Hiking Gear

Ahnu Sugarpine II Waterproof Hiking Boot

I LOVE these boots. I have bought at least four different brands of hiking boots over the last few years that all came very highly recommended. None of them have come close to being as comfortable as these Ahnu Sugarpine boots. They are very lightweight, but give me great ankle support. They are waterproof, which is important for those wet weather hikes and creek crossings. They are not insulated, but with good socks (see below) my feet stay warm on most cold hikes. For the bitter cold days, Hot Hands Toe Warmers do the trick.

Smartwool PhD Outdoor Socks

I wear SmartWool socks for both summer and winter hiking. They wick away the sweat in summer to keep my feet dry, and are nice and warm in winter. On really cold days I will sometimes layer a thin pair of silk or nylon socks underneath for extra warmth. Yes, these are pricey socks, but my feet are worth it. They last forever, and with the cushioning this particular style has, it is like walking on air. This is important on those seven plus mile hikes.

Sealskinz Waterproof Socks

If I am planning a hike in the snow, or one with water crossings, these waterproof socks are a must. I also wear them when kayaking in colder weather. They keep your feet reasonably dry unless you are standing in water for a long time or get in water deeper than the height of the sock. However, even if they get wet inside, with the wicking properties and the thickness of the socks they keep your feet warm. I have the calf length socks, but hope to purchase a knee length pair soon for deeper water situations. When my hiking buddy Rob is anticipating water crossings during a hike, he will wear his knee length Sealskinz with water shoes instead of boots. While the rest of us are rock hopping, he wades right through.

Keen Newport H2 Sandal

Speaking of water shoes, these are a great choice. They have a nice, grippy sole, drain well, and with the solid toe guard work well for hiking. A few years ago I hiked the Devil’s Bathtub Trail in my Keen’s, a three plus mile hike that involved several water crossings. I prefer to wear boots for rugged trails so that I have some ankle support, but these are good for the occasional warm weather hike with creek crossings.

Singbring Hiking/Ski Pants

These fleece-lined, waterproof and windproof pants are great for cold weather hiking. They are warm and comfortable and with the zippered pockets your gear is safe. They come in several color combinations to keep you looking good on the trail.

Propper BDU Tactical Pants

I prefer these pants on the cool days, and for hikes when I will be doing a lot of bushwhacking. This is one of the rare cases where I will wear cotton while doing outdoor activities. They are slow to dry, but with the rip-stop cotton are great for battling through thorny situations in search of a geocache. I have worn them on very cold hikes, but in that case will wear a wicking base-layer like ClimateRight Cuddl Duds underneath for warmth and to keep the sweat off of my skin. Another plus of these tactical style pants is the many pockets they have for your “stuff.”

Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Pants

These are my go-to pants for the rare summer hike. They are lightweight, cool, wick sweat away, are fast-drying if you get caught in a rain storm and have lots of pockets. They are also sun-shading with UPF 50. Yes, they are men’s pants, but I’ve found that the women’s styles have smaller pockets and my giant phone doesn’t fit in a small pocket.

Crossroad Nomad 28 Backpack

Okay folks. I absolutely LOVE this backpack. Like my boots, I went through several backpacks before settling on this one. But, sadly you cannot buy it in the United States. A couple of my Czech friends were carrying these when we hiked together, so I did an online search for them. I found a Czech sporting goods store that sells them and asked a friend living there to buy it for me and bring when they visited the US. Mine is starting to show some wear, so I may do the same again this year.

Venture Pal Lightweight Packable Daypack

I carry this great little daypack for shorter adventures. When we are traveling, I pack it in my luggage to carry when we are venturing around town or are in port during a cruise. It will fold up into its own pocket, making it great for sticking in your luggage and pulling out when you need it. The chest strap helps distribute the weight if you have it loaded down. I have had mine for a year and traveled many miles with it. It is still holding up very well.

Badlands Hydration Bladder

After years of carrying a 3 Liter hydration bladder and never drinking that much water, I decided to lighten my load a bit and find a smaller bladder. I purchased this Badlands 2 Liter bladder but they also make a 1 Liter model. I really like the slide seal system for filling the bladder. It allows you to easily add ice cubes to the water, but gives you a secure seal. My old bladder had a similar system but was sometimes very difficult to open especially when it was cold. This one slides on and off very easily. I also like having the dust cover on the bite valve which keeps it clean and prevents leaks while you are hiking. The Hydrafusion™ thermoplastic urethane insulation on the tube is also a nice feature, keeping the water in the tube from freezing on very cold hikes and from getting warm on those hot summer days. It also provides protection for the tubing against snags from thorns and rips from branches.

