there is a big a beautiful world on the other side of your front door. America has never had more public desert set aside for your enjoyment than it is now, and no matter where you live, there are probably trails near you. Like all hobbies, the hardest part is getting started. Don’t despair of the confusing set of travel gear competing for your dollars. It is easier than you think to stay dry, warm, hydrated and safe. We have recommendations for everything you need for daily tourism right here.
If you’re a little more experienced, be sure to check out our other shopping guides, such as the best tents, the best camping stoves, and the best portable coffee makers. Now get out there and become the tourist you’ve always wanted to be.
Updated January 2022: We updated prices, changed several options for new ones, and adjusted retailers to reflect changes in availability. We’ve also added more information on how to use some pieces of equipment.
Shoes, socks and basic layers
Let’s start with the obvious: you won’t have fun on a hike – of any length – if you have bloody blisters on your legs or uncomfortable rubbing under your arms. You may need to experiment to find out which shoes you like best. When it comes to clothing, think about layers so you can easily add or remove them before you start sweating. See our guides to the best running shoes and how to layer for more information.
- A good pair of shoes for $ 120: For moderate temperatures, we prefer low-top shoes, non-Gore-Tex mesh shoes, such as Salomon X Ultra 3 ($ 120) or Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator ($ 100). For areas that are still snowy and icy at this time of year, Lowa Renegade GTX boots ($ 245) are more stable, and the skin protects wet snow from soaking through your boots.
- Wicking socks for $ 14: If your feet are hot, synthetic socks dry faster than wool socks. This pair of Wrightsock is synthetic and has two layers to avoid blisters. Darn Tough also makes merino wool socks in a wide range of thicknesses and comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Wicking boxers for $ 25: The main layers are a thin layer that goes to your skin. They can be made of different materials, but they should remove sweat and keep you warm. For underwear, even in the coldest weather you will cope with short underwear.
- Wicking undershirts for $ 75 +: This guide has a few or our favorite top layer tops. I listed great lightweight, synthetic, wool and blended options.
- Insulation layer for $ 129: Your middle layer passes between the base layer and the shell, although it is usually too warm to wear during hiking. You will wear it more often during the holidays and while working on the camp. I’m a fan of fleece for the middle layers.
- Inflated what for $ 199: Bay jackets can be worn as middle layers instead of fleece. they are a lot warm but more fragile.
- Rain jacket: Waterproof jackets can be categorized as hard or soft shells. Soft shells are more stretchy and breathable, but not completely waterproof; hard shells are much less susceptible to soaking. I like Rain Jacket Mountain Hardwear Exposure 2 ($ 300).
- Different hats: Depending on the weather, you may need a sun hat or cap to protect your foot. I like this Smartwool Merino 150 hat ($ 23) to protect your neck from sunburn; check out our guides on the best sunscreen and best sunglasses for more suggestions.
- Fun extras: You probably won’t need gaiters, but if you’re walking in dusty circles, you’ll welcome them. They prevent raw material from entering the uppers of your shoes in a dusty environment. I like these fun Dirty Girl gaiters ($ 20).
Bottles, bladders and snacks
One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is not carrying water or food, even on short walks. Depending on the heat and the level of effort, you may be more thirsty than you think, and salty snacks help you retain the water you drink. A liter bottle should be enough for a short day’s hike. If you go out all day or if it is particularly hot or dry, recharge.