Clothing and gear items are always a matter of personal preference, but the items I've listed below are what works for me.
All right, enough rambling and on to the hiking gear list!
First off, let's talk about the equipment on my hiking gear list.
If you're venturing out into the woods, at the very minimum it's a good idea to make sure you're bringing two things: the ten essentials, and something to carry them in.
First Aid: It might seem like overkill, but even if I'm going out onto the shortest, easiest trail I know, I still bring my DIY first aid and emergency kit with me.
Water: I prefer to carry my water in a hydration bladder most of the time since it encourages me to take smaller sips of water throughout the day, as opposed to waiting until a convenient time to try reaching backwards to find my water bottle, chugging from it, then attempting to put it back while I'm also trying to not trip over tree roots and rocks. I opted for a 3L one, since I could carry a lot of water if I needed to, or just not fill it up all the way if I decided I didn't. If I'm in a situation where I may need to filter water, this filter can be used inline with my hydration bladder, or also attached to the top of a standard water bottle.
Day Pack: I usually carry all of my stuff for a day hike in my TNF Surge Transit Backpack. It's not really a pack "designed" specifically for hiking, but I find it to be a really good multi-purpose backpack. It has a sectioned off laptop sleeve inside a separate, zippered compartment, which I will use to stash my 3L hydration bladder in while I am hiking. There is a TON of room inside the main compartment to store things, and the abundance of outside pockets (including a fleece lined sunglasses pocket) makes it easy to keep smaller items organized and easily accessible.
Waterproof Storage: If I'm concerned about anything in my pack getting wet, I will store it in a 15L dry bag, like this. You can find dry bags in a variety of sizes, but I find that a 15L bag is the prefect size to fit my extra layers, my electronics, and my backup battery charger. In a pinch, zip top bags are a good choice for small items, and a trash bag or a heavy duty contractor bag like this can make a great pack liner.
Whistle: Beyond the ten essentials, I like to wear a whistle around my neck or keep it attached to my pack. Admittedly, this mostly stems from a survival show I watched with Luke one time about a guy who got attacked while he was hunting and lost his voice after several hours of screaming for help. I used to be a lifeguard way back when, and had to use a whistle to communicate on a daily basis, so the one linked below is the one I personally use. It's loud and shrill and comes in a lot of fun colors.
Trekking Poles: You definitely don't need trekking poles to go hiking or backpacking. Actually, until Luke and I got a set before we went to Banff, I honestly kind of thought they were pointless. Now that I've spent a lot of time using them though, I don't think I will ever go back to hiking without them. They have saved me from tripping and falling so many times, and they have definitely saved my knees (and my butt) on quite a few steep downhills. The Black Diamond ones I use (linked below) are adjustable, lock securely in place with flip locks, and have cork grips that don't get all sweaty. Luke and I both LOVE them.
Favorite Hiking Equipment:
Hiking Clothing + Accessories
If you're not sure how warm or cold to dress, I have found THIS tool from Runner's World to be extremely helpful. It's for running, but sometimes I will also use it to help choose my hiking outfits, and then pack extra layers in my pack in case I need them.
Base Layer: When building an outfit for hiking, I like to start with a base layer. As a general rule, for warmer weather hikes (above 50°F) I will choose a moisture wicking tank top as a base layer, and in cooler weather I'll choose a moisture wicking long sleeve shirt. No matter the temperature, moisture wicking is key, because sitting around in damp clothes (or worse, having them continuously rub on your skin as you're moving) just plain sucks. For bottoms, I will typically hike in running shorts or capris on the days when it's above 50°F, and running pants when it's colder. I'm not sure if I have a favorite tank top or pair of shorts per se, but my favorite workout pants are the Total Knockout pocket tights/capris from Victoria's Secret. They stay put, are made from pretty thick material, and have good pockets.
Button Down: This layer probably isn't a necessity, but I like to wear a moisture wicking long sleeve button down for weird in between temperatures, or for a bit of extra sun protection.
