Your first and best hiking is always unforgettable, and preparing for it should be super exciting. It doesn’t matter if you’re going on a multi-day trek or if you’re keeping it short, there are a lot of different things to consider before you go hiking.
As you might have discovered already, there’s a ton of information online that’s aimed to help beginner hikers prepare, which makes it difficult to narrow everything down.
That’s why today I’ve decided to compile a list of essentials that all beginners should consult before they set out on their first hike!
A tent should be your number one priority if you plan to stay overnight because you need something to sleep in. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all tent on the market; they come in all kinds of sizes and shapes, so you’ll have to do some research.
Just remember that ultralight tents are better for backpacking and heavier, bigger ones are the right choice to camp near a car.
Overall, there are two kinds of tents: the three-season tent, which works for any season except winter, and the four-season tent. The one you choose should depend on the use you’ll give it.
#2. Sleeping Bags
Along with the tent, a sleeping-bag is essential. Make sure that the sleeping-bag you choose for yourself is lightweight, high-quality and comfortable both to sleep in and to set up.
As a pro tip, we recommend getting a sleeping-bag that can stand 10 or more degrees than the temperatures at which you plan to camp.
If you’re going on a short hike in mild climates, any backpack with 500 to 1,500 cubic inches (8 to 24 liters) of capacity should be enough for you. In fact, 1,000 cubic inches, a kindergartner’s backpack, is enough to carry the 10 essential items we will be discussing.
It’s important to know that there are three types of backpacks: daypacks, overnight packs, and long haul packs. The one you get will depend entirely on your plans!
The golden rule of footwear is that the longer the hike, the sturdier it should be. Hiking footwear is incredible and it offers stability, support, better traction, and it protects your feet from the surface that you step on.
Of course, the most important thing is to make sure that your footwear fits perfectly. It shouldn’t be too tight or too loose, so make sure you find the right fit. Socks are also extremely essential. In this case, cotton is not the answer because it can lead to blisters and ruin your hike.
#5. Map, Compass and GPS
You should always assume there won’t be any cell phone service where you’re going and prepare accordingly. It’s vital that you always bring a map and a compass so you can know where you’re going and also to help you find campsites, water, and emergency exit routes. To make your kit even more complete, add on a GPS and you’ll be good to go.
#6. Hiking Clothing
In the context of hiking, clothing is more a necessity than a fashion statement. Your clothes should serve as a mobile shelter from the elements, and even though there are a lot of options on the market, the essentials include a weatherproof jacket and pants, layers for cold weather, and always avoid cotton.
#7. Sun Protection
If you’re hiking in hot weather, then you will definitely need a strong sunblock lotion to protect your skin. Sunglasses are also a must both in hot and cold weather to prevent snow blindness, and the same can be said for hats.
Hydration is super important during your hike, so you must bring as much water as you can carry. Some campsites offer fresh water, so do your research, but even then, bring water along with you. We recommend plastic water pouches or a hydration reservoir for your backpack.
Not drinking enough water will not only make you incredibly thirsty, it will also affect your muscles. That’s why you need to make sure to drink enough water along your way!
#9. Safety Items
The safety essentials include tools to make a fire whenever you need it, a whistle, and a flashlight or a headlamp. Fire will keep the cold at bay and it will prevent hypothermia if you’re camping in super cold weather, and they’re also a good way to signal for help. Whistles are more effective than your own voice to call for help, and flashlights or headlamps will help guide your way.
#10. First Aid Kit
A basic first aid kit is essential and it should include the standard items, such as aspirins, bandages, gauze, and you can customize it by including hiking-specific items such as moleskin for blisters, bug spray, aloe vera, and any other thing you might need.
#11. Trash Bag
It can also be useful to bring a trash bag with you so you can take your trash with you and leave the spaces you use litter-free.
Remember that it’s important to be mindful of nature and the environment, and this means taking care of the outdoor spaces you inhabit.
If you’d like to have the comfort of a hot meal during your hike, then you should bring a stove with you. In fact, stoves are a great investment because if you’re a regular hiker, you’ll be getting a lot of use out of it.
Make sure you get a high-quality stove that can serve your needs and you’ll be able to enjoy hot meals while you camp.
#13. Hiking Poles
A Hammers Hiking Pole can also be super helpful whenever you need to go uphill and gain traction on steep downhills. These poles can help you feel safer and more comfortable during your hike, so consider getting one.
As you can see, it’s not super difficult to prepare for your first long hike, all you need to do is make sure that you choose the right items!
As you gain experience, you’ll be able to compile your own personal list of essentials, but this one is a great start.