Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.
What depth of answer are you looking for?
It all depends on what kind of hike. If you google 10 hiking essentials (gear) you will get a lot of pages with very similar gear listed. This is a good starting point. Where you are hiking also really matters as to adjusting these 10 essentials. If you are asking for very specific gear suggestions, you have to be more specific on where, what season and how long you are hiking. The hard part is interpreting the gear suggestions, buying the right stuff the first time around, and using your gear appropriately.
In the beginning overpack. Bring that extra sweater, those extra few granola bars, the extra bottle of water. Hiking gear is all about understanding your needs and limits and adjusting your gear accordingly. Serious hikers are always testing new things, swapping items and reassessing how things work for them. They learn to understand minute differences in gear and appreciate them. Casual hikers are often fine with good shoes, a rain jacket and a small pack with food and water. They also usually don't go into areas where they need much more than that.
Don't spend serious money until you understand what you are spending it on. Don't walk into a hiking store and ask for recommendations, even in the better stores you'll get stuff they want to sell more than stuff you need. The longer I hike (especially backpacking) the less stuff I actually need, and the more time I spend agonizing over each purchase decision. Understand that the main difference between a $300 overnight setup and a $3000 setup is a few pounds of weight, and to get from one to the other you will have to replace everything. Don't underestimate how much more enjoyable a hike can be if your pack is 10 lbs lighter.
Gear lists help. It is important however to understand why people pick the items they do, so don't just buy items off someone's list and expect them to work perfectly for you. How you use gear is as important as what gear you have. For example, moisture management. I hike with someone who likes to be warm. For a short hike this is fine, because at the end you reach your car and can change into dry clothing. For overnight hikes however, if you get wet you may not have an opportunity to change into dry gear at the end of the day, and that can be dangerous. I have finished a 7 hour hike in the rain with an overnight pack completely dry, while my hiking partner was soaked to the skin (even with rain gear). Telling you to get X and Y doesn't work if you don't know how to use X and Y.