I’ve been hiking for a couple decades, try a ton of different gear, in all weathers and am REALLY TOUGH with my gear. With dogs, little balance, bad knees, and a good amount of tolerance to rain and snow, I can safely say this is gear I use and trust my life on. I’ll write another post on my camping gear, so this is aimed at day hikes in all weathers, mostly in rainy or potentially rainy weather where conditions change quickly.
Tough Gear > Lightweight Gear
With dog nails, my own clumsiness, and the tendency here to always be climbing hard rock, lightweight gear just does not last.
Layers > Heavy single solution
Because my hikes can take me through sunshine, to pouring rain, to hail, then snow, then sun again, perhaps with a couple mountains, layers are all important. I can go from shorts and tshirt to jacket weather really quickly passing by an exposed section of alpine, or a lunch stop while the rain rolls in. Merino wool is key with a waterproof shell can be key for not only your chest, but legs, feet, and head.
Expensive Brands with reliable Warranty > Cheaper No Name Brands
Over the years I’ve worn down or bought expensive clothing that hasn’t stood up to what I expected. As I’m getting more conscious of environmental impact of cheap clothing, I find that the price per clothing PER USE is what I try to keep in mind. A cheaper jacket may only last a year but an expensive one can last 5 (that’s a miracle for hiking gear for me) and when that jacket stops working after 5 years sometimes a good brand may fix it for you. It may not the an option for everyone but please keep in mind the cost PER USE of an item vs the upfront cost and if you can, support brands that try and fix their clothing.
- Fjallraven Keb Pants
- I love these pants. I live in them most of the year when it’s not super cold or super warm. They have two air vents on either side that I use nearly every hike, as well as gigantic pockets for treats and lens caps. There’s so many pockets I lose my car keys! I use the clips at the bottom as gaiters (not for crazy hikes but good enough) and they’re both comfortable and long-lasting. I cannot recommend them enough.
- Merino Wool base layers! This is key no matter what brand you go with, make sure that the percentage of wool is high or I do find that the clothing picks up scent a bit more. My favorites are Mia Short sleeves Brooke 1/4 zip (base layers) and Avery leggings as a base layer
- Icebreaker Quantum Hoodie
- I’ve owned 6 of these over time. It’s the perfect hoodie for me- thinner, zip up pockets, hood that zips to chin, hand sleeves that convert to semi-mittens
- Fingerless convertible glove/mittens
- They don’t look great but I haven’t found any other better option than these Amazon gloves (please let me know if you know some!) They’re stretchy, sized for females, and aren’t horrible in wet.
- Merino wool socks (any good brand, majority must be merino)
- The first thing to get when you start hiking are merino socks. Wet feet or damp feet lead to blisters and a miserable day! Make sure you have a backup on longer hikes or wet hikes with river crossings
- Arc’teryx Alpha/Beta Rain SV Jacket
- SV is for Severe weather. I live in rain for most of the year and my dog walks in 2 hour daily walks+ rainy hikes +all day rainy camp trips+ bushwhacking +river paddle trips counts as Severe! Yes these jackets are jaw droppingly expensive but I’ve tested and used their warranty several times. They actually stand by their gear and replace them if they leak. Since Gore-Tex really doesn’t last forever, it’s worth it for me to know my jacket will be replaced if I get a leaky one (I have unsuccessfully tried to replace Helly Hanson and North Face Gore Tex and only had a smooth replacement with Arc’teryx so now I’ll stick to this local brand).
- Fjallraven Bergtagen Eco-shell
- Because Gore-tex is so bad for the environment (look it up!) This is a nice Eco-friendly option. I have yet to test their fix/return policy!
