Replace "Basic Hacking" with "me."
The only differences between the different "versions" of Linux are the programs installed by default - some major ones to consider are the Desktop Environment (sometimes referred to as DE) and the Window Manager (WM). There's also external factors to consider, like community support, and how often the release is updated.
So, it's a process that involves a bit of soul searching. Check the different distros at Distrowatch or similar websites, check what kind of computer you have (old computers would benefit most from a lightweight distribution, for example), go to youtube and check out videos there, read performance specs, read the forums, essentially, do your best to get a "feel" of a distro, and if you like it, try it.
Once you've got the distribution, it's only a matter of installing the various tools you need, and customizing it to your taste.
I know that some distributions - Backtrack being an example - come pre-installed with many of the tools, and also have that special "h4xX0Rz" cred, but in the long run, it'll probably be better to have a computer that you're totally at ease with, and install the tools as you go along (with a good package manager, it isn't difficult), rather than having a foreign distribution pre-compiled with a bunch of tools you don't understand (which is silly because, again, these tools are really easy to install. I've heard of people using backtrack for the Wireless breaking abilities, but essentially that's just one program - Aircrack-ng).
Oh, and for what it's worth, I personally use Xubuntu (Ubuntu configured for Xfce Window Manager) 10.04, but am considering switching to CrunchBang once the next release comes out.