Your Guide to Hiking Gear
There’s a good reason Cheryl Strayed’s overstuffed pack was dubbed “Monster” in her book Wild (you might have seen the movie version starring Reese Witherspoon). It takes a lot to sustain a person for a 93-day, 1,100-mile hike up the Pacific Crest Trail! (Check out what Strayed says about Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.)
Today, the gear checklist is almost the same, but (thankfully) most items have lost some weight. “Monster” for one, which was made by Gregory Packs (they recreated a replica for the film!), has been replaced by a sleek, super-light J63 Pack ($230; rei.com) that weighs only three pounds, two ounces empty. And those famous boots with the trademark red laces that don the book cover of Wild also got a makeover. Danner re-imagined the now-defunct REI kicks that Strayed wore 19 years ago for Witherspoon ($299; rei.com).
The bag and boots aren’t the only two products to see massive improvements either. Outdoor equipment has come a long way in two decades. On the slides ahead, the standard list of 10 essentials any hiker needs for a multi-day trip.
Meadow Mat Waterproof Blanket
You don’t want a wet blanket in your bag, and even dry ones take up too much space. Thankfully, the Meadow Mat Waterproof Blanket is designed to fold up perfectly when you’re done with your nature nap. ($60; alitedesigns.com)
Alchemist 25/35 Pack
The Alchemist 25/35 Pack can expand its capacity from 25 to 35 liters and has a hydration sleeve that keeps your water in place. Related PSA: Bring water. ($179; eddiebauer.com) (Don’t miss these other awesome hiking backpacks for women.)
Viewfinder Smith Bridgetown Sunglasses
Viewfinder Smith Bridgetown Sunglasses protect your eyes from UVA rays and enhances the color and definition of everything you see, thanks to special lenses. #YesFilter. ($169; smithoptics.com)
Throw on this stylish prAna Zion Cadet Hat ($20; rei.com), made of a cotton and polyester blend, to keep your brain from roasting in the hot sun.
Adidas Outdoor Terrex Solo Sneakers
Adidas Outdoor Terrex Solo Sneakers have supersticky outsoles for serious grip but are not as heavy as traditional hiking boots. ($120; adidasoutdoor.com)
Eddie Bauer Downlight StormDown Jacket
Lock in your body’s heat with this windproof, water-resistant puffer from Eddie Bauer: Downlight StormDown Jacket ($230; eddiebauer.com). The 800-fill polyester shell compresses down to a few ounces making it easily stashable too.
ExOfficio Camina Pant
On bottom, we like the slim-fitting and flattering ExOfficio Camina Pant ($70; exofficio.com) that moves with you thanks to a polyester-spandex fabric that wicks moisture and dries fast.
Mountain Hardwear Women’s Heration Sleeping Bag
Crawl into the two-pound, seven-ounce Mountain Hardwear Women’s Heratio Sleeping Bag ($230; mountainhardwear.com) for a cozy, featherlight bed that feels like a warm hug with its heat-retaining 650-fill down.
REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad
For extra warmth, added separation from the cold ground, and a softer landing, lay your body to rest on the one-pound inflatable REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad ($100; rei.com).
When nature calls, it doesn’t care that’s it’s 3 a.m. and pitch black out. When you gotta go, you’ll want the hands-free Coleman CHT 4 headlamp ($20; coleman.com), powered by two AAA batteries, to lead the way. On the highest setting extra-bright, the 150 lumens light up to 180 feet ahead of you. Six other modes include strobe in red and blue.
The HTC One (M8) for Windows ($649; htc.com) features a sweet five-inch display and duo camera with UltraPixel. A few free apps to download pre-trip? Hike & Bike lets you track your distance, speed, altitude, time, and position. (Plus, it provides views of road, aerial and terrain maps.) OneNote lets you keep a journal, like Strayed did. And the Amazon Kindle app will let you cozy up with literature in the evenings.
Pinch Provisions Emergency Kit
This Pinch Provisions How to Be a Happy Camper Kit contains the essentials, such as bandages and a compass, along with creature comforts like lip balm and deodorant. ($16; pinchprovisions.com)
MSR WindBurner Stove System
After a long day on your feet, there’s nothing like sitting down to a hot meal. Instead of building a fire, which can be a time-suck and bad for the environment, use the quick-and-easy MSR WindBurner Stove System ($130; rei.com), which only requires a single 100-gram fuel canister for about an hour of burn time. Boil water in less than three minutes to cook pasta or steam veggies in the stove’s half-liter aluminum pot.
Bear Grylls Compact II Folding Knife
Even girl scouts know the value in carrying a steel blade, like the one-ounce Bear Grylls Compact II Folding Knife ($21; gerbergear.com), on the trail. You never know when you need to cut something like twigs for kindle or cheese for a snack.
When you’re burning up to 5,000 calories a day, you need to plan on reaching for pocket fuel, like Strayed’s go-to Clif Bars ($1; rei.com), Honey Stingers Waffles ($1.50; rei.com), and Pistachio Chewy Bites ($6 per six-pack; settonfarms.com), every few hours. These high-energy snacks can help you power through til you get to camp where you can make yourself a proper meal, like pre-packaged mac-and-cheese.
32-Ounce Hydro Flask Insulated Water Bottle
A good rule of thumb is to drink a liter of water for every two miles you hike. Keep lots of water on hand with multiple bottles, like the 40-ounce Klean Kanteen The Original Classic ($28; kleankanteen.com) and the 32-ounce Hydro Flask Insulated Water Bottle ($40; hydroflask.com).
Camelbak All Clear
When you run out of water, it’s crucial to have a purification system to avoid adventure-curbing conditions, like dysentery (diarrhea caused by a bacteria), from a contaminated water source. With the Camelbak All Clear ($100; camelbak.com) you can use UV technology located in the bottle cap to zap natural water from, say, a stream and make it drinkable in 60 seconds. The UV bulb treats 16 gallons of water before it needs to be recharged.
REI Quarter Dome 1 Tent
Your home for the duration of your trip needs to be light, breathable, and easy to assemble when you’re dead tired. We love both of these three-season tents: the two-pound, two-ounce REI Quarter Dome 1 Tent ($220; rei.com) and the two-pound, seven-ounce REI Dash 2 Tent ($350; rei.com) if you brought a buddy or just want extra room.