Beginners Hiking Essentials (2023)

You're looking at getting into hiking and have never done it before, what on earth do you pack?
We will try to cover all the essentials below; what is a necessity, what is important, what is good to have, and what you can live without.
Experienced hikers will tell you all about the importance of being prepared on a hike, especially in the sometimes remote and harsh environments in the Australian wilderness.

Beginners Hiking Essentials (1)

Most Commonly Asked Questions

What is the difference between 'trekking' and 'hiking'?
You will see these terms used all the time, especially when comparing backpacks. They are very similar but there is a key difference between them, however this doesn't mean you need to get a 'trekking pack' instead of a 'hiking pack' as these terms are often used interchangeably.
Hiking, is defined as taking a long walk along hiking trails in a natural environment overnight, or for a day.
Trekking, is defined as hiking for an extended period of time, usually multiple days at a time.

Essentially, a trek is a long hike, and a hike is a long walk.

How heavy should my backpack be? What is 'too heavy'?
There is no universal 'weight capacity' when it comes to backpack weight as there is many variables to take into consideration. How long you are walking for, what extra gear you have to take that you may not take on others, your own abilityon how much you can carry yourself, and your backpack can all affect how much you can carry.
As a rule of thumb, a hiking backpack shouldn't weigh more than 20 percent of your own body weight. For example if you weighed 80kg, your pack should not weigh more than 16kg. However some people can comfortably carry more than others depending on their experience, strength, and quality/fit of their backpack.

Did you know:Some lightweight backpacks will have their own weight capacity as they aren't built to carry as heavy of a load than other backpacks.

Beginners Hiking Essentials (2)

What should I leave at home?
Again, there are no specific rules with what you shouldn't take with you on a walk, however there are a few items that would be strange to see on the trail.
The only one to consider is raw meat. Unless you can effectively keep it cold/frozen then there is a good chance that it could get too warm in a backpack, especially in the Aussie sun.

Should I wear jeans or leggings?
You might be sitting there thinking 'I run in my leggings, they're super comfy so I'll just walk in those' this may be true, however they may not offer you as much protection as hiking pants. They are usually built to offer more protection from insect bites, as well as scratches from sticks and the scrub you often walk through in the Aussie bush.

Okay, so is there a 'beginners' checklist?
Everyone has different gear they prefer to take on a walk, however we have listed below what you could consider the essentials for most hikes.
You may not take everything on this list either, as you may not need say a tent as you aren't hiking overnight or you have pre-booked cabins.

  • a First Aid Kit
  • equipment to start a fire (eg Ferro Rod, Waterproof Matches)
  • Sunscreen and other Sun Protection (eg hats, Buff's)
  • Navigation Equipment (eg Maps, GPS, Compass)
  • a Pocket Knife (Leatherman, Swiss Army Knife, etc)
  • Shelter (eg Hiking Tent, Hiking Tarp, Bivy Bag)
  • Sleeping Gear (eg Sleeping Bag, Mattress)
  • Water
  • Food
  • Lighting
  • Trekking Poles (okay, maybe not 'essential' but a lot of walkers recommend them on a longer or tougher hike)
  • Appropriate Clothing (eg pants, warm jackets, raincoat, thermals)
  • Hiking Boots/Shoes and Socks
  • ...and of course, a Backpack to put it all in!

Beginners Hiking Essentials (3)


When choosing a daypack for hiking, there are a few key factors to consider. First, you'll want a pack that is the right size for your needs. This will depend on the amount of gear you plan to carry, as well as the length of your hike. Second, you'll want a pack that is comfortable to wear. This means having padded straps and a waist belt, which will help to distribute the weight of the pack evenly. You'll also want to make sure that the pack fits properly, so that it doesn't bounce or shift while you're hiking. Finally, you'll want a pack that is made from durable materials. This will help to protect your gear from the elements and from wear and tear.

Here are some of the specific factors to consider when choosing a daypack for hiking:

  • Size: The size of the pack will depend on the amount of gear you plan to carry. For a day hike, you'll likely need a pack with a capacity of 15-30 liters.
  • Comfort: A comfortable pack will have padded straps and a waist belt. It's also important to make sure that the pack fits properly, so that it doesn't bounce or shift while you're hiking.
  • Durability: The pack should be made from durable materials, this will help to protect your gear from the elements and from wear and tear.
  • Consider the type of terrain you'll be hiking on. If you'll be hiking in rough terrain, you'll need a comfortable pack with a durable frame.
  • Look for a pack with features that are important to you. Some packs have features such as hydration bladder compartments, built-in rain covers, and side pockets.
  • Check if it has a rain cover or a water repellent (DWR) coating on the materials to keep your gear dry. If not you can pick up a few dry bags which will keep all of your gear dry if the weather turns.
  • Try on the pack before you buy it. This will help you to make sure that it fits properly and is comfortable to wear.

Shelter & Sleeping

If you're planning an an overnight hike, you will need to consider shelter and a comfortable place to sleep. There are many lightweight and compact hiking tents that can be easilypacked into your backpack. These tents will provide you with protection from the elements, such as rain, wind, and bugs. You will also need to bring a sleeping bag that is appropriate for the climate you will be hiking in. A warm sleeping bag will help you stay comfortable and sleep soundly at night. Another important consideration is a mattress as this will provide you with a comfortable night's sleep and insulate you from the cold ground overnight.

