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Hiking 101: The Beginners Hiking Gear List

The Beginner's Hiking Gear List

If you're new to hiking, deciding what gear to pack can be overwhelming. From boots to packs, base layers to jackets, it can be hard to know what equipment is right for you. But don't worry - we've compiled a comprehensive beginner's hiking gear list to prepare for your first hike and beyond.

Essential Hiking Gear

Making sure your hiking essentials are dialed in can mean the difference between being a life-long hiker, and wishing you had avoided the trail in the first place. Below is a rundown of some of the most essential pieces every beginner hiker should have. Getting the items on this list is a great way to set you up for success on your next hike.

Footwear and Clothing

One important consideration when going on a hike is your footwear and clothing. These will directly affect your comfort and safety on the trail. You will need the right layers and comfy, sturdy shoes to help you reach all of your hiking goals.

Hiking boots or shoes

When it comes to finding the right pair of shoes, knowing what type of hiking you're doing is important. Are you planning a mutli-day trek, high in the mountains? Or are you wanting to go on hikes with well-established trails and a daypack? For longer hikes and more challenging terrain where you may need to scramble over rocks or spend a lot of time on steep inclines, opting for a pair of hiking boots with ankle support is best. However, for shorter hikes and easier trails, hiking shoes may be enough for your hikes.

Moisture-wicking clothing

When it comes to choosing your clothing, choose a moisture-wicking fabric that moves heat away from your body, and helps regulate your body temperature. Moisture-wicking fabrics quickly absorb perspiration, preventing any chafing or help you stay warm, even when wet. The fabrics that perform the best on high-intensity activities like hiking are usually merino wool or polyester. Avoid cotton as it holds onto moisture, making it more difficult to dry off during the hike, and can cause hypothermia, if you're caught in colder conditions.

Extra socks

In addition to moisture-wicking clothing, you'll want to bring extra socks. Whether you accidentally step in a stream or just need a fresh pair, having extra socks can keep you comfortable on the trail. Like base layers, we recommend avoiding cotton socks and instead choosing a merino wool hiking sock, or another wicking fabric. These socks usually provide comfort and help you avoid getting blisters along the way.

Weather-appropriate gear

No matter how many times you check your weather app, a storm can always move in. Make sure that when you're hiking, you have easy to pack outer layers that can used at a moment's notice. This also includes throwing in a pair of lightweight gloves and a hat, just in case the weather really turns.

Trail map

Carrying a trail map is an essential part of any hiking trip. Even if you're familiar with the area or are planning on using electronics to find your way, it's important to have a map in case of emergencies or unexpected detours. They are lightweight and don't take up much room in your pack. It is always better to have a Plan A and B when you're heading into the outdoors.


Like with a map, having a backup plan is never a bad thing when you're heading outdoors. A compass is a useful tool for orienting yourself and finding your way on the trail. And the same with hiking boots goes for putting a compass in your backpack - before you hit the trail, make sure it works for you!

GPS device or smartphone app

In addition to a compass and map, a GPS device or smartphone app can be helpful for navigating the trail. However, you should remember that technology can fail or lose signal, so always have a backup plan. It is also good to remember a spare backup battery, whether that is a power block, or a solar charger.

Safety and First Aid Supplies

Accidents can happen on the trail, no matter how experienced you are. And it may not even been an accident that happens to you - someone you encounter on the trail could need your help. It is always a good idea to bring essential safety and first aid supplies along on your hike.


In emergency situations, a whistle is an important safety tool that can be used to signal for help. Your whistle should always be easily accessible, and we suggest you wear it either on your backpack or around your neck.

Insect repellent

Insects are a common nuisance on the trail, and depending on when you're hiking, can bother you from sunup to sundown. Bringing insect repellent can help to prevent bug bites from mosquitoes, ticks and other common trail pests, and make your time on the trail or around the campfire much more enjoyable.


Lastly, don't forget to pack sunscreen. Even on cloudy days, UV rays can still cause skin damage. And the higher you hike, there may be less tree coverage, exposing you to more sun on your hike. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and apply regularly throughout your hike.

Additional Hiking Gear and Accessories

Now that we've gone over the essential hiking gear for your next trip, we'll discuss in the next section hiking gear made to keep you comfortable and safe on the trails. In addition to essentials like proper hiking boots and clothing, there are several other accessories that can make your hike a memorable experience. Here are some important hiking accessories to consider when planning your next hike:

Hydration and Nutrition

Proper hydration and nutrition are the fuel you need to get to the top of the mountain. Depending on how long and challenging your hike is, you may need to bring water and snacks with you.

