The types of hiking equipment a hiker will need will depend on the type of hiking being done. Long-term hiking such as backpacking will require more equipment that is specially designed for long distance hiking, while day-hikers will need less equipment. Both types of hikers will want to carefully consider hiking equipment designed for hydration, such as hydration packs and water bottles, and while hiking poles are useful for helping balance larger backpacks that backpackers will use, they can also be useful for day-hikers who want extra stability over difficult terrain. Most importantly, both types of hikers will want to carefully consider hiking equipment that protect and care for the feet. This includes hiking boots as well as insoles.
Hiking boots are often constructed from leather for durability and protection from the elements, but for day-hikers, boots made from lightweight synthetic materials may be a better choice. Such boots are usually waterproof and breathable, allowing sweat to escape from the shoe to avoid hot spots and blisters. One should look for a pair of boots that feature a high-quality rubber sole that will last long and provide adequate grip over a variety of surfaces. Most importantly, the boot should fit snugly but not uncomfortably. A crucial piece of hiking equipment that should be chosen just as carefully is a pair of socks. Hikers should choose socks that provide breathability as well as adequate cushion. Some socks feature a special material that wraps snugly around the middle part of the foot to prevent bunching.
Backpacks are perhaps the most commonly sought-after piece of hiking equipment, and the varieties are endless. Backpackers considering longer trips will want to choose a larger backpack that is lightweight, but comfort is key: the backpack should be the correct size for the user, and the shoulder and hip straps should be adequately padded and adjustable. The hiker should remember that he or she will have to access items within the pack regularly, so the pack should feature a system that allows easy access to these items. Day hikers will want a smaller pack that is also lightweight and comfortable. It should be large enough to carry the essentials, but not so large that a lot of extra space is present within the pack. This adds unnecessary weight.
Hiking poles have become a common piece of hiking equipment, though they are not always necessary. They are useful for backpackers because they help stabilize the hiker when he or she is carrying a fair amount of weight in the backpack, and they are useful when crossing challenging terrain for both backpackers and day hikers. They can be cumbersome at times, however, and the hiker should remember that poles add more weight to an already heavy load when not in use.