Hiking Guide for 2024: (Updated) Top Questions, Answers, Resources

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2024 updated hiking guide by outdoor tech lab. Gear lay out

Lace Up Your Boots and Hit the Trail: A Comprehensive Guide to Hiking

Hiking is an activity that beckons people from all walks of life. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in nature, challenge your body, and discover hidden gems.

Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a curious newcomer, our 2024 hiking guide is here to equip you with the knowledge you need to have a safe and enjoyable experience on the trails.

Gearing Up for Greatness: What to Wear on a Hike

Dressing appropriately is crucial for a comfortable and successful hike. Here’s a breakdown of the key clothing items:

Base Layer: Opt for breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics like merino wool or synthetic materials. Avoid cotton, as it absorbs sweat and chills you when wet.

Insulating Layer: Depending on the weather, you might need a fleece jacket or a light puffy coat for warmth.

Outer Layer: A waterproof and windproof jacket is essential for unexpected rain or wind gusts. Look for jackets made from materials like Gore-Tex or similar technologies.

Pants: Convertible hiking pants are a great choice, offering flexibility with zip-off legs that transform into shorts. Choose quick-drying, breathable fabrics like nylon or a nylon-cotton blend.

Footwear: Sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support are crucial. They should be waterproof and provide good traction on various terrains.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget sun protection! Pack a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) to shield yourself from harmful UV rays.

hiking gear guide items for 2024 being used on a mountain hike in early morning
Best hiking gadgets online

Answering the Call of the Wild: What is Thru-Hiking?

Thru-hiking is the ultimate test of endurance and determination. It involves hiking an entire long-distance trail, such as the Appalachian Trail (AT) or the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), in one continuous journey.

Thru-hikers typically spend weeks or even months on the trail, carrying everything they need on their backs.

Thru-hiking requires meticulous planning and preparation. Here are some essential aspects to consider:

  • Choosing the right trail: Consider your experience level, the time of year you plan to hike, and the type of terrain you’re comfortable with.
  • Gear selection: Invest in ultralight backpacking gear to minimize weight.
  • Physical conditioning: Thru-hiking is demanding. Train your body with long-distance walks and hikes with a backpack in the months leading up to your adventure.
  • Leave No Trace principles: Respecting the environment is paramount. Familiarize yourself with Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the wilderness.

Mastering the Sticks: How to Use Trekking Poles

Trekking poles are fantastic tools that can enhance your stability, improve your posture, and reduce stress on your knees. Here’s a quick guide on how to use them effectively hiking:

  • Adjusting the height: With the poles upright and the tips touching the ground, your elbows should form a 90-degree bend when gripping the handles.
  • Planting Technique: Plant the poles diagonally behind you, not directly ahead. This helps with balance and propulsion.
  • Using straps: Utilize the wrist straps for better control and to take some strain off your arms and shoulders. However, avoid gripping too tightly, allowing your arms to move freely.
  • Downhill Strategy: Plant the poles ahead of you to improve stability and control your descent.

Learning to use trekking poles correctly can take practice. Don’t hesitate to experiment and find what feels comfortable and natural for you. There are also many instructional videos available online that can provide a visual demonstration.

2024 trekking poles in use as part of our new hiking guide
Essential gear

Packing Smart: What to Bring on a Hike


  • Navigation: A map and compass or a GPS device are crucial for staying on track. Even experienced hikers can get turned around, so never underestimate the importance of proper navigation tools.
  • Hydration: Pack enough water for the duration of your hike. A good rule of thumb is to carry at least half a liter of water for every hour you’ll be on the trail. Consider a hydration bladder for convenient access to water throughout the day.
  • First-aid kit: Be prepared for minor injuries with a basic first-aid kit.
  • Sun protection: Pack a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen as mentioned earlier.
  • Snacks and Food: Bring enough high-energy snacks and food to keep you fueled throughout your hike. Nuts, granola bars, and energy gels are all great options.
  • Headlamp or flashlight: Even if you plan on hiking during daylight hours, pack a headlamp or flashlight in case you get caught out after dark.

