Hiking Gear For Beginners – Simple Items To Make Your Hike Easier

There are essential items that should be a part of every hiker’s ensemble: A good backpack, reliable shoes, shelter, and a good sleep system. However, there are other items, while perhaps not essential, can go a long way to making your hiking trip easier and more enjoyable.

Experienced hikers have, over their travels, learned some tricks of the trade when it comes to gear. If you are a beginning hiker or backpacker, here are some simple gear recommendations that should make your hike easier:

  • Inflatable Camping Pillow
  • Insulated Sitting Pad
  • Mini Multi-Tool
  • Lightweight Headlamp
  • Buff Merino Wool Scarf
  • Lightweight Trowel
  • Sawyer Water Filter
  • Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles
  • Leukotape
  • Ankle Gaiters

We’ve selected each of these items not because they have to be in your pack when you go hiking, but because they are simple, lightweight, easy-to-pack items that will greatly contribute to your comfort on the trail. Even if you are a beginner, you will feel like an experienced pro if you have this list of hiking gear with you.

Inflatable Camping Pillow

An inflatable pillow is not something that every hiker carries in his or her pack. Some choose to sleep without a pillow, or use a coat or shirt as a pillow. However, an inflatable pillow can greatly improve your hiking experience.

Most hiking pillows are ultra lightweight, usually less than 3 oz. and when they deflate, they take up basically no room in your pack. So there’s really no added burden to bring a piece of gear that can help you sleep better, get more rest, and rejuvenate your body for the next day of hiking.

One of our favorites is the TREKOLOGY Ultralight Aluft 1.0, which you can find HERE.

Insulated Sitting Pad

It’s a great feeling to sit down to eat lunch or at then end of a hike and just relax. What’s not so great, however, is sitting on a hard rock, or on the wet ground.

That’s why an insulated sitting pad is such a great item to bring on a hike. Weighing as little as 2 ounces, sitting pads take up almost no space and add virtually no weight to your pack.

However, having an insulated pad that will keep your backside dry and provide a soft seat for you is worth more than its weight in gold. You can purchase the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat Cushion HERE.

Mini Multi-Tool

A small tool always comes in handy on a hike. I have been on plenty of hikes when I didn’t need a multi-tool, but have also had times where I was glad to have a knife, or set of scissors handy.

Whether you need to cut a piece of paracord, pull out a sliver, cut some tape, or repair a zipper, a small multi-tool can take care of all your needs. And like almost all the items on this list, it takes up almost no space or add any weight to your pack.

You can find the Gerber Dime Mini Multi-Tool HERE.

Lightweight Headlamp

You can certainly get by without any lamp during a hike – especially if you hike in the summer when the days are longer. However, it can be quite inconvenient if you need to find something in the middle of the night and don’t have a light at your disposal.

Headlamps are becoming lighter and brighter – you can find models that can be charged with a USB cord and light to over 300 lumens.

One that I recommend is the Nitecore NU20 Headlamp, which you can find HERE.

Buff Merino Wool Scarf

One of my favorite pieces of gear, that I never go without, is my Buff scarf. Made from Merino wool, I wear this in both summer and winter as it offers a variety of benefits.

The Buff can do so many things – it provides warmth in the winter around your neck and head – I’ve even used it as a beanie. It protects against the sun in the summer, without making you too hot. It is moisture-wicking, so it will not get wet with sweat or rain.

It’s antimicrobial, so it won’t stink at the end of the day. And you can use it as a towel if needed. I HIGHLY recommend it.

You can shop for a Buff Merino Wool Scarf HERE.

Lightweight Trowel

When you do have to poop in the woods, please follow Leave No Trace and dig a cat hole 200 feet from your campsite and from the closest water source.

Your cat hole should be 6 to 8 inches deep; you can use a stick to dig that hole, or you can use a lightweight trowel that works much better and weighs less than an ounce.

You can check out the UST U-Dig-It Trowel HERE.

