7 Hiking Essentials for Beginners

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Walking is a great way to get fit, but if you're ready to add a more challenging element, go take a hike! Hiking works different muscles and burns more calories as you navigate rolling hills and uneven terrain. As an added bonus, you'll get to reconnect with nature and escape from everyday stressors.  

Whether you're exploring one of these epic U.S. hiking destinations or just trekking the trails in your own backyard, having the right gear is essential to making the most of your experience. Before lacing up and striking out on your first hike, try to gather these basic essentials.

1. Camelbak Hydration Pack ($49.95)

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Water backpacks are a great way to haul your food and supplies on a hike while staying hydrated. This 50-ounce size is great for longer hikes, and there's a pocket to hold energy bars and your keys.

2. ExOfficio Women's Nomad Roll-Up Pant (starting at $34.96)

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Even if the day starts off sunny, you'll likely need an extra layer or more coverage when you start your return trip. Roll-up pants are convenient and versatile, and more practical than the kind that zip off. (Who wants to risk losing a pants leg in the woods?)

3. YUOTO Outdoor Fanny Pack ($21.99)

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A prepared hiker is a happy hiker. This roomy hip pack has plenty of space to stash snacks, water bottles, your cell phone and a small first aid kit.

4. Larabar Energy Bars ($20.99)

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Hiking burns major calories, especially if you're hauling gear or climbing hills, so be sure to take along some fuel. Larabars are calorically dense (about 200 calories each) with a clean ingredient list--no weird chemicals or flavorings. They come in dozens of flavors, so you can pick your favorite.

5. Hammers Hiking Poles ($17.99)

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To ease the uphills and gain traction on steep downhills, use hiking poles. This one comes with a built-in compass and thermometer to help keep you safe and sound.

6. White Sierra Women's Trabagon Rain Shell (starting at $31.32)

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Weather forecasts aren't always the most accurate when you're in the middle of the woods or on the side of a mountain. It's important to always have an extra layer--especially if rain is possible. This lightweight, perfectly waterproof jacket is small enough to stash in a backpack, with an adjustable hood and plenty of ventilation.

7. Smartwool Hiking Socks (starting at $13.75)

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Is there anything worse than cold, soggy socks? Cotton socks hold onto moisture, but wool wicks it away while insulating. Smartwool socks have arch support and plenty of cushioning, which will help keep your feet comfortable and free of blisters.

What is your "must-have" item for hiking?

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