If you plan to start hiking soon, it is important you pick the right gear to carry on your journey. It is crucial to your safety, as well as your progress, that you select the right gear for yourself. Here are some things to consider when shopping for gear.

Boots: One of the most important things you will need is proper footwear. Since hiking involves a lot of footwork, it is important you pick sturdy boots. Nothing can ruin a hike like a bad pair of boots. The right boot will provide comfort, support and traction. Hiking puts strain on your feet and ankles, so it is important to take care of them if you want to continue your development as a hiker. Boots should also protect you from the elements of nature, be sure you pick a pair that are water resistant, warm and sturdy. Please note: you will need to break your boots in before you take them on a hike. Otherwise your hike will be painful, with potential for blisters and twisted ankles.

Socks: Picking socks to wear on a day to day basis is easy enough, but you’ll need to be more thoughtful when selecting hiking socks. Pick thick moisture-wicking socks made of natural fibers like wool or cotton, or synthetic blends. Make sure to try them on with your boots, to ensure they work well together.

Backpacks: The size of your pack will depend on the type of journey you’re planning. Backpacks are categorized by size and measured in volume, using liters as standard unit. Remember, this is meant to measure space, not liquid. One liter will hold a little more than a quart. Smaller packs are ideal for day hikes, while larger bags work well for longer term adventures. No matter which pack you choose, do your best to carry only your necessities. Over-packing means using your energy to carry unnecessary weight. On the other hand, underpacking can create its own issues, so be sure to take inventory of all you needs.

Hiking Maps: I cannot stress the importance of knowing your path enough. The most experienced hikers travel with maps. They are vital to your navigation and safety. While trails may already be laid out in front of you, a few missteps can easily leave you lost. Make sure your map is current, and has a standardized form of measuring distance. The usual guideline is one inch on a map per mile. Before you start your hike, familiarize yourself with the symbols and patterns, so you know what to anticipate.