Essentials For Hiking: A Full Guide For Beginners

Rilor Staff
Update: August 11, 2020
Table of Contents

Hiking is indeed a wonderful outdoor adventure. It lets you experience the unadulterated and untarnished outdoors. It is a good form of exercise, both for the mind and the body. At the same time, it trains different aspects of you. Once you learn how to hike, your life will never be the same again. 

But for starters, hiking is a daunting challenge. It is too overwhelming, especially if you are going to think about the things that you need to do, bring, and remember during the trip. Don't panic yet. This guide is tailored to ensure that you can get all these things correctly.

Essentials For Hiking: A Comprehensive Guide

Equipment For Survival

When going on hikes, survival should be top of mind. It doesn't matter if you are doing it for fun; just make sure that you can complete the trip safe and sound. 

Your safety should never be out of the picture in hiking. Even a meticulously planned hike can turn into shambles because of an injury, accident, or bad weather. 

To deal with these situations, you have to bring the essential survival gears for hiking. Actually, these items are applicable to any outdoor applications, so having them while doing an off-the-grid jaunt is a nice idea. 

Here is a checklist that you should follow.

Extra Tips:

Additionally, you should equip yourself with the proper survival skills. These things that I listed here will just be useless if you don’t know how to use them. For instance, you need to master the use of your compass and map. Don’t just make them as a display.

If you have a first-aid kit, then you should have first-aid skills as well. Otherwise, all the utilities inside the box or pouch would be rendered useless. 

Furthermore, you need to train your mind and body, too. You should be mentally sharp so that you can react to various situations. At the same time, your body should be physically capable of enduring a myriad of situations--from long walks, steep descents, up to rigorous climbs. 

Hiking Gears That Can Make Your Life Convenient

Sure enough, it is undeniable that a lot of us are seeking for means to make the hike slightly convenient. Of course, I am not saying that hiking itself is stressful all the time. By all means, it is the perfect means of leisure, and many can testify about that. 

But then again, I always have to consider that hiking is still done outdoors. And when you are in the prowl, there are a myriad of things and elements that are beyond your control. The weather, for instance, can deliberately add an extra layer of challenge to your ascent. 

I will highlight some of the things that you might want to bring in a hike if you want convenience to be at bay. 

  • Sunscreen lotion - You don't want the heat of the sun to scorch and burn your skin. Having enough sun protection factor (SPF) in your skin makes a difference, especially during a summer hike. 
  • Insect repellants - The wilderness is always populated with bugs and insects. Their bites can irritate you; in some cases, they can even put your life in danger. You need to protect yourself from these critters. Trust me. You'll never want to do anything with them. 
  • Coolers - Keeping your food and supplies fresh is a challenge when you are outdoors. After all, you don't have your fridge with you. Fortunately, you can deal with this problem with the use of a portable cooler. It can maintain the quality of your food throughout your trip. 
  • Sleeping pads and pillows - I need to put emphasis on the importance of sleep and repose in any hiking adventure. They are essential so that your body can recover the energy that is lost while you are grinding your feet on the route. Aside from your sleeping bag, you also need pillows and pads to make your zzz heavenly. 
  • Stake hammers and shovels -  Setting up a tent is not that simple, especially if your camping ground is somewhat rugged and stubborn. It would be difficult to pierce with stakes, even if they are sharp. You need an external force that can compel the stakes to bury itself in the ground. Hammers and shovels can help you do this. 
  • Hygiene items and toiletries - Never forget yourself during a hiking or camping trip. Just because you are outside doesn't mean that you can already neglect your hygiene and personal necessities. You will not feel good about the trip if you are groggy and smelly. Others will be devastated when they go near to you! For women, menstrual kits are downright essential.
  • Outdoor packs - Of course, a backpack proves to be one of the crucial items that every outdoor goer should invest. At this point, you should get those units that are made with ergonomics. Make sure that it has sufficient capacity, waterproofing, durability, and other outdoor-worthy features. 
  • Proper clothing - When you are hiking, it is imperative that you wear the proper clothes. Of course, you are not dressing to impress here. You need to clad yourself with the right garments and footwear so that you can complete the journey conveniently and safely. For example, if you are hiking during winter or cold weather, why would you even wear thin and non-insulated clothes? In the same manner, it is simply senseless if you will wear layers of clothes when the sun is blazing hot. There are suitable clothing for every occasion and you need to pick the ones that are deemed appropriate. 

Other convenience-giving essentials:

  • Trekking poles
  • Hammocks
  • Cooking utilities
  • Face masks
  • Cash / credit card
  • IDs
  • Satellite phones / smartphone

Hiking Equipment That Can Protect You From The Weather

One of the elements that you can never control--whether you are in the bosom of Mother Nature or in the heart of the urban jungle--is the weather. We are still a Type-0 civilization, so there's no way we can manipulate the clouds to stop raining or the wind to be a little gentle. 

