Tis the season for hiking. Take advantage of the spring weather and get out there and start hiking. If you’re new to the sport, worry not as it’s easy for beginners to get started. As far as gear is concerned, the good thing is that hiking doesn’t require much high-tech gear for you to get started. There are only a few essential items you’ll need out on the trail to get you through the hike. So if you’re ready to head out for your next hiking adventure, here is some hiking gear for beginners that I recommend checking out first.
Essential Hiking Gear for Beginners
It’s important that you’re prepared when you head out to do a trail because you never know what you might end up needing along the way especially if you’re new to the sport. Below I will list the most important hiking gear and items for beginners you should consider having with you when out for a hike.
Footwear, especially hiking boots, are one of the most important pieces of hiking gear in my opinion. So make sure that you invest in a good pair to ensure that you can steadily navigate through any terrain on your hike and not have blisters at the end.
If you’re going on short trails that are relatively easy and flat, then some lightweight trail running shoes may be sufficient enough to get the job done. If you plan on doing longer trails with rocky and muddy terrain, then it’s best to get yourself some proper hiking shoes or boots to ensure you’re comfortable during the entire trip.
After you’ve picked out your hiking shoes, it’s essential to get a good pair of socks as well. For hiking, it is recommended that you wear either wool or synthetic socks. Try to avoid cotton as they tend to absorb sweat and create more odor. Socks made out of merino wool are a favorite among hikers, as they tend to be breathable, don’t hold on to moisture, and can keep your feet quite warm if you’re hiking in chillier weather.
Wear your socks slightly above the top of your shoe so they serve as an added cushion and will help to reduce friction between your foot and shoe which typically results in blisters.
It is necessary to bring along a backpack with you when you go hiking no matter how short of a distance you are going. A small daypack will suffice for the most part. You just need something that can hold your water, a light jacket, snacks, and any additional gear you want to bring along.
Look for bags that have a lot of pockets, as those always come in handy for storing smaller items, and one that has comfortable straps that will not bother you throughout the hike. Getting a waterproof bag is also a good idea in the event it rains so then your items will stay protected and dry.
I recommend the following backpacks:
Another essential hiking gear for beginners is a water bottle. No matter how short of a hike you’re going on, always bring some water with you. Now you can surely grab a plastic bottle of bottled water but the water will be warm when you drink it and you’ll have to find a place to dispose of it. I recommend investing in a metal, insulated water bottle that can keep your water cool throughout your hike. Just throw in a couple of ice cubes before you head out and you’re good to go. These water bottles also prevent water condensation from appearing on the outside of the bottle, so it will keep your backpack dry as well. I recommend the following ones:
If you don’t like the idea of carrying around water bottles and find it a hassle to pull them out constantly, consider getting a water bladder. These water pouches fit into most outdoor backpacks and have a water pipe and a drinking nozzle that you can thread through your backpack easily and take drinks from throughout the hike.
What to Wear Hiking
As a beginner, it’s important to have an idea of what type of clothing to wear on your hike. Choose clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement in any way, and that will not cause chaffing on your skin. Wear quick-drying and moisture-wicking fabrics that don’t absorb your sweat such as wool, nylon, or polyester. Avoid wearing cotton and heavy fabrics as they will only increase your body temperature and retain moisture.
When going on a hike, try to dress in layers. That way if you feel hot, you can remove some outer layers to cool off. I suggest first wearing a base layer made of wool or polyester. Then depending on the weather add on a puff vest or lightweight jacket on top. It’s also wise to bring along a waterproof jacket in case it rains.
For bottoms, stick to tights, shorts or hiking pants.
Additional Things to Bring on Your Hike
We’ve already covered most of the essential hiking gear for beginners, but here are some additional things you may want to bring along on your hike.
It can be a good idea to bring some snacks along on your hike, especially if you’re planning to be out for more than an hour. This can ensure that you’re fueled and ready to keep going. If you’re going for shorter hikes, I suggest sticking to more sugary snacks that will give you a boost instantly such as fruits or granola bars. For longer hikes, I suggest something that has salt, protein, and fats so it will give you more energy over time such as dried jerky or trail mix.
It can be a good idea to bring along a park of trekking poles, especially if you’re a beginner hiker. They can help to protect your knees on the trail and will give you added balance on uphill and rocky terrains. Choose one that collapses so that you can store it in your backpack comfortably or get an attachable one and clip it onto your backpack.
First Aid Kit
Be prepared and bring along a first aid kit with you if you can. This can ensure that if any blisters, cuts, or scrapes occur, you will have the tools on hand to take care of it right then and there. I recommend the Swiss Safe Pocket Sized First Aid Kit, as it’s perfect for travel and won’t take up too much space in your backpack.
Keep some sunscreen handy with you and reapply every couple of hours to ensure that you’re protected from UV rays and to avoid getting sunburned.
Hats are another great way to protect yourself from the sun. So bring one along on your trail even if it’s not sunny, just in case.