Water bottles or hydration system

Make sure you bring along plenty of clean water on your hike. Two common options for carrying water on a hike are water bottles and hydration systems. Water bottles are the classic option, and can range from basic plastic bottles to reusable insulated options. Hydration systems, or hydration bladders, are usually backpacks with a built-in water reservoir and a tube that allows you to sip water without having to take off your pack. They are perfect for longer hikes and can help you avoid the discomfort of repeatedly taking off your backpack to drink from a water bottle. If you prefer a hydration system, when buying your pack, make sure you look for one that has a built in hydration system for on-the-go hydration.

Snacks and energy bars

Hiking can be an incredibly demanding physical activity and your body needs fuel to keep going. It's important to bring plenty of snacks or energy bars on your hike to keep your energy levels up. Trail mix, granola and jerky are all great options, as they provide the sugar and protein to keep you moving on the trail.

Water purification tablets or filter

If water quality is questionable, or your hike is long enough where you will need an additional water source, you need a way to purify your drinking water. Water purification tablets are a lightweight and easy option, but they can leave a chemical taste in the water. A water filter is a more sophisticated option that removes bacteria and other impurities, but they can be bulky and heavy. Choose the right water purification option for you, depending on how much weight you want in your pack.

Backpack and Organization

A good backpack will make all the difference on your hike. A good pack sits snug against your body, doesn't create pain points, and is built for the trip you're taking. Not only does it need to be comfortable, but it also needs to be organized and have enough space for all your gear.

Daypack or backpack

When choosing your pack, think about the types of hikes you're planning for. A daypack is a perfect option for short hikes where you only need to carry a few things. Designed to be small and lightweight, a daypack is perfect for carrying the essentials like water, snacks and extra layers. A traditional backpack with a hard frame may be a better option for long backpacking trips where you'll be carrying a lot of gear. A good backpack will have multiple pockets and compartments to help keep your gear organized.

Dry bags or waterproof covers

When hiking, there is always a chance of rain or water crossings. Dry bags or waterproof covers keep your gear dry and protected from the unexpected. You can find dry bags and waterproof covers in many different sizes to protect everything from your phone to your sleeping bag. Dry bags can also be a great way organize your gear so you can access what you need, quickly.

Multitool or knife

A good multitool or knife is an important piece of gear for any hiker. You never know when you might need to cut rope, open a can, or make repairs to your gear. Look for a lightweight option that has multiple functions like pliers, a screwdriver and a saw.

By planning and packing smartly, you can ensure that your hiking experience is comfortable, safe and enjoyable. Don't forget to consider your individual needs and the environment you will be hiking in when choosing gear and accessories.

Optional Items

Before you set off on your next hike, don't forget about these optional items that can enhance your hiking experience and make your trip more enjoyable. Let's take a look at some popular choices.

Trekking poles

Trekking poles are an excellent optional item to bring hiking with you. They can help you maintain your balance and reduce the impact on your knees and hips. They're particularly helpful when hiking on steep or uneven terrain, or if you're traveling with a heavy or lopsided pack. They also make it easier to navigate through streams or rocky areas. Make sure to choose poles with adjustable height, as this will allow you to customize them to your height and the terrain you're hiking on. Also, consider choosing poles made from lightweight materials, as this will make them easier to carry for long distances.

Headlamp or flashlight

If you plan on hiking at night or early in the morning, make sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight. A reliable light source will help you see where you're going and navigate any obstacles in your path. It's also helpful if you get lost or need to signal for help. When choosing a headlamp or flashlight, make sure to choose one with a bright beam and long battery life. Also, consider choosing one that's waterproof, as you never know when you might get caught in the rain.

Camera or smartphone for photos

One of the best parts of hiking is the stunning views and beautiful scenery. Bringing a camera or smartphone with you is an excellent way to capture and keep these moments with you forever. When choosing a camera or smartphone for hiking, make sure to choose one with a good-quality lens and high-resolution. Also, consider choosing one that's durable and can withstand the rigors of hiking, such as being dropped or bumped.

Customizing Your Gear List for Specific Hikes

When preparing for a hike, it's important to consider the trail conditions and weather to ensure you have the right gear for a successful trip. Customizing your gear list based on the hike's specifics, such as elevation gain, distance and terrain, can help you pack efficiently and stay comfortable on the trail.

