Park & Roam contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associate Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, we may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. See our Disclosure Policy for more information.

If you’re new to hiking, you might wonder what essentials you need to have before hitting the trails. While it can be tempting just to grab a pair of sneakers and go, having the right hiking gear can make or break your whole experience. Here, you’ll find a complete guide to hiking for beginners on a budget and the top 10 hiking essentials that every beginner should have in their pack.

woman smiling while eating an orange dressed in hiking gear for beginners on a budget and posing in front of zion national park

Key Takeaways

  • You don’t need the most expensive gear; you just need the right gear.
  • Don’t be intimidated. Start small, pick a short trail close to home, and go!
  • Ask other hiking enthusiasts for advice. They’ll love to share their passion with you!
  • Research the hike in advance and pack hiking essentials specific to the climate and type of trail.
  • Keep it simple and cheap. Only carry the 10 hiking gear must-haves.

Backpack Checklist: Budget-Friendly Hiking Gear for Beginners

  1. Sun Protection: UPF clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat
  2. Extra Food: Pack more than you expect to need on a day hike. Think hearty hiking snacks.
  3. Extra Water: Hydration system, water bottle, purification treatment
  4. Navigation: Paper map, compass, GPS device, and/or personal locator beacon
  5. Headlamp: Include extra batteries and/or a flashlight
  6. First Aid: Include bug spray and foot care
  7. Fire: Lighter, matches, tinder
  8. Knife: Include a multitool and/or gear repair kit
  9. Clothing Layers: Light rain jacket or packable puffer, extra socks
  10. Shelter: Light emergency bivy- likely won’t need it on short day hikes, but it’s a good idea to carry at all times

How To Prepare For A Hike: The Basics of Hiking

If you are new to hiking, then understanding the basic hiking terms and types of trails is helpful before hitting the trails.

Planning ahead is key when going for a hike. You’ll need to research the area you’ll be hiking in, including the trail difficulty, weather conditions, and any potential hazards.

Always let someone know where you’ll be hiking and when you plan to return. Unexpected things can happen in the wilderness, so it’s a good backup plan to have someone expecting you back by a certain time.

Hiking Terminology

hiking trail sign
  • Trailhead: The starting point of a trail.
  • Day hiking: Hiking for a day and returning to your starting point.
  • Backpacking: Hiking and camping overnight on the trail.
  • Thru-hike: Hiking a long-distance trail from end to end, such as the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail.
  • Trail angel: A person who provides assistance to hikers on long-distance trails.
  • Leave No Trace: A set of principles for outdoor ethics that encourage hikers to minimize their impact on the environment.

Types of Trails

rocky hiking trail

There are many types of trails, each with unique features and challenges.

  • Day hiking trails: Short trails that can be completed in a single day.
  • Loop trails: Trails that start and end at the same point, forming a loop.
  • Out-and-back trails: Trails that require hikers to retrace their steps to return to the starting point.
  • Point-to-point trails: Trails that start at one point and end at another, requiring transportation to get back to the starting point.
  • Backcountry trails: Trails that are more remote and less developed, often requiring navigation skills and backcountry camping experience.

Trail Difficulty Ratings

hiking trail sign

Trail difficulty ratings are used to help hikers choose trails that match their skill level.

  • Easy: Generally flat or gently sloping trails with no significant obstacles or hazards.
  • Moderate: Trails with some elevation gain and uneven terrain but no significant obstacles or hazards.
  • Difficult: Trails with significant elevation gain, uneven terrain, and/or obstacles such as rocks or tree roots.
  • Very difficult: Trails with steep grades, significant elevation gain, and/or obstacles that require scrambling or climbing.

Choose a trail that matches your skill level and experience. Start with easier trails and work your way up to more difficult trails as your skills and experience improve.

Hiking For Beginners On A Budget: Essential Gear

If you’re a newbie hiker, you may feel overwhelmed at the idea of what to pack for a hiking trip. But don’t worry; this comprehensive guide for beginner hikers will leave you feeling stress-free.

Here is the necessary hiking gear for beginners to help you get started on the right foot.

