HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU
Whether you're in it for the exercise, scenery, or both, it's hard to beat a hike when the weather's nice. But even though it's cheap or free to hit the trails, be sure you're prepared for the great outdoors — especially if you're thinking of tackling a longer day hike that takes you farther afield. From the most practical clothing to a few in-case-of-emergency items, here are 20 things you'll want when you add more miles to your woodland wanderings.
(Note: Prices and availability subject to change.)
GEAR TO TRY: DARN TOUGH VERMONT MERINO WOOL CREW SOCKS
GEAR TO TRY: EDDIE BAUER WOMEN'S RESOLUTION CREW T-SHIRT
Price: $20 | Buy it at Eddie Bauer
This FreeDry polyester shirt will keep your skin cool and dry, even when you're working up a sweat. It has built-in odor control and UPF 20 sun protection to give you a little extra cover on those longer hikes. Unfortunately, the women's version is sold out.
GEAR TO TRY: REI CO-OP TRAIL 25 PACK
Price: $79.95 | Buy it at REI
At 25 liters, this backpack is the perfect size for day hikers who want to be prepared. It includes a rain cover, a removable waist belt, padded mesh-covered straps, an internal frame that helps it keep its shape, and plenty of convenient pockets to stash things you need to keep handy.
GEAR TO TRY: CAMELBAK CHUTE
Price: $15.59 | Buy it at Amazon
Carry 50 ounces in one bottle with the lightweight CamelBak Chute – though it's also available in smaller sizes. A magnet keeps the cap out of the way as you quench your thirst, and the leak-proof top means you can put it in your backpack without dousing your other gear.
GEAR TO TRY: LIFESTRAW
Price: $14.75 | Buy it at Amazon
LifeStraw will take up almost zero room in your backpack, but it can filter up to 264 gallons of water. Simply sip through the straw wherever you find a water source, or scoop up some water and use the straw to drink it later — it removes 99.9 percent of dangerous bacteria and protozoa.
GEAR TO TRY: RXBAR WHOLE FOOD PROTEIN BAR
Price: $18.50 for 12 | Buy it at Amazon
It's hard to beat the convenience of a protein bar when you're on the trail. These RXBars pack in 12 grams of protein with no added sugar. They're also gluten-, dairy- and soy-free, with an ingredient list refreshingly free of crazy tongue twisters.
GEAR TO TRY: BLACK DIAMOND SPOT
Price: $33.40 | Buy it at Amazon
This Black Diamond headlamp provides up to 300 lumens to light your way. It includes strobe and night-vision modes for increased versatility, and it requires just a tap to go from bright to dim. It's also waterproof.
GEAR TO TRY: NO-AD SPORT SUNSCREEN
GEAR TO TRY: COLUMBIA BORA BORA BOONEY II SUN HAT
Price: $30 | Buy it at Amazon
This one-size-fits-all sun hat is made of textured nylon poplin with built-in UPF 50 sun protection. An integrated sweat band and mesh panels will keep things cool on hot days, and an adjustable chin strap will keep the hat from slipping around too much while you move.
GEAR TO TRY: DUDUMA POLARIZED SPORTS SUNGLASSES
Price: $22 | Buy it at Amazon
If you're just an occasional hiker, there's no need to overspend on shades. These sunglasses are economical and lightweight, with a polycarbonate frame made to resist breakage. The polarized lenses also have an anti-scratch coating.
GEAR TO TRY: THE NORTH FACE VENTURE 2 WOMEN'S RAIN JACKET
Price: $49 | Buy it at REI
This lightweight North Face jacket will help shield you from wind and water, but the breathable shell and vented armpits won't trap the heat. Zippered pockets, adjustable cuffs, a full hood, and a cinch cord easily keep the rain away from your body. Check out the men's version here.
SMARTPHONE BATTERY PACK
GEAR TO TRY: ANKER ASTRO E