What Does A Beginner Hiker Need? | Hikers University

Going on a hike without proper preparation can not only make your experience uncomfortable but dangerous as well. So, what does a beginner hiker need?

Are you planning a hike but wondering what you should take along?

Well, the list of hike essentials is a long one. You do not know what you might come in need of and should be prepared for everything. A hiking bandaid kit, proper clothing, emergency shelter, food, water, navigation tools, and toilet paper are just a few things you might require on your hike.

I have listed some highly useful essentials for beginner hikers to take along on their hikes. I also have detailed potential instances in which the items come in extremely handy.

As an avid hiker, I have come across almost all kinds of different situations while hiking. The following items are things that, from my experience, as well as the experiences of other professional hikers, are very important for you to have while hiking.

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What To Take Along On A Hike

For inexperienced hikers, it is of paramount importance to have a checklist of things they need to take on their hike.

Hiking Bandaid Kit

A hiking first aid kit is an essential item for any hiker, backpacker, or camper. It should be packed with items that can be used to treat common injuries and illnesses, as well as items that can be used for general maintenance and care of minor injuries.

The following is a list of suggested items for a hiking first aid kit:

Bandages and gauze: Assorted sizes of bandages and gauze can be used to treat cuts, scrapes, and other minor wounds.

Antibiotic ointment: This can be used to help prevent infection in minor wounds.

Pain relief medication: Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to help relieve pain from minor injuries or illnesses.

Anti-diarrheal medication: This can be used to help treat diarrhea, which can be a common problem when hiking or camping.

Antacid: This can be used to help relieve heartburn or indigestion.

Allergy medication: If you have any allergies, it is important to pack medication that can be used in case of an allergic reaction.

Bug spray: Bug spray can help keep insects away and prevent bites or stings.

Sunscreen: Sunscreen is important to pack if you are hiking or camping in sunny weather. It can help prevent sunburn.

First aid manual: A first aid manual can be a helpful reference for treating injuries or illnesses.

These are just a few of the many items that can be packed in a hiking first aid kit. It is important to customize your kit based on your own needs and the needs of your group. Be sure to pack any medications that you or anyone in your group takes on a regular basis, such as asthma inhalers or insulin.

And, if you have any special medical conditions, be sure to pack any items that you may need to treat them, such as an Epi-Pen for someone with severe allergies. With a little planning and preparation, you can be sure that your hiking first aid kit has everything you need to keep yourself and your group safe on the trail.

Emergency Shelter

There are a few things to consider when purchasing an emergency shelter to take hiking. First, consider the weight and size of the shelter. The lighter and smaller the shelter, the easier it will be to carry on your hike. Second, consider the weather conditions you'll likely encounter on your hike.

If you're expecting bad weather, make sure the shelter you choose can withstand those conditions. Third, think about how many people will need to fit inside the shelter. If you're hiking with a group, make sure there's enough room for everyone to fit inside comfortably. Lastly, consider your budget.

There are a variety of emergency shelters available at different price points. Choose the one that fits your needs and budget best. By following these tips, you'll be sure to find the perfect emergency shelter for your next hike.


Water is an essential part of any hiker's gear. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it can also be used for cooking, cleaning, and emergency situations.

There are a few things to consider when packing water for a hike. First, you'll need to determine how much water you'll need based on the length and difficulty of the hike, the weather conditions, and your own personal needs.

Once you've determined how much water you'll need, you'll need to choose the right type of container. There are many different types of containers available, so be sure to choose one that will meet your needs.

Finally, you'll need to make sure that you have a way to purify your water. There are many different water purification methods available, so be sure to choose one that will work for you.

With a little planning and preparation, you can make sure that you have all the water you need for a safe and enjoyable hike.


When hiking, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and have a good sense of direction. This can be accomplished by learning how to read a map and using a compass.

With proper navigation skills, you will be able to hike safely in unfamiliar territory and find your way back to your starting point if you get lost. Navigation can also help you plan routes that are safe and efficient, taking into account things like elevation changes and terrain.