Sawyer Water Filter

I have used iodine tablets and pump filters on my hikes and find that they are too much work – tablets take some time to clean your water, and the pump filters are big and bulky.

That’s why I love Sawyer products. They offer several different products that are small, simple to use, and very reliable. These are great products because you add virtually no weight to your pack and yet make your water collection very simple.

I recommend the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System, which you can purchase HERE.

Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

Trekking poles are both the most expensive and the biggest and bulkiest item on this list, and many hikers choose not to use them. However, trekking poles can be a very useful piece of equipment on the trail.

The main benefit of trekking poles is that they can lighten the strain on your body as you hike – specifically your knees and back. They also offer other benefits, such as added stability when hiking through more treacherous areas, such as glaciers or streams. They also are used as tent poles, and even as a defense item against aggressive animals.

One of Amazon’s best-rated set of trekking poles are the Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles, which can be found HERE.


Blisters are one of the most notorious problems on the hiking trail. They happen, and sometimes there’s little you can do to avoid them. If they do, I recommend Leukotape.

Leukotape’s main benefit is that it stays on your skin, even in wet conditions. So, if you treat a blister, you can put Leukotape over the top of the affected area and it will act like a second skin. And it will not fall off. This is a very underrated item that every hiker should have.

You can find Leukotape HERE.

Ankle Gaiters

If you hike with low-cut hiking shoes, or trail runners, you are more susceptible to getting rocks and dirt into your shoes. I’m sure many of us have had to stop on the trail to get a rock out of our shoe!

Ankle gaiters are a great solution to this problem. Weighing almost nothing, these gaiters are a no-brainer to take with you on any hiking trip. They secure around your ankle, attaching to the top of your shoe and below the sole of your shoe to keep out any and all debris.

I prefer the Altra Trail Gaiter – which is available HERE.

What Is Essential Hiking Gear?

Aside from some of the cool stuff listed above, you need to have essential gear that goes with you on every trip, regardless of distance, or how much weight you want to carry. Sometimes you will hear these items referred to as “The Ten Essentials of Hiking.”

  1. Shelter: Can be a light tarp or an emergency bivy
  2. Food: Something beyond the needs for your trip
  3. Water: Carry a filter and container to stay hydrated
  4. Clothing: Beyond a minimum expectation
  5. Fire: Waterproof matches, tinder, a stove
  6. First Aid: Including blister treatment
  7. Knife: A simple Swiss Army knife works well
  8. Sun Protection: Sunscreen, sunglasses, and clothing
  9. Navigation: Map (including paper) compass, GPS
  10. Headlamp: Don’t forget extra batteries

Depending on your hiking trip, you may modify how much of each of these items you take with you. If you take a familiar day hike, for example, you might keep your shelter and food to a minimum. However, a multi-day trip through the mountains would necessitate having each of these items at the ready.


You can use a tarp, a bivy sack, or even a plastic trash bag to offer some protection against wind and rain in case you become lost or get injured on the trail. These items are almost weightless, and pack up very small. An emergency space blanket does the same and offers you warmth during colder conditions. Remember to take these items with you even as you leave your base camp.


A good rule of thumb is to pack an extra day’s worth of food, in case you are delayed by weather, injury, or losing your way. Pack items that don’t require cooking – in case your means of cooking is lost – and that can last for a while. Good candidates include jerky, protein bars, and trail mix.


You should always have the means to carry enough water to keep you hydrated. Empty 1L SmartWater bottles are a favorite of many hikers because they weigh next to nothing and many water filters can just screw on to the bottle.

You should always have a means of treating water, regardless of the length of your trip. You can carry a filter, purification tablets, or a stove for melting snow. Most people need about a half liter per hour during moderate activity in moderate temperatures. Depending on other factors, including temperature, elevation gain, length of hike, humidity, etc, you may need to have more water available to you.