Choosing the Right Backpack

Zion National Park- Sitting at the River

The first piece of gear on your shopping list should be a good, lightweight backpack. This goes for any type of hike. I do not recommend using a school backpack because it’s too heavy and often too large for a day hike.

Pro Tip! Look for a pack that is 18L to 25L in size. This size makes it a versatile choice for longer day hikes as well as a carry-on backpack when flying.

It should be comfortable, durable, and have enough space to carry all your hiking essentials. When choosing a backpack, consider the length of your hike and the amount of gear you’ll need to bring. A daypack is perfect for shorter hikes, while a larger backpack is better for longer hikes.

A good hiking backpack needs to have adjustable padded straps and a padded back panel for added comfort. It should also have multiple pockets and compartments to keep your gear organized.

Don’t forget to look for a backpack with a hydration system and a place to hold your water bottle.

Our Pick
Gelindo Insulated Hiking Backpack- Amazon

Hydration Backpack

This backpack features everything you look for when it comes to convenience and comfort. It has a built-in hydration system, lots of pockets, thick shoulder straps, and is lightweight. It costs about $30 and has great Amazon reviews. You can’t beat it!

Selecting Comfortable Footwear For Hiking

women doing yoga pose overlooking bryce canyon national park while wearing KEEN Voyageur Mid- Women's hiking boots

Hiking footwear is the most important (and likely most expensive) piece of gear you’ll need to purchase. This guide is still for beginner hikers on a budget, but you may need to skimp on other items in order to spend a little more money on a comfortable pair of boots.

Otherwise, your feet and entire body will hate you for this newfound hiking hobby. Trust me, make the upfront investment in a pair of good-quality hiking boots, and you’ll wear them for years to come. I’ve worn my KEEN Voyageur Mid hiking boots for many miles and many years, and they haven’t shown signs of wear and tear yet.

When shopping for a reliable pair of hiking boots, look for comfort, durability, and good traction. For longer hikes or hikes with uneven terrain, hiking boots provide more support and protection than regular hiking shoes and are designed to keep your feet dry and warm.

Our Pick
KEEN Voyageur Mid Women's Review- Hiking Boots

KEEN Voyageur Mid

This is my favorite hiking boot because of its durability, water resistance, toe cap, and traction. Plus, the price point of $80- $150 (depending on your size) isn’t bad either. These hiking boots are worth the investment!

On the other hand, hiking shoes are a good choice for shorter hikes or hikes on well-maintained trails. They are lighter and more breathable than hiking boots, making them more comfortable for warm-weather hikes. Look for shoes with a sturdy sole and good traction to prevent slips and falls.

When selecting footwear, make sure to try them on and walk around in them to ensure a proper fit. When you try them on, you shouldn’t feel the need to break them in, but it’s a good idea to do it anyway before your hike to avoid blisters and discomfort.

What to Wear Hiking

You don’t have to buy the most expensive jacket or pants to go for a hike. You just need to wear clothing made with the right materials to keep you comfortable and protected from the elements.

Layering for Weather

The weather can change quickly when you’re out on a hike, so always be prepared. Layering your clothing is the best way to adjust to changing temperatures. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep sweat away from your skin. Add a mid-layer for warmth, such as a fleece or down vest, and top it off with a waterproof and breathable outer layer to protect you from wind and rain.

Marymere Falls Hike

Selecting Fabrics

Avoid wearing cotton clothing because it absorbs sweat and moisture, leaving you feeling chilled. Instead, opt for synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon, which are lightweight and quick-drying. Wool is also a good option, as it’s warm even when wet.

Accessorizing for Protection

In addition to clothing, it’s important to protect yourself from the sun and other elements. Wear a sun hat to protect your face and neck from harmful UV rays. Don’t forget gloves to keep your hands warm and protected from rough terrain. And consider wearing gaiters to keep debris out of your shoes.

Our Pick
women's outdoor hiking pants

Outdoor Hiking Pants

If you’re hiking in cooler weather, these outdoor fleece-lined, water-resistant hiking pants for women are the perfect choice! They’re about $40 and fit perfectly overtop a pair of leggings. Find the Men’s version here.