Extra Layers: I always carry at least one rain layer and one warmth layer inside my pack so I can put it on if the weather changes, of if we stop for a break and I start to feel cold while I'm not moving.
- Rain Gear: Luke has a stylish set of Frog Toggs (you can check those out below) that I like to steal for situations where there isn't rain in the forecast but I'd rather be safe than sorry. They aren't the most durable, but they're super affordable, ultralight, pack up small, and offer good protection from rain and wind. When I know it's going to rain, I usually wear the rain coat I bought for running (also linked below). My resolve jacket has decent breathability for being a rain coat, a nice hood I can zip over my neck, and it layers over other clothing (including my puffy) if I need it to.
- Puffy: For warmth, a good puffy jacket that packs up small into its own pocket is a solid investment (bonus points if it has a hood). Unfortunately I can't provide a link because the exact model isn't currently available, but the puffy coats Luke and I have are from L.L. Bean. We LOVE them because they provide a lot of warmth without unnecessary bulk. (I've never used it, but this is a similar type of coat that is pretty popular among hikers and backpackers.)
- Fleece: I'll usually choose a fleece as a warm layer if I'm actively hiking or running, since it is much more breathable than my puffy. For cold without precipitation I'll choose my Denali Fleece, and for cold with precipitation I love my Shelbe Rashcel hoodie since it's waterproof and has a hood. They are both kind of bulky though, so you might want to opt for something a little more packable if you're not planning on wearing it much.
Shoes: For hiking footwear, I opted for a pair of Oboz boots. They have very good ankle support for terrain with a lot of rocks and hidden roots, good protection from stubbing my toes on said rocks and roots, and are waterproof, but what really sold me on them was how good the arch support is. I have had issues with plantar fasciitis in the past, and these boots offered the perfect amount of arch support for me, comparable to my favorite pair of Birkenstocks. One thing to note though, is that waterproof boots do not dry as quickly as trail running shoes, so if you often plan on getting your feet wet above the ankle, keep that in mind.
Socks: For situations where I'm hiking through a lot of sand, planning to take my boots off during a break, or doing a higher mileage workout, I will almost always opt for my toe socks because they are by far the best thing EVER at preventing me from getting blisters. For anything else, I like to wear my Darn Tough hiker socks because they help prevent blisters, dry fast, don't stink as bad as other socks when you're backpacking/traveling and have to reuse them, and come with a lifetime guarantee. I HATE crew socks, and the 1/4 length is the perfect height to wear with hiking boots without coming up any higher than they have to. If it's cold, snowy, or I think I might be on a trail where random plants will be brushing against me, I will usually wear an over the calf height version of either of these sicks.
Sports Bras + Underwear: The main goal is to opt for something that is comfortable and made of a soft, synthetic material that dries, but I've linked my favorites below. According to Luke, the Men's Ex Officios have a "ball pocket". I don't know much about ball pockets, but if you're a dude and you're reading this, that might be something you'll appreciate.
Accessories: I pretty much always keep a buff in my backpack. It can be worn several different ways, however most of the time I wear mine as a headband. It helps keep sweat out of my face during summer workouts or hot yoga practice, helps protect my ears from getting sunburned, and it keeps my ears warm if it's cold or windy. If I'm camping, backpacking, or hiking in cooler weather, a hat and some gloves are also something I like to pack. It's all a matter of personal preference, but I prefer a knit beanie and mittens lined on the inside with fleece because I feel they keep me the warmest and prevent cold wind from seeping in. If it's cold, I will usually hike in a random pair of lightweight moisture wicking gloves, but keep the warm mittens on deck just in case. Sometimes I also just pack extra socks and wear those instead of the gloves, especially if I'm backpacking.
Favorite Hiking Clothing + Accessories:
So, there you have it, my complete hiking gear list.
If you have any questions, or any favorite gear items that you find helpful on your hikes, let me know in the comments below!
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