essential gear for hiking

The Essential Gear for Hiking Guide [Top 6] – Must Have’s for Beginner Hikers [Day Hike]

Hiking is an exciting and rewarding outdoor activity that allows you to explore the natural beauty of the world around you. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or new to the sport, it is important to have the right gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. From proper footwear to essential tools and supplies, having the right gear can make all the difference on the trail. In this article, we’ll explore the essential gear for hiking to ensure you are set up for success.

What is a Day Hike

A day hike is a hike that can be completed in a single day, typically lasting a few hours to a full day. Day hikes are typically shorter in distance and do not require overnight camping.

Top 6 Essential Gear for Hiking List

1. Navigation Gear

Navigation is essential gear for hiking as it you stay on track and find your way back to your starting point. There are several tools that can help you navigate while hiking, including:


A detailed topographic map can help you understand the layout of the land and identify landmarks, trails, and other features.


A compass can help you determine your direction and stay on course, even if you lose sight of the trail.

GPS/Mobile Phone

A GPS device can help you track your location and navigate to specific points, even in areas without cell service.

2. Sun Protection

Sun protection is important when hiking to protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause sunburn, skin aging, and even skin cancer.

Sun protective gear includes:

  • Wearing protective clothing
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun Hat

The above can help reduce your risk of these harmful effects and not to mention the sheer uncomforted feeling of burnt skin the following days

Apply sunscreen with a high SPF to exposed skin, and reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating.

3. Hydration

Hydration is important when hiking to ensure that your body has enough water to function properly. Dehydration can cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, dizziness, headache, and muscle cramps, which can affect your ability to hike safely. By maintaining proper hydration, you can help prevent these symptoms and ensure that your body has the water it needs to function at its best.

Here are some tips for staying hydrated while hiking:

Drink plenty of water

Carry a water bottle or hydration pack and drink frequently, especially on hot or humid days.

Eat hydrating foods

Foods with a high water content, such as fruits and vegetables, can help you stay hydrated.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol

These substances can increase your risk of dehydration.

Pay attention to your thirst

Thirst is a good indicator of your hydration level, so listen to your body and drink when you feel thirsty.

4. Food Supplies

Food supplies are important when hiking to provide your body with the energy and nutrients it needs to fuel your hike. Without enough food, you may experience fatigue, low energy, and impaired performance. In addition, having a variety of food options can help prevent boredom and make your hike more enjoyable.

Here are some tips for packing food supplies for a hike:

Pack non-perishable, high-energy foods

Foods such as nuts, jerky, and energy bars are lightweight, non-perishable, and high in calories, making them good options for hiking.

Pack a variety of foods

Bringing a variety of foods can help prevent boredom and ensure that you have something you enjoy eating.

Pack enough food

Make sure you have enough food for the entire hike, plus extra in case of emergencies.

Pack compact, lightweight foods

Choose foods that are compact and lightweight to save space and minimize the weight of your pack.

5. Backpack

A backpack is an important piece of essential gear for hiking because it allows you to carry all of your essential supplies and equipment with you. Without a backpack, you would have to carry everything in your hands or pockets, which can be inconvenient and uncomfortable.

Here are some features to consider when choosing a backpack for hiking:


Make sure the backpack is big enough to hold all of your gear, but not so big that it is too heavy or unwieldy.


Choose a lightweight backpack to minimize the overall weight of your pack.


The backpack should fit snugly and comfortably on your back, with padded shoulder straps and a waist belt to distribute the weight evenly.


Look for a backpack made from durable materials that can withstand the wear and tear of the trail.


Look for features such as pockets, compartments, and attachment points to help you organize and access your other essential gear for hiking.

6. Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are important when hiking because they provide the support and protection your feet need on the trail. Without proper hiking boots, you may experience foot pain, blisters, and other foot problems that can affect your ability to hike safely and comfortably.

Here are some features to consider when choosing hiking boots:


Make sure the boots fit snugly and comfortably, with plenty of room in the toe box to allow for foot movement.


Look for boots with a sturdy, supportive sole and a high ankle to provide good stability and protection against rocks and other hazards.


Choose boots with a good tread pattern to help you maintain good traction on slippery or uneven terrain.


Look for boots with breathable materials to help keep your feet cool and dry.

Water resistance

If you will be hiking in wet conditions, consider boots with a waterproof or water-resistant membrane to help keep your feet dry.

Why it’s Important to Have the Essential Gear for Hiking

Having the essential gear for hiking is important for several reasons:


The essential gear for hiking can help you stay safe on the trail, whether it’s a sturdy pair of hiking boots to protect your feet from rocks and other hazards, or a compass and map to help you navigate unfamiliar terrain.


The right gear can help you hike comfortably, whether it’s a well-fitting pack to distribute the weight of your gear evenly, or a pair of moisture-wicking socks to help keep your feet dry.


The essential gear for hiking can help you hike at your best, whether it’s a hydration pack to keep you properly hydrated, or a pair of trekking poles to help you maintain balance and stability on the trail.

In the case you are hiking with a child, it may be important to cater invest in a hiking stroller, which will perform much better than a typical stroller.


The right gear can help you enjoy your hike more, whether it’s a lightweight tent to help you sleep comfortably, or a variety of snack foods to help prevent boredom on the trail.

Is Hiking Gear Expensive?

The average MSRP price of a pair of hiking shoes is $177.67 while the average available lowest price is $122.66

After that, the essential gear for hiking is relatively cheap. The more experienced you get the more you may want to invest in quality hiking clothing, trekking poles, etc.

There are also many ways to save money on hiking gear, such as shopping for sales, buying used gear, or borrowing gear from friends or family. By being smart about your purchases and shopping around, you can find affordable gear that meets your needs.

Overall, the cost of hiking gear can vary, but there are options available at a range of price points to suit different budgets.

Ciaran’s Take on the Essential Gear for Hiking

If I were to ask the question, how could I fail at packing for a day hike, it would be by not bringing the equipment mentioned above.

Being honest, the list above is all you really require for any day hike and most people will have this gear lying around the house anyway. Which often makes it a free and healthy activity.

Wrap Up

There are only a few truly essential pieces of equipment for a day hike. The list above provides what we believe these items are.

If you enjoyed this day hiking article, you may also enjoy the article called How Long does it take to Hike 10 Miles. REI also have a great and more extensive checklist for hiking gear which may be of use.

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