Hiking is not an expensive hobby and is the perfect way to enjoy the great outdoors!
Those new to hiking can find suitable gear at a low cost compared to other outdoor activities such as golf, rock climbing, or cycling.
As with most outdoor activities. When hikers become more experienced, hiking for longer, into more remote areas, or in bad weather, they will spend more on hiking equipment and traveling.
Money spent on hiking is rarely wasted and can be a great investment for your leisure, your health, and your mind. Before you run to the nearest outdoor shop and max out your credit card. Let´s find out more about the best way to spend your hard-earned dollars!
What Do I Need For My First Hike?
Hiking newbies can be easily overwhelmed by all the hiking terminology, especially when discussing what gear to bring on a hike.
Our top advice for what to buy or borrow for your first hike is to KEEP IT SIMPLE
Follow this basic kit list for hiking and build on it as you get more adventurous, or feel like something is missing from your pack.
Top Tip – It is good practice to have a special backpack just for hiking. This way you will know that everything you need is already packed.
First-Time Hikers Equipment Checklist
1. Sturdy footwear
A good pair of hiking boots is one of the first things we would buy, rent or borrow when starting to hike.
If you do not have access to hiking boots and are not going too far, a sturdy pair of boots or trainers will do. Try to ensure they are tied tight and have some grip on the sole.
Buying some hiking boots is a good investment! They can be used for more than just hiking! Check out this article to know more!
2. Clothing for all weathers
First-time hikers should try to avoid harsh weather until they are more experienced.
Both cold and hot conditions can take their toll on unprepared hikers. The correct clothing choice can be an important factor of a hiker’s comfort and safety.
Check the weather days before your hike and check again before leaving your house. Ensuring that you have the correct clothing packed for your adventure.
Remember that when hiking in the mountains, the temperatures in the valleys are often a lot more than on the peaks, especially with wind exposure. Pack for the top of the mountain, by packing extra layers in your backpack.
We recommend taking several clothing layers, one of which is water or at least proof.
To know the best season for hiking click here
3. A backpack
Every hiker needs a good backpack to carry all of their essentials.
There is a whole world of expensive and specific backpacks on the market but don´t worry about that if you are new to hiking.
Preferably it should have adjustable arm straps and a horizontal clip to increase stability. If not, no big deal. Carrying everything you need is the most important factor.
4. Food and Water
Take lots of high-calorie food like candy bars, nuts, and fruit. We always pack a picnic with some sandwiches we can enjoy at a beauty spot.
To drink, take a large bottle of water or some energy drinks. It is better to take a container that can be opened and closed so that it can be sipped at regular intervals during the hike.
TOP TIP – Buy all food at least the day before. Stopping on the way will mean that you might have a limited selection of food, or you could forget to stop.
5. A Basic First Aid / Skincare Kit
Basic first aid kits can be useful out on the trail. Try to ensure that at least one person in your hiking group has one. They are relatively inexpensive and can be found in major drug stores and camping shops.
Look to buy or make your kit, including:
- Insect repellent
- Blister patches
- Sting relief cream
- pain relief pills or gel
More editions such as bandages and thermal bags can be added to this list as you gain more experience. But right now the basics will be enough.
6. Navigation Tools
We should tell you to buy a map and a compass right from the get-go and learn how to use them. But this is an advanced skill so may not be appropriate for first-timers.
First-time hikers should stick to marked, easy-to-navigate trails or go hiking with a guide or an experienced group.
Many national parks and popular wildlife areas have marked paths that are kept in good condition and can be hiked by simply following the signs.
Top Tip – Remember to take a fully charged smartphone with you in case you get lost or in trouble. Most areas have some level of network coverage.
Why Is Hiking Gear Expensive?
Generally, specific hiking gear is more expensive than regular or sports clothing or equipment.
This is because it has many more features and is made from fabrics that are:
- More Durable
- Ergonomically designed to move with the body
- Extra light
- Packable into a tiny space
- Made with higher-quality materials and dyes
- Made with eco-friendly, sustainable fabrics and practices.
When you are 10 miles into the backcountry and your bag strap snaps due to low-quality stitching. You will understand the need for high-quality hiking gear!
Although higher prices may put first-time buyers off, you do get what you pay for. Higher quality clothing that is designed to last for a long time!
Many companies such as Patagonia even have cheap, or even free repair services on the lifetime of their clothing.
