Hiking can seem like an intimidating hobby to get into if you're just starting out. Like I've said a million times, the endless number of outdoor companies advertising their products as 'must-haves' could leave anyone scratching their head wondering where to start.
Because I strive for all people to get outdoors (in a safe and successful manner), I've decided to write a quick and simple blog post to point beginners in the right direction when it comes to hiking equipment. I've done the research for you to find top rated Amazon products in each category of my choosing. This way anyone can load up for the trail in one, easy and familiar place. Plus, having it be this easy gives no one an excuse to stay inside!
I want to preface this post by saying, each experienced hiker's 'must-have' list may be a little bit different from mine. And that's not necessarily a bad thing...
I tried to stick with 4 different items Colton and I consistently have packed before we ever hit the trail. I focused on safety, hydration, survival, and (of course) cost when I brainstormed these items.
Whether or not another hiker may agree with my top 4 items, I am confident in believing they would label them as important items nonetheless.
I want to also point out that I kept my search strictly within Amazon for a reason. There are thousands upon thousands of great outdoor brands on the market today- some might not even advertise on Amazon at all. I wanted to provide novice hikers with a "one-stop shop" to try out cheaper equipment options rather than encouraging more popular brands that naturally come with a higher price tag. This blog post is for people dabbling in hiking as a moderately intense hobby, not ones ready to conquer The Appalachian Trail (around 2,200 miles).
All 4 of these suggested items come after the investment of a sturdy and supportive pair of hiking boots.
I went back and forth in potentially including a link to the highest rated pair of hiking boots on Amazon until finally settling against it. Although purchasing a pair on Amazon is totally doable, I have already mentioned in previous posts that getting a pair where you can physically try them on is best practice. There are a lot of different factors to consider in the fit of your boot. Read my post "Find Your Fit, Hiking Boots Edition" to learn more, if you're buying a pair for the first time.
Browsing hiking boots on Amazon is a good idea when researching what brand/style you're interested in, however. Check some out here: https://amzn.to/2VeO00p
(FYI, my 4 top items are not listed in any specific order)
1. Hiking Socks
If you've read my "Find Your Fit, Hiking Boots Edition" post already, you know how important getting the right kind of sock is to your overall hiking experience. While it could be an easy thing to overlook (since most people already own a pair of long socks in the back of their drawer), hear me out.
-Hiking socks should not be made from cotton, but rather from wool or other materials such as polypropylene or acrylic. Cotton is a super absorbent material that wicks away too much moisture from your foot, leaving the sock wet and your feet feeling wet and cold. When feet are in this predicament, skin is more susceptible to damage in the form of blisters.
-This is why most socks made specifically for hiking are more expensive than the average cotton sock. This, understandably so, can lead people who don't know any better, to skimp out on the purchase. However, wool socks are often thicker than regular socks, providing more cushion and sustainability than the average cotton sock.
4 pair for $19.90-29.90
4.5 out of 5 stars
Over 5.3k online reviews
Reasons why I like this item:
*Made in the USA
*Multiple pair purchase
Get 4 pair for $19.90-29.90 here: https://amzn.to/2Ri86Fy
Browse other hiking socks here: https://amzn.to/2JPWRAh
Trust me when I say, when you invest in a pair of these bad boys, you'll never go back. If you're new to the hiking world, trekking poles are a supportive, adjustable pair of walking sticks. They're used to help with stability, posture, and balance. Trekking poles are extremely helpful on uneven terrain, hiking on slippery surfaces (rivers, ice) or trails with a lot inclines/declines.
-Take it from a girl with 2 previous knee surgeries, when you use trekking poles the right way, your joints will thank you. When Colton and I first started hiking, we only invested in one pair (2 sticks) for the both of us. I'm ashamed to admit it, but it's true. This all changed after hiking The Grand Canyon. We hiked the South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch, a 7.1 mile trail of mostly declining steps. We each had one trekking pole and only a few miles into the hike my bad knee was aching. Plus, the hand without the trekking pole naturally stayed at my side while we hiked, proceeding to swell up in the mid July heat.
-Trekking poles are adjustable to accommodate your height. Much like crutches, these poles can change height depending on what's comfortable for you. I like to keep mine so the handles are just about at the height of my bicep when hiking.
