Hiking is one of our favorite outdoor activities. It always offers up something amazing: spectacular views, wildlife encounters, a breath of fresh air… Plus it’s a hobby that requires little money — Yay! — after a small initial investment.
From basics like boots to specialty items like bear mace, if you want to know what gear we use (and recommend) for hiking, find out right here!
A good pair of hiking boots is the biggest and best investment you’ll make as a hiker. They can last a long time if you take good care of them. Ian’s last pair lasted over 10 years! I’ve had my current pair since 2013, and they show little evidence of wear.
Tip: Make sure you get a good fit. Order from a site that offers free shipping and easy returns/exchanges, or buy your boots in store. Websites I recommend for hiking boots shopping:
- REI offers free shipping with a minimum order amount and free in-store returns/exchanges.
- Zappos offers free shipping, returns and exchanges (the easiest online shopping experience, in my opinion).
- Amazon offers free shipping with a minimum order amount for items that are fulfilled by Amazon, and some Amazon Fashion items are eligible for free returns.
My exact boots are no longer available, but a newer version (link above) is.
Note: For urban hikes, we’ll commonly opt to wear running shoes instead of our boots.
Ever heard of 100% satisfaction guaranteed socks? There’s a reason these have a 5-star rating. Darn Tough guarantees to replace them if you wear them out!
Darn Tough socks are generally more affordable on Amazon (links above), but you can find them at REI, too.
I’m not a CamelBak straw person. I prefer a basic, easy-to-clean bottle. For a longer hike near a creek, we’ll pack the EcoVessel bottle below and/or some iodine tablets.
We’re all about hiking as lightweight as possible and don’t take a backpack on most short hikes. Even for longer day hikes, this is all we need for carrying a light jacket, sunscreen, granola bars, etc.
For longer day hikes, a simple, small first aid kit is a necessity. We like the ultralight/watertight kits from Adventure Medical Kits:
Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight (multiple sizes available)
Depending on where we’re hiking, we may also take one or more of the following items:
Bear Mace (Read the instructions before hiking in bear country.)
We don’t choose to hike in rainy or windy conditions, but sometimes we hike in places where sudden weather changes are common.
Sun Protection: Even when it’s cloudy or winter, I still use my hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Rain Gear: If we suspect rain or wind may become an issue, we’ll take along our lightweight rain gear. — Sierra Designs Microlight 2 Rain Jacket and Pants (women’s), North Face Venture Rain Jacket (men’s)
This little thing reminds me to stay active. Ian got this for me for Christmas, and since then we’ve been walking, running, or hiking on a regular basis. I mostly use it to track my daily steps, but I can also track the time I spend doing particular activities (like hiking), and track my sleep patterns. If you always carry your cell phone with you, an app can be a better, more affordable solution.
Check current pricing for the Flex at REI, too. Note:
Fellow hikers: did we miss anything? Share what’s on your hiking essentials list in the comments!
Want to know more about the gear we travel with? Check out our list of travel essentials.
About the Author
- In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.
- Alabama2017.01.23U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Twenty-Two (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas)
- Florida2017.01.20U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Twenty-One (Georgia and Florida)
- North Carolina2017.01.18U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Twenty (Tennessee and the Carolinas)
- Travel Life2017.01.16Our Year in Review: Backpacking, Campervanning and Getting Engaged