Car camping for beginners!

I’m going camping/hiking for the very first time in my life – granted its car camping and only for the weekend, but for someone who has never been and doesn’t know if they will like it enough to buy all this gear and maybe really not like it (i’m a Honolulu, Hawaii city girl moved to Denver, Colorado). I’m hiking my very first 14er and I have no idea what kind of shoes to get (boots vs. shoes) and what kind of clothing to bring…its summer in Colorado, but I’ve been told to bring everything from shorts to lots of layers, etc…
Any suggestions/advice?

Denver, Colorado



Lucky you! I love Colorado and the Rockies are so beautiful!

You’re going to need some very essential gear, and the rest you should try to borrow from friends.

What you’ll need to buy:

  • Trail running shoes or hiking boots? You may be able to get away with a pair of trail running shoes that have good traction, since you will be car camping and it sounds like it must be a day hike up to the 14ner. Get a guide book or search online to read about the trail for the 14ner you’re hiking – if there is a mention of rock scrambling or lots of rocks, then I’d definitely get hiking boots.
  • Hiking sock and sock liners. Check out this information on sock liners and hiking socks.
  • Hiking pants. Make sure they are “moisture wicking“, and if they can convert into capris and shorts, even better. You don’t want to get caught in an afternoon Colorado thunderstorm with jeans or even cotton shorts – they’ll take forever to dry.

Things you can dig out of your closet or borrow:

  • Workout top. Something that is moisture wicking. Wear this as your “base layer.”
  • Fleece vest or jacket. If you don’t own one, borrow from a friend.
  • Rain jacket. Borrow if you need to. You’ll take this with you during your day hike.
  • Hat. Ideally a broad brimmed hat, but a baseball cap will suffice if you don’t have one.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Bandanna. It will come in handy.
  • Long underwear. You may not have ever needed this in Hawaii… and if you really don’t want to buy it you can bring other warm clothes to wear at night. It can definitely get cold in the mountains, even in the summer!
  • Beanie. Yep even in the summer the mountains can get cold at night. Borrow one – I’m sure everyone in Denver has an extra beanie!
  • Gloves. Borrow a pair if you don’t have any. Fleece gloves work well.
  • Down jacket. If you can borrow one, take it. Otherwise just bring a warm jacket to wear around the campfire in case it gets cold!

It sounds like your camping stuff is taken care of (sleeping bag, tent, etc.). Just make sure you borrow a Daypack to carry your food, water, jacket, sunscreen, etc. (if desperate perhaps take an old school backpack, but it will get uncomfortable if you don’t have a hipbelt…)

Don’t worry too much. You’re gonna have fun!

Happy trails!
Hiking Lady

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  1. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi SpaDiva,
    It sounds like you’ve got the right footwear…and as far as apparel, you’re headed in the right direction. Check out this page on Layering for some basics. You’ll want to have good baselayers. Patagonia is excellent, so that was a good choice. You’d be wearing those under a pair of hiking pants (with pockets etc). If you don’t feel that you have a need for pockets, yes, you could just wear running tights, but I find hiking pants to be more comfortable and more abrasion resistant on trails than running tights. Plus I like to have a pocket for my chapstick 🙂
    Hope that helps. Have fun in Peru!

  2. SpaDiva25 says:

    So I am going to Peru to hike Machu Picchu in August. I am really totally new to hiking. I do have a pair of Gortex boots but that is it! I am kind of confused as to what I really need. I just bought a pair of silkweight Pantagonia leggings for a base layer. One of your readers on another page said she uses running leggings which would be more what I am used to wearing. But then I read the article you wrote on different types of hiking pants and thought maybe I would need pockets.A little overwhelmed and out of my league here. Your advice would be great appreciated! Thanks.

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