TrailBuddy Trekking Poles - 2-pc Pack Adjustable Hiking or Walking Sticks - Strong, Lightweight Aluminum 7075 - Quick Adjust Flip-Lock - Cork Grip, Padded Strap
4.8 out of 5 stars
Over 6.8k online reviews
Reasons why I like this item:
*Cork handle will mold to your specific grip
*Moisture-wicking handle to keep hands dry
*Made of aluminum rather than carbon fiber, can withstand to support more weight
Get your own pair here: https://amzn.to/2RjDHa2
Browse other options here: https://amzn.to/34nWo1M
It's just a simple fact- we'll drink more on a hiking trail if water is easily accessible to us. That's the exact reason why I had to put this item on my list of 4 hiking essentials. Packing a water bottle is easy enough, but hydration packs with a convenient and close by mouthpiece provide constant access to water and limit the risk of dehydration.
-Dehydration is a serious matter, especially to solo hikers. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include: confusion, rapid heart beat/breathing, irritability, dry skin, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, and/or not producing urine or urine that is very dark in color.
-I like that this pack has some storage capabilities. Some hydration packs only fit the bladder (the flexible plastic pouch water is stored in). As someone who always packs for the possibility of getting lost or stranded, I appreciate the extra space.
Vibrelli Hydration Pack & 2L Hydration Water Bladder - High Flow Bite Valve - Hydration Backpack with Storage - Lightweight Running Backpack, Also for Cycling, Hiking, Ski, Snow for Men, Women & Kids
4.4 out of 5 stars
Over 600 online reviews
Reasons why I like this item:
*High flow bite-valve that doesn't leak
*Multiple storage options
*Emergency whistle attached
*BPA free bladder, no plastic taste
Get your own here: https://amzn.to/3c5JsAh
Or browse many others here: https://amzn.to/2XgrKWj
4. Survival Kit
As I just mentioned, I like to be prepared for the unknown whenever hiking. Although Colton and I have only gotten lost on a trail once (I attribute this to his good sense of direction and map-reading capabilities, NOT mine), it's comforting to know if we ever are again, we're prepared.
-I'm a huge fan of multipurpose products. I don't like to drag along extra weight and materials when hiking, so when I know that I have all I need in one product- I'm happy.
The survival pieces in this product:
1 x Flint fire starter
1 x Multi-function scraper
1 x Tactical pen
1 x Emergency thermal blanket
1 x Tactical torch flashlight
1 x Multi-function compass
1 x Mini key-chain light
1 x Tactical military knife
1 x Saber card
1 x Whistle
1 x Wire saw
4 x Band aid
1 x Shockproof case
1 x Water Bottle Clip
1 x Gauze swab
1 x Bandage
1 x Needle
1 x Screwdriver
1 x Alcohol Pad
Friendly reminders on how to prepare yourself for the unknown:
-Always carry a map
-Tell someone when to expect you back (especially if hiking alone)
-Bring enough water/food
-Have emergency supplies
KOSIN Survival Gear, 18 in 1 Emergency Survival Kit, Professional Tactical Defense Equitment Tool with Knife Blanket Bracelets Backpack Temperature Compass Fire Starter for Adventure Outdoors Sport
4.7 out of 5 stars
Over 1.9k online reviews
Reason why I like this item:
*18 survival products in a 1.4 pound case
*Fire starter produces flame when wet or at any altitude
Grab one for yourself (could make an awesome gift, too!): https://amzn.to/2yIZscX
Browse other survival kits here: https://amzn.to/2XhtyOU
Honorable mention: Water Filtration System
Going along with the theme of preparing for the unknown, I want to bring up running out of water. This has happened to Colton and I before! It was on our way back from the Half Dome Summit in Yosemite National Park. After exerting so much energy to reach the top, I was so grateful to have a filtration system to replenish my body.
Having a water filtration system will not only prevent your body from dehydration but also from harmful bacteria and microorganisms found in natural water sources.
Here's our trusted water filter: https://amzn.to/3e3iKdd
Browse some filtration systems here: https://amzn.to/2JPLNTz
Well guys, that's my opinion of the top 4 essential pieces of hiking equipment (minus hiking boots)! Whether it's piece of mind, health, or prevention of pain- all of these items are valuable to your hiking experience. If you like easier trail routes, you can always pick and choose from these items as you see fit for your own hiking experience! As always my goal is to get everyone outside and I hope this post motivates you to do just that!