- Salomon Quest 4D GTX Hiking Boots
- For snowy, rainy, muddy, and overnight hikes with weight on my back
- Waterproof, no break-in period, super comfortable, most of my friends use these
- I tend to go through 1-2 pairs a year, but I probably hike more than most, I’ve been wearing these for at least 5 years
- Salomon Quest XA Pro 3D GTX Hiking Shoes
- For those summer hikes without snow or deep mud
- great grip on rocks, even in the rain, very solid and stable
- the laceless system is amazing
- a bit less comfortable around my ankles than the boots I have
- Asolo TPS 520 Goretex Hiking boots
- These are my winter boots when I need something rigid or for any activities in the backcountry that doesn’t involve long days of hiking (they’re heavier than the Salomon boots)
- Native Chamonix Basecamp
- Great car shoes or hut shoes. It means so much to come back to a car after a long 12 hour hiking day or multi-day and change into clouds on your feet.
- I’ve tried different kinds of car shoes but since I’m usually hiking back to a forest road, with potential 4wding and puddles, I don’t like open shoes anymore if I need to jump in and out of my car (it’s so stupid to get a toe injury AFTER the hike!). Slip on shoes rule!
- Osprey Women’s Verve 9 (Closest to now Raven 10)
- I love this bag so much for shorter summer hikes. The backstraps are sufficient to carry weight, it fits my DSLR, has extra compartments to fit a scary amount of items, and water compartment as well as waist strap. With my camera clip, I can carry my camera on the front strap and 2 extra lenses with bear spray, clothing layers, water, and food. It doesn’t look pretty but it works.
- Osprey Mira 34 (now 32)
- I carry this less now because I can fit so much in the Verve bag. I use the 34L for day hikes that need a bunch of extra layers, safety gear, camera gear, etc. It’s also better if I’m scrambling and don’t want many things hanging off my bag, or if I’m taking significant weight.
- Fjallraven Absiko Hike 15
- Great for smaller local walks, the bag looks so much nicer than the Osprey ones and fits my DSLR with extras.
- Osprey Ariel 65 (I tried the Aura but switched) **new version only 70L** now seems to have a convertible lid to backpack
- A big reason I switched from Aura was that top compartment convertible lid to backpack that I use very very often. The pack is super comfortable and I’ve loaded it to the max, using all the extra straps.
- Bear Spray
- We live in bear country, I’ve never used one on a bear, but it’s about the only protection we can carry for a charging bear (guns are not allowed)
- First Aid kit
- self made- different sizes for different types of adventures
- don’t forget pills! Anti allergy and pain/swelling relief pills especially
- Most things are shared for humans and animals
- For dogs, an emergency bootie, duct tape, activated charcoal,
- Garmin InReach Mini
- For communication outside of cell reception
- For GPS tracking on trailess hikes
- For emergency services for yourself or others
- To check the weather out of service per hour
- Salt sticks
- for dehydration and loss of electrolytes
- I’m not a fan of adding things to my water so I prefer edibles
- easy to share with others!
- Knee Brace Bauerfeind Genutrain (not the Sports knee)
- I have a meniscus tear from 5 years ago and my knee can swell up without this. The price is worth it, it makes an enormous difference over cheaper ones you get at a drugstore. The Sports version is not the same, so get the Genutrain
- Battery Pack
- Battery pack with usb for at least 1 charge on the phone (also charges my headlamp and my InReach device)
- Katadyn Befree Water filter
- really quick filtering but not long-lasting
- super lightweight and easy to use
- Get the 3L bag if you have a choice, especially on camping trips
- I’ve tried MSR handpump (takes too long, too many parts that can break), the sawyer squeeze (takes too long, bags are frustrating, but lasts longer and easier to clean than Befree), and tablets (doesn’t get rid of sediment and you need a certain size bag of water). Overall, if I have the Befree the entire group will use it because it’s faster and easier but I will have a backup on bigger trips. I’ve still yet to find the perfect filter…
- For scrambles where rocks can tumble onto someone else’s head
- AllTrails App (or similar GPS device or App)
- The pro version allows you to download offline maps. I’ve used these maps countless times over my hikes to assist in understanding where a trail was, where FSRs are, how to get back onto trails, and where best in rugged terrain to aim for.
- no APP or device will help if you don’t know how to use them and how to navigate with them. They can also fail and not be accurate in mountains or valleys where there is interception of reception from satellites. Having a trip plan ahead of time, backup paper maps, batteries, and knowledge of terrain is extremely important and lifesaving.