Hiking gear isn’t always expensive. Many everyday pieces of clothing can be used for hiking, especially if you are a beginner. To know more check out this article.
What Are The Best Places To Buy Affordable Hiking Gear?
There are many places to find affordable hiking gear. Here are some of our favorites.
Entry-level hiking brands. Usually found in major supermarkets or large outdoor chain stores give hikers on a budget a way into the sport.
Generally, these products will be made from cheaper materials. Missing many features available in higher-end hiking gear. Some even begin to fall apart within a couple of uses.
These products can be suitable for light use. Giving hikers a taste for the sport. Going on to buy more advanced equipment.
These are the low-cost models of major hiking gear brands such as Solomon or The North Face.
Lower-cost models from major brands are a popular choice for new hikers. Companies like to release these models as it brings new people into the brand. Selling them more advanced equipment as they get into hiking.
The gear may be based on older models or older technologies. Entry-Level equipment such as clothing and footwear is generally heavier, Often lacking features such as waterproofing or breathability.
Usually, this hiking gear is made to the same standard as the rest of the products from the company and is an excellent choice for beginners.
The second-hand hiking market is enormous. It is full of great products that are in great condition or have barely been used!
Some great places to find second-hand hiking gear are:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Adds at the local outdoor store
- Local hiking forums
- Second-hand stores
Unfortunately, there are scammers out there. Always try something on before you buy or buy from a reputable seller. Ask for receipts if possible to ensure that the gear is not fake.
Last Season´s Gear
At the end of the hiking season, most major outlets will have sales. These are a gold mine for hikers looking for a great deal!
Keep an eye out for last season’s models, especially if you fit unusual-sized clothing.
Why Is Hiking Gear Necessary?
Hiking gear is necessary. It has been designed specifically for the tough conditions that hikers may face when out on the trail. It is important not only for comfort but also for safety.
People die in the backcountry every year, purely because they do not have the right equipment for the conditions.
As hikers venture deeper into the wild, away from amenities, the quality of their hiking gear and knowledge of how to use it becomes increasingly important. Equipment failure miles from the nearest accommodation or telephone can be a nightmare!
For this reason, hiking gear is built to a much higher standard than other sports, such as football or tennis equipment. Which when broken is replaced within minutes from the sideline without any risk to safety.
For beginner hikers, walking only a few miles over easy terrain; regular clothes can be suitable. As they progress and look for more challenging hikes they must start to invest in better hiking gear.
What Is The Cost Of Starting Hiking?
The cost of starting hiking could be absolutely zero!
If you have a good pair of shoes, a backpack, and trails close to your home you are pretty much prepared for your first hike. (provided it is an easy, well-marked hike in good weather)
If you want to purchase a few items before your first hike, here is a rough guide. Starting with the most important item.
Hiking Boots – $40 To $400
The first item you should buy is some good hiking boots.
Brand new, these will cost anywhere between 40$ and 400$ Depending on the model and quality.
We recommend spending around $120 – $150 for a solid pair of hiking boots that are suitable for all levels and terrain.
Backpack (25 liters) – $50
Mountain Treads state that a hiking backpack should cost around $2 per liter of capacity (storage volume).
The average hiking backpack, suitable for 1 day and multi-day hikes is 25 liters. This should cost around $50 but can vary based on brand and available features.
Clothing – $20 – $2000
If you are a sporty person, you will probably have lots of clothing that is suitable for your first hikes. For those who do not have such items, look for light, breathable, and loose-fitting clothing.
If there is one clothing item worth investing in, it is a good jacket. Hiking jackets come at a cost but are very light and waterproof. Shielding you from elements whilst easily fitting in your backpack when the sun is shining.
Hiking/ Trekking Poles – $20-$100
Hiking trekking poles are helpful tools to bring along as the trails get rougher and steeper. If you would like to know more about hiking poles click here
A pair of poles will cost from $20 to $100 depending on features such as weight, grip, and packability.
If you do not have access to local trails, you may have to drive, carpool, or catch public transport.
This may cost some money but rarely seems expensive compared to the experience gained from a hike in nature.
Is Hiking Expensive? – Conclusion
If you have just started or would like to start, hiking is not an expensive activity. Local trails and national parks give people of all ages and abilities access to the wilderness. Without spending more than the gas money to the destination.
If however, you are an experienced outdoors person, a rich kid who likes to look the part, or are planning a challenging adventure. You can spend thousands of dollars on high-end hiking gear!
The choice is yours!