If you are new to hiking, or if you are planning to hike in an area that is unfamiliar to you, it is a good idea to take a navigation class or workshop. You can also find plenty of resources on the subject online or in hiking books. By becoming proficient in navigation, you will be able to make the most of your time on the trail and have peace of mind knowing that you can find your way safely back to civilization if necessary.

A compass can help you orient yourself and find your way back to the trailhead if you get lost. A whistle can be used to signal for help if you need it.


A headlamp is an important tool for hikers. It helps them see in the dark and find their way in the wilderness. A headlamp is also a lifesaver in case of emergency. If a hiker gets lost or injured, a headlamp can help rescuers find him or her.

Extra Layers

When hiking, always take extra layers in case the weather changes or you get cold. Layers help trap heat and keep you warm. Jackets, vests, hats, gloves, and scarves are all good options to consider packing.

Sun Protection

Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise, but it's important to take steps to protect yourself from the sun. Too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause skin damage, eye damage, and even skin cancer.

There are a few simple things you can do to reduce your risk of UV damage while hiking:

- Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, and reapply it every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

- Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, and a hat with a wide brim.

- Seek out shade whenever possible, and avoid hiking during the midday hours when the sun's rays are the strongest.

By taking these precautions, you can enjoy your hike while staying safe from the harmful effects of the sun.

Fire Starter

Whether you're planning a day hike or a backpacking trip, it's always a good idea to bring along a fire starter. A fire can help you stay warm, cook food, and signal for help if you get lost.

There are many different types of fire starters on the market, so it's important to choose one that's right for you. If you're looking for a reliable and easy-to-use fire starter, consider the UCO Stormproof Match Kit. This match kit comes with 25 water-resistant and windproof matches, as well as a striker that can be used on any surface. The matches will even stay lit in the rain!

If you're looking for something a little less expensive, you can try the Zippo Emergency Fire Kit. This fire starter includes a lighter, tinder, and an emergency whistle. The Zippo Emergency Fire Kit is a great choice for those who are looking for an all-in-one solution.

No matter which fire starter you choose, make sure to practice using it before you head out on your hike. That way, you'll be prepared in case you need to use it in an emergency situation.

Repair Kit & Tools

One of the most important things to take with you on a hike is a repair kit and tools. This will help you fix any problems that you may encounter while out on the trail. Many times, people forget to pack this essential item and end up regretting it later.

A good repair kit should include a small set of basic tools, such as a hammer, screwdriver, and pliers. Additionally, you'll want to pack some spare parts for your gear, such as extra batteries or an emergency whistle. By being prepared for anything, you can ensure that your hike is enjoyable and safe.


When you're planning a hike, it's important to think about the food you'll need to bring with you. Nutrition is key to staying energized and keeping your body healthy while you're out on the trail.

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing what foods to take on a hike. First, you'll want to make sure you have enough calories to keep your energy up. You'll also want to choose foods that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates, which will help you maintain your stamina. And finally, make sure to pack plenty of water and electrolytes to stay hydrated.

Here are some suggested food items to pack for your next hike:

  • Trail mix: This is a great all-around snack that will give you a boost of energy when you need it. Look for a mix that contains a variety of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
  • Granola bars: These are perfect for an on-the-go snack. Choose bars that are high in fiber and low in sugar for sustained energy.
  • Peanut butter: This classic hiking food is high in protein and can be eaten with almost anything. Pack some bread or crackers to make peanut butter sandwiches.
  • Dried fruit: Dried fruit is a great source of natural sugars and can help you stay energized throughout the day. Apricots, raisins, and dates are all good options.
  • Jerky: Jerky is a great source of protein and can tide you over until your next meal. Choose a leaner option such as turkey or chicken jerky.
  • Soup: If you're hiking in colder weather, soup can be a warm and satisfying meal. Pack a thermos of your favorite variety to enjoy at the end of the day.
  • Chocolate: A little chocolate can go a long way in boosting your mood and energy levels. Choose dark chocolate with a high cocoa content for the most benefits.

