I’ve been hiking for many years and I have learned over time that quality gear pays for itself. If you are just getting into hiking, it may sound intimidating to spend thousands of dollars on nice gear. I recommend starting with a good pair of hiking boots. It’s important to protect your feet since they are going to be carrying you many miles!
I have made a list of my favorite purchases I have made over the years. I hope this helps!
Hiking boots are absolutely necessary for more advanced hikes. When picking out hiking boots, there are a few things to consider. The first is how much ankle support you want. I like a mid-level ankle support, which is high enough to protect my ankles from rolling on rocky terrain, but still short enough to allow them to move a bit. The other main consideration is how comfortable they are and how much support they give you. Everyone is a little different and you really just have to try them on and walk around in them. My favorite place to try on hiking boots is REI. You can try lots of different options and they have a little rock you can climb on to show you the grip of each pair of boots.
I have had a few pairs of hiking boots over the years. I notice it is time to get new boots when I start getting blisters when I hadn’t gotten them in the past as well as when the grip on the bottom of the shoe starts to wear down. My first pair of hiking boots were Columbia brand and second pair were Merrells. I just recently upgraded to a new pair of Oboz for my trip to Norway.
My absolute favorite brand for hiking socks is Darn Tough. They are made out of Merino wool, which is moisture wicking and odor repellent. I always used to get blisters almost every time I hiked. When I switched to Darn Tough, the amount of blisters I got decreased significantly. Now the only time I get blisters is occasionally on a very long hike, or when I need to replace my hiking boots.
In warm weather, I love wearing my hiking shorts from Kuhl. I have the Freeflex short in a 4” inseam. Most women’s athletic shorts don’t have pockets, but I love that these shorts have zip-up pockets to keep all my valuables safe. I really like how nice the material is and how cute they are. And the best part is that they are oh so comfortable!
I have been consistently getting North Face rain jackets for quite some time now. They fit really well and hold up great in the rain for longer than other brands I’ve had. I also really like the color of my current jacket, because it pops out in photos!
If I am going to be going on a more difficult hike, if the terrain is wet or icy, or if I am backpacking, I really like to use hiking poles. They give me more stability and help take some of the pressure off my knees when decreasing elevation. I have never felt the need to get really nice, expensive titanium poles. They are slightly less weight, but aluminum poles don’t weigh much either. I got my current poles from Amazon. The grips are comfortable to hold and there are multiple tips included that are good for different terrains, such as mud, rock, or ice.
A hydration pack is necessary for me on longer hikes. Mine holds about two liters of water, which is usually more than enough for a day hike. It fits in most hiking backpacks and has a long straw that allows you to drink water while hiking. This is especially nice if you have a large backpack (like a backpacking pack) where it is difficult to reach your water bottle. I find myself drinking much more water when I have my hydration pack along.
Medium sized hiking backpack
I love my Osprey medium sized backpack for a long day hike. There is a hydration pack compartment, a structured hip support to take weight off of your shoulders, and a ventilation system to keep your back from getting as sweaty. I have the 28 liter size, which is the perfect size to fit everything you need for a long day of hiking. They no longer make the exact model I have, but here is a similar one that is the same size.
If you are camping overnight, a backpacking pack is a must. You’ll need something that will fit all of your camping gear as well as food and water for all or part of your trip. I have a Gregory brand pack that is 53 liters in size. This is a perfect size for a backpacking trip lasting one or two nights. A 65 to 70 liter pack would be great for a trip lasting several days. I love having the compartment on top to keep easy to access or more fragile items. It is also really nice to have a ventilation system on your back, so your back doesn’t get as sweaty.
A headlamp is crucial for any sunrise or sunset hikes that might require you to hike in the dark. It is brighter than the flashlight on a phone and allows you to use both of your hands, which is really nice if you are hiking with poles. Headlamps are also ideal for camping!
I hope this gear list helps with any future hiking purchases you need to make!