Navigating and Safety on the Trail

You should always stay on marked trails, but sometimes trail markers can be confusing, so you need to know your way around. Having the basic navigation tools will leave you feeling safe.

Using a Map and Compass

A map and compass are among the most important tools for navigating on the trail. A map can help you understand the terrain and plan your route, while a compass can help you orient yourself and find your way.

Learning how to read a map and use a compass before heading out on the trail is important. You can take a class or find online resources to help you learn these skills.

hiking map and compass

When using a map and compass, keeping them dry and protected is important. You can use a waterproof map case and a compass pouch to keep them safe from the elements. Also, make sure to keep your map and compass easily accessible so you can refer to them quickly if needed.

GPS and Navigation Apps

In addition to a map and compass, you can also use GPS and navigation apps on your phone or other devices. These apps can help you track your location, plan your route, and find your way on the trail. However, it’s important to remember that technology can fail or run out of battery, so make sure you have a backup plan.

If you’re using a GPS or navigation app, download the maps and information you need before heading out on the trail. Also, keep your device charged and bring a backup battery or charger just in case. Carry a paper map and compass as a backup.

No matter what navigation tools you choose, it’s important to prioritize safety on the trail. Make sure to let someone know your route and expected return time, carry a personal locator beacon or satellite messenger, and be prepared for emergencies. You can navigate and stay safe on the trail with the right tools and knowledge.

Packing The 10 Essentials For Hiking

The “Ten Essentials” is a list of items that every hiker should bring on every hike. These items will help you survive in case of an emergency and make your hike more enjoyable.

First Aid and Emergency Items

A first-aid kit is one of the most important things to pack for any hike. Your kit should include bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, tweezers, and antiseptic wipes. Also, pack any medications you may need, such as allergy medicine, an EpiPen, or an inhaler.

Other emergency items to pack include a whistle, a headlamp with extra batteries, and matches or a lighter. These items can help you signal for help, see in the dark, and start a fire if necessary.

Our Pick
Mini First Aid Kit Hiking Essential for beginners

Mini First Aid Kit

This little guy is a lifesaver. With 100 useful pieces, it’s come in handy many times on the trail, and it’s only $13! Its water-resistant hard shell case is perfect for any outdoor adventure.

Food and Water Considerations

Another essential item to pack is food and water. You should bring enough water to last for the entire hike, plus extra in case of an emergency. A reusable water bottle is a great option, as it’s environmentally friendly and easy to refill.

When it comes to food, pack snacks that are easy to eat on the go, such as energy bars or trail mix. You should also pack extra food in case of an emergency or if your hike takes longer than expected.

Other items to consider packing include a knife, sunscreen, duct tape, and blister pads. These items can help you stay safe and comfortable on the trail.

Our Pick
Takeya 24oz water bottle- lid

Takeya 24oz Water Bottle

I always carry a hydration system in addition to my go-to favorite, the Takeya water bottle. It keeps water cold for an entire day hike in the summer heat. Trust me, you won’t regret this durable stainless steel water bottle for under $30.

Leave No Trace and Environmental Awareness

When hiking, respecting the environment and leaving no trace behind is vital. This means packing out all of your trash and leaving nature as you found it.

Understanding Leave No Trace Principles

Leave No Trace is a set of principles designed to minimize the impact of human activity on the environment.

  • Plan ahead and prepare: Research the area and make sure you have all the necessary equipment and supplies. This will help you avoid damaging the environment.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Stick to established trails and campsites to minimize your impact on the environment. Avoid trampling on vegetation or disturbing wildlife.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Pack out all of your trash, including food scraps and toilet paper. Use established restroom facilities when available, and if not, dig a small hole at least 200 feet from water sources to bury human waste.
  • Leave what you find: Don’t disturb plants, rocks, or other natural features. Leave them as you found them for others to enjoy.

