The snow might be flying in the high country, but the lower lands, including the foothills and valleys – still have some trails worth exploring!
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite our hiking essentials to help you stay prepared for a day on the trail. Here they are, from the bottom up!
Take care of your feet, and they’ll take care of you.
FITS Light Hiker Crew Socks
If you’re looking for a sock that has that made-for-your-foot feeling, look no further. FITS feature innovative technology with their full contact fit and gradient compression construction. This means, they hug where they need to and are build to give just the right amount of support for whatever activity you’re participating in. A personal favorite is the FITS Light Hiker – Crew, thanks to a variety of patterns and perfect amount of cushion in the heal, arch and toe.
Scarpa ZG Trek GTX Hiking Boot
Waterproof. Breathable. Comfort and performance-driven. What more can you ask for? We tested these boots on dirt, across creeks, and in light snow and they performed 100% of the time, Every Time. This boot speaks for itself. It’s light and nimble, but features enough rigidity to provide the perfect amount of support regardless of terrain and comes in men’s and women’s options.
The first thing I do when I purchase a new shoe or boot (runner, trail, ski or otherwise – anything outside of a sandal) is outfit it with an insole; and my insole of choice, every time, is a pair of Superfeet.
They offer a range of options from everyday use, endurance use (e.g., hike/run), and professional use, low-profile options for minimalists, mid-profile and high profile options, materials from merino to carbon for moisture wicking and insulation properties, to options for those that suffer from foot pain, and more.
Your feet are a critical component to getting out and on the trail. Keep them comfortable and ready to take on more miles with an insole.
With so many options on the market today, it’s tough to choose just one favorite jacket, pants or active layer. Some of our top picks are below!
Women’s Sherpa Kalpana Hike Tight
I have experienced many a hiking legging and tight and these immediately became a favorite of mine! Comfortable fit thanks to 4-way stretch fabric, equipped with pockets (yes, your phone and keys will fit!) and moisture-wicking material the Sherpa Kalpana Hike Tight is a go-to for any woman on the trail.
Men’s Prana Zion Stretch Pant
Breathable. Comfortable. Durable. Need we say more? The Prana Zion Stretch Pant is abrasion resistant (did someone say rock scramble?), feature just the right amount of pockets, and wick moisture perfectly. They’re great in just about any season, but are particularly nice if you heat up when you’re on the trail thanks to the ventilated inseam gussets.
Melanzana Micro Grid Hoodie
Are you ready for the last hoodie you’ll ever need? Sewn right in here Colorado (Leadville, to be precise), the Micro Grid Hoodie is perfect for any day on the trail. Made with a Polartec fleece material, it features a hood (with draw string!), front kangaroo style pocket and made in a full range of sizes and colors for guys and gals. The down side? You can only buy them IN the Leadville-based shop. Did someone say road trip?!
Pearl Izumi BLVD Merino Vest
Available in both women’s and men’s versions, the Pearl iZUMi may have created the perfect vest for everything from hikes to bike rides to hanging out at the local brewery. The BLVD Vest is light, has a great fit, features a large zipper pocket on the back and two traditional zipper pockets on either side, and is lightly insulated with responsibly and sustainability sourced merino wool for added warmth. This vest has become a staple in our hiking and biking kit!
There are a lot of packs on the market and depending on the intent of the day’s trail-based adventure, we have three suggested packs.
The Minimalist – Mountainsmith Heritage Tour Classic
It’s hard to beat a classic lumbar pack and the Heritage Tour is just that. This throwback edition brings in the original features of the 1980s Tour with a modern twist. Made with water and abrasion-resistant fabric and featuring a stashable hip belt that is wide enough to carry a significant load (or connect the shoulder strap for a different style carry), this pack will quickly become a go-to for short jaunts. It also features two large, but cinch-able bottle holders, a front panel bungee, back panel stash pocket, bottom panel compression straps and internal zip pocket for small essentials.
