During the last few months I have gotten a number of messages asking me questions about what kind of gear is needed to start hiking. The simple truth is not much! When I started I really had no idea what I was doing and managed to wander around some local trails with just my regular sneakers.
I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in gear that might end up on a shelf in the garage gathering dust. (Ahem….. exercise bike, yoga matt. old tennis racquets and other equipment I don’t even recognize). I’ve leaned the hard way that sometimes I am more interested in shopping for a sport then actually doing it.
By the time I came to the realization that I actually liked hiking and was going to stick with it for the near future, I invested in some solid basic gear. Here’s my list of what I would recommend.
- Good Hiking shoes or boots. If you are on trails that have a lot of loose rocks or are steep, the tread on the bottom of shoes really do help to keep you from slipping. It is worth it to go to a specialty store and try on a number of pairs to see what is the most comfortable for you. If your on you feet for a long time, the last thing you want is sore feet or blisters! I choose This pair from REI .
- Trekking poles. I call them walking sticks. These have helped me with depth perception when I am going downhill. They are also good for helping to keep your hands from swelling when you are walking for long periods of time. I got this These sticks from Amazon.
- A comfortable backpack. I like a lightweight one with room for at least 3 liters of water, a snack, car keys and my cell phone. There are a lot of really good ones at all price points, I got this blue insulated backpack one from Amazon.
- An app on your cell phone for hiking trails. This may sound a little silly but if you are taking a trail for the first time and it isn’t marked well, it is really easy to go off trail and get lost. I can’t even count how many times I accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up on a different trail then the one I was supposed to be on. Thank goodness for the blue dot on the app showing me where I was! I use this Hiking App from REI, it is free and has excellent information.
- Wear layers. I always start out with a lightweight jacket and end up taking it off as soon as I begin to sweat. Depending on where you are hiking, the weather can change quickly and you want to be prepared. I have gotten caught in some crazy monsoon storms and ended up covering my head with my jacket to protect it from the blowing dust.
- Good sunglasses. The sun can be brutal on our eyes and we need to protect them! Invest in a good polarized pair of sunglasses.
- A good hat with a chin strap. Don’t laugh about the chin strap, I’ve had hats get blown off my head when a sudden gust of wind hits. It’s not fun chasing a runaway hat 🙂 especially if your like me and tend to leap before looking.
This simple list is all you need to enjoy exploring some beautiful paths. You do not need to spend a lot of money. Remember hiking does not need to be an extreme sport for only world-class athletes. Anyone can enjoy the beauty of being outside. Choose a trail, breathe fresh air, soak in the beauty of nature and make your own adventure!