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Want to go on your first hike but don’t know what hiking gears to bring? Then this blog post is for you.
It’s a lot easier to stay safe and enjoy the hike if you bring hiking gears with you. That's why bringing the right gear is so important for a successful hike. Especially if you’re a beginner. Beginners, for the most part, usually have a lot of a hard time figuring out which hiking gear to bring on their hikes. That is why today I want to talk about “5 must-have hiking gears for beginners” that are going to make your hike more memorable and fun.
Related: How to get in shape for hiking?
The list below is made to familiarize novice hikers with the right hiking gears.
Let’s start with the fundamentals. First, understand that hiking is not just about walking. I don’t have to tell you that because your back will feel the difference right away. And that’s the very reason why you need a hiking backpack. It’s pretty much unnecessary to bring anything with you on your hike if you don’t carry a hiking backpack. You don’t need a lot of volume in your backpack, 20 to 26 liters backpack are enough for most beginners.
Hiking Backpack is not a mere tool to carry other important gears and items. It’s an essential must-have hiking gear that should never be left out on a hike. As a beginner, you can skip on selecting backpacks with too many features and specialties. Just focus on how functional and comfortable it is. If it doesn’t weigh you down and helps keep your back straight then it has done its job.
A full-fledged hiking backpack is a must-have hiking gear for beginners. Whether it’s a one-day trip or an overnight adventure, you’ll need your backpack. There’s no way around it. Backpacks with upper chest strap and hip-support straps are the best. Also, don’t resort to overstuffing your hiking backpack.
Related: How to choose a backpack for hiking and backpacking?
2. Hiking Boots or Shoes
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I can’t stress this enough as to how much important a good quality hiking boot or shoe is. Everybody has their own opinion about their must-have hiking gears. But most agree with the fact that hiking boots are important for a successful hike. Your legs are the ones doing the most work while hiking. So, it pays to focus on the type of hiking boot you choose to wear. Today, hiking boots have become more lightweight and its popularity has grown significantly.
Beginners who have yet to go on a proper hiking trip have a lot of options when it comes to hiking boots and shoes. Hiking boots are durable, light and perfect for long distance hikes. It offers a lot of support and stabilizes your ankles on difficult terrains. They are much more flexible compared to before. Hikers have used hiking boots and shoes for years now. And that trend is not going to stop any time soon.
Not only hiking boots protect your feet but they also make hiking easier for your legs. Especially in the case where you are hiking on a rugged terrain off the main trail. Hiking boots keep your feet dry in wet, snowy locations. Extra support around your ankle will also make uphill hiking much easier. Plus, it helps you keep your balance while carrying a heavy pack.
Note: If you recently bought a new hiking shoe then don’t go hiking with it unless you break it in first. That way you’ll be able to avoid blisters and nasty scratches.
Related: Hiking Footwear Guide | How to choose hiking boots?
3. First Aid Medical Kit
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No matter how well you know the hiking route or how experienced you are, it’s never a bad idea to bring a first aid kit. A small first aid medical kit is a must have hiking gear. It’s something that neither a beginner nor an experienced hiker can ignore.
Most novice hikers always forget or simply avoid bringing a first-aid medical kit. And that’s not good. You should always bring a first-aid medical kit. But don’t pack obscure supplies you’ll probably never use. Having simple necessities will be enough. After all, you don’t want to pack and then carry an entire pharmacy on you back for hours.
Your first aid medical kit should contain:
- Safety pins
- Eye drops
- Antibiotic cream
- Burn ointment
- Bee sting kit
- Diarrhea medication
- Heat / cold packs
- Snakebite kit
- First aid manual
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Personal medications
- Varieties of bandages
- Plastic Bags
- Adhesive tape
- Latex gloves
- Antibacterial soap/wipes
- Miscellaneous band-aids
- Antiseptic wipes
- Disinfectant cream
You may think that carrying a first aid kit with these medical items is extreme for a normal hike. But you can never underestimate the potential dangers that you may have to face while hiking. Remember, if you’re ill prepared then you will only know pain and misery. Because not carrying a first aid medical kit is like waiting for bad things to happen to you.
4. Navigation Tools like Map and Compass
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Map and Compass are another must-have hiking gear that you should bring with you on every hike. Because not all dotted lines are made equal. That is why many hikers tend to get lost whenever they are hiking on a new trail.
These are tools used for navigation purposes. And no one, including experienced hikers, should ever head out into the trail without carrying a map and compass. Maps can help you find emergency exit route in case of an accident. You can’t predict how the hike will turn out even if it’s only for a couple of hours. So, it’s very important for you to carry a map and compass with you.
Hyper detailed topographical maps are the best ones. But it’s not going to work out if you don’t know how to use a map and compass for navigation. Beginners who have never used a map will surely struggle. What’s the use of having a map and compass if you can’t use it to find your way back? That is why you should learn to use a map and compass. And then bring them with you to navigate a trail even if it’s well-marked. Proper planning and preparation are necessary anytime you venture into the great outdoors.
5. Food and Water
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Careless hikers are more likely to get themselves in trouble’s way. Many want to travel ultra-light and so they don’t bring enough food and water for their trip. Your vital organs won’t perform well without enough water and food. Walking uphill and downhill will become difficult once you’re dehydrated and starving. When you are going on your first hike, remember to always pack extra food and water. Because you’ll have nothing to eat and drink if things go wrong.
Hiking burns a lot of calories. You’ll feel fatigue if you don’t eat something while hiking to fuel up your body. Likewise, headaches will ensue soon after you have drunk the last drops of water you had brought thinking it would be enough. To fight off fatigue and headaches, you are going to have to find food and water from somewhere. And if you are hiking in a remote region then chances are you’re not going to find them easily.
Check out this blog post if you want to learn more about backpacking/hiking meal planning.
You need to drink about 1 liter of water every 2 hours while hiking. No matter how easy or flat the trail is, you have to drink water frequently. Check the color of your pee to know if you are hydrated enough or not. If the color is clear then all is well. But if it’s yellow then make sure to drink water as soon as possible. Your body is good at flushing extra fluids out. So, you don’t need to worry if you’re drinking too much. Just make sure to hydrate yourself every now and then.
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Bringing these must-have hiking gears can make a lot of difference. It’s more so the case if you’re new to hiking. Always keep in mind that everyone needs to start somewhere. It’s not like you are going to become a pro in one day. It takes time and determination. Sure, you’ll make a lot of mistakes along the way but that is how you learn and progress. You have to keep at it. And test every hiking gear you own until you find the one that works for you. There’s a lot to explore and you can’t waste your time worrying about things all day long.
Thanks for letting me be your guide to beginner hiking gear today.
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