For someone just starting out on their pipe journey, the task can be daunting. In our digital world, there’s no shortage of information, and no shortage of people telling you how you should and should not do something. I’m not interested in telling you how you should smoke a pipe, what blends to enjoy, or what pipes to start out with. Pipe smoking is an extremely personal endeavor. What works for me does not work for everyone. That being said, I would like to share some general thoughts for beginning pipe smokers that may offer some direction.

What can I add to what others have already said? I want to offer some ways you might think about your pipe journey, how you might approach this journey intellectually. Think about what you’re doing. Think about why you want to get into this, what you want to get out of it, and what the pipe is going to mean for your schedule, personality, and lifestyle. Do you have the time necessary to enjoy a bowl of your favorite tobacco blends? Do you recognize that you will be understood by others as “the guy who smokes a pipe?” Will the pipe compliment your daily life in a way that is pleasing to you and the people you care about?

If possible, find pipe smokers near you and learn from their experience. It helps to have a mentor of sorts to help guide you through the beginning stages of your pipe journey. You do not have to smoke your pipe the same way another person does, nor do you need to like blends that other people enjoy. But, it helps to have another pipe smoker around to help answer questions you may develop. Pipe smoking need not be difficult, but there’s no point reinventing the wheel; learn from the experience of others.

Start with quality products. As you begin, products don’t have to be expensive, but they do need to be good quality. You should never compromise on quality. Remember this, there’s no such thing as a mediocre pipe smoker, only mediocre products. If you stay with it and surround yourself with knowledgable people and follow good information, you will become a master pipe smoker in no time. My personal opinion is that salesmanship is part of the downfall of modern man. We allow others to persuade us to purchase items that are inferior and temporary. There should be nothing inferior about your pipe journey. Start with quality. Stay with quality.

Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them. Like anything else in life, pipe smoking includes mistakes. And mistakes are valuable because of what they can teach us, as long as we pay attention and remain eager to improve. I have made many, many mistakes with my pipe smoking. But I’ve learned from each of them. As a result, my smoking sessions are far more pleasurable and meaningful. Never stop learning.

Be aware that your palette and tobacco interests will develop and change over time. Don’t try to sample every blend all at once. Grow slow and steady. Keep trying new blends at a gradual pace. If you don’t like a blend, don’t be quick to throw it out. Store it in a jar and wait until your palette is ready for it. You may return to it with an entirely different perspective. Trust me. This happens.

Have a place indoors, or moderately indoors, where you can enjoy your pipe. Wind and other weather patterns can adversely affect the smoking experience. You need to be able to appreciate the room note of the blends you are smoking to get a proper understanding of their respective flavor profiles. Smoking outdoors is a wonderful thing, but if weather conditions are not suitable, the experience can become frustrating, especially as you are starting out on your pipe journey. The pipe puts us in touch with weather patterns. That’s a good thing.

Finally, and this is vitally significant: take your time. Slow down. Don’t rush the pipe. If you fail in this basic but all-important point, pipe smoking will never make sense to you.