Hiking 101: Everything You Need to Head for the Hills

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is a big one, The beautiful world out there: don’t just let the wild nature scene be the wallpaper on your phone’s lock screen. Hiking is one of the easiest and most accessible outdoor sports. You don’t need an expensive mountain bike or a big bundle of climbing gear to lace up your shoes and go looking for birds or lounging under trees.

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Even if you live in a large city, there are probably accessible forests within a few hours’ drive or train journey that are worth visiting. If you’ve never done it before, figuring out what to bring can seem like a daunting task, but staying dry, warm, hydrated, and safe is easier than you might think. We have everything you need here. If you’re a little more experienced, you can check out our buying guide for the best tents, best camping stoves, or best portable coffee makers. Now go out and be the traveler you’ve always wanted to be.

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Table of Contents
Shoes, socks and base layers
Photo: Salomon
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Let’s start with the obvious: If you have bloody blisters on your legs or uncomfortable shins under your armpits, you’re not going to have any fun on a hike of any length. It may take some time to experiment to see which shoes suit you best. When it comes to clothing, wear layers so you can wear or remove them before this You start sweating. See our guides to the Best Trail Running Shoes and How to Layer for more information.

  • $120. a good pair of shoes for: For moderate temperatures, we prefer low-top, non-Gore-Tex mesh trail shoes, such as Salomon X Ultra 3 ($120) Or the Merrell Moab Ventilator ($100). The Lowa Renegade GTX ($240) boot is more stable as we move into winter, and the leather keeps wet snow from soaking through your boots.
  • $14. Viking socks for: If your feet are warm like mine, you’ll prefer synthetic socks because they dry more quickly than wool. This pair of Rightsocks is synthetic and has two layers to avoid blisters. darn tough Merino also makes wool socks in a wide range of thicknesses that will last forever.
  • Boxer Briefs ($18): A baselayer is a thin layer that goes next to your skin. They can be made from a variety of materials, but they’re needed to wick sweat and keep you warm. As for the bottoms, even in the coldest climates you’ll be fine with shorter underwear.
  • $75+ . wiping undershirts for: This guide contains some or more of our favorite base layer tops. I’ve listed great lightweight, synthetic, wool and blended options.
  • $129. an insulating layer for: Your middle layer goes between your baselayer and shell, even though it’s usually too hot to wear while hiking. More often, you’ll throw it on during breaks and while doing camp errands. I’m a fan of wool for the middle layers.
  • $199. a puffed jacket for: Puffy jackets can be worn as middle layers instead of fleece. They very Warm, but more delicate.
  • A rain jacket: Water resistant jackets can be classified as hard or soft shells. Softshells are stretchier and more breathable, but not completely water-resistant; Hardshells are much less likely to soak through. I like it Mountain Hardwear Exposure 2 Rain Jacket ($300); Check out senior associate reviews editor Adrienne So’s favorite rain jacket.
  • different hats: Depending on the season, you may need a sun hat or beanie to protect your noggin. I like this Smartwool Merino 150 Beanie ($25) To protect your neck from sunburn; Check out my colleagues’ guide to the best sun protection clothing and the best sunglasses for more tips.
  • Fun Extras: You probably won’t need getters, but if you’re running in a dusty environment, you’ll welcome them. They prevent crud from entering the tops of your shoes in a dusty environment. i like this fun Dirty Girl Gators ($20).
Bottles, Bladders, and Snacks
Photo: Amazon
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One of the biggest beginner mistakes is not bringing water or food, even on short walks. Depending on the heat and your level of exertion, you may be thirstier than you think, and salty snacks help retain the water you’re drinking. For a short day hike, a one-liter bottle should suffice. If you’re going to be outside all day or if it’s especially hot or dry, load up.

  • $30. a good water bottle for: Metal water bottles are unnecessarily heavy for long trips, but they’re fine for day hikes when it’s not freezing (see a christmas story If you want to know why). You can’t go wrong with a classic either Nalgene Bottle ($7) If it’s freezing cold. Check out my guide to the best water bottles for more tips.
  • $38. Try Hydration Bladder for: If you prefer hydration bladders instead of water bottles, that’s good. Before I went back to the bottoms, I preferred my Platypus to my Camelback because it was easier to clean up between hikes.
  • Or just a plastic bottle: The best hiking bottle contender comes from your corner grocery store. I use the Gatorade bottle, which is sturdy enough, very light, cheap, and fits in the water bottle pocket of most packs.
  • Breakfast: you don’t need to gossip energy gels, but they are portable, travel well, and are sometimes delicious. Check your grocery store: Pretzel nuggets and Pop-Tarts also make popular hiking snacks. Fruits and nuts are also a good break from heavily processed foods.
emergency supplies and equipment
Photo: Petzli

You’re probably not in active danger on a popular, well-traveled beginner’s path. But until you get more experienced, you can still come across situations where a little foresight will make you more comfortable and safer. Here, we try to help you think ahead.

  • $50. a headlamp for: Your growth may take longer than you think. If you risk coming back after dark, a headlamp that shines at least 300 lumens will keep you on track and let you free your hands. Get a battery that accepts AAA-sized batteries instead of non-removable rechargeable batteries so you can bring parts on long trips.
  • A first aid box: Prepackaged first aid kits are bulky, expensive, and usually incomplete. pack your own In Zip-loc baggage. couple a few Band-Aid Hydro Seal ($5). They are the most amazing blister bandages I have ever used. pick up a Tick ​​Key ($10) or a Coglans Tick Remover ($6).
  • $32. a battery bank for: I always bring a small battery bank to keep my phone on top of it. There are no electrical outlets in the forest. Check out our guide to the best portable chargers for more options.
  • $21. a simple compass for: Sunato makes my favorite compass. The park ranger’s office will usually have topographic trail maps if you stop before the trail head.
  • $9. a signaling mirror for: a mirror or Acme Tornado Whistle ($5) Can point to help if you need rescue. You will get tired of crying.
  • $17. emergency shelter for: It weighs only 3.8 ounces (less if you’re on fire ropes and whistles) and will keep you dry and warm if you spend an unplanned night out.

If you’re going the less traveled routes, here are some additional items to consider:

  • A Hiking App: Satellite messengers can be useful, but they are expensive and you may not have to use them very often. You probably already have a great hiking companion in your pocket. AllTrails (for iOS And Android) is my favorite free pre-trip planner and trail discovery tool, but we have more in our guide to the best hiking apps.
  • a good book: Outdoor manuals can be fun and useful guides to life, as well as a collection of useful tips. Rick Curtis’ Backpacker’s Field Manual ($18) The best comprehensive guidebook on hiking I’ve read. You can also practice reading topographic maps with your compass while you read Jungle Navigation ($8) by Bob and Mike Burns.
  • A first responder course: If you’re alone in the woods, it’s helpful to know what to do in emergency situations. REI. First Aid Course in the Jungle A good place to start. If you want more extensive (and expensive) training, NOLS has done a great job Wilderness First Responder Course.
  • $50. for trekking pole: Save your knees on downhill hikes and provide stability on sketchy trails with a pair of trekking poles. These have sturdy adjustment levers that never loosen or slip, no matter how much I lean on them. Rubber Tip Cover ($7) prevent them from scraping the trails and Ice Baskets ($8) Keep them from punching through the ice.
and a good backpack
Photograph: REI

Ok! Now that you have all your gear, you need something to take it in. The most important aspect of a backpack is that it fits you exactly. Outdoor retailers such as REI offer in-person fittings. Features like water bottle pockets, loops for hitching gear, and chest or waist straps will likely vary depending on the level of activity you’re expecting.

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