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Hiking essentials for beginners and tips on how to get started

  • 15 min read

Hiking essentials

Whether you are a first-time hiker or an experienced adventurer, being in the right gear with the proper equipment is essential to keeping yourself safe. The wilderness is beautiful, but it can also be threatening if you come unprepared. 

With the unpredictable weather and all the unknowns, being backed up with safety tips as well as knowing what to wear and what to bring with you, will ensure your hike is safe and more than enjoyable.

15 Hiking Tips To Help You Stay Safe

No matter how experienced you are or where you are going, unexpected things can and do happen when you go for a hike. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to minimize the odds of encountering an emergency while hiking. The more prepared you are, the more likely you will have a good time and stay safe.

1. Leave Your Hiking Plans With A Friend Or Family Member, Along With A Time That You Will Be Back By

When you are going hiking, it is essential to have someone know your whereabouts. Despite knowing the trail, certain things could go wrong, and having someone at home to keep tabs on you is a helpful way to make you feel safe and protected.

Leave Your Hiking Plans With A Friend Or Family Member, Along With A Time That You Will Be Back By

2. Don’t Push Yourself Past Your Limits. Build Your Strength and Distance In A Gradual Way

It is easy to overestimate your limits when you are hiking. You might think you could push forward up a challenging trail that is not part of your plan, only to find out that you are not adequately equipped or do not have the stamina to complete the hike.

Remember when hiking, you only need to stick to what you can do. Listen to your body and do not push yourself if you think you can no longer go and follow the trail. If you need a break, take a break. Hiking is not a competition—go at your own pace.

Don’t Push Yourself Past Your Limits. Build Your Strength and Distance In A Gradual Way

3. Stay On the Trail, Avoid Shortcuts, And Always Know Where You Are And Where You Are Going

The trail is there to be followed at all times. You will find shortcuts but they may be unsafe or not properly constructed; therefore, staying on the trail is a must. Make sure to follow a map and leave marks to know where you are, where you are going and how to get back to where you started when needed.Stay On the Trail, Avoid Shortcuts, And Always Know Where You Are And Where You Are Going

4. Heed Signs and Warnings

Signs and warnings are there for a purpose—they warn you of the impending trail up ahead so you can prepare. Signs could also be a reminder of wildlife in that area along with other precautionary measures you take as you walk down the trail. Always pay attention to the directional signs because they will show you exactly where you are going and if you are going in the right direction.

Heed Signs and Warnings

5. Watch Your Step and Be Aware of Your Surroundings

When hiking, always watch your step. There may be slippery or rocky paths that you need to be extra careful on when walking. Keep your eyes and ears open as you go up the trail to always stay aware of your surroundings.

Watch Your Step and Be Aware of Your Surroundings

6. Stay Hydrated and Fed, Even If You Aren’t Hungry Or Thirsty

Bringing healthy snacks with you and a bottle of water is essential when you are going on a hike. Make sure to drink water and eat your snacks as you go, even when you are not hungry or thirsty. Snacks and staying hydrated can help boost your energy levels to carry on.

Stay Hydrated and Fed, Even If You Aren’t Hungry Or Thirsty

7. Practice Camping Overnight With Your Emergency Gear In Your Backyard (Or A Nearby Park)

Before the hike, test out your emergency gear in your backyard. You can also head to a nearby park to camp overnight. By doing so, you will be able to determine if your emergency gear will work well or if you need to make certain adjustments.

Practice Camping Overnight With Your Emergency Gear In Your Backyard (Or A Nearby Park)

8. Learn Some Primitive Skills To Help You Survive In the Outdoors. You Can Watch Videos On YouTube Or Attend Classes

What are these primitive skills that you need to know? For one, it is knowing how to create fire with a stone or stick. Primitive skills will help you survive the hike should things go wrong or you lose items along the way. There are also videos on YouTube that can help you, and taking classes is also an excellent idea.

9. Don’t Hike In Winter Conditions Unless You Have Experience Doing So

Hiking during the winter is very challenging, due to the cold weather and potentially low visibility in certain areas. Begin hiking in warmer weather to start, your skills will progress. As you gain more experience you can begin preparing for winter hiking conditions.

Don’t Hike In Winter Conditions Unless You Have Experience Doing So

10. Take A Wilderness First Aid Class Or Basic First Aid Course At the Least

Before you hike, make sure you know how to perform first aid on yourself and on others. The basics are a great place to start.

Take A Wilderness First Aid Class Or Basic First Aid Course At the Least

11. Use Common Sense

Always use your common sense when you are on a hike. Avoid irrational decisions and stick to correct judgment—it will not leave you astray.