Adventure Medical Kit

My mama and the Girl Scouts taught me to always be prepared. So, I carry this first aid kit with me whenever I hike, bike or paddle. It has a good variety of first aid supplies, but I have added a few extra items like a QuikClot Clotting Sponge for traumatic bleeding, an elastic support bandage for sprains or to hold larger bandages in place, a pack of cigarettes to make a paste for bee stings, and a few other assorted items.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

I have never actually used this item, but it rides around in the bottom of my backpack just in case I ever need it. Did I mention I like to be prepared? One perk of buying this particular product is that they claim “for every LifeStraw product purchased, a school child in need receives safe drinking water for an entire school year.”

Quik Solve Snow Cleats

This is another product that rides around in the bottom of my pack for use on snowy/icy trails. I have also used Yaktrax traction systems in the past.

EasyAcc Portable Charger

I bought this item in April 2016 and it is still going strong. This charger is awesome. It can sit in my backpack for several months, and when I test it will still have a nearly full charge. It claims to fully charge an iPhone six times on one charge. I have never run it completely down, even during a four day camping trip. It has four ports so you can charge your friend’s phones as well.

Lifeproof FRĒ SERIES Waterproof Case

I cannot say enough good things about this phone case. It has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. I have used this series of cases on every phone I have owned for the last several years. I have never had a cracked screen, despite numerous drops. I have dropped phones in lakes, rivers and streams and it has protected them from water damage. On one occasion, Deban left her phone on the roof of her car and it flew off on the interstate. I went with her an hour later to look for it using the Find My Friends app. We found it resting on the line between active lanes of traffic and the shoulder. The case was pretty beat up, but the phone was intact and working. Now THAT is a testimonial!

Seirus Innovation Cold Weather Balaclava

A balaclava, not to be confused with the yummy Greek dessert baklava, keeps my head, face and neck warm in the coldest hiking conditions. I like this particular model because it has vents for the nose and mouth that help cut down on foggy glasses.

ZSHOW Packable Down Jacket

Disclaimer: I purchased the down jacket I wear while hiking in Norway at a souvenir shop. The brand name is ROKK and I have not been able to find this jacket online. However, the one pictured above seems to be similar in style, weight and features and is affordable. I cannot peronally attest to its quality, but it scores 3.9 out of 5 stars with over 300 reviews so appears to be a good affordable option compared to the more expensive name brands.

What I like best about my jacket, and what this one seems to also have going for it is: It is lightweight and easily packs into the included small pouch. This makes it great for hiking because when I warm up I can stuff it in or attach it to the outside of my backpack without adding a lot of weight. It doesn’t bind and isn’t bulky, so I can wear it while driving without feeling restricted, and I can move easily while hiking. It is machine washable. It is very warm, and helps to block the wind and repel moisture.

Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Softshell Gloves

While these may not be the exact gloves I wear (Under Armour seems to have discontinued the ones I have) they are comparable. These gloves do a great job keeping my hands warm on all but the coldest of days (temps below 15°). On those days, it is tough to keep your digits warm but Hot Hands inside your gloves help.

These gloves repel moisture, have a cuff to keep your wrists warm, and include a small zippered pocket suitable for a key or other small object. They have Tech Touch tips on the fingers and thumb that do a fair job of allowing you to use your touchscreen phone. However, for typing or selecting small icons on the phone, I often find myself pulling these and any other gloves I’ve tried off.

Metog Suede Thinsulate Thermal Mitten/Glove

On some hikes I wear a cheap pair of knit finger-less mittens I picked up at Walgreen’s several years ago. The mittens allow your fingers to generate more shared heat because they are not separated. Like those pictured above, the pair I have allows you to flip the mitten over the back of your hand so that your fingertips are exposed when you want to use the phone. Of course, I usually type with my thumbs, so that is not possible since the thumb is fully enclosed.

While I have not personally tried the gloves above, they have garnered decent reviews on Amazon. Unlike the pair I have, they include Thinsulate insulation, and a suede palm which provides a better grip on the steering wheel while driving. They also come in a variety of sizes whereas the ones I wear are one size fits all.

NOTE: As of January 21, I have ordered the above gloves to try them out. I will review them here after I’ve had a chance to wear them a few times.