Beginner Hikers Clothing Guide and Essential Clothing for Hiking
When I was beginning my hiking adventures, I truly had no clue what to buy. I tried out many styles and brands, from the cheapest to the moderately expensive, as my teacher salary could not afford the best of the best gear options.
I learned though, that the best of the best gear was way too technical for my needs, so gear picks ranging from basic budget to middle-of-the-road worked perfectly fine.
If you are in the same position, or just want to stay budget-friendly, this gear guide gives beginner hikers a place to start when beginning to collect the gear needed to stay safe and comfortable out on the trail.
Disclosure: If you make a purchase through the links in this guide, Travels with Bibi will receive a small percentage of your purchase price. It costs you nothing extra to follow the links!
Hiking Gear for Beginners:
- Clothing layers
- Footwear and socks
- Safety items
Everything in this guide is a piece of gear I have owned or tried on the trail and they all worked well for me in varying situations. I’m confident any of them will work just as well for you too.
Most categories will have at least two choices for you to consider which allows you to determine what fits best within your own budget constraints.
Let’s start with the basics:
Before I really got in to hiking, this clothing item is one where just wore what I already had. That worked for a while, and probably will for you too, but if you hike for any length of time, you will find that a bra and backpack combo calls for specific gear for added comfort.
Click to See Recommended Sports Bra
Hiking panties? Yes! Comfort is important so don’t neglect this clothing item when you are putting your gear list together. I’ve only found one brand that does what I want a quality hiking panty to do: fit well, not ride up or bunch, wick moisture, and dry fast:
Click for Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs
For hiking in all seasons, long and short sleeve shirts are a must. I often wear wool tank tops or t-shirts as a base layer in cooer weather too (the non-itchy kind.)
Included are long and short sleeve options so you can get out on the trail in any season:
Click for Smartwool Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Click for Smartwool Long Sleeve T-Shirt
I really like the option of convertible pants where I can zip-off the bottom portion and have either shorts or capri length hiking pants. If I wore hiking pants that did not zip off, I made sure the bottom was elasticized in some way so I could easily pull them up to capri length.
Click for Convertible Hiking Pants
I see tights and leggings more and more these days but regular yoga clothes don’t cut it on the trail. Eddie Bauer created a trail tight that meets the demands of any terrain, from flat trails to the steepest of climbs.
I’ve found these to be very durable against the expected trail hazards that would snag or tear regular leggings.
There are many technical jackets out there but as a beginner, they have features you don’t need yet. Keep the big bucks in your pocket as these jackets will serve you well for beginning adventures.
Pro Tip: I usually go up one size in a rain jacket so it can accommodate multiple layers when hiking in cool weather.
Trail Footwear for Beginners
Stability, arch support, protection, moisture wicking (inside), waterproof (outside), and comfort are the primary factors I look at when purchasing footwear for the trail.
If you hike primarily on flat, well maintained trails, a pair of trail runners is a perfect way to begin your adventures.
I wear low rise trail shoes for this purpose:
Click for Budget Friendly Trail Runners
When I need something more substantial, say, for an overnight backpacking trip, I opt for more support that is offered with these hiking boots. Sadly, good boots are always a bit on the pricey side:
Foot problems will take you off the trail faster than any other ill-fitting gear situation. If you are hiking in trail shoes, lightweight, thinner hiking socks will suffice. If you are backpacking with boots, then a thicker pair of outer socks under thin liner socks fits the bill nicely.
Technical socks seem ridiculously expensive at first glance, but taking good care of your feet is essential to a comfortable, blister-free hike.
Click for Smartwool PHD Outdoor Socks
10 Hiking Essentials
Surely you have see the list of the ten essential items that every hiker (even beginners!) should carry for their safety, comfort, and well-being.
I have a few favorite essentials that you can see here:
Stinky, weird tasting water is a thing of the past when you sip from any of the Platypus water containers. I’ve tried many other brands, and the Platypus is the only one I have found to not turn water into something horrid and plastic-y tasting.
Click for Platypus Hoser 2 Liter Hydration System
Everyone needs a little light in their lives. No need to go too technical when you’re just starting out. The Black Diamond Cosmo features 160 lumens of power and six different lighting modes, including red night vision that all adjust with a single push-button switch. With water-resistant construction, the Cosmo keeps shining the way through unexpected storms, afternoon precip and accidental dunkings.
Click for Black Diamond Cosmo Headlamp
Keep your eyes safe and happy with Suncloud’s lightweight, impact resistant polycarbonate lenses. Polarization helps reduces glare and injection molded lenses ensure exceptional clarity while providing 100% protection from harmful UV rays.
Click for Suncloud Polarized Sunglasses
Finally!! I’ll bet you were wondering where the backpacks were! When I was just starting out in my hiking and backpacking adventures, I found Osprey brand packs to give the best bang for the buck. Osprey packs have plenty of needed features and are some of the most comfortable packs I have ever worn. I especially love the stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment, and Osprey’s warranty is hard to beat in the rare event of something going wrong with the pack.
A Good First Backpack: Osprey Hikelite 26
Click for Osprey Women’s Backpacks
Beginner Hiker Questions?
Please reach out to me at any time; I’m only an email away and I would love to help you on your journey! Email: shirley@ travelswithbibi.com
If you have other gear suggestions, I would love to hear about them so drop a comment below.
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I’ve only ever done light hiking, but I do know those Oboz boots are great!!
Oboz are great! Mine got me to the summit of Kilimanjaro! 🙂
I have done very small hikes. There were things on your list I would have never thought of. Thanks for the advice.
You’re welcome! If you ever need advice, I’m just an email away at [email protected]
Great tips! I want to start hiking soon and it is nice to have some gear that has been vetted.
Thank you! Good luck on your hiking adventures. Hiking is oh, so good for your soul.
That’s an extensive list. I never would have thought to get special underwear.
The Exofficio underwear is the most comfortable part!