Use Common Sense

12. Keep It Light

Do not bring heavy items or heavy clothing. Keep your load light so it is easy to carry around with you.

Keep It Light

13. Dress For Success

Make sure that you are wearing the right hiking gear and that you have the right equipment to help you have a successful hike. What you wear for your hike will make a difference, so make sure to pick wisely and select high-quality pieces of clothing.

Dress For Success

14. Check the Weather

Before your hike, keep an eye on the weather forecasts. If there is a chance of rain, bring a raincoat with you and other materials, such as a plastic bag where you can keep wet items.

Check the Weather

15. Tip Your Guide

Never forget to tip your guide. He or she will be the one to guide you through the hike and ensure that you are safe and protected.

Tip Your Guide

A Comprehensive List of Hiking Essentials

From the most practical clothing to a few in-case-of-emergency items, here are 23 things you’ll want when you add more miles to your woodland wanderings, whether on a short hike or multi-month hike. It is essential to consider the length and nature of each trip in deciding what to add to your essentials.

1. Trail Shoes

Wearing the correct pair of trail shoes when hiking is essential. Some people are quick to use their running shoes, only to experience inconvenience along the hike. Running shoes and trail shoes are very different. For one, various materials are used for each type of shoe. Generally, running shoes are made from lighter-weight materials and feature thinner treads, while trail shoes are more cumbersome with a thicker sole that helps maintain the integrity of the shoe.

When buying a pair of trail running shoes, you need to consider the type of terrain that you will walk on. Next, you need to identify the features you will need from the shoes. There are trail shoes that come with additional cushioning and support that can protect the joints and support the ankles, especially on uneven surfaces.

As mentioned, trail shoes come with a thicker sole to add density that can provide the wearer more stability, especially on uneven terrain. Keep in mind that the nubbier (lumpy) the trail shoes, the more grip and traction they will provide.

Trail Shoes

2. Hiking Socks

Wearing the right socks will keep your feet comfortable and blister-free throughout the hike. However, there are some factors that you need to consider to find the right hiking socks for you.

  • Sock height
  • Cushioning
  • Fabric
  • Fit

You will find various heights of hiking socks today. To find the right height, consider your trail shoes—the higher the cuffs on your shoes, the taller the socks should be to protect your skin from rubbing directly against the shoes. The cushioning will depend on the weather. Lots of cushioning can protect your feet during high-impact activities, but thicker socks can cause your feet to sweat. You need to find the right balance of cushioning when it comes to hiking socks. Bringing your shoes with you when looking to buy socks can help you decide which ones to buy. Try asking an expert at your nearest store to find which socks are right for your shoes.

Various fabrics are used for hiking socks. Wool is the most popular hiking sock because it can regulate temperature to keep the feet from getting sweaty. Moreover, wool is naturally antimicrobial. Polyester, nylon, silk, and spandex are available too, but it’s best to go with wool for hiking.

Last but not least, you need to find the right fit to guarantee comfort. If the socks are too big, they can have wrinkles that may rub against your shoes, which will lead to blisters. On the other hand, a sock that is too small can create pressure points and slippage.

To find the right fit, you need to know the right size of your actual foot instead of relying on your shoe size.

Hiking Socks

3. Lightweight Gloves

When it comes to hiking gloves, they need to be lightweight. The good thing about gloves is that they are very compact, which means that they won’t take up so much space and add weight to your bag. Therefore, you are free to bring a couple of gloves just to ensure that you are well-prepared for your hiking trip, especially if the weather tends to be unpredictable and one pair gets wet or dirty.

Did you know that one of the most neglected areas of the body during a hike is the hands? When your fingers go numb due to the cold, you won’t be able to use them. This is why you need to invest in good-quality gloves.

GearTOP thermal gloves is an ideal pair of lightweight gloves that can keep your hands protected during your hike. These gloves are made from breathable and quick-drying material, so you can wear them even if the weather is not that cold. One of the best things about this pair of gloves is that they are touch screen compatible, which means you can use your mobile phone even with the gloves on. Additionally, the rubber markings on the palm are great for protecting your hands from blisters when using hiking poles.

Lightweight Gloves

4. Wicking Clothing

Wicking ensures optimum microclimate between skin and clothing. That said, it can transfer moisture along its surface by capillary action. Wicking clothing must be worn as a base layer because it is the layer that will have direct contact with the skin. That way, the clothing can pull away moisture and move it to the fabric's outer surface.

Choose wicking clothing that offers UPF50+ protection to ensure that you are protected from the UV rays of the sun. As much as possible, choose long-sleeves or t-shirts.

