A beginners guide to hiking in Norway
Your international friends already went up every mountain, but you don’t even know where to start? Going hiking for the first time can be intimidating. Here are a few tips on getting started.
Hiking is the best way to get to know the Norwegian nature. It’s healthy and budget friendly – apart from your first pair of hiking boots. However, you don’t need the most expensive gear for your small beginner hikes.
What is necessary?
If you start hiking and aren’t sure how often you will actually do it, it’s natural that you don’t want to spend too much money on equipment.
However, there is one important thing you shouldn’t be too cheap about: Get a good pair of hiking boots! For Erling Gjerde Førland, a student of comparative politics, the shoes are the most important thing when starting to hike.
– You can’t just put on normal sneakers and expect a nice trip. You need enough shock absorption, he says.
Especially in rainy Bergen you will be thankful for steady water-proof footwear. And if you don’t go hiking too often you still can use them in the city when the weather is getting uncomfortable in winter. But even with good shoes, for the first hikes, you should bring some blister patches.
Apart from the shoes, as long as the weather doesn’t get too cold, sport clothes are perfectly reasonable to hike in and you don’t need special hiking pants or tops. But you have to consider that it is much colder and windier the higher you get. And as always in Bergen: Be prepared for rain and take a rain jacket.
You should always carry enough clothes with you, says Kristine Dreyer, who also studies comparative politics.
– On Saturday I had to change clothes three times while hiking because of the rain, she says.
In addition to the clothes, you should pack some snacks and enough water in your backpack and you’re ready to go. But don’t take a shoulder bag, as it messes with your balance.
How to get started
Luckily, Bergens seven mountains are a good place to get started. The trails are mostly well marked, and even short hikes will lead to a great view over the city.
– Fløyen is the most beginner friendly mountain. The path is almost like a street and it’s more like going for a walk. You always know where you are and cannot get lost, says Sarah from Austria who studies German at UiB.
She always sends friends who are not into hiking there.
After mastering Fløyen, one can also continue to Blåmanen or Rundemanen, which are close by. Or you could try to increase the challenge by trying to hike Damsgårdsfjellet, the smallest of the seven mountains with 344 meters or Løvstakken with a height of 477 meter.
Finding and navigating trails is possible with your smartphone. Apps like ut.no or AllTrails not only give a GPS track to follow, but can also offer information about the trail’s difficulty and about the season the trails are recommended for.
When planning your hike, elevation is more important than length. Don’t think you can easily hike 10 kilometers, just because you can run them on even terrain.
Do small hikes first and learn how fast you are when going uphill. Going down the mountain is less exhausting but often more difficult than going up. Consider that already while going up. And there is no shame in taking your time or turning around if you realize that the trail is not for you.
Despite the trail, the weather is the most important thing to consider.
But most importantly, you shouldn’t forget to have fun.
– Take enough breaks, eat something, and enjoy the view, Erling recommends.
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