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Which is the Best Hiking Gear for Beginners?
You’ve decided to take up hiking and are excited to hit the trail. You’ve chosen a destination and planned your trip—now what? What sort of gear will you need? How much should you spend on boots and backpacks? The answers to these questions are different for everyone, but if you’re just starting, there’s some essential hiking gear for beginners.
This guide gives you a rundown of what is required and why it matters. Please read it carefully before making significant purchases!
The 10 Must-Have Hiking Gear for Beginners
1. A Hiking Backpack
A hiking backpack is an essential gear for any hiker. Suppose you are a beginner; ensure you have a comfortable pack that meets your needs. Here are critical tips to consider when choosing an ideal backpack:
- Backpack capacity: How much stuff do you plan to carry while hiking? A small day pack will work if you only need a water bottle and some snacks. However, if you are planning on bringing along a few extra layers and a full-sized first aid kit, then it’s time to upgrade your backpack capacity accordingly.
- Backpack fit: The right size bag should hold everything that needs carrying but not feel too big or too heavy when loaded with all the essentials (and maybe even some extras).
When choosing which is suitable for your body type and activity level, consider where it sits on your back. A good fit will distribute weight comfortably without being too tight or loose around any part of your body.
- Backpack features (zippers/pockets/etc.): Depending on what kind of trip you’re planning (day hike vs. multi-day trek), many types of zippers are available.
There are zipper pulls that connect two bags into one large compartment down to tiny hidden pockets concealed within compartments. Some bags also come with external straps that let users carry items like sleeping pads across their backs instead of underneath them.
2. Trekking Poles
Trekking poles are a critical component of your hiking gear. They help you enhance balance, stability, and endurance, making all the difference when you’re on a trail for hours.
They are of all sizes and shapes, from collapsible models that easily fit into your backpack to fixed-length walking sticks that are more like canes than trekking poles. If you’re new to hiking or haven’t used them before, it’s best to start with adjustable ones so they can be adjusted as needed throughout the hike.
It’s essential to choose the correct length for your height and gait so that they feel comfortable while supporting your weight evenly across both shoulders and arms when walking downhill or uphill.
This shouldn’t be difficult since there are usually markings on each side of the pole indicating its maximum length). For example: if one arm extends farther than another as you walk downhill, adjust its location by loosening its locking mechanism so that both arms extend at equal distances from their body’s centerline.
A whistle is an excellent tool for signaling for help if you get lost or injured. Before leaving on your hike, make sure that you can blow on the whistle and that you can hear someone blowing on theirs.
4. Hiking Boots or Shoes
Hiking boots offer more ankle support than their shoe counterparts and provide better traction. They’re also heavier, meaning they take a toll on your feet if you wear them for an extended period.
Boots are best suited for long-distance hikes over rough terrain, like mountains or trails with lots of rocks and roots.
If you look forward to doing multiple hikes in the same area or if your hikes will be short distances with little elevation change (like urban walks), then hiking shoes are a great choice because they tend to be lighter and easier on the feet.
5. Hiking Socks
Socks are an often-overlooked but crucial part of a hiker’s gear. To choose the right pair, look for midweight socks made from wool or synthetic materials. They should be thin enough to avoid bunching around your ankles but thick enough to insulate your feet from cold weather and moisture.
When you wash them, use warm water and mild soap or detergent that doesn’t contain bleach or brighteners (which can fade color).
You may also want to add some vinegar or baking soda to the wash cycle; they help remove odors while neutralizing acids in sweat that cause blisters and soreness on long hikes.
It’s also helpful if they’re machine-washable, so you don’t have to hand-wash them every time after hiking trips.
Protecting against blisters is crucial when hiking on rough terrain. Ensure plenty of room between each toe so they don’t rub together uncomfortably during downhill walks (you may need different socks depending on your direction).
Blisters not only hurt like crazy but can also lead down the nasty path where infections occur due to bacteria entering through abrasions created by friction. If your wet feet rub together inside shoes without proper ventilation during hot weather when humidity levels are high, you also risk getting infections.
6. Waterproof Clothing and Rain Jacket
There are two types of waterproof clothing: Waterproof jackets and pants, and a pair of waterproof rain boots.