Adventurer, touirst or hiking affectionate changes shoes inside car after or before long wet walk in harsh conditions. Puts on pair or clean and dry wool socks to warm up feet in cold weather

Weather conditions can change quickly; having some level of protection against extreme weather is vital. For example, even during a summer trip, you should consider a lightweight down jacket and a rain coat. This will protect you against a rogue rainstorm or extremely cold nights that can occur.

You should also consider an extra pair of socks beyond what you would normally wear – you should try to keep your feet warm and dry as much as possible. The same goes for your head and hands – a warm beanie and gloves can be an easy thing to pack and bring with you.


Many trips will not require that you start a fire, but, in case of an emergency, you need to be able to start and maintain a fire. The simple solution is a simple butane lighter, but waterproof matches stored in a waterproof container can do the trick as well. Convenience-store matchbooks are often too flimsy and poorly constructed to be trusted for wilderness use.

You should also carry a firestarter, which is excellent in wet conditions. The ideal firestarter ignites quickly and sustains heat for more than a few seconds. Options include cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly, and even lint trappings from a household clothes dryer.

First Aid

Be sure to know how to use the items in a first-aid kit. You can purchase small hiking first aid kits that make putting together any treatment relatively simple, but over time you will need to replace items with your own. All kits should include treatment for blisters, bandages of various sizes, gauze pads, tape, over-the-counter pain medication, and a pen and paper.


Knives are great for a number of reasons, including to repair gear, assist with first aid, or prepare food. While a basic knife is a handy tool, a Swiss-Army knife or multi-tool are still very small and lightweight and offer more options to help in different scenarios.

Sun Protection

You should always, even in the winter, have protection from the sun available to you during your hikes. Suffering sunburn or eye injuries from the sun isn’t just annoying – it can be dangerous. You should use three tools to protect yourself from the sun:

  • Sunglasses: Make sure to bring sunglasses that block 100 percent of ultraviolet light. If you are hiking in the winter, bring glacier glasses, which provide extra protection.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30 is recommended for most outdoor activities, and is a good piece of gear to have available to you. You can purchase either lotion, spray, or a roll-on stick similar to deodorant. Don’t forget about lip balm as well.
  • Protective Clothing: Many outdoor clothes now offer protection from UV light – they make great protection for hikers. Always consider a hat, long-sleeve shirts, and pants for your hikes, even in hot weather. I also recommend a Buff scarf – noted above.


There are five tools or parts to a full, robust navigation system:

  • Map: A topographic map – preferably a paper one that is not subject to the battery of an electronic device such as a phone – is an important part of any hike. Study it before your hiking trip to know exactly where to camp, where water sources might be, and where you need to be aware of tricky paths that might take you off the trail.
  • Compass: If you ever become lost on a hike, you will want to know how to use a compass, along with your map. Your smartphone or GPS device should have a compass on it, but you should also carry a physical compass that, again, is not subject to batteries.
  • GPS device: You can always use the GPS on your smartphone to help you find your location on a digital map. However, if you use your smartphone you will need to monitor your batteries often. Getting a separate GPS device is often a good idea, as most are designed for outdoor use and are weatherproof and durable. Whichever option you choose – bring batteries or a charger. 
  • Altimeter watch: An altimeter watch uses a barometric sensor to measure air pressure and/or GPS data to estimate your elevation. This info helps you track your progress and determine your location on a map.
  • Personal locator beacon: This device can alert emergency personnel if you become lost or need help on your hike. These devices, when activated, use GPS positioning to locate you and alert emergency personnel.


Hiking at night is never fun, and most hikers try to avoid it as much as possible. However, if you are forced to do so, a headlamp is essential. Likewise, if your day runs long and you set up camp in the dark, having a headlamp that keeps your hands free to set up your tent or cook dinner is essential.


There are many great gear items that can improve your hiking experience. The key is to find gear that can serve a real purpose without taking up a bunch of space, or can add too much weight to your load. If you do, you can make your hiking trip much better, and you’ll feel like an experienced pro.

Happy Trails!

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