5. Backpack

The first thing you need to consider when choosing a hiking backpack is the length of your hike. For shorter walks, you can get a backpack between 10 and 25 liters. However, if you will be hiking for more than a day, you are going to need a backpack between 20 and 34 liters in order to carry all your gear.

When you have identified the length of the hike, it is time to choose the features of the backpack. You want to make sure that the pack can accommodate all of your gear and other small trinkets that will let you stay organized while on a hike. Next, choose the right backpack fit based on your torso length.


6. Water Container

Having the right amount of water with you on a hike is essential. The thing is, carrying water with you on a hike can sometimes be a pain. Fortunately, advanced technology has paved the way to let you carry your water more efficiently and comfortably.

Choose a water container that is lightweight but comes with strong insulation to keep your water cool for hours. Make sure that you also choose the perfect size for your water bottle, that will conveniently fit into your backpack. In addition, you can also buy a water bladder which conveniently fits in a backpack as well.

Water Container

7. Water Purifier

A running stream, despite how clear it looks, is not safe to drink, and even if it is, you want to stick on the safe side; a water purifier will do the trick. Straw filters are recommended because they work just like a straw. All you need to do is stick one end into your water source and drink clean water out of the other end.

Straw filters are popular because they are lightweight and cost-effective. However, you will only be able to drink small quantities of water and it does not come with storage of water. If you do not mind, then straw filters will do you just fine.

Water Purifier

8. Extra Food

There is nothing worse than realizing you ran out of food in the middle of your hiking trip. That is why it is vital to bring more food than you think you will need. Sure, humans can go about three weeks without any food, but you won’t feel great! As much as possible, bring a variety of food, such as nuts, power bars, crackers, etc., and as much as possible, bring healthy foods with you so your body will be able to replenish the nutrients lost during the hike.

Extra Food

9. Headlamp

When looking for a headlamp for hiking, not just any headlamp will do. It is best to stick to headlamps that have LED bulbs because they are brighter and more environmentally friendly. Besides that, the light tends to last longer than your ordinary bulb. LED headlamps that are lightweight and long-lasting are all you need to keep your trails well-lit.


10. Sunscreen

Protecting your skin from the harmful UV rays when you are on a hike is crucial. Even though you anticipate gloomy weather, UV rays can still penetrate your skin. Invest in a broad-spectrum sunscreen that can provide not only sunscreen protection but can also resist water from UVA and UVB rays. Choose a sunscreen that has the label “broad-spectrum” which means it can protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.Sunscreen

11. Insect Repellent

When you go on a hike, be prepared to encounter a lot of bugs, such as mosquitoes, that bite. We all know that some mosquitoes are carriers of fatal diseases, which is why you need to bring with you a bottle of insect repellent. Make sure to apply it on your skin before you set out for the hike and apply it whenever you think the effects of the repellent are wearing off. An insect repellent will keep you protected from bug bites.

As it is not recommended to spray your face with insect repellent, try theExplorer Safari Series hat to keep the bugs out of your nose and mouth. The removable mosquito net creates a much-needed barrier, and keeps your neck, ears, and face free from bug bites. When you are out hiking, the more things you have to repel mosquitoes and bugs with, the better!

Insect Repellent

12. Hat

A hat is an important part of your hiking outfit. Whether it is hot or cold, a hat will protect your head at all times. At GearTOP we offer a selection of hats that are useful for hiking and ward off the harmful UVA and UVB rays coming from the sun with the help of its UPF 50+ sun protection fabric.

TheNavigator Series hat is best if you’re looking for something simple yet effective in design. The hat features a wide brim that will provide you with sufficient facial protection. Moreover, the hat is lightweight and breathable.


On another hand, if you want to have more protection for the neck, face, and ears, theDiscoverer Series is an excellent choice. This hat features a versatile design that comes with removable flaps for that additional facial protection. Hikers can have a comfortable hike with this hat on, especially around bugs or when the weather is too windy to prevent both wind and sunburns.

Explorer Safari Series

One hack to avoid harmful chemicals found in insect repellants is our newExplorer Safari Series hat with mosquito protection. No more trouble from annoying bugs, dirt, or mosquitoes ruining the fun outdoors while fishing, hiking, gardening, boating, and more! Saves you time and money down the road. GearTOP brings you the ultimate Explorer Safari hat with unmatched mosquito quality protection that you will ever need on any adventure.