By following these tips, you'll be sure to have a delicious and nutritious hike!

Identification & Money

If you are planning to go on a long hike, then you should make sure that you have some form of identification with you. This could be your passport, driver's license, or even just a copy of your birth certificate. You should also make some money with you, as this will allow you to buy food and drink if necessary.

It is also a good idea to take a mobile phone with you, as this will allow you to call for help if needed. However, make sure that your phone is fully charged before you set off, as you may not be able to recharge it while you are on the hike.

Trekking Poles

Trekking poles are an essential piece of equipment for any hiker. They provide stability on uneven terrain, help reduce the impact on your joints, and can even be used to help set up your tent or shelter.

While they may seem like an unnecessary expense, trekking poles are worth every penny. Here are a few reasons why:

Stability: Trekking poles help you maintain balance on uneven or slippery terrain. This is especially important when carrying a heavy backpack, as it can help prevent you from toppling over.

Impact reduction: By distributing some of the weight and impact of your hike onto your arms and shoulders, trekking poles can help reduce joint pain and fatigue. This is especially beneficial for those with knee or hip problems.

Tent setup: Trekking poles can be used to help prop up your tent or tarp, making it easier to set up camp.

Multi-purpose: In addition to all of their other uses, trekking poles can also be employed as a makeshift walking stick, emergency whistle, or even a clothesline.

So, the next time you head out for a hike, make sure to bring along a pair of trekking poles. Trust us; your knees will thank you!

Trowel & Toilet Paper

Most people don't think of taking a trowel and toilet paper on a hike, but it can be incredibly important. If you need to go to the bathroom in the woods, you'll be glad you have a trowel to dig a hole. And, if there's no running water, toilet paper is essential for cleaning up. So, next time you head out on a hike, don't forget your trowel and toilet paper!

Bug spray

It's important to take bug spray with you when you go on a hike. Mosquitoes and other insects can be a nuisance, and they can also transmit diseases. Bug spray will help keep them away from you and make your hike more enjoyable.

Walkie Talkies

There are many reasons why taking a walkie-talkie with you on a hike can be extremely beneficial. For one, if you become lost, having a way to communicate with the outside world can be vital in getting help. Additionally, if you encounter an emergency situation, being able to call for assistance can mean the difference between life and death.

Another great reason to take a walkie-talkie along on your hike is for communication purposes. If you are hiking with a group, having a way to stay in touch with everyone can be very helpful. This way, if someone gets separated from the group, they can easily be contacted.

Additionally, if you need to relay any information or changes in plans while on the trail, using a walkie-talkie can be much more efficient than shouting back and forth.

Overall, taking a walkie-talkie along on your hike can provide a number of benefits that can help to make your trip safer and more enjoyable. If you are planning on heading out into the wilderness, be sure to bring along a walkie-talkie so that you can be prepared for anything.

Bear Spray

Taking bear spray with you on a hike can be extremely important. If you are hiking in an area where there are bears, having bear spray can help you deter them and keep yourself safe. Bear spray is a pepper-based repellent that is designed to irritate and deter bears. It can be extremely effective in preventing bear attacks and should be used if you are hiking in areas where there are bears present.


Hiking is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air, but it's important to protect your lips from the sun. Lip SPF can help prevent sunburn and keep your lips healthy. Be sure to reapply lip SPF often, especially if you are sweating or swimming.

