A Day Hikers Tips on Gear for Beginners


Image by ex_magician via Flickr

I was having a conversation with @hikingthetrail via twitter recently about the high-tech devices, gizmos and gadgets that we as hikers love to bring with us while hiking.  The thing is although I am definitely a gadget guy off the trail, when it comes to hiking I tend to be much more of a purist.  So while I’m sure there are valid arguments to be made for carrying the latest and greatest gadget…

You don’t really need it? Do you?

Being well equipped for a hike, especially for a day hike doesn’t necessarily mean a big shopping spree, at least…  It shouldn’t.  I mean, of course it could if you want it to.  But it’s not necessary.  So if you are a beginner, a novice, if you are just becoming interested in hiking don’t become overwhelmed by extensive lists of equipment, must haves and essentials for hiking.

Honestly as @hikingthetrail and I were discussing what we bring, I realized just how little you actually need to get started, how little I actually use.

Really all you need is:

Although a permanent re-usable water bottle in your choice of material is preferred it’s not necessary.  A pre-filled plastic water bottle which can be purchased anywhere will suffice. The thing to remember is that proper hydration is a must.  Even on the shortest of hikes always, ALWAYS bring water.

  • A cell phone

Bringing a cell phone is not just a good idea, it’s a safety essential.  Never go on a hike without a fully charged cell phone, especially if you’re heading out alone.  Chances are you will never need it but if it did, you would be glad to have a life line to the rest of the world.

Hiking shoes are probably the best option for most novice hikers as you are most likely doing relatively short, easy hikes on well marked trails in decent weather.  They are my footwear of choice for most of my adventures and if you try a pair I’m sure you’ll see why.

  • A good pair of socks

Often over looked (especially by beginners) a decent pair of socks can be the difference between an enjoyable and fun filled outing and a painful, blistering forced march.  A good pair of hiking socks will be wick moisture, keep your feet at a good temperature, promote circulation, absorb shock, and be comfortable.

And that’s really it!  Of course I strongly recommend that you bring the ten essentials on every hike the bottom line is this…  These four items are all you really need to begin hiking!  Everything else is convenience.

With these four items you can do just about any nature walk, hiking loop or short and easy out and back in your area.  Granted…  It’s not as sexy as having all the latest hiking gadgets, gear and devices, and you certainly shouldn’t be doing any long distance hiking or backpacking so ill-equipped, but for the novice hiker they are all you really need to get started hiking.

What do you bring with you while hiking? What do you actually need? Leave me a comment and let me know!

P.S.  If you don’t already, I would highly recommend following @hikingthetrail on twitter and facebook and checking out his blog about the journey of one mans dream to hike the Appalachian trail.

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13 thoughts on “A Day Hikers Tips on Gear for Beginners

  1. I agree 100% Selene! And of course I recommend bringing the ten essentials with you for anything further than a nature walk or perhaps a short easy out and back or loop. Thank you for your suggestions, and for the link back to your list! It was great! 😉

  2. All my high end gadgets are to assist me in my blogging. I carry a GPS that tracks how far and how high I am hiking so I can blog about it later and sometimes give readers a track they can follow on their GPS. I take a big, heavy DSLR for quality pictures, and a helmet cam for hikes that have interesting exposure.

    My last piece of high tech gear is a Spot Personal Locater. I often take this in place of a cell phone because (if I get my wish) my destination has no cell service. Two if there is cell service, no one can bother me…I can only bother them. And it gives my wife and family peace of mind while I’m out on the trail. But with Personal Locaters also come responsibility. I have written a piece about what I believe every personal locater owners must take into account before calling for help.

    If your interested: http://www.mylifeoutdoors.com/2011/05/spot-messenger-owners-responsibility_23.html

  3. I would have to agree with that completely. I would say that most gadgets hikers carry are related to blogging or documenting their hikes. I am actually looking for a gadget now which will track and map my progress, so I can post it at my blog. Thanks for stopping by, chiming in and for offering the link!

    BTW I love your blog! 😉

  4. I think there is something to say about not having lots of gadgets with you. It allows you to step away from reality and just enjoy the time outdoors. I completely agree that most of us who use the tech on the trail is due to some link to blogging or a fascination to record our journey.

    What you take is always subject to what kind of hiking you are doing. I set off last weekend to hike a few trails at a local state park none of which were more than 4 miles long. I took my Cabelas water pack some snacks and my phone. I sent text messages to 2 family members and 1 friend that said “I am at Weston Bend State Park if you do not hear from me by 5pm please alert authorities” Once I was off the trails I sent messages to those 3 people saying I was safe. I was hiking alone however there were lots of people out on the trails that day. If I had a longer trek in a more secluded area I would have taken more of my emergency kit with me.

    Thanks for the post love the blog.

  5. I always bring a small first aid kit and small flashlight. Even though it’s just a day hike, these are things that don’t weigh much or take up much space, but can be very helpful in an emergency.

  6. hiking is more than just a fun pastime it is also a great way to relax, lose weight, and tone up. If you are just starting and ready to take off on your first hike, here are some do’s and don’ts to help you make the most of your first journey.

    • admittedly, when I was hiking my first peaks and I saw people on the trail with hiking poles I thought, ha-ha, losers with their ski poles. Silly me, these things are
      great! They save on the back going up and save on the knees going down. They really can support you, trust me, so if you are planning on making hiking a regular thing, look into them.

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