- Hillsound Crampons
- I use the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra for most hikes that have varried terrain, or when I need to carry crampons “just in case”. I used to buy cheaper Amazon ones but after breaking 4 pairs I switched to these that are better made and support their products. Size up if you are wearing winter boots!
- I use Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro when the entire hike is in the snow with little exposed rock. They provide more stability and will not ball up snow, and are easier to wear as they are rigid.
- Hillsound Gaiters
- These are a good balance of tough and light. I tend to prefer slightly heavier gear that’s a bit tougher than super lightweight because I bushwack, have dogs, and ruin anything lightweight.
- A warm sip of tea is worth so much on top of a mountain! These stay so warm you’ll be waiting to cool them off before sipping.
- Also super important they do not leak and are tough enough to withstand a ton of wacking against rocks
- Fenix HL60R Headlamp
- The same story as most of my gear! After trying out a bunch of cheaper headlamps I bought the Fenix HL60R. It’s rechargeable with usb (I carry an extra battery pack that covers this), is super bright, waterproof, doesn’t accidentally turn on in my bag, and I’ve never had an issue with it.
- Ice Axe
- I’ve never had to use it to self arrest but there have been enough situations where we’ve walked past an avalanche zone, or been hiking up a steep enough snow slope that I wished I had this.
- Backcountry Access Shovel
- Who knew a shovel would be so useful? When not out on avalanche terrain, I try and keep this in my car. We’ve helped dig out enough cars including my own that this has been a super worthy investment.
- Part of my avalanche gear, you need a probe over 3m in our terrain here. AST1 course is needed before you venture out into our backcountry
- Barryvox Transceiver
- I have an older version for avalanche areas. I now feel stupid for hiking in areas with even a small bit of exposure without this.
- Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon WS
- I used a Black Diamond Shock pole for 6 years without issues and then switched to the FLZ treking poles because of the lightness and quick breakdown which I DO NOT RECOMEND as I broke two pairs (I also had to hack it for winter baskets). Then I switched to the Leki which so far has been wonderful but these poles do not allow winter baskets so now I use a cheap telescoping Black Diamond set for the winter.
- Oru Kayak
- I have the Beach and Bay model. With dogs the Beach is by far the best! You can fit so many dogs in as well as camera gear and the boat is quick (5mins) to set up and down (3mins) as well as stable and easy to use, best of all, packs up into a backpack.
- code WHISKEY10
- Alpaka Packraft
- At 10lbs the Explorer 42 boat can carry 2 people, 3 dogs (uncomfortably) or any amount of gear (weight up to 800lbs). I’ve carried this model up mountains and been the only one on the water. It’s wonderful for river crossings, hunting, bike trips, etc. Super stable and totally fine with dog nails, it blows up quickly with a big in under 5mins. However because it’s a raft it will go with the wind/waterflow and will spin if you stop paddling (ie it’s hard to take photos from in large water)
- Novacraft Canoe
- Their TuffStuff models are TOUGH! We have dragged these boats up and down rocky cliffs, dropped them from heights, and they’re very impressive. They’re also light enough I can portage easily and our 16ft fits a large amount of dogs without issue (we’ve fit 4 in, it was an adventure).
- Peak Design Capture camera clip
- Peak design camera clip to hold up my camera while hiking on my backpack. I get asked about this all the time. I now have two clips so I don’t have to keep moving it from bag to bag and I really love this option!
- SunRype fruit snacks
- Seems silly but I normally have a couple of these in my bag. They’re great if you need an energy boost, not dry so it’s easy to eat and digest if you are dehydrated, and doesn’t freeze easily so it’s great all year round (freezing food is an issue!).
- Zazubean chocolate
- Chocolate bars that are local, ethical, healthy, what more could you ask?
- Open Farm Freeze Dried Raw
- Not for humans, but if I want my dogs to stick around, and also for emergency food/snacks, these are lightweight, healthy (who wants runny poops outside?), and every single dog I petsit likes it.
- code WHISKEY10