Explorer Safari Series

13. Sunglasses

When choosing sunglasses for hiking, make sure to choose a pair that fits you perfectly. If your glasses tend to slide down or if they are too loose or too tight, you might end up with a headache or broken sunglasses during the trip. It is also a great idea to choose polarized lenses to protect your eyes from the glare of the rocks, sand, water, and snow. Keep in mind that sunglasses also come with UV ratings, the highest rating will give you the utmost protection against the harmful rays of the sun.


14. Raincoat

Investing in a high-quality and lightweight raincoat that you can carry around with you easily is a necessity. When it rains during a hike, you’ll need to cover yourself, along with your backpack, with a raincoat. You can also opt for a rain jacket that features pit zips or side vents, along with an adjustable hood.


15. Smartphone Battery Pack/ Power Bank

Since you will be bringing your phone with you, it is vital that you also bring a smartphone battery pack or a power bank to be able to charge your devices while you are on a hike.

Fortunately, it is now easy to find lightweight power banks that are made for hiking, which means that they are well-protected to endure the ruggedness of the environment. On the other hand, you can also use the battery pack to power LED lights as a backup when you need extra light.

Smartphone Battery Pack/ Power Bank

16. First Aid Kit

Having a fully stocked first aid kit is crucial for any hiking trip. You can build your hiking first aid kit with the following items:

  • Medical tape - you can use this for blisters and cuts.
  • Medical gloves - this will help prevent cross-contamination in case you need to examine someone. Make sure that the gloves are latex-free. 
  • Antiseptic or alcohol wipes - for cleaning wounds
  • Dressing/gauze - for larger wounds
  • Triple antibiotic ointment - to prevent infection on wounds
  • Hand sanitizer- keep the hands clean and sanitized, especially when treating wounds
  • Ibuprofen tablets - for pain management
  • Antihistamine tablets - for allergies caused by insect bites and/or foods
  • Duct tape - to tape down gauze or bandages
  • Small utility tool - this should contain knife, scissors, and tweezers
  • Sewing needle - drench in alcohol to drain blisters
  • Safety pins - to patch up slings, bandages, etc. 
  • Tiny whistle - for emergency purposes should you get lost or to call attention to yourself 
  • Emergency fire starter - for emergency purposes should you get lost 


First Aid Kit

17. Emergency Whistle

As mentioned, an emergency whistle should be a part of your first aid kit. It would not hurt to bring an extra one. A whistle can help you attract attention to yourself should you get lost or you can also use this as a warning if something or someone is coming towards your camp.

Emergency Whistle

18. Compass / Digital Compass

Having a compass will help you go in the right direction. Having a backup compass is great in case your digital compass malfunctions or runs out of battery. A compass ensures you will not get lost.

Compass / Digital Compass

19. Fire Starter / Windproof Lighters

Having multiple options to make a fire is essential. Aside from your matches, you can also carry fire starters and windproof lighters just in case. There is nothing wrong with being extra prepared.

Fire Starter / Windproof Lighters

20. Multi-tool

Having a multi-tool with you will be extremely useful. You never know when the need for it arises and it always comes in handy. One of the most popular multi-tools that you can get today is the Victorinox SwissTool.


21. Signal Mirror

Use a signal mirror to attract attention to yourself when you get stranded in the woods. When you get stranded out in the woods, having a signal mirror would be incredibly useful. Some signal mirrors come with instructions on how to use them—but basically, you can use them in two ways. One, if you do not see anyone in the distance, sweep the horizon with the mirror to catch the eye of a rescue craft or team that is not in your visual range. Second, once you spot people, aim the reflected light at them and send a signal.

22. Trekking Pole/Hiking Stick

Trekking poles or hiking sticks are standard equipment when hiking. They can enhance your stability and provide support on all types of terrain. When choosing one, choose between single or double—choose which one you are most comfortable with. Next, choose the right length. To get the right length, it should give you a 90-degree bend at your elbow when pole tips touch the ground.

There are also additional features that you can choose from, such as foldability, adjustability, shock absorption, weight, and locking mechanisms. 

As mentioned before, wearing lightweight gloves, such as theGearTOP performance gloves can save your hands from blisters while using poles.

Trekking Pole/Hiking Stick

23. Know Your Map or Trail

When you are going on a hike, knowing how to read a map is a great skill for the outdoors. Maps will guide you and will lead you on your adventure. If you ever get lost, knowing how to read a map will come in handy to lead yourself back to the trail, and back to safety.

Know Your Map or Trail


When you go into the wilderness, the amount of essential gear you will need will depend on the length and nature of each trip. Achieving that balance takes knowledge and good judgment. Understanding the basics of clothing and equipment will help you decide on those essentials needed. 

So, grab your gear and put on that GearTOP hat! Let us head on to the unexplored wilderness.

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