I had some more thoughts on hope and why I feel it may be more useful than beliefs.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
I believe Peter was very specific with his choice of words. Notice he did not ask us to be prepared to give reasons for our beliefs.
One reason hope tends to be more useful is because it is not a matter of right or wrong. I could believe with my whole heart that something is true... then find out it isn't. How often has this happened to us?
Hope speaks to our desires and where our heart is going. I think scripture shows that God tends to focus on our hearts.
Hope allows me to fellowship. I just had a great walk and conversation with a good friend of mine. He is LDS and I am not. Many people find it difficult to fellowship with someone of a different faith. My friend and I do not have this problem and I think it is due to Hope. We have beliefs that are very different and we often candidly discuss them. However, above our beliefs we find that we share a common Hope - That God is a loving God who wants us to grow in Him. That Goodness will triumph. That this will all end in a way better than either of us can imagine.