If you are new to hiking, it is best to start with an organized group for your own safety. Then you can decide, if it suits you best to move in groups or independently.
1. Hiking boots
For hiking, prefer boots, which support the ankle area giving more stability, and in particular prefer waterproof boots, which will be useful in several weather conditions. Pay also attention to the soles of the shoe, which should be non-slip.
Do not forget to always buy boots one size larger than what you usually wear (there should be almost 1 cm gap in the front of the shoe for swollen toes when walking). It is also a good idea to try out your boots a couple of times beforehand, even in an urban environment or in your home, before your first hike in nature.
Trail running shoes are another option, however, for people who are familiar with trails either running or walking frequently and who have the necessary experience “better” reading the terrain, have strengthened their muscles, tendons and ligaments and have well developed functional movement.
Extra tip: always have your laces tied, to ensure the stability of the foot inside the shoe and the toes do not touch the front end.
2. Waterproof/windproof jacket
Necessary both in winter and summer, because we do not play with the weather. Conditions are volatile in the mountains and there is no reason to risk it. There are inexpensive waterproof as well as more expensive with additional technical features (breathability, ventilation, etc).
Since you enjoy hiking, it’s time to invest a little more. A proper, well-balanced backpack is essential. For day hikes rucksacks can be from 20 to 30 liters (in winter they need to be a little larger for extra clothing).
Be sure that the backpack already has a rain cover or else you can buy one separately at a low cost. And if you have no cover at all, you can wrap your things in bags before putting them in your backpack.
Extra tip: heavy objects are placed at the bottom of the bag, to have a lower center of gravity.
4. Hiking poles
They are very useful and highly recommended, but you can live without them. They assist the whole body, since the upper extremities are also involved in walking. But they also reduce the strain on the joints, which is one of the most common problems for hikers. They also help us to have better supports on steeper and more demanding parts of the trails.
However, before you buy hiking poles, consider that you can also try a suitable stick or branch which you will easily find in the forest.
When using poles, remember that we adjust the length, so that on flat ground our elbow resting against our sides should form a right angle with our body. Uphill we “shorten” them more depending on the slope of the ground, while on the downhill we “lengthen” them respectively.
Prefer pants with some slight waterproofing or softshell for the winter and with a relatively tight fit, so as not to get entangled with branches or shrubs (ski pants are not suitable which risk being torn). Even in summer, long pants are also recommended, however light, to protect us from scratches on branches, bumps on sharp rocks, as well as snake bites.
Long sleeve isothermal ones in winter, short sleeve dri-fit in summer. Avoid cotton fabrics, which keep sweat on them and slow them to dry.
Additional Necessary Equipment
7. Change of clothes (do not forget a 2nd pair of socks)
12. Disposable bag (for our garbage)
14. Hand antiseptic
15. Mobile phone (Emergency Communications Service at 112)
Water & Food
16. 1 liter of water for the winter is enough for a da hike, while in the summer we need at least 1.5 liters.
17. Snacks such as sandwiches, nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit with a preference for bananas, cereal bars and chocolates are excellent choices, because they can be carried easily without taking up much space in our backpack.
Additional Equipment for the winter
The basic principle of winter is that we dress like “onions”, that is, in layers, so that when we feel warm, we remove clothes, while when we are cold, we add (isotherms are always the first layer and must touch our skin).
1. Mountaineering gaiters (waterproof)
4. Fleece or softshell jacket
5. Puffer jacket with synthetic materials or feathers
6. Neck warmer
Additional Equipment for those who move alone in nature
When we move independently in nature, we must be better prepared to be able to take care of ourselves in any eventuality.
1. Personal pharmacy (do not forget insect repellents and antihistamines to prevent swelling)
2. Head lens
3. GPS, map, compass
4. Multi-tool / knife
6. Aluminium blanket
The right equipment is important for our safe participation in hiking, either organized or when moving individually. However, when we are new to the activity, it makes sense not to have or buy everything at the beginning of our hiking activity.
The right hiking boots and a suitable waterproof jacket are essential items. Gradually over time, after several hikes you will realize the need for yourself to invest in better and more specialized equipment.