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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