How to outfit yourself like a pro on your next hike
Whether you're new to hiking or a seasoned outdoor enthusiast, it's crucial to outfit yourself properly for the trails. Temperatures fluctuate depending on where you're exploring and what kind of hike you'll be taking on.
Whether it's a fall hike, or you're heading up into elevation, you'll need to accommodate for colder temperatures than what you might have grown accustomed to over the hotter months.
That's why we've curated a list of the pro gear you'll need, organized according to your level of expertise. If you want to partake in some autumn adventures, outfit yourself for success with these must-have items.
If you're an entry-level hiker or you prefer a more relaxed trail experience, we recommend you gear up with these basics.
Water bottle: No matter how short or long, relaxed or strenuous your hike, hydration is critical. We love Polar Insulated Bottles because they're easy to carry even if you don't bring a backpack, plus the wide mouth facilitates easy cleaning after your adventure.
Hiking socks: No matter your footwear choice, a high-quality hiking sock is a must-have for any fall hike. A merino wool pair, like this one from Danish Endurance, will keep your feet both warm and dry in any conditions.
Daypack: It never hurts to be extra prepared, even for a shorter trek. A small daypack can hold your phone, keys, wallet, extra clothes, clean socks, snacks, hydration, and anything else you might want. REI's Co-Op Trail 25 is perfect for this and is available in both men's and women's designs.
Trail snacks: In our opinion, the best part of hiking is the snacks. They're a great thing to carry in your daypack, and we love Sahale Snacks Classic Fruit + Nut Trail Mix because the portion sizes are optimum for hiking and the mix of nuts and fruits strikes the ideal balance.
Beanie: As summer fades and temperatures cool off, a beanie is an essential for any autumn adventure. The Coal Uniform Beanie is both fashionable and functional, making it a worthwhile addition to your fall hiking aesthetic.
Flashlight: The days are getting shorter, and you might find the sun setting on your fall hike. If you carry a flashlight, like this lightweight LED model from Fenix, you can enjoy the beauty of the dusk without worrying about getting lost in the dark.
First aid: Even on the most beginner-friendly trails, you'll want to carry a first aid kit just in case; better safe than sorry. Opt for a lightweight choice like the Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Day Tripper Lite, which is compact but contains a lot of supplies.
Hammock: If you're more interested in relaxing outdoors than in getting a workout, it might be worth your while to carry a hammock so you can string it up alongside the trail and kick back. We love the ever-popular ENO DoubleNest Hammock for its compact storage size, light weight, and durability.
For those who already have the basics on hand but are looking to do longer or more intense trails, these are some worthwhile products to consider.
Hiking boots: For the more committed hiker, it's necessary to invest in a sturdy pair of waterproof hiking boots to keep your feet warm and dry on all terrain. The Merrell Moab 2 is highly rated, waterproof, and available in both women's and men's options.
Base layer: If you want to dress for success on a fall hike, the most crucial component of your outfit is layers. Start with a base layer, like REI's Co-op Merino Midweight Base Layer Top (available in women's and men's styles), in order to keep your core warm.
Windbreaker: You can layer as much as you want on top of your base, but we recommend topping off with a windbreaker in order to cut through any chilly winds you might encounter. The men's and women's models of the Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket are the trifecta: light, breathable, and waterproof.
Thermos: For a seasonal experience, you might consider hydrating with a warm beverage like tea, coffee, or cider. The YETI Rambler Vacuum Bottle is extremely popular for its ability to keep drinks hot for long stretches of time, and it's definitely worth the investment.
Portable charger: The last thing you want on your hike is to run out of cell phone battery. This is where a portable charger, like this small model from Anker, can come in handy to make sure you're never stranded on the trails.
This collection of expert-level gear will aid any trailblazer on awesome autumn excursions.
Hiking backpack: If you might be backpacking or partaking in some multi-day hikes, you'll need a spacious hiking backpack with a sturdy, comfortable construction. The TETON Sports Scout 3400 is a top-seller at an attainable price point.
Binoculars: If you're a capable enough hiker, you might want to experience some new views. A pair of compact binoculars, like this pair from Bushnell, can be easily carried to aid you in spotting all variety of flora and fauna.
Hydration pack: This will take your hydration one step further than a water bottle, allowing you to carry water on longer or more strenuous hikes with ease. The CamelBak Velocity 70 oz. Hydration Pack can fit within a larger backpack or can be used on its own.
Water filter: If you plan on tackling some especially long treks and you'll encounter natural water sources, a water filtration system is necessary. Sawyer's Mini Water Filter is small enough to fit in your pack and can be used to drink directly from a stream.
Trekking poles: Trekking poles are supportive on treacherous terrain, plus they're a great bolster when you start to fatigue during an intense hike. We love the Black Diamond Distance FLZ Trekking Poles because they fold for easy storage, plus they're stiff while still being easily adjustable.
Sarah Pitts is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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