The Ultra-Prepared – Coulee 40
This 40 liter pack has all the external and internal storage you need, is fully adjustable so you can get a perfect fit and comes in a men’s and women’s version. We especially love the external pockets for quick stash-and-go access, water bottles, smaller cameras, snacks or layers – yes, there is that much room in them! And internally, you can access your contents (additional layers, first aid kit, maps/journal, etc.) via the patented Mystery Ranch 3-zip design (a favorite of ours!). If you’re looking for a pack to take on short hikes or long excursions, the Mystery Ranch Coulee is a great option.
The Photographer – WANDRD Duo Daypack
This pack became an instant favorite of ours after a few days on the trail. Whether you’re carrying a mirror less, DSLR, spare lenses or drove (or a combination of it all), this pack can handle it – and then some. The WANDRD Duo is the much-anticipated photographer-themed pack equally comfortable on the trail as it is in town and will be ready for purchase in the coming months!
Accessorize like a boss
Some people love accessories and others can do without. For us, we say ‘bring ‘em on!’. Here are some of our top picks for trail-ready accessories.
MSR DynaLock™ Ascent Carbon Backcountry Poles
Whether you day hike or do extended backpacking, trekking poles are a great addition to your kit. Our knees take a big hit on uphill climbs, but also downhill jaunts, but MSR’s Ascent Carbon Poles can help. Perfect if you need a little added stability, these poles are extremely light in hand, fully collapsible and feature a comfortable, yet durable, foam grip. Best part: like most of the other gear in this roundup, they are ready for every season, as they’re equally comfortable on dry trail as they are in backcountry snow.
Benchmade Bugout Pocket Knife
This go-anywhere pocket knife is a great addition to your hiking kit. There have been so many times in the past where I was on trail and needed a knife, but forgot to bring one or couldn’t find the one I packed. That isn’t the case with the Benchmade Bugout, thanks to the pocket carry clip. It’s also super light, perfectly sharp, and slim enough to fit smaller hangs.
Native Eyewear Throttle AF Sunglasses
Sleek fit, ultimate performance and ultra-comfy, the Native Throttle AF has become one of our favorite new pair of shads on the market. We especially appreciate the frame shape and feel with a matte finish and a shape that fits well while wearing any kind of head ware you can throw at it (flat brim, beanie, ball cap, western style, etc.). And Native’s lifetime warranty is always a nice option should something go wrong while you’re getting your outdoor adventuring on!
MyCharge Adventure Series Portable Charger
As a photographer – or even a iPhoneographer – I like having a spare battery pack with me at all times (especially when I don’t know just how long I’ll be out on the trail). Thanks to MyCharge, there is a lightweight, reliable option available to folks looking to power their essentials while on the trail. Their Adventure Series is rugged, durable and ready for the whatever elements get thrown at it. Equipped with USB charging ports, they have options that provide up to 10 device charges.
Hydration & Snacks
Snacks & hydration for the WIN!
Honey Stinger Organic Cracker Bar
Looking for something sweet on the trail? When you need an energy boost, but crave a little bit of chocolate, these Honey Stinger bars are perfect! Available in three different flavors (peanut butter and milk chocolate, cashew butter and milk chocolate, almond butter and dark chocolate), we grab these bars every time we run out the door. It’s a great snack packed with great ingredients.
Wild Zora Meat & Veggie Bars
Are savory snacks more your thing? We found a go-to snack there, too! These Wild Zora bars feature healthy ingredients and are available in 7 different options from lamb and kale to BBQ beef to spicy pork. Gluten, nut and soy-free, they are also a great option for AIP diet and those that suffer from food allergies.
Hydro Flask 24oz Bottle
The final component on our list to staying prepared for a day on the trail is WATER. Water is life and carrying it in an insulated bottle is our number one choice. Hydro Flask makes a lot of vessels, but we particularly appreciate their 24oz Standard Mouth Bottle. Fill it up and stick it in just about any bottle holder you can think of – because it’ll fit. It’s skinny, insulated and gets the job done.