The best thing that we can do here is to ensure that we are protected against the elements. We are the ones that we need to adapt, and as humans, we are pretty good at doing that. 

Hiking exposes us to the weather, and it will be a failure on our part if we will not prepare for such inevitability. 

  • Tents - The tent is the very shelter that you should rely on when hiking. When choosing a tent, it should come with a rainfly so that you can guarantee that you are fully protected from the heat and rain. Also, the construction of the tent should be rugged and seamless. In this way, water and moisture won't be able to seep in. 
  • Tarps - Camping tarps are truly needed, especially if you are expecting turbulent weather conditions. Tarps can become your secondary rainfly. Their biggest benefit they can provide is broad coverage. It will not only cover your tent but the area around it as well. Keep in mind that tarps can be used as a footprint so that ground moisture will not come inside your tent. 
  • Windbreakers - Are you expecting strong winds? Are you going to hike on a breezy terrain? Then you should bring a windbreaker with you. It is a simple amenity but proves to be effective in deflecting wind and preventing your tent from being blown away.
  • Sleeping bags - It can get extremely cold outside. There's no downplaying that fact. Of course, if you are chilly, sleeping comfortably will become an elusive thing. Hence, having a fully insulated sleeping bag is essential. It is a good defense against various elements, too, such as moisture and insect bites. 
  • Clothing - Again, let me emphasize that the right clothing can defend you from the weather. If it is hot, then wear loose, moisture-wicking clothes. If it is cold, wear multiple layers. During rain, having a hooded fleece or jacket will enable you to continue your hike without being bothered. Moreover, it would really be great if the fabrics of your clothes are water-resistant or waterproof. Such a feature will give you the viability of survival.

Caps, visors, beanies, gloves, and scarfs are great accessories for adapting to various weather conditions. They can make the journey comfortable, too. 

Extra Tip:

We are capable of preparing for the things that we want to partake. If we can prepare for our future, then we can do the same for our hiking trips. 

While it is true that we cannot control the weather, we can always plan how to deal with it. Weather forecasts are available today. They can help you identify when is the best day or week to hike. 

Hiking and Cooking Checklist

There are several cooking utensils and amenities that you can bring in your trip. Just remember that the items that you are going to bring should fit your intended application. Since we are talking about hiking, then the kind of cooking tools that you can bring is narrowed down. 

Here is a comprehensive checklist of cooking tools and kitchen amenities that you can bring in any hiking expedition. 


  • Camping stove and fuel 
  • Firestarter, lighter, or matches
  • Small cook pots and lids
  • Frying pans
  • Spatula, large spoon, and ladles
  • Kitchen knife
  • Potholder 
  • Bowls, plates, and mugs
  • Spoon, fork, or spork


  • Grill and fuel
  • Griddle and grill rack
  • Aluminum foil
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Portable coffee makers
  • Roasting forks (for hotdogs and marshmallows)
  • Axe or saw


  • Portable coolers
  • Ice substitutes
  • Bear or animal-resistant containers
  • Resealable bags
  • Food containers 
  • Egg holders (optional)


  • Wash bins
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Sponge and sponge scrubbers
  • Recycling and trash bags
  • Paper and quick-dry towel

The Things That You Should Not Bring During A Hike

This is the list of essential hiking gears. Therefore, you only need to bring the important ones. But along the way, there's this kind of temptation that compels us to bring more than what is necessary. Of course, that's not good. It does not only burden your expedition, but it also makes you less efficient in the trek.

Keep in mind that you need to travel as lightly as possible on a hiking or backpacking trip. The more things you carry, the more difficult it is for you to maneuver your way toward your destination. You really need to sort your things before the big day. Otherwise, you will be put into a disadvantage. 

Here are the things that you should leave behind on a hiking trip:

  • Excess cooking ware - You don't need to bring all the items that I've listed above. You have to think about your application and the number of people who are going with you. If you are alone or with a partner, then a single pot, stove, and a couple of plates should do the job. But if you are going as a group and capable of bringing a lot of things, then you can take as many cooking wares as you can. 
  • Makeup and jewelry - This is one of the golden rules of hiking and any outdoor activities. Any form of jewelry and makeup has no place in the wild. Sure, you can wear a ring or a pendant. But if you are going to do so, make sure that they are not big. They will just cause inconvenience. Trust me on that. Meanwhile, your makeup can be washed off easily by the rain or sweat. Hence, it is pretty useless to apply them to your face. 
  • Books - The outdoors are the perfect place for repose. They are also a suitable venue to do relaxing things, such as reading. However, books are typically bulky. They actually consume precious space in your bag. Moreover, those that have hardcovers are typically heavy. If you want to read, I suggest that you bring a Kindle instead. 
  • Too many clothes - While it is true that you need extra clothes, this doesn't mean that you are allowed to bring too many pairs. Keep in mind that you are going on a hiking trip, not a fashion trip. Bring only what is suitable for your trip. Not too many. Not too little. 
  • Large cameras - I always find this ridiculous. We are already in the modern age where GoPros, action cameras, and smartphones are widely available. There's no place for DSLR cameras, and that's a harsh truth. Aside from being bulky, these devices are extremely heavy. That's a big no for hiking trips. 
  • Folding chair - Having a chair on a hike seems to be a nice idea. However, you don't need them. Yes, you might want them, but you actually don't need chairs. They are not good for backpacking since you can compress them from their original size. 

