It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of hiking and spending quality time outdoors in general. Since getting seriously into hiking (and by seriously I mean 4-20 mile single day trips) I’ve been asked a bunch of questions about resources, gear, safety, food, ect. I though I would create a page full of information for readers (and to send to friends who ask!) to help anyone interested in starting hiking! Honestly though, you totally DO NOT need everything I mention. The big ones, in my opinion, are the right layers, safety/first-aid, hydration, and nutrition – I’ll break this all down. It really depends on the hike – length, weather conditions, trail conditions, overall fitness abilities, and of course preference as to what gear you’ll ultimately need and want.
At the end of this page are some articles pertaining to getting involved in hiking, trail etiquette, tips and tricks, and just other hikers’ experiences which I’ve enjoyed seeing!
“If you think your life’s purpose needs to hit you like a lightning bolt, you’ll overlook the little day-to-day things that fascinate you. You grow and thrive by doing what excites you and what scares you every day, not by trying to find your passion.” —Derek Sivers
I’m a gear wh*re. It’s not a secret. I’m open about it and okay with this fact. I’m not okay with crappy gear however, I want the products I use to be both functional and durable. Also, hello, relatively broke college student speaking. I’m not a fan of buying something to have it break or wear out in a season (unless it’s trail runners….. because I go through sneakers faster than I can down a pot of coffee…. okay maybe not that fast but you get the idea). While I’m all about the pata-gucci, I must add I’ve not once paid full price for it. #skillz. 10/10 recommend shopping around and being thrifty in your quest of buying gear.
This page is designed to share the products I use, what gear items I find useful, and why I find them useful/their purpose.
*Please note: all opinions are my own and I am not affiliated or sponsored by any of the companies mentioned.*
Packs: In the winter I use the Gregory Jade 33L. For me, this pack could double as a backpacking pack in warmer months as it provides ample space for shelter, hydration, food, layers. For other seasons I either use the Osprey Tempest 9L. I used to use more often and still have the Osprey Talon 22, and highly rec this pack also! In the heat of summer and for mountain adventures where I intended to run equal to or more than the time I hike I’ve been loving the Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta.
I introduce to you, winter vs. summer…
Hydration: I’m a BIG fan of Platypus big zip bladders and own both 2L and 3L bladders. I tried a Camelbak and hated it… I could never get it full to the top AND close it without massive leakage. The zip-style Platypus allows max fluid capacity, easy closure, and cleaning this bladder is also super easy. I’ve had my 3L since 2012 (five years) and so far it still works great, no replacement parts outside of the mouth piece have been needed. On that note, for the running vest I use a Hydrapak Velocity because it’s smaller and super flexible so it fits perfect and doesn’t slosh much when moving faster! On hikes with temperatures ranging around or much below freezing, I typically nix the bladder and use a large (32 or 48 oz) Nalgene and/or a Hydroflask. Pro tip: fill hydroflask with HOT tea on hikes with temps in the teens and it will be perfect sipping temperature on the way down to warm you back up!
First aid/safety/hygiene: I know a bunch of people who just stuff a random, store-bought first aid kit in their pack and call it good. While chances are, for a day hike with good conditions pending your navigation skills are half decent, this will suffice if shit hits the fan… that said, I prefer my own makeshift kit. Usually I will take with me “vitamin-I” (ibuprofen), Benadryl, variety of band-aids/gauze, chapstick, a tampon, lighter (warmer months)/ matches (colder months), hand and toe warmers (1 pack year round, more in winter), pocket knife (I have used this on numerous occasions, albeit none for safety per say), headlamp, whistle (it’s just attached to my pack), waterproof map, ID, baby wipes (plus an extra small zip block for used ones – this is key!!!!). Then, depending on the hike or season some additional considerations: emergency blanket or bivvy, extra batteries for headlamp, poncho, sunscreen, bug spray – I like picaridin for the body and an essential oil based spray for my face!
Winter and other essentials (poles, gaiters, spikes, sunnies, ect): Black Diamond Z Poles – these are by far NOT essential. I find them useful in the winter for steep ascents and the occasional descent when not sliding down on my behind. I also take them with me on solo hikes and runs for 1. taking some of the pressure off my lower stems and 2. an emergency if I (knock on all the possible wood) break a leg/injure myself in some other way. In the winter I’ll also pack ski goggles or Julbo’s in addition to/in place of regular sunnies for the summit. My go-to shades are the ones from Goodr – they stay on my small face, are polarized, and tend to not fog up much. For traction in the winter I use Kahtoola microspikes which are magic in my humble opinion and my snowshoes are Tubbs Flex Alp. The snowshoes were an impulse because I got them on sale but I’m half obsessed and are great for powder and icier conditions alike. For keeping your shoes and feet dry (and calves a bit warmer) I recommend a pair or two of gaiters. During winter I use these and summer or winter trail “runs” I use these.
Shoes: Salomon X Ultra Mid boots, Salomon x mission, or Salomon Speedcross 4 trail runners (unless there is considerable snow/very cold (under 30ish on the base) temps I’m in trail runners, preferably in the most obnoxious color I can find). I find Salomon works the best for my feet, but this is very individual based on your foot shape and walking pattern! Note: I’m a narrower size 6, moderate arch, and supinate (aka I like to walk on the outside of my foot!).
Apparel: I’ve found what works well for me here and I’ll break it down by temperature range rather than season because summer can be cold and winter can be “toasty”. Please use this at your own discretion as our bodies all regulate temperature differently and I know my body but not yours!
Another round of winter vs. summer…
Note: these are BASE temps, not summit…. ** = depends on actual season/forecast (windy, rain showers, snow, ect.)
Under 30 degrees:
- On me: thermal leggings, long-sleeve thermal such as under armour cold gear, nano-puff vest, darn tough socks, hiking boots (with toe warmers inside), fleece gloves, winter hat (I like the ones which cover your ears).
- In my pack: extra pants – leggings or thermal wind-resistant pants, another long sleeve preferably fleece or mid-layer (one with a hood is great too if you get chilly easily!), t-shirt (there have been 20 degree days when I’m in a T-shirt because I got too hot…. Don’t be the one without enough layers and find yourself risking or worse dealing with hypothermia because you sweat/it froze/you froze). Also, second pair of socks, second hat (I usually wear my Skida alpine underneath the hat I already have on for the summit) waterproof mittens, buff, nano-puff jacket or ventrix hoodie, and shell**.
Winter hiking means you’re essentially a well insulated marshmallow.
- On me: leggings or running or spandex shorts**, tank, long-sleeve layer, darn tough socks, trail runners, trucker hat or half buff used as a headband.
- In my pack: wind layer, nano-puff jacket or ventrix hoodie, nano-puff vest, leggings (might just wear these versus having in pack), fleece gloves, winter hat.
- On me: running or spandex shorts, tank, darn tough socks, trail runners, trucker hat.
- In my pack: wind layer**, nano-puff jacket or vest, long-sleeve layer, leggings, extra socks, light-weight/liner gloves, fleece headband or lightweight beanie.
- On me: running or spandex shorts, tank, darn tough socks, trail runners, buff headband
- In my pack: wind layer, long-sleeve, nano-puff vest**, gloves, trucker hat
“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald