A Beginners Guide to Hiking Gear

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This lightweight backpack is perfect for day hikes

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.    DSC_4700

  • 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 .

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    Cinderella can wear glass slippers, I’ll stick to these hiking boots!
  • 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.

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    These walking sticks have covered a lot of miles!
  • 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.

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    Sunglasses are a must!  
  • 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!

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