Plus Size Hiking Tips For Unlikely Hikers

by Jenny Bruso; @unlikelyhikers; Jenny Bruso & Unlikely Hikers

Jenny Bruso - Unlikely Hikers

Photo by Megan Holmes

Interested in hiking, but don’t know where to begin?  It’s easier than you think and you likely already have what you need to get started.  Hiking is a more holistic, engaging, fuller mind & body experience than the regular gym routine.  Fresh air, more room to move around, fewer people, and sturdy ground as opposed to flimsy, ill-fitting workout machines, are major incentives. 

Picking a trail.  Trails closer to home are ideal.  They’re better maintained, less remote, and you’ll have cell reception.  Start with short distances and lower elevation gains, something under five hundred feet.  You’ll find out quickly it’s not the distance that kills, it’s the elevation.  You can turn around any time something doesn’t feel good. 

Trusting your intuition and body.  Take as many breaks as your body tells you to and push yourself only in ways that feel productive.  Meaning, be nice to yourself.  Get comfortable with the act of hiking before setting goals or fretting about what you “should” be able to tackle. 

Wearing clothes that let you move freely, comfortably, and confidently.  Choose breathable, moisture-wicking, athletic wear that fits your body correctly.  Avoid cotton as it retains sweat.  You don’t need a pair of expensive hiking boots just yet either.  Average athletic sneakers are a good place to start.  A small backpack is necessary and handy. 

Nourishing yourself properly.  Keep yourself hydrated and your blood sugar levels steady to avoid cramping and lethargy.  Carry at least two liters of water for even the shortest trail.  Snack bars, dried fruit, and nuts are easy, nourishing snacks. 

Putting safety first.  Tell a point of contact where you’re going.  When doing trails further away, tell them what time you plan to start and expect to finish.  Contact them again when you’re done.  Bring a friend or look into a beginning hiking group.  A first-aid kit, map, and compass are also great things to have and to familiarize yourself with even when close to home. 


Jenny Bruso is a fat, queer, writer and hiker. Through her blog and @UnlikelyHikers on IG, she hopes to change preconceived notions of what an “outdoors person” looks like and highlight the intersections of identity, social justice and the outdoors.
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