The right time for hiking the Israel National Trail is from September to May. Summer is too hot and you should try and avoid it. In fall time all hikers will walk from north to south, taking the weather into consideration. In springtime, for similar reasons, most hikers will start in the south, walking north. Staring in the south guarantees reasonable weather in the desert before summer kicks in, and when you reach the north the spring bloom is still in peak and rain fall is inadlikely.
You must prepare towards your journey. It is essential that you have good hiking shoes, and that you "break them in" to avoid painful blisters. Wear the new shoes as much as you can before going on your journey.
The best way to break your shoes in is while you are getting in shape. Appropriate fitness is needed for the journey. It is a common mistake to assume that the beginning in Kibutz Dan (north) is easy and you'll build your fitness while hiking. Many hikers who assume this find themselves exhausted. Starting in the south in Eilat requires top fitness. You will be facing very steep ascents on your very first day – so be prepared.
A recommended journey for hiking israel starts in March, in Tel Aviv, and heading south. The first few days are easy and allow you to build your stamina towards 2-3 more difficult days in the Judean mountains. When reaching Arad you will be in excellent shape. Continue to Eilat, and then take a palne / bus / car / taxi all the way up north to Dan and walk south to Tel aviv, where you originally started. Celebrate your journey's end in one of the many restaurants and the beautiful beach in Tel Aviv.
A good backpack is as important as your shoes. The size of your backpack should be 60-65 liters. A larger pack is not necessary, and you will most likely fill the extra space, causing a heavier backpack. It is recommended to try out your backpack in the store, when loaded with 15 kg weights. Other equipment includes: Sleeping bag, mattress, tent, walking sticks, hiking pants, cooking gear, flash light, socks, underwear (prefer boxer shorts), first aid, a hat and hygiene appliances. Other important objects are your cellphone and camera.
When examining your gear make sure the backpack without water and food weighs not more than 11 kgs. Remember that in the Negev you will carry 5-6 L of water and food weighs about 2 kg when carrying food for 2 or more days.
For planning the trip it is recommended to have the Israel National trail guide (Red guide) by Jacob Saar and Yagil Henkin. It contains all the topographical maps you will need, a detailed description of the trail on a day by day basis and a daily hiking profile showing the distance and height to climb or descend on that day.
Crossing the Negev desert requires caching water at some points where water supply is not available. You will need to cache at about 10 spots and you can do it on your own without a 4X4 car, or you can use a paid service. The price for water caching is high (~ $ 500) but it can be reduced if you share a ride with several other hikers. You will mark the caching spot, and draw a small map of how to find it. It is advisable to take a picture of the cach as well and take the coordinates if you have a GPS with you.
Finding partners for the journey can be done on the Israel National Trail forum.
Rules for a safe and pleasant journey:
Do not hate when it's too hot especially in the desert
Take a 10 minute break after every 50 minutes of hiking . At about noon time take a longer break.
Take a full day break at least once a week.
Take time for yourself . You and your friends will be spending about 6-7 weeks together on a 24 hr basis. Respect each other's needs and try to make space and personal room for each other, to avoid conflicts.
Stealing of valuables. This phenomenon exists in the part between Arad and Mitzpe Ramon, to be exact it is between Be'er Efe'e night camp and Hava night camp. Do not walk this part alone for several reasons: Every small mishap can turn into a big deal when you are alone. Lighting a camp fire will let thieves know your location. Put your valuables inside your sleeping bag. A tent provides better protection than sleeping outside. Put your backpack inside your tent, or if you do not have a tent tie your backpack to your body. It is a custom to cache some food along with your water. At the following night camps there have been reports over the years of stolen food: Be'er Efee, Mezad Tamar, Small Crater night camp, Mador night camp, Hava night camp. These events are rare, but can be unpleasant if they happen.
Therefore make sure you cache your water and food slightly away from the night camp, that will not catch the thieves' eye. A paid caching service is advised, as they know the job well. If your food or water has been stolen (very rare!) Call one of the local trail angles and they will bring buy some supplies (for a fee). Some paid caching services provide warrantee against thefts. If you lose your food and water – they will bring you supplies at no extra charge.
Carry a cellphone and have emergency phone numbers handy.
Putting a tent in the desert during the rainy season should be done in a higher place to avoid the risk of floods. In case of an emergency in the desert with no cellphone reception it is advisable to carry a whistle; you can use it to attract attention of hikers around you or a park ranger. Walking at night is not recommended. If you hike by the side of the road wear glow-in-the dark safety strips on your pack.
Finally here are some rules which result in a fine for breaking when hiking Israel : No sleeping in nature reserves except in designated areas. Park rangers from the Israeli nature reserve authority enforce this rule. No sleeping next to water pits in the desert, as these are used by wild animals and your presence will make the animals refuse from drinking. No camp fires outside of a designated areas and you may not use locally picked branches for starting your fire.