Additional Considerations:

  • Emergency shelter: An emergency blanket or Survival Frog bivy sack can provide vital protection from the elements if you get caught in bad weather or have to spend an unplanned night outdoors.
  • Repair kit: Pack a small repair kit for minor gear failures. This might include items like duct tape, zip ties, and safety pins.
  • Waste disposal: Always pack out what you pack in. Bring a small bag to collect your trash and toilet paper. Leave No Trace principles are essential for preserving the beauty of our natural spaces.
  • Hiking socks: Choose moisture-wicking socks made from wool or synthetic materials to keep your feet dry and comfortable.
  • Navigation aids: Consider a compass or a GPS device with pre-loaded maps for advanced navigation, especially for remote hikes.
  • Trekking poles: As discussed earlier, trekking poles can be a valuable addition to your gear, especially for longer hikes or challenging terrain.

Remember: This is not an exhaustive list. Tailor your gear selection to the specific hike you’re planning, considering factors like the length, difficulty, and weather conditions.

Recommended best selling brands on Amazon for getting started hiking without breaking the bank:

  • Backpacks: A good backpack is essential for carrying your supplies on a hike. Look for a pack that is comfortable, fits well, and has enough capacity for your needs. Popular brands on Amazon include Osprey, Gregory, and Kelty.
  • Hiking boots: Proper footwear is crucial for a safe and enjoyable hike. Hiking boots should be sturdy, waterproof, and provide good traction on various terrains. Popular brands on Amazon include Salomon, Merrell, and Lowa.
  • Trekking poles: These poles can help improve your balance, posture, and reduce stress on your knees. Look for poles that are adjustable and made from lightweight materials. Popular brands we trust on Amazon include Black Diamond, Komperdell, and Leki.
  • Navigation: A map and compass or a GPS device are essential for staying on track. Popular brands we have tested on Amazon include Garmin, Suunto, and Magellan.
  • Hydration: Staying hydrated is important on a hike. Consider a hydration bladder or a water bottle with a good carrying system. Popular brands on Amazon include CamelBak, Platypus, and Hydro Flask.
  • First-aid kit: Be prepared for minor injuries with a basic first-aid kit. You can find pre-made first-aid kits or assemble your own.
  • Sun protection: Pack a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen as mentioned earlier. Popular brands on Amazon today include Sun Bum, Coppertone, and Supergoop!
  • Snacks and food: Bring enough high-energy snacks and food to keep you fueled throughout your hike. Popular brands we love to chow down on Amazon include Cliff Bar, KIND Bars, and Honey Stinger. Yummy!
  • Headlamp or flashlight: Even if you plan on hiking during daylight hours, pack a headlamp or flashlight in case you get caught out after dark. Popular brands that work like a torch on Amazon include Black Diamond, Petzl, and Energizer.

Remember, when selecting gear, prioritize quality and functionality over just finding the cheapest option. Look for reputable brands, consult our hiking guide and read reviews before making a purchase.

Hiking with a beautiful valley view by outdoor tech lab
Budget hiking and backpacking guide

Taking the First Step: How to Start Hiking

So, you’re ready to hit the trail! Here are some of our 2024 hiking guide tips to get you started on the right foot:

  • Start small: Begin with short, easy hikes to build your endurance and get comfortable with the basics.
  • Find a hiking buddy: Hiking with a friend or group can be more enjoyable and safer, especially for beginners.
  • Choose the right trail: There are trails to suit all ability levels. Research and choose a trail that matches your experience and fitness level.
  • Let someone know your plans: Inform a friend or family member about your hiking plans, including the trail you’ll be on and your expected return time.
  • Leave No Trace: Respect the environment by following Leave No Trace principles. These principles include minimizing your impact on the trail, properly disposing of waste, and respecting wildlife.

Hiking is a fantastic way to connect with nature, challenge yourself physically, and experience the beauty of the outdoors. With proper preparation and knowledge, you can ensure your hiking adventures are safe, enjoyable, and leave you wanting to explore more!

2024 Hiking Guide Resources:

  • New Day Hiking Guide: Check out our new guide specifically geared towards day hikes. This might be a great starting point for planning your first adventure [Day Hiking Adventure Guide].
  • Hiking Gear Mastery: Deepen your knowledge with Outdoor Tech Lab’s comprehensive guide on hiking gear selection. This resource can help you choose the right equipment for your needs [Outdoor Tech Lab’s Hiking Gear Mastery guide].
  • OutdoorTechLab Website: Explore our website for a wider range of resources related to the intersection of outdoor activities and smart technology. You might find valuable tips on using tech to enhance your hiking experience: www.outdoortechlab.com.

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