You’ve been scrolling and double-tapping forever on those #Hiking and #Outdoors photos on Instagram, and now you’ve decided to take a turn at your own Insta-worthy shots – awesome! Fortunately, hiking is a relatively inexpensive hobby to get in to. But there is some basic hiking gear you should consider before you even get to “the essentials”.
First and foremost, consider your feet! They carry you everywhere, and you’re going to want to make sure you take care of them. Uncomfortable feet make for unpleasant hikes. If your trail is more urban and developed, you can probably get away with some comfortable runners or walking shoes. But if you’re heading out of the city where the trails are more uneven, consider shoes with a more rigid sole. When your plans include rough terrain, opt for boots with ankle support. Whatever your choice, your shoe should fit properly to avoid injuries like blisters.
Another point to consider for your feet (they’re really important!) – socks! These pieces of basic hiking gear are often-overlooked. Hiking socks come in all sorts of cuts, but the two main features to keep in mind are the padding, to help reduce the force of your feet impacting on the ground, and materials, to help wick sweat or moisture away and keep feet dry – both of which help stop blisters from forming.
Next up, while hiking can include anything from a leisurely walk down a limestone path to an intense climb up on a summit, you should expect to break a bit of a sweat on your outing. Consider your choice of clothing – is that top moisture-wicking? Do those pants give you a full range of motion? Are the materials quick-drying and breathable? These are some features you should keep in mind when dressing yourself for a hike.
Now, consider your electronics – do you need that DLSR or is your phone enough? Many people track their hike with an app, which requires some device, or combination of devices. You may enjoy listening to music on your hike, so you’ll need headphones. Maybe you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of some wildlife with a pair of binoculars. These definitely aren’t “essential gear” but you’ll sure miss them if you don’t have them.
Lastly, you’re going to need somewhere to carry the aforementioned electronics (as well as the hiking essentials). Unless you’ve got plenty of magician-esque pockets in those trail pants, queue the backpack; another piece of basic hiking gear that is often overlooked. It doesn’t have to be fancy – those drawstring bags you get for free at conventions will do just fine. 5-10L to carry your essentials is generally more than enough.
And that’s it! Not nearly the up-front investment some other hobbies demand. This list of basic hiking gear transcends experience. You’ll likely upgrade your pieces as you finesse your style and replace worn out gear, but the foundation remains.
What other key items do you consider basic hiking gear?