Take A Hike: What Gear To Pack For A Beginner In The Outdoors

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Moments in nature contribute to our experience of awe, defined as “a mix of fear and respect toward nature, which is experienced as so much larger than oneself.”

It doesn’t take much to get us there. Something as simple as stepping into a quiet outdoor area can do the trick, and a trip to a national park is definitely awe-inspiring.

Whether you’re interested in a scenic sunset view or a rigorous hike to replace your daily workout, a venture into nature is possible and worth it – especially with these entry-level products in tow.

Hiking 101: Packing For A Day On The Trails

A day trip is an option for even the most reluctant of forest-goers. Perhaps it’s a trail you simply have to see while on vacation. Make your trip easy by reducing the pain points – like sunburn, bugs, and hydration – with the following tips.

What Should You Wear On Your Hike?

If you’re still shivering through the end of the season – or headed up into high altitudes –  you’ll want some excellent layers.

For women, we recommend Base Layers from Halfdays: the long sleeve Johnson Top ($95) and the Sophia Legging ($95). They’re ultra-soft technical layers in custom seamless fabric and fabulous monochrome colors.

Remember to stretch!

If you’re going to heat up under that sweltering summer sun, you’ll want some minimal layers that allow you ultimate mobility. I love the Minimal Bra ($30) from GymShark, a flexible low-coverage option with a halter silhouette and adjustable straps for a wearing-nothing feeling. The Vital Seamless 2.0 2-in-1 Shorts ($44) are just the opposite, offering the support of spandex and the breeziness of loose shorts (and a very flattering high waist, if I do say so myself) instead. Tie an ActiveIce Spectrum Sun Hoodie ($79) from Outdoor Research around your waist and you’re ready.

On the masculine side, opt for Gramicci pants ($88), which have a relaxed fit, freedom of movement, and array of climbing-friendly features to prime you for adventures.

For footwear, some prefer a tried-and-true hiking boot while others want sneakers that can adapt to the trails and their runs. 

Stomp around in the desert boot.

TQE editor Miguel suggests Salomans Xt-6 Unisex Shoes ($190) for an effective, design-forward sneaker. If you’re looking for boots, longtime camp counselor speaking: Targhee II Waterproof Mid Boots ($165) from Keen are everywhere for a reason. 

If you’re mostly a desert hiker, the biocircular Xerocole boot ($189.99) from Erem is crafted especially for that climate.

What Should You Pack?

Right off the bat, you need the perfect day pack to fit your needs.

If you’re on a longer trip and have a base camp set up, a day pack is essential for wandering from the campsite; if you’re just headed out for a few hours, the same goes. Your day pack should be durable, waterproof, and ideally with easily accessible pockets. 

Snap snap and back in the pack.

Try the Trail Zip 18L Day Pack ($70) from Black Diamond, available on Huckberry. It has all the accouterments mentioned above, but also clips to a larger pack, making it ideal both as a standalone and a complement to an eventual backpacking setup. If you’re lugging a camera around, The Jumper ($169.99) from Brevite has expert organization for your lenses and gear.

Bring a high-quality water bottle and some hydration sticks – more than you think you’ll need.

There’s nothing better than a cold glass of ice water, but a few hours into your hike, that dream’s…melted. The gold standard has been a Hydroflask ($49.95 for 40oz) for me, and Italic offers an at-cost version of this Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle ($15). 

Water tastes better at the top of the mountain.

If you’re doing a longer trip with fewer water sources, this innovative POD+ Bottle from nkd ($39.95) has a built-in filter, meaning you won’t have to worry about purification.

You’ll want to bring a hydration booster, and the lightest and most convenient options are individual packets of electrolyte powders. My go-to has been Liquid IV ($24.47 for 16) for straight hydration, and Gnarly Nutrition has a successful Fuel2O line packed with carb-absorption nutrients that help with big energy efforts. The sampler pack ($9.50 for 3) includes three sticks in both caffeinated and decaffeinated versions.

A nutrient-packed snack will keep your blood sugar up.

One great-go to for a day of hiking is the That’s It Fruit Bar, the #1 best selling fruit bar in the U.S. Each bar contains two whole servings of fruit and nothing else, making it clean, vegan, gluten-free, etc.,Try a pack of twelve for $20.99. 

Trail mix with the remix.

Fully embrace the gorpcore with a good ol’ trail mix blend – with a twist. Try Toodaloo, an adaptogenic trail mix made for snacking and feel-good vibes, at $39.00 for a 4-bag variety pack. Effective, low-carb flavors will help curb the hunger while you walk, with nuts and seeds giving you a much-needed protein boost.

Bring a quick-dry towel in case there’s a swimming hole or lake.

A dip just feels better after a hike. The cold is cathartic and refreshing, and swimming makes our brains enter a flow state communing with nature. (Ever heard of “blue mind?”) A sudden waterfall oasis at the end of the trail feels like such a reward. Still, hiking back the way you came, sopping wet, can be unpleasant. Get the best of the feeling with none of the drawbacks with a quick-dry towel, like this one from PackTowl ($28.95). It folds neatly into your pack, absorbs 2x its weight in water, and dries easily.

You’ll want insect protection.

Communing with nature unfortunately means communing with mosquitoes. Instead, try DEET-free DTC brand Kinfield ($22) for effective bug protection with good-for-you ingredients including an exclusive Indonesian citronella strain. Kinfield’s lighthearted branding and vanilla-meets-citrus scent makes the bug issue a bit more pleasant to deal with. Fallen victim anyway? Try this vegan Relief Balm ($14) that soothes itching, inflammation, and other irritations.

Bug spray never looked so good.

And your sun protection.

And in the outdoors, you absolutely must have SPF! Try Habit ($30), an effective and surprisingly luxurious sunscreen in the form of a facial mist. With an SPF of 30 and a refreshing cucumber or orange scent, the non-greasy and appealing formula makes the application process actually appealing while protecting you from the elements. There’s a reason it’s blown up TikTok. Read more from the founder here. 

Casual cool sun protection.

Tack on a baseball cap or visor (like this Museum of Peace and Quiet hat lauded by our fashion editors) for ultimate shielding.

One of the most sacred tenets of engaging with the outdoors is the Leave No Trace principle. You should pack in and out everything you use, and leave nature as intact as you found it. All of this packs neatly into the bag you choose, feels relatively light while carrying, and will ensure you have a happy, safe, and successful hike that makes you want to get back out there as soon as possible.

Okay, Fine: You Can Still Support National Parks Without Going Outside.

Still not convinced? Less foot traffic is better for the parks anyway. Queue up some online shopping instead and pick from the array of goods from Parks Project. Each purchase supports a park, and you can filter items by the park of your choice. (I’m personally eyeing the National Geographics x Parks Project Project Butterfly Joggers.)

Bring the park home to you.

I’m also crushing on the Good & Well Supply Co National Parks Collection, featuring splashy pint-sized soy candles that evoke the scents of their respective parks from appealing metal containers. Burn the Zion Candle for 45+ hours for $26. Relax and enjoy: a portion of proceeds will be donated to conservation efforts, too.

Leave no trace, but maybe leave a comment for us on our Instagram @thequalityedit.

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