Best Foods To Bring On A Hiking Trip

When hiking, it is imperative that you are properly nourished. Your only vehicle here is your body. Hence, it should have enough "fuel" so that it can continue on the journey, regardless of how far or distant, your destination is. 

Food and water are essential in any outdoor activity. Without nourishment, you will experience inconveniences, lethargy, and even sickness during your trip. 

Now, there are different hiking recipes that you can cook in the field. And honestly, this post will never be enough to list them. Fortunately, our focus here is on the best hiking foods.

Before The Trip

You can't go hiking or trekking with an empty stomach. It would really be great if your day starts with a healthy meal. These are the food choices that can energize and prepare you for your jaunt:

  • Oatmeal
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggs 
  • Lean meat and fish
  • Nut butter
  • Pasta, bread, and carb-based food

During The Trip

You have to energize yourself to complete the journey. It is something that you need to do to avoid being weak and weary in the middle of your hike. 

  • Nutrition bars
  • Energy gels and chews
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Dried fruits and vegetables
  • Trail mix
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Jerky
  • Chocolates

Multi-Day Trips

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Dry foods
  • Cheese 
  • Food packs and canned foods
  • Dried foods 
  • Spices (for added flavor)
  • Water filter and purification tablets
  • Powdered mixes
  • Olive oil

Extra Tips

  • Look for lightweight foods - Go for lightweight and compact food. You are going on a hike, not a party. The lighter and smaller the food is, the better it is for you. If you have bulky goods, try to repackage them in recyclable bags.
  • Bring the appropriate amount - Meal planning is essential for camping and hiking trips. You are the one that can plan the amount of food that you should bring. Of course, you could include your diet in the factor. You can bring a little extra, but never too much.
  • Prioritize nutrition - In hiking, the nutrition in your body matters. It is the one that helps you survive the trip. Consume high protein and carbohydrate food as you need energy. Hiking is a rigorous activity. You will burn calories, and you need to compensate that by eating nutritious food. 

How To Properly Prepare For A Hike

Hiking should never be taken lightly. Professionals and veteran hikers know that there are repercussions whenever they become too complacent. You need to be ready for the trip. All aspects should be considered so that nothing wrong will ever happen. 

Here are some of the procedures on how to prepare for a hike.

  • Choose a route - In the planning stage, you need to pick the kind of trail that will suit your preferences and skill level. Don't go for a technical route if you are still a beginner. If you are experienced, you can try any terrain that you deem appropriate. 

Once you have chosen a route, see its trail conditions. Relevant information can be found on the internet. If not, you can seek the wisdom of local guides. You might want to visit the route from time to time before your hike. You got to make sure that nothing changed in the trail.

  • Check the weather - Next, you need to check the weather of the day you want to hike. This is no longer an impossible task, as there are different mobile applications and other platforms that provide weather forecasts. As much as possible, hike on days that are sunny and cool. 

If you know the weather condition, it is easier for you to plan your outdoor clothing. That's one of the biggest benefits of this process.

  • Learn the wildlife - You have to respect the fact that you are the only animate being in the wild. There are other animals there, too, that you need to coexist with. However, there are animals that you need to avoid, such as bears, wolves, and tigers. They are extremely dangerous, even if they are not in an aggressive mode. You need to learn if these creatures are present on your trail. If they are, you might want to pick another route so that you can avoid them.
  • Get a company - Hiking is safer if you have a partner or group. This is especially true for amateurs who are still wet behind the ears when it comes to the ins and outs of hiking. If there's an emergency, your company will be able to call for help. If you are a newbie, you might need to look for people that have a decent hiking experience. 
  • Tell your plans - Before the hike, make sure that someone knows about your trip. It could be your family, friends, or trusted colleagues. Other people should know where you are going and the time of your departure and return. If they do not hear from you after the timeframe you have given, they can alert the police and other emergency services that you are missing.
  • Exercise - You need to train yourself in hiking. You can't just go there and start trekking. You'll surely encounter inconveniences and injuries if you are going to do that. Physical preparation is necessary to avoid these nasty things from happening. You need to condition your body so that it is fit enough to conquer the terrain or route you have chosen. 


These are the essentials for hiking that every aspiring hiker should learn. As you can see, there are a lot of things that you need to prepare, secure, and accomplish. At first, they can be overwhelming. But once you get used to them, they will become an addictive habit. 

I hope that you learn from this guide. If you have other questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below. 

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