New to hiking? You may think that all you need is a map and some good hiking boots. That's fine, but you can easily avoid most of the pitfalls experienced by hiking beginners by simply planning ahead.
Basic essentials on your hiking gear checklist should include plenty of water, nutritious snacks. proper clothing such as hiking boots, hiking socks and rain gear, along with trail maps, compass, a GPS unit and a cell phone or two-way radio.
How to buy hiking boots or hiking shoes
A good fitting pair of hiking boots is every hiker's basic gear for success, and without them no hiking trip is going to be fun.
For durability and safety, some experienced hikers prefer genuine leather hiking boots while others say that lighter-weight synthetic materials are best. Rule of thumb: always wear the appropriate hiking boots or hiking shoes (and hiking socks) according to the terrain and season. Waterproof linings are all-important for fall and winter hiking, but note that waterproof hiking boots and shoes can get hot in summer.
In short, opt for light-weight hiking shoes with a firm grip for casual day hikes. Choose heavier more durable hiking boots - with strong ankle support - for longer hikes or mountain treks.
As always, take your time and shop around. Try on several pairs of hiking boots before you buy, and don't plunk down your hard-earned cash before you're fully satisfied with all aspects of support and overall comfort.
Finally, because there's nothing like a foot blister to ruin an otherwise fun hiking adventure, always break in a new pair of hiking boots before you test them in the wild.
Hiking Gear & Equipment
Tip: Shop around for the best prices on basic equipment.
Compass, maps and directions
Hiking poles (for steeper treks)
Snacks (snack bars, GORP, trail mix)
Flashlight or pen light
Cell phone or two-way radio (for emergencies)
Matches or disposable lighter (for starting a fire in case you get lost in the woods)
Battery-powered reading light
Water purification tablets
Money (cash or ATM cards)
Because it take hours to dry, cotton clothing should be avoided whenever possible. Wool, fleece or synthetics are best.
Wide brimmed hat (to protect against rain or sun)
Pants or shorts
Underwear (and/or long underwear)
Hiking Safety & Personal Items
Camping first aid kit
Duct tape (for repairing most anything)
Moleskin (for blisters)
Eye drops (if hiking in dry climates)
(Also see hiking safety tips for more helpful advice on staying safe and comfortable on your next hiking trip.)