mind over matter.

Hiking in Baldwin Hills Overlook in Los Angeles, CA

Types Of Hikes I Enjoy

Forest Hikes

I fell in love with hiking in the forest because it’s therapeutic. No literally — hanging out in a forest is a therapy called Shinrin-yoku. Shinrin-yoku means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”. It was developed in Japan in the 1980s and has become a popular source of healthcare in Japanese medicine. Yes it is a more holistic approach, but it has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, blood pressure and improve moods amongst many other benefits.

Hiking in Catawba Falls, NC

Beach Hikes

I love walking barefoot on the beach sand. It provides so many benefits including “grounding” or physically connecting with Earth. Plus the sand provides a cushion when walking. Lastly, there’s almost nothing more peaceful than losing yourself in the ambiance of the beach while listening to the the sound of crashing waves in the background.

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Hiking on Tybee Island in Savannah, GA

City Hikes

Oh! Hold up, wait a minute — let us not forget a good ol’ city hike. I love to strap on some sneaks and hike around a cool city. Soaking up the culture of the locals and checking out the architecture is one of my favorite things to do! I probably walk an average of 10 miles on a city walk, so I think it’s safe to say that qualifies as a hike.

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On a city hike in Montpellier, France

That’s just a few types of hikes. There are so many more to explore, but don’t overwhelm yourself. One trail at a time!

So without further ado, here are 12 tips for plus size hikers:

Hiking Tips

How To Prepare

  1. Talk to your doctor first to make sure that hiking is right for you.
  2. Hiking requires endurance, strength and flexibility. Walking for at least 30 minutes per day and trying exercises like modified mountain climbers, sprawls and burpees will help get you there.
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Modified burpee via Giphy

3. If you’ll be hiking in the wilderness, research hiking trails and national parks near you. Alltrails.com or the app of the same name is a great place to start your research.

Hiking in Bays Mountain in Kingsport, TN. I found it by checking alltrails.com.

What To Wear

4. This has to be my biggest tip. Find a good comfortable shoe with good traction. Shoes made specifically for hiking would be ideal; but, are not mandatory. Recently I wore these Nike Air Max 270 Bowfin sneakers while hiking and they worked out well:

Via Nike.com

5. My go-to hiking outfit is always moisture-wicking clothing. No matter the temperature my basic uniform is leggings and a long or short sleeve fitted t-shirt. I like hiking clothes that fit close to the body (not tight) because I find that mobility is better. Of course if it’s cold out I’ll wear thicker socks, outerwear, a hat and gloves. This is one of those times where common sense comes into play. Dress appropriately for the weather.

Diagram of how moisture wicking fabrics work via hackersparadise.com

6. I tend suffer from bouts of Runner’s Knee. In this case, I wrap my knee for stability while hiking. If you have a tendency to have issues with a certain body part I would suggest wrapping it before hiking if you can.

What To Pack

7. I usually carry a small backpack with the following essentials:

  • Large bottle of water
  • Snacks such as, trail mix, granola and/or energy bars
  • Cell phone with a portable charger
  • A map of the area, if available
  • Sun protection, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Walking Stick, grab one from outdoors or purchase one from a sporting goods store

On The Day Of The Hike

8. Arrive early. I usually like to arrive as soon as the sun rises. The early bird gets the worm!

9. Don’t go off trail. I went off trail once, but thank goodness I ran into some hikers who knew the area. If they weren’t there things could have been worse!

10. Pace yourself! You’ll see plenty of hikers whiz past you. That’s ok — stay the course. The feeling I get when I’ve completed a hike is the best reward ever!

11. Make sure you read all park signs and warnings. You want to make sure you’re adhering to all of the rules and keeping yourself safe from wildlife.

12. Finally, don’t take this thing too seriously. Take friends, have lots of fun and take pictures to save the memories!

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Hiking with my sister in Crowders Mountain, NC
Hiking with my family in Abalone Cove Preserve in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Are you an avid hiker? Comment below with tips or questions if you’re just getting started.

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