My Hiking Essentials
I love to hike and over the years and seasons, I have really dialed in my hiking essentials. I hike mostly in Colorado but I think you could really apply this list to really anywhere. If I am missing one of your must-have items, slide into my DM’s and tell me about it.
What To Wear Hiking
Layers, layers, layers! Always pack in layers and prepare for rain! A good rule of thumb is that you want to be a little chilly when you leave the parking lot. You are going to work up a sweat hiking and start to shed layers so don’t put on too much!
So I have been in Colorado for 7 years and I just got my first pair of hiking boots. So you can totally hike in tennis shoes! There are two types of hiking shoes/boots low top and a high top. For weak ankles and more support – high top boots. I was totally fine for seven years in low tops but when I went to buy my first hiking boots, I wanted something with a lot of support. I just hiked my second 14er in these Vasque boots and have yet to get a blister!
Chacos – There are few things in life as satisfying as taking off your shoes after a hike and slipping into your Chacos. Chacos, Tevas, sandals whatever bring them your sweaty feet will thank you. And in a pinch, you can totally hike in them. I have now done two hikes in socks and chaos, definitely not on purpose! Linking to some other sporty sandal styles here.
Pants/Leggings – Unless it’s super cold I’m wearing legging capris. I have yet to invest in hiking pants but after a few chilly hikes this year, I am ready. I’ll keep you posted on what I choose. I have unintentionally bought a bunch of legging with side pockets and I love those for my phone. So I really liked Target Champion but hadn’t been able to find them in a while, just read that Champion is now on Amazon. If it was mild id prob wear my Old Navy Powersoft Leggings. I live in these, they are the best leggings.
Shorts – I mean Nike shorts are pretty great but there are some better hiking options. I personally love Patagonia Quick Dry Shorts. I got my first pair summer before 9th grade, 3 pairs actually all before a backpacking trip in Colorado and I still wear two of them. They are super comfortable and like the names says quick dry! Get caught in the rain or decided to go for a swim these shorts will be competently dry in a matter of minutes. I also like these for a pocket – phone, tissue etc.I personally wear the longer ones but might try the short ones this year. Linking to Clay’s favorite shorts here and here.
Skort – The Patagonia Skort is great for hiking and then grabbing a beer in town. It’s a stylish yet practical look that take you from any outdoor activity to one in town. I purchased a green one last summer and would love to get a black one this year. I also like this PrAna one!
Hiking Skirt – I know this sounds totally impractical and ridiculous at first, but then you realize why you would want one. Hiking skirts are typically worn in the winter over leggings to keep your thighs and butt warm. Genius! Sometimes leggings aren’t cutting it and a down hiking skirt is exactly what you need to keep your bum stay warm.
Layers! I always wear a tank and bring a long sleeve pullover just in case. Mountaintops can be windy and a light pullover will keep you comfortable. In the winter I have slightly thicker pullovers but tent to reach for a thicker jacket than be stuck with a heavy long sleeve shirt.
Layers, layers layers! Lots of different jacket options but I highly suggest always bringing a rain or wind jacket. At high altitudes, a storm can develop in minutes with no warning so be prepared for rain. The Patagonia Houdini jacket folds up into a tiny ball and protects you from the elements. I like hiking in Vests as well to keep my core warm but not get too hot. For winter the Patagonia puff is warm enough but breathable enough for hiking.
I really love thick socks but they aren’t great for hiking. Thin hiking socks are ideal. But really you want to wear the best size for your shoes. For my hiking boots its thin for my tennis shoes I like thick socks. I have a pair of Smartwool and Darn Tough and like them both – linking here.
My Must Have Hiking Gear
Depending upon the length of the hike I suggest taking a hydration backpack. Who wants to walk with a water bottle in your hand when you can carry in on your back. I just got the Gregory Maya 16 Pack and am super happy with it. I did a bit of research and chose this bag for its size, and the pockets. I like easy access and organization. This pack has a side pocket for waterbottle and an easy front flap to put a jacket that you want easy access too. The pack does not come with its own hydration bag – get this one. Skip down to the bottom to see what I always have in my hiking backpack.
Bring a hat! It will keep the sun off your face and neck and keep you warm in the winter.
- Wide Brim Hat – Heads get sweaty in hats so I look for a wide brim sturdy hat that is vented. Sturdy is key, you don’t want a floppy hat getting in your face the entire time your hiking. Floppy hats totally cut off your pretrial vision and cause you to walk into things and people. Trust me, I know.
- Baseball Hat– Baseball is a great alternative to a wide brim hat just be sure to slather that sunscreen on the back of your neck.
- Beanie – If it’s really cold or windy, you are gonna wish you had a beanie. Especially to keep your ears warm. If I am even thinking it will be cold I pack one. The CC Beanies I found on amazon are my favorite.
Sunglasses & Croakies
Pretty self-explanatory. I prefer something without the little nose pads so I can pull my hair back with them. Aviators no, wayfarers yes. I rock these from Amazon.
We just got our trekking poles at Walmart for our last hike and they are life-changing! Why have we not been hiking with these before?! Our Walmart poles were only $18 and work great.
What To Take In Your Hiking Bag
Tissues – Wind and cold will eventually cause a runny nose and you will probably need to take a pit stop on the trail
Sunscreen – Bring SUNSCREEN. I have really grown to love Supergoop sunscreen, I like their face lotions and the spay just seems to last way longer than anything else.
First Aid Kit + Meds – Because when a sinus headache strikes! Allergy meds, Advil and band-aids. Also any other required medication and if you got an EpiPen to bring it. Linking to a lightweight First Aid Kit.
Snacks – RXBars is our current favorite! Apples, clementines/cuties or some GORP are other great snack options. As you know sometimes I am packing a cheese plate so I bring a little lunch bag with an ice pack to keep my cheese cool.
Chapstick – Grab some with SPF to keep your lips protected from the sun
Water – I typically have a hydration pack but for hikes, but I usually have a full water bottle for the dogs. My HydroFlask seriously never leaves my side, it goes from room to room with me. I have the 21 oz with a sports top.
Beer or Canned Wine – Is there really anything better than a cold one altering reaching your destination or when you get back to the car to take a load off. No, not really, well besides the chaos the cold drink is the next best thing
Now that you have your gear nailed down its time to go hiking! Head to my Outdoors section to read about my favorite hikes!