Hair Ties

As a hiker, you know that having the right gear can make all the difference on your trip. But did you know that something as simple as taking hair ties with you can actually help improve your hike? Here's why:

  1. Hair ties can help keep your hair out of your face. Whether you're trying to avoid getting your hair wet in a rainstorm or want to keep it from blowing into your eyes, hair ties can be a huge help. Plus, they'll keep you from looking like a total mess when you finally reach the summit!
  2. They can be used as an emergency bandage. If you happen to get a cut or scrape while out on the trail, a hair tie can come in handy as an impromptu bandage. Just wrap it around the affected area and secure it in place.
  3. They make great replacements for lost buttons. If you lose a button on your shirt or jacket, a hair tie can be used as a quick fix. Just thread it through the fabric and knot it in place.
  4. You can use them to keep your belongings safe. Tie up your sleeping bag or tent, so it doesn't blow away in the wind. Or, use a hair tie to secure valuables like your car keys or wallet in your backpack, so you don't have to worry about them getting lost.
  5. They can be used as a tourniquet. In the event of a serious injury, a hair tie can be used as a tourniquet to help stop the flow of blood. This could potentially save your life, so it's definitely worth having a few hair ties in your hiking gear.

So, next time you head out for a hike, don't forget to pack some hair ties! They might just come in handy in ways you never expected.

Hand Sanitizer

One of the most important things you can do when hiking is to take hand sanitizer with you. This will help to ensure that your hands are clean and free from bacteria before you eat or drink anything. It's also a good idea to use hand sanitizer after using the restroom.

There are a number of reasons why it's important to keep your hands clean when hiking. First, it's important to avoid getting sick while on the trail. Hiking can be an intensely physical activity, and if you're not careful, you can easily become dehydrated or develop an infection. Both of these conditions can be made worse by contaminated hands.

Second, it's also important to avoid leaving behind any trace of human waste on the trail. This can contaminate the water supply and make it unsafe for other hikers to drink. If you use the restroom while on the trail, be sure to clean your hands thoroughly before continuing on your hike.

Finally, hand sanitizer can also help to protect you from harmful plants and animals. There are a number of poisonous plants that grow in hiking areas, and if you come into contact with them, you could suffer a serious reaction.

Likewise, there are many dangerous animals that call hiking trails home, and if you're not careful, you could end up getting bitten or stung. By keeping your hands clean, you can minimize your chances of coming into contact with these hazards.

Overall, taking hand sanitizer with you on a hike is an important safety precaution. It can help you avoid getting sick, leaving behind human waste, and coming into contact with dangerous plants and animals. Be sure to pack hand sanitizer in your hiking gear so that you're always prepared.

Trash Bag

It is always important to take a Trash Bag with you when going on a hike. This will help you to keep the environment clean and prevent litter from being left behind.

It is also a good idea to take a few extra Trash Bags in case you come across any litter while on your hike. By taking a Trash Bag with you, you can help to make sure that our hiking trails are kept clean and beautiful for everyone to enjoy.


Binoculars are an essential piece of equipment for anyone who enjoys hiking and the outdoors. They allow you to see things that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye, such as wildlife or distant scenery.

Binoculars also have the potential to enhance your safety while hiking. By being able to see further ahead, you can more easily spot potential hazards in your path and avoid them.

There are many different types and brands of binoculars on the market, so it is important to do your research before purchasing a pair. Make sure to consider factors such as weight, durability, and optical quality before making your final decision.

With the right pair of binoculars, you can turn an ordinary hike into an unforgettable adventure. So don't forget to pack them the next time you hit the trail!

Proper Clothing

One of the most important things to consider when going on a hike is what to wear. The clothing you choose can make or break your experience. Wearing the wrong clothes can lead to uncomfortable situations, like being too hot or too cold, and can even be dangerous in some cases.

So, what is the best clothing to wear for a hike? In general, you want to dress in layers. This way, you can easily adjust your clothing to match the conditions. For example, if it's a cold day, you can put on more layers to stay warm. If it gets hot during your hike, you can take some layers off.

Some specific items that are good to have included a hat or visor to protect you from the sun, sunglasses, sunscreen, appropriate shoes, and moisture-wicking clothing. Wearing the right clothing on your hike can help you stay comfortable and safe. So be sure to take some time to plan out what you're going to wear before you head out on your next adventure.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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