Outfitting for your first hike can be daunting and the costs could very well be prohibitive, the whole experience can be overwhelming—but with a bit of planning, this does not have to be.
If this is a first for you you need to understand that you will be carrying food, water, shelter as well as clothing and toiletries on your back.
I would suggest that you visit a specialist store that will be in a position to meet your needs. Lighten your load by buying a midsize backpack, this will force you to pack economically leaving superfluous items at home.
The next item will be your tent, various outfitters offer excellent value for money tents under their home brands—look for one of these.
If you are heading way off the beaten track and are not able to carry all the water you need and are unsure of the availability of freshwater invest in a water filter—here you will need to take the advice of your camping shop but go for e a well-known brand- it will not let you down. If you are unsure about investing then look to using purifying tablets, if the water is murky you may have to boil and strain it before adding the tablets.
You will need a small stove, here you can look to a dual fuel option but I would opt for a small canister stove as they work well.
Your first aid kit is critical and ensure that you have plasters, wipes and a suitable ointment- you may get a few blisters on your first outing. In this regard, I recommend good socks and sometimes even two pairs at a time on the first day if you have not broken your boots in I would suggest wetting the socks.
Food is important if you are not slackpacking (slackpacking has prepared meals for the hikers), most outfitters have a variety of tasty pre-prepared meals, plane carefully as you do not want to run out and add in snacks such as dried fruit and nuts. Nalgene bottles are great especially the 1-litre bottles which comfortably fit into the side pouch of a backpack.
Shoes are an important investment, as a beginner dependant on the severity of the trail you may be able to get away with trail running shoes or day hikers as long as you don’t have an existing foot or ankle problem. Never skimp on your socks though—get a full cushion natural fabric style, they move moisture and prevent blisters—they will also keep your feet warm when sleeping at night if it’s cold.
Lastly, there is the pillow and sleeping bag—there are various schools of thought over down vs synthetic and it will be worthwhile to do some research before discussing this with the salesperson—also bear in mind the vagaries of our seasons when investing some hard-earned cash in a sleeping bag.