Quick shelter & sleeping tips:

  • Tent: Choose a tent that is the right size for you and your hiking partner(s). The tent should also be lightweight and packable, so that you can easily carry it with you on your hike. Consider the type of terrain you will be hiking on when choosing a tent. If you will be hiking in rough terrain, you will need a tent with a durable frame.
  • Sleeping bag/mat: Choose a sleeping bag that is rated for the climate you will be hiking in. A warm sleeping bag will help you stay comfortable and sleep soundly at night. Consider your own personal preferences when choosing a sleeping bag. Some people prefer sleeping bags that are mummy-shaped, while others prefer sleeping bags that are rectangular.
    Similarly for your mattress, choose one that is rated for the climate you will be hiking in and one that is comfortable for you to sleep on.


The next item on your hiking checklist is clothing. The type of clothing you choose will depend on the environment you are hiking in. For example, if you are hiking in a warm climate, you will want to wear light and breathable clothing. whereas in a cold climate, you will want to wear something warm and layered.
However, you will always want to wear durable and protective hiking clothing no matter what the climate is.

Clothing top tips:

  • Choose fabrics that are moisture-wicking and breathable. This will help to keep you cool and dry, even when you are sweating.
  • Choose fabrics that are quick-drying. This will help you to stay warm and comfortable, even if you get wet.
  • Choose fabrics that are durable and abrasion-resistant. This will help to protect your clothing from the elements and from wear and tear.
  • Choose clothing that fits properly. This will help to prevent chafing and discomfort.


Hiking shoes and boots are both great options for hiking, but the best choice for you will depend on your personal preference, the type of terrain you'll be hiking on, and how long you'll be hiking for.
Hiking shoes are typically lighter and more flexible than hiking boots, making them a good choice for day hikes on moderate terrain. They're also a good option for people who have sensitive ankles or who prefer a more barefoot feel.
Hiking boots are heavier and more rigid than hiking shoes, but they offer more ankle support and protection from the elements. They're a good choice for longer hikes, more challenging terrain, and inclement weather.
Ultimately, the best way to choose the right footwear for your next hike is to try on a few different pairs and see what feels best.

Food & Water

When packing for a hike, having enough water in either a hydration pack or appropriate sized water bottle is essential.
As for how much to bring along, it's a good rule to have half a litre for each hour of hiking. Bear in mind that this should be adjusted based on the hike's intensity and climate, as well as any extra water you may need for your meals.

Nothing's worse than when you trek to a distant destination only to realize you didn't pack enough food!
For hikes of a few hours, energising snacks with a good amount of nutrients are a great way to ensure you have enough energy. If you are camping overnight,freeze-dri,dehydrated meals provide an easy and convenient way to enjoy a fulfilling meal without worrying about bringing all the cooking materials.

First Aid

It is essential to equip yourself with a first aid kit prior to any trek, regardless of the duration.
No matter how improbable, it's best to always keep a supply of first aid tools handy in the case of small injuries like skin abrasions, cuts, and blisters. It's also a good idea to pack some bandages in the unlikely event of a snake bite - it may just save your life!

Navigation (and Communication)

When hiking in remote areas, it is important to have communication and navigation gear in case of an emergency. This is because you may not have cell phone reception, and you may need to be able to communicate with others or find your way back to civilization.

Essential navigation equipment includes::

  • Map and compass: A map and compass are essential for navigation, even if you have a GPS device.
  • Whistle: A whistle can be used to signal for help in an emergency.
  • Flashlight: A flashlight can be used to see in the dark, in case you get lost or stranded.
  • Solar charger: A solar charger can be used to charge your electronic devices, such as your GPS device and phone.
  • GPS device: A GPS device can help you navigate your way through the wilderness, even if you don't have cell phone reception.(not essential but can be very handy)

Tools & Repair Kits

Rips and tears are a part of life, but they can be especially inconvenient when you're out hiking. That's why it's a good idea to pack some gear repair supplies in your hiking kit.
A multi-tool like a pocket knife is also a great idea, as it can be used for a variety of tasks, such as opening packages, handling food, and even in survival situations.


Most hikes are done during the day, but if you are planning to hike overnight, you will need to bring a light source. Headlamps are a great option for hiking because they keep your hands free. They are also useful for hiking in dark areas, such as caves, and for cooking and moving around at night.
Even if you are only planning to be out during daylight, it can be handy to carry a light just in case you are out a little longer thank you planned.

Trekking Poles

Walking poles are often overlooked when packing for a hike. They are designed to provide additional stability during a hike. Whether or not to bring walking poles on a hike is up to the individual, but they become more essential the longer the hike is and the more weight you are carrying in your backpack.
Some of the benefits of using walking poles arehelping to reduce the impact on your knees, especially when walking downhill,maintainingyour balance on uneven terrain,conservingenergy, especially on long hikes,


Hiking is a great way to get exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and explore new places. It is important to be prepared before you go hiking, especially if you are a beginner. By packing the essential items listed in this blog, you can be prepared for anything that comes your way on your next hiking trip.

Here are some additional tips for beginners:

  • Start with short hikes and gradually increase the distance and difficulty as you gain experience.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for hazards.
  • Leave no trace.

Hiking is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy nature. By following these tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

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