One of the biggest mistakes that many new hikers make is hiking unprepared. Too many new hikers will check the weather report, throw on some boots with a backpack full of water and hit the trail. While it may be the easiest and quickest way to hit the trail, you want to make sure that you are prepared for the direst situations, even on the shortest of hikes.
There are a few things that every hiker should carry with them; a trustworthy pair of hiking boots (and maybe even some extra footwear), a backpack, a season-appropriate coat, sleeping bags, some form of shelter and a cooking device.
Hiking boots are a very critical item to hikers of all experience and skill levels. You want to ensure that you find a boot that will be appropriate for the trails you plan on hiking. The harder the sole of the boot is, the more suitable the boot is for walking in mud, dirt and grassy conditions.
A softer sole would indicate that the boot is ideal for climbing rocks and other hard hiking surfaces. Ensure that you find a pair of boots that are not only appropriate for the trails you will be hiking but is comfortable. Try them on, and walk around in them thoroughly before making your purchase.
Try to notice if any areas of the boot rub on your foot and could potentially cause a blister during your hike. Find a boot that fits as comfortably as you possibly can, but is still able to meet all of your basic needs.
First, decide what you would like in your backpack. Would you like a hydration system equipped a backpack that will allow you to drink water throughout your hike? How much will you be bringing with you?
If you plan on hiking overnight, you will need to find a backpack that can easily and comfortably carry your tent. How many extra supplies do you plan on taking with you? It may be a good idea to gather up all of your usual hiking accessories to get a good idea of how large of a backpack you will need.
Coats are another vital piece of your hiking collection. You want to make sure that the coat that you take with you is a season and forecast appropriately. If your local weatherman is calling for rain, you should bring a coat that will not leave you soaked by the end of your hike.
It may be a good idea to purchase a versatile hiking coat that can shed layers as needed to ensure that you always have some sort of protection against the elements.
Sleeping bags ensure that you are able to receive a good nights sleep and feel your best for the hike in the morning. Find a sleeping bag that is long enough to cover your entire body if need be. Most hiking bags are mummy-style and will allow you to crawl completely inside of them if you need to.
Look for a sleeping bag that is comfortable and will easily fit inside of your backpack, or at least connect to the outside of your bag.