Respecting Wildlife and Nature

  • Keep your distance: Observe wildlife from a safe distance and avoid approaching or feeding them. This will help protect both you and the animals.
  • Stay on the trail: Stick to established trails to avoid damaging vegetation and disturbing wildlife. This will also help you avoid getting lost or injured.
  • Respect park rules and regulations: Follow park rules and regulations to help protect the environment and ensure that everyone can enjoy it.
  • Be mindful of noise: Keep noise levels down to avoid disturbing wildlife and other hikers. This will also help you enjoy the peacefulness of nature.

Preparing for Your First Hike

Congratulations on deciding to take your first hike! Before you hit the trail, you’ll need to prepare yourself physically and mentally.

Physical Fitness and Training

Hiking can be a strenuous activity. Start by assessing your current fitness level and setting realistic goals. If you’re new to exercise, start with some light cardio and strength training to build up your endurance. You can also try hiking on local trails to get used to the terrain and build up your stamina.

Mental Preparation and Overcoming Fear

Hiking can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to it, so prepare yourself mentally for the challenges ahead. Start by setting realistic expectations and goals for your hike.

If you’re feeling anxious or scared, try some relaxation techniques like deep breathing or yoga to calm your nerves. Remember, hiking is a fun and rewarding activity, so try to focus on the positive aspects and enjoy the experience.

When preparing for your first hike, consider the distance and terrain of your chosen trail. Check the weather forecast and bring appropriate clothing and gear, such as a rain jacket or extra layers. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized.

Joining the Hiking Community

Hiking is a great way to get outside and explore nature, but it’s also a great way to meet new people and join a community of like-minded individuals.

Finding Hiking Partners

One of the best ways to get started with hiking is to find a hiking partner or group. This can be a great way to learn from others and get motivated to explore new trails. There are many ways to find hiking partners, including:

  • Joining a hiking group on Facebook or Meetup
  • Using an app like AllTrails to connect with other hikers in your area
  • Checking out local guidebooks or hiking websites for recommendations

When you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to find a partner or group at a skill level similar to yours. This will help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Learning from Others

Another great way to learn about hiking is to talk to other hikers and learn from their experiences. This can be a great way to pick up tips and tricks that will help you on the trail. Some things to keep in mind when talking to other hikers include:

  • Asking about their favorite trails and hikes
  • Inquiring about their gear and equipment
  • Learning about thru-hiking and long-distance hiking

By doing your research and talking to other hikers, you’ll be able to build a solid foundation of knowledge that will help you become a successful and confident hiker.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I pack for my first hiking trip?

When packing for your first hiking trip, it’s important to bring the essentials. These include a backpack, proper footwear, plenty of water, snacks, a map and compass, sunscreen, and a first aid kit. Additionally, you may want to bring a hat, sunglasses, and extra clothing layers in case the weather changes.

Can you list the top items every beginner hiker needs?

The top items every beginner hiker needs are often referred to as the “Ten Essentials.” These include a map and compass, sun protection, extra clothing, headlamp or flashlight, first aid kit, fire starter, repair kit and tools, nutrition, hydration, and emergency shelter. These items will help ensure your safety and comfort while on the trail.

What are the safety essentials I need to carry on a day hike?

On a day hike, carrying safety essentials such as a map and compass, first aid kit, whistle, and a headlamp or flashlight is important. You may also want to bring a multi-tool, extra food and water, and a space blanket in case of emergencies.

How do I choose the right gear for a beginner’s hiking adventure?

Choosing the right gear for a beginner’s hiking adventure can be overwhelming. It’s important to consider the type of terrain you’ll be hiking on, the weather conditions, and your level of experience. When purchasing gear, look for lightweight, durable, and comfortable items. Investing in quality footwear and a properly fitting backpack is also important.

What are the most important survival items to bring on a hike?

The most important survival items to bring on a hike include a map and compass, a first aid kit, a fire starter, shelter, and extra food and water. These items will help keep you safe and comfortable in case of emergencies.

What are some recommended essentials for beginner hikers, according to experts?

According to experts, beginner hikers should bring the Ten Essentials, as well as a trekking pole, a sun hat, and a pair of gloves. These items will help ensure your safety and comfort while on the trail. Additionally, it’s important to invest in quality gear and always be prepared for changing weather conditions.

Similar Posts