Through our GetHiking! program and our involvement in the Hike NC! hiking initiative launched this fall by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, an increasing number of folks are discovering hiking. To help this next wave, we’ll be devoting space over the next couple of weeks to help the new wave of hikers get established on the trail. So far, we’ve covered What to Expect on Your Very First Hike,  What to Wear and What to Expect on Your First Group Hike. Today: What to Bring on Your First Hike.


It’s your first hike, and you’re a little intimidated. For starters, you have no idea what to bring. Here’s a quick primer for the first timer.

1. Footwear: Hiking boots or shoes are preferred. A true hike is on natural surface trail, trail that is sometimes rocky, sometimes rooty, usually both. For hikes over three miles you’ll be glad you have a sturdy sole to help absorb the shock of the trail. Learn more here.

2. Clothing: For the most part, we encourage synthetic clothing that dries quickly, especially in cooler weather. You start moving, you sweat; you stop moving and unless that fabric pressing against your skin is quick-drying and pulls the moisture away from your body, you will cool down quickly. Not a bad thing in the dead of summer, but potentially dangerous otherwise. Learn more here.

71jlq1lvhel-_sl1500_3. Water: This is a biggie: no matter how long the hike, bring water. Dehydration is your enemy on the trail, and it can happen on even short hikes. If you don’t have a daypack or fanny pack and it’s a short hike, you can carry your water bottle. If you don’t own a water bottle, pick up a bottle of water at the store. Don’t forget water!

4. Snacks: Again, even on a short hike it’s good to have a snack or two. An energy bar, a pack of cookies — whatever works for you. It’s a bummer to get midway through a hike and suddenly have your fuel gauge plummet to E. And since hiking is new to you, you likely don’t know how you might feel a mile down the trail.

5. Camera: You’ve got a smart phone? You’ve got a camera. Bring it. Switch to Airplane Mode at the trailhead, then shoot freely — you have social media obligations, don’t you?

There are additional “musts” by season: bug spray in the summer, layers in the winter. But this is a good, basic starting point for the typical, not-so-long (2-4 miles) hike.