Hey, welcome to the forum. I'd recommend taking it slow rather than jumping in all at once - begin with day hiking trips, and take the 10+ essentials with you. Learn how to use them if you don't know already.

Once you're comfortable with that, then start overnighters. Here's a suggested list of items you should have. You don't have to buy it all at once; you can borrow from others, rent, and buy used. Not everyone camps the same and the list you end up with might be a little different.

Depending where you go, you might have to jump through a few easy hoops; some places require backcountry permits to park at the trail, some areas have requirements for items that you should have: often times you can get away with open fires and hang your food from trees to keep them away from hungry paws, but other times you'll have to use a stove and store your food in a bear-proof canister.

Read a lot about hiking, and find people who are into it already to learn from them. Hiking clubs are a good start, but I've found that some clubs are too hardcore for beginners. Hiking with a large group of people has a different dynamic than going with one or two friends. Eventually you'll end up with a core group of people who enjoy the same type of hiking you do.

Edited by Wolfeye (01/25/09 06:06 PM)