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Looking for advice on equipment for a beginner hiker.

I am going to the Yukon to hike. I have a year to prepare. Thank you.

7 Replies


Thanks for reaching out!

We've moved your post over to the Hiking board in the hopes that you will be able to tap into the vast wisdom and experience of the community as a whole. If possible, it would be helpful if you could give folks some more details about your trip to help guide the advice you receive:

  • Where are you going?
  • What time of year?
  • How long is your trip?
  • Are you day hiking (out and back on the same day) or backpacking (spending the night on the trail)?

If you could give us some more information that would be really helpful. Thanks!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

JohnJ's questions are right on and will be very useful in giving you helpful advice.  But right away, for any hike, day trio or multi day, aerobic fitness is essential.  you can obtain it by running, cycling, long walks, or any combination thereof. I imagine you will need a reasonably stout pair of boots, and this is a splendid chance to break them in and be sure they are properly fitted- absolutely crucial on any hike!!

If you do not possess the knowledge already, you have time to get first aid training, optimally slanted toward the outdoor environment.  Sooner or later, your skill will come in handy, either for yourself or someone else.  Also you have the opportunity to brush upon land navigation and compass skills.

Even for day hikes, a decent fitting pack is crucial, even more so if longer trips are on the agenda, along with a whole host of other goodies.  See the articles in Expert Advice for starters.

Sounds interesting and challenging....Best Wishes!!


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Great questions and advice already, but something I firmly believe and live by - I can’t afford to buy cheap things.  If you can’t justify the cost of quality gear because you’re not sure if you will continue hiking, rent it.  Buying used is also a good option.  But cheaply made gear that fails on trail is, at best, an annoyance.  At worst, a catastrophe.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

johnt's comments are excellent!!  The first criterion for gear is that it must be dependable and function.

 but dependable gear isn't necessarily expensive, although it frequently is.  Bargains do exist and will be revealed through careful evaluation.  With time, the initial price will fade to insignificance...


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Not knowing how long you will be out, I’ll maybe just suggest some general things I’ve picked up over the years wandering around Alaska. 

Good boots made for rugged terrain. I think getting a boot fitting and buying a pair of aftermarket insoles is money well-spent. Hard to get far if your feet are bothering you. I tend to avoid the ones the look like tennis shoes. Suggest you pick this up early to break them in. 

An education on living, hiking, and camping in bear country. It has been a “beary” year in Alaska this year, and I’ve been seeing a lot of folks poorly prepared. I suspect the Yukon has been the same, and that this will continue for awhile. It’s a little busy, but here is a lot of good info: and here is some more:

Learn what Devil’s Club and Cow Parsnip are. Avoid them. 

Mosquitos are always a problem. They influence caribou migration, and will eat you alive. Suggest a good spray - I prefer the stuff without DEET in it, as it eats gear, a head net is also worth carrying. 

Not sure how long you plan to be out, but a good pack that fits your body and transfers weight to your hips if you are doing more than a light day hike. 

A navigation plan and the tools you need to make it work. I suggest part of this plan being something that doesn’t require batteries. 

Sort of the basics, but a start. You can add and subtract what you need for different trips keeping in mind that traveling in the North is rewarding but can sometimes be pretty rough and strenuous. Durable, light, well-fitting gear really helps it be a much more rewarding and safe experience. 


“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” -Norman Maclean

Well, some boots, a pack, rain jacket, sweater, hat, bug spray, sun screen, water bottle, the 10 essentials, map, navaids/compass, snacks

REI Member Since 1979

The folks from REI can launch you in the right direction, with the appropriate start up gear and programs. There is much to learn, and you will modify your future hikes based upon your learned experiences.

Find a REI Store employee that you are comfortable with, and build a working relationship with that person. The REI Employee will learn of your skill set, needs and help build your hiking knowledge.

My best advice: “Your feet will take you to your destination and return you to your home”.

Invest in excellent quality hiking shoes, boots, and socks, of which are super comfortable immediately. There is no need to get blisters on your feet, if you are wearing quality hiking shoes, boots, and socks, engineered for your specific adventure. 

Check the REI website product search filter to narrow down the abundant footwear selection. 4 Star and Up Rating, and a large number of positive customer reviews, will help tremendously.

Again, the folks at REI will be super helpful.  

My personal pick, having hiked in Montana’s high country, the canyons of Utah, the Sonoran Desert of AZ, and the Napali Coastline of Kauai:

Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes.