When you go hiking, choosing the right equipment to bring is probably the most critical factor. Hiking equipment consists of the clothes you choose to wear, the hiking backpack you carry, the boots on your feet, and the supplies you bring with you.
The best hiking boots are those designed specifically for going hiking. I have tried many times to go for a hike in running shoes or cross trainers, but always end up with terribly sore feet. Invest in a pair of some of the best hiking shoes, and your feet will thank you in the days following your hike. Expect to spend anywhere between 100-300 dollars, but trust me when I say that they are well worth it.
It often baffles me when I see people go hiking in shorts on even some of the most backwoods trails. There have been some relatively rocky, open mountain paths that I wouldn’t mind wearing shorts on, but on any type of grassy or wooded trail, long pants are a must. They protect you from scrapes, contact with poisonous plants, and most importantly, contact with pests. The last thing you want is to get a tick on you and risk contracting Lyme disease.
They type of shirt you wear also depends on the conditions of the trail. In areas where mosquitoes are a concern, I often wear a light, long-sleeve shirt, even on hot days. In places where mosquitoes aren’t an issue, a short sleeve shirt is fine (as long as you remember to apply sunblock to your arms!). The best materials are those that are used for runners and other athletes. Light weight, synthetic fabrics that wick away sweat from your body.
A hat is extremely important, especially if it is sunny out. Covering up your head not only shades your face, but also helps prevent sunstroke. Sunglasses are optional, but recommended on a sunny day for open trails.
I often see many day hikers hauling around huge packs, but I don’t believe this is always necessary. If my hikes are going to be less than 6 hours, I generally only bring a small hydration backpack. I fill it with cold water and insert an icepack into it to keep it nice and cool (it holds approx. 2 litres of water). For longer hikes I also bring an additional one or two bottles of water.
In my hydration pack, I have a small, portable first aid kit, cell phone (contained in a plastic zip-lock bag to prevent any damage), and a map of the hiking trail. For long and challenging hikes I also pack a small snack.
Where I think a larger backpack would be required is if you planning a longer hike where the weather might be variable, you needed to pack a lot of food, or maybe if you were hiking with a large group of people and only one person carried a bag.
Other Hiking Equipment:
Hiking poles are nice, but not really necessary at all unless you expect to climb steep slopes, or need a little bit of extra support when you are walking.
Backwoods hikers should always carry a handheld GPS unit (or at least a map and compass to prevent getting lost). You may even consider a GPS emergency locator system… just in case.
he gear you bring with you when you go hiking WILL have a dramatic impact on the quality of your trip, so pack well, and happy trails!