Hiking Gear: Women “Must Haves” Rant

Okay, it’s turned into a rant.  Summer brought media galore about what hikers need and how to buy these “must haves” for a low price.  It’s gotten out of control. Here is a story about female gear: Hiking Must Haves For Women.  Remember the media’s role is to fill column space, not help you. Most of these articles serve little purpose other than to sell you things you don’t need.

Don’t let anyone selling advertising convince you that you“need” something.  Usually it is something that tells a nice story in your living room but has little use on the trail.  Take, for example, the water purifier in the article.  All fine and good but unless you are spending several days backpacking you should just carry your water.  These purifiers are difficult to use and awkward to carry.  If you are going backpacking for several days and lack experience you should have a guide.  Let them carry the purifier.

The rant is over.  Here is what you need to know.  Assuming you are a person, female or otherwise, learning to hike.  There are three basic things you need: shoes, backpack and water bottle.  Anything else you probably already have around the house: shorts, shirt, bug spray, etc.  Don’t buy anything else until you have gone through one season of hiking.  If you still want to hike, maybe you can buy some snazzy hiking clothes and a piece of equipment.  Spending a lot of money before hand is really betting your hard earned income.

How much to spend on hiking gear?  Start out on the low end of the cost spectrum.  Solid shoes but nothing fancy.  Get a backpack from Target rather than The North Face. Use your kid’s water bottle from gym class.  If you use these items enough to wear them out, go back for quality gear.  Nothing is sadder than expensive equipment with the tags still on them.

Now, I feel better.

Photo: Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway © Crazy Leegs 2013