Our Hiking Gear

Our Hiking Gear (and why we love it) | North to South

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! 

Hiking Boots

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.

La Sportiva FC 4.0 GTX Hiking Boots (women’s)

Salomon Quest 4D II GTX Hiking Boots (men’s)

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:

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.

Brooks Launch 2 Running Shoe (women’s)

Nike Free 5.0+ Running Shoe (men’s)

Hiking Socks

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 Hiking Socks (women’s)

Darn Tough Hiking Socks (men’s)

Darn Tough socks are generally more affordable on Amazon (links above), but you can find them at REI, too.

Water Bottle

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.

CamelBak Chute Water Bottle

EcoVessel Filtration Water Bottle (read my review)


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.

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack

First Aid

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)

Safety Gear

Depending on where we’re hiking, we may also take one or more of the following items:

Personal Locator Beacon (for remote hiking/backpacking… Did you see 127 hours? Yeah, don’t let that happen to you. (Read my overview of our ResQLink PLB here.)

Bear Mace (Read the instructions before hiking in bear country.)

Weather Gear

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)

Fitness Tracker

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.

FitBit Flex Fitness Tracker

Free Pacer App

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.

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