The Gear you’ll need for hiking in the Negev will vary depending on the length of the hike, the difficulty level, the season and the time of day.
Hiking in any desert means long exposure to the sun. Sunscreen alone is just not going to cut it. Wear a light, well ventilated shirt with sleeves and comfortable pants. If you are planning a a multiple-day hike- long sleeves and long pants are recommended. These will protect your skin from the sun and will save you the hassle of re-applying sun screen regularly.
Always wear a hat. Wide brimmed hats are preferable.
Closed shoes with adequate ankle support are very important. Though some models of sandals are very comfortable – they just do not provide protection against the sharp rocks that many of the trails in the Negev can be characterized by, and the rare-but-possible scorpion encounter.
Shoes should be worn-in prior to your adventure in the desert.
Additional clothing should be considered according to weather and season. Carrying a lightweight rain cover is a good idea during all seasons. in the winter this will help during sudden showers. In the summer early morning dew can get you pretty wet as well. Same goes for a sweatshirt as evenings and early morning hours are chilly year round.
Always carry a map and a written description of the hike you intend on doing. Schematic maps are usually enough, but for long backpacking trips a topographic map, along with a compass are recommended. A cellphone is recommended as most (but surely not all) areas have reasonable cellphone coverage. Even without a cell package for Israel, you’ll still be able to call emergency services (100 on any phone in Israel). If you don’t have a phone at least make sure to have a watch, since being able to estimate your advance along the trails is essential for completing the hike safely during daylight hours.
Against all your best efforts, you might find yourself still out after dark. It is very important to have flashlight or better, a headlamp, ready for these situations, and of course, enough juice in the battery. So always check the batteries of your light before going on the hike, or simply carry spare batteries with you.
Do not leave on any hike without some sort of snack or sandwich. This will come in handy if you find yourself delayed, but also in case you need that extra kick of energy to complete a climb. If you are packing for a multiple day trek you might also wish to consider a gas stove for cooking a hot meal. small canisters can be found at many convenience stores. Of course don’t forget matches or a lighter.
You can never pack too many plastic bags- wrapping food, packing wet clothing, protecting gear from rain and collecting trash.
you’re going to need lots of water. Natural sources are scarce and unreliable. You do not need to purchase bottled water, as tap water is almost always drinkable, and on the rare occasions where it is not- will be adequately marked. It is important to hydrate regularly, so make sure to keep the bottles handy when you pack. In the summer fill bottles 3/4 full the night before and place in the freezer overnight. In the morning top off with tap water. This will ensure cold water throughout most of the day.
Walking sticks are becoming increasingly common along the trails of the Negev. They are a nice, balancing addition on day hikes, but are real game-changers when carrying the load of a fully packed backpack for two days in waterless desert.
It is, however, important to know when to collapse the walking sticks and store them, as many trails along in the Negev include sections of ladders and hand-holds. in such spots, the sticks will get in the way and might reduce your safety rather then improve on it.
Finally, your backpack. For short single day hikes a small backpack is enough and hostels usually lend such packs. For multiple day hikes you’ll want a durable pack with substantial volume. You should take time to make yourself acquainted with all of the adjustable straps and compartments on such pack, as you will be spending quite a bit of time with it’s on your back.