After leading several hiking groups, I’ve noticed there’s some common questions beginners have about hiking gear. Do I really need hiking shoes? Will I be okay without a hydration pack? How much water will I need? Depending on the difficulty of the hike, a beginner hiker could do just fine with running shoes, a water bottle, and a ball cap. If you’re thinking about hiking more consistently, I would recommend investing in some quality hiking gear that will allow you to comfortably hike more difficult trails.
If you’re new to hiking, there’s some hiking gear that will be extremely helpful to have. Like anything else hiking gear varies in price, quality, and durability. This is a list of hiking gear for beginners that I personally use all the time, including a backpack, hiking boots, and a headlamp for sunset hikes. Most hiking gear if not all can be used for other outdoor activities.
Osprey is an elite brand for all sorts of backpacks. From the casual hiking pack to the heavy duty pack for extended backpacking trips. I personally use the Osprey Daylite Daypack for my hikes from 3 miles- 10 miles. This pack is simple with two pockets- 1 main one and 1 smaller pocket for keys, phone, etc. It’s well made to satisfy the needs for the average hiker without over whelming you with a million different pockets.
I also use it when I’m going to the beach or park to pack a few smaller things like a jacket, speaker, snacks, my dog’s leash and bowl, etc. To top it off, it comes at a great price! If you’re planning on hiking for a while you’re better off getting this pack than a cheaper $20 pack that’ll start to fall apart after a few hikes (that’s what happened to me).
If you don’t have one already, you’ll need to purchase a hydration bladder separately.
After some extensive research on which hiking shoes to buy- high top vs low, waterproof, price, arch support- I finally got the Danner Women’s Mountain 600 Hiking Boot.
Why this hiking shoe? Personally, I needed something reliable, with a lot of ankle support, arch support, and I wanted something waterproof. At the time, I also bought these on sale which skewed my decision some, but wasn’t the ultimate deciding factor. Danner boots are very well made and the best part is I didn’t even have to break them in! Some other great brands are Merrell and Salomon.
What to wear when hiking
Hiking gear for beginners also includes hiking clothes. I can’t recommend Vuori enough. For both men and women, their athletic apparel is so comfortable and versatile. They are also a local San Diego company! My boyfriend and I both love their clothes. They’re stylish, soft, and breathable all at the same time. It’s pricey but definitely worth it. Of course what you wear depends a lot on the weather, so always check the weather forecast when planning a hike. REI also has a great selection of hiking clothes.
What not to wear:
- Jeans– hiking in jeans is such a bad idea. It’s uncomfortable and jeans just aren’t breathable.
- No show socks– you run the risk of the sock slipping off the back of your heel. Then your heel is rubbing the back of your shoe and you’re complaining the whole hike. Use socks that cover your ankles and are made of a wicking material like wool to keep your feet dry.
- Bras with clasps– the plastic clasps and underwire in a bra is so uncomfortable when hiking. Sports bra for the win!
Rechargeable Hiking Headlamp
This makes for a great gift for any outdoorsy person- it’s just what I need for my sunset hikes! I love the red light option. This helps to not blind other people on the trail. It’s rechargeable and it comes with a charging cable. The strap is adjustable, and you’re also able to adjust the angle of the light which is nice! You can aim it down towards your feet for those late night walks. I also use it on night walks with my pup to see my surroundings.
If you’re not doing a sunset hike, you’ll most likely need some sort of sun protection. Most hikes in San Diego do not offer shade. It can get very hot very quick, especially in summer. Heat exhaustion is no joke when hiking or doing any other outdoor activities.
Besides a ton of water, I always make sure to pack a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. My all time favorite sunscreen is Sun Bum. It’s reef friendly, paraben, and sulfate free. It smells good too 🙂
Other Hiking Gear For Beginners
The list of awesome outdoor gear could go on and on. These are just the things I use most often if not all the time. Some other things you should consider are:
- first aid kit
- quality hiking pants
- multi purpose tool/ pocket knife
- hiking/trekking poles
- map- I use the app All Trails for every hike