The best type of hiking gear for beginners is a pair of waterproof rain boots. These will keep your feet dry in wet conditions and are great for cold weather.
7. Sunscreen for Sun Protection
Sun protection is essential to any outdoor activity, but it’s imperative when hiking. Be sure to wear sunscreen on your face and body and a hat or visor to block harmful UV rays from your eyes.
Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection. They’ll keep you from squinting in the sun and getting a headache — plus, they’re stylish!
If you’re hiking in an area without trees blocking sunlight, consider wearing long sleeves to protect yourself from being burned by the sun’s rays directly on top of your skin (and not just on your arms).
You can also purchase light-colored clothing that reflects and scatters solar energy into space rather than absorbing it as black clothes do. These clothes will help prevent heat stress during hotter months.
8. Hydration Pack
Hydration packs are a credible way to carry water on the trail. They’re lightweight and comfortable and can be adjusted to your body type using straps or an internal frame. The wide mouth of these packs means you can easily refill them with water from streams or lakes without having to remove the pack from your back.
If you’re having trouble reaching down into the bag, taking off one strap is easy to have more mobility when you get inside.
When we say “hydration pack,” we mean any backpack explicitly designed for carrying liquids (water) in its many forms.
They include filtered water bottles and bladders that compress into flat plastic bags that can be squeezed down small before stowing away inside your backpack or strapped onto its outside frame (so long as they have some strap system), etc.
These packs are also great because they help hikers travel through areas where there may not be many opportunities for rehydrating along their route. Hikers can fill up at a stream before heading out on day hikes across lush landscapes like those found in national parks like Zion National Park near Las Vegas.
9. Headlamp or Flashlight (optional)
If you want to light up your path as you hike, a headlamp is your best option. A headlamp frees both hands and provides a more powerful beam than most flashlights.
When choosing a headlamp, there are several things to consider:
- Battery type – The three most common batteries for backpacking are lithium-ion (Li-ion), alkaline, and rechargeable NiMH (nickel-metal hydride).
Li-ion batteries typically last longer than other types of batteries; however, they can be expensive and may not work in cold temperatures. If you worry about running out of power on your trip or live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing regularly, look into the rechargeable or Alkaline options instead.
- Bulb type – LED bulbs are less likely to break than incandescent bulbs because they don’t have fragile filaments that can burn out quickly. LEDs also tend to be cheaper than incandescent bulbs because they last longer.
However, they’re not as bright as incandescent, so they may not be ideal if you plan on doing tasks like reading while hiking at night with only one hand free (in which case, go ahead and get a traditional flashlight).
If possible, order extra bulbs when purchasing your lamp so that if one burns out early on, it’s easy enough for someone familiar with replacing them.
10. First Aid Kit (optional)
The first aid kit is good, but only if you know how to use it. Usually, hikers just throw one together and leave it at home. This can be dangerous if you’re not an experienced hiker or camper.
The right thing to do is to ensure your first aid kit has everything you might need on your hike and that someone with experience knows how to use them before going out into the wilderness.
If you’re lucky to find someone who knows what they’re doing in their hiking party, they’ll have some basic medical knowledge (or at least read up on the subject beforehand). They’ll also be carrying their first aid kits with extra bandages and supplies for emergencies—especially since there’s no guarantee that everyone will be able to reach help quickly should something happen while out in nature.
A well-Prepared Hiker is a Safe Hiker
Safety is a crucial aspect to remember when hiking. You want to be prepared for any situation and have a good plan. Here are some things you have to do to ensure an effortless first hike:
- Bring the right gear, including a backpack that fits your body type, hiking boots that fit well, and warm clothing like rain jackets or sweaters.
- Pack your car with everything you might need before leaving home, so it’s easy for you to grab on the way out the door. That includes water bottles (make sure they’re closed tightly), snacks (hiking food tends to be salty), sunscreen (especially if it’s hot out), bug spray (if there are bugs around), etcetera. Pack what works best for YOU!
There you have it—our top tips for getting started with your hiking journey. But don’t forget, there is a lot more to learn. This article is just the tip of the iceberg regarding learning how to hike. The right way to start is by researching and then hitting the trails.