Hiking gear essentials: how to choose the best backpack and hiking shoes

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Adrenaline, physical strain, sweat, heavy backpacks, endless upward slopes – hiking is something you must love and plunge into, there is no middle way. Still, roaming mountains and forests is a favorite pastime of many, and there are a million reasons why – the clean air, the beautiful nature, and the great effect on the body are simply irreplaceable. Having the right hiking gear is an important component not only for safety reasons, but also because it can significantly contribute to the comfort and enjoyment of the hiking experience.

What are the ultimate essentials for a good hike? The very basics are excellent hiking shoes and a comfortable backpack. You should also add practical breathing clothes and, in case you decide to camp, a waterproof and lightweight tent and a sturdy camo tarp for rain protection. To this list you can add a myriad of accessories that can be of great help, such as headlights, compasses, maps, gas stoves, plastic cutlery and plates, not to mention food supplies such as canned food, raw nuts and the indispensable chocolate. But back to the gear: the trick about hiking equipment is that is has to be both durable and light because it has to withstand the forces of nature and yet not break your back – as it all goes on your shoulders during the trip.

Choosing the best backpack

Depending on the type of hikes you are intending, you can choose the right volume of the backpack but the usual ones are between 45 and 80 liters. The crucial points you should watch out for are the material the backpack is made of, as it should be at least partially waterproof, and the closing mechanisms at the waist and chest. Most of the weight should fall on your waist so that you don’t feel heaviness on the shoulders, which would prevent you from breathing properly, especially on steep slopes. The length of the backpack’s back should be changeable – then you can make the best fit for your height. It’s a good idea to have a professional fix it the first time you use it. Then you can be sure you are getting the best of it.

Comfy & sturdy hiking shoes

Having comfortable hiking shoes is likely to be the other crucial factor that will make or break your hike. When choosing shoes, you should be careful and select ones made from waterproof and breathing material, such as Gore-Tex, and that have a flexible outer sole, usually made of Vibram or similar appropriate rubber. Meeting those two criteria is the start of your selection process. Then you should see how high you need the shoe to be, depending on the kind of hikes you are planning. Higher shoes are practical for places with many rocks and uneven surfaces because they protect your ankles. Finally, comes the color – according to your personal preferences, but keep in mind that lighter colors are difficult to keep clean in the long run.

Loving the mountains is a great – and much needed – start, but adding comfortable and sturdy hiking gear is what will make your hiking experience as pleasant and safe as possible. Warm up, tie the shoes and just get going!

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