Terrain and Trail Difficulty

One of the most important things to consider when customizing your gear list is the type of terrain and trail difficulty. For example, rocky and steep terrains require more durable and supportive footwear, while hikes in wet climates call for waterproof gear such as hiking boots and rain jackets. Similarly, long hikes on challenging trails require more snacks, water and extra clothing for warmth, whereas shorter, easier hikes require less gear.

Specialized Footwear (e.g. crampons for ice)

Proper footwear is essential for any hike. When choosing footwear for a specific hike, consider the terrain and climate. If you're hiking in icy terrain, you'll need crampons for extra grip, and waterproof boots are necessary for hikes in wet environments. Similarly, if you're hiking on rocky terrain, you need sturdy ankle-support hiking boots. Remember that investing in good quality footwear is worth it, as they'll last years and keep your feet protected.

Extra Navigation Tools (e.g. altimeter)

In addition to navigation tools such as a compass and map, specialized navigation tools like an altimeter are critical for certain hikes, especially when hiking in mountainous areas where knowing the altitude is important for safety. Navigation tools can also include GPS and tracking devices, but remember that technology is not foolproof and should not replace traditional navigation methods.

Weather and Season

The weather and seasons are also critical factors in customizing your gear list. If you're hiking in hot summers, lightweight clothing with UV protection will be necessary, whereas layers of insulated clothing will be essential for winter hikes. Additionally, waterproof gear and raincoats are vital if you're hiking during the rainy season. No matter what season you're hiking in, bringing lightweight layers that can be easily added or removed is important to make your hike a fun trip.

Insulated Clothing and Layers

Layering allows you to add or remove clothing based on the temperature and conditions, ensuring that you're comfortable throughout the hike. Packing lightweight base layers and packable jackets are a good idea for hikes where temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day.

Emergency Shelter (e.g. bivy sack)

Be sure to prepare for emergencies and unexpected challenges while hiking. Packing emergency shelters like a bivy sack can protect you from emergency weather conditions. Additionally, packing a first aid kit, a satellite phone or personal locator beacon and any medications is important.

Importance of Having Appropriate Gear for Each Hike

Having the appropriate gear is essential for a safe and comfortable hike. Not only does it ensure your personal safety, but it also creates a better hiking experience for you. Ill-fitting shoes, inappropriate layers and insufficient water and snacks can alter the quality of your trip, but with all appropriate and well-fitting gear, you'll enjoy the beautiful scenery and all the excitement that hiking a new trail can bring.

Investing in Quality Items to Ensure Safety and Comfort

High-quality gear for hiking is an investment in your safety and comfort. Quality gear isn't always cheaper, but it's durable and long-lasting, which makes it cost-effective over the life of your gear. Moreover, quality gear ensures that you're comfortable, which, in turn, motivates you to continue exploring hiking as an activity.

Regularly Updating and Maintaining Your Gear List

You'll need to regularly update and maintain your gear list to ensure that you're always adequately prepared for any journey. As you grow more experienced in your hiking, you'll discover what works best for you, which items can be upgraded and which can be left behind.

The importance of high quality hiking gear should always be considered as you're looking to make a purchase. Every hike needs different gear depending on the terrain, climate and trail difficulty. Therefore, before embarking on any hike, customize your gear list to meet all the conditions one may come across. Investing in quality gear that's regularly updated and maintained assures your safety, comfort and overall enjoyable hiking experience.

About Stio

Stio connects you with the outdoors through quality products infused with a mountain soul. Proudly operating from Jackson Hole, WY, we take inspiration from our natural surroundings and put it into every piece of apparel we make. From technical performance to aesthetics, Stio outfits you with exceptional products for unforgettable outdoor experiences.


What should I wear for beginner hiking?

When it comes to beginner hiking, you should wear comfortable and breathable clothing that allows you to move freely. A good starting point is lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing like merino wool that you can layer depending on the weather and temperature. A reliable pair of hiking boots with ankle support is also essential to protect your feet and prevent injuries. Additionally, a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses can help protect you from the sun's harmful rays. It's important to avoid cotton clothing, as it can retain moisture and become uncomfortable during a hike. Always check the weather forecast before heading out and make sure to pack extra layers and rain gear if needed.

What is beginner level hiking?

Beginner level hiking is a type of hiking that is suitable for those who are just starting in hiking. This type of hiking usually involves shorter distances, relatively flat terrain and well-marked trails. It may also involve hiking at a slower pace and taking frequent breaks to rest. Beginner level hiking is a great way to build up strength and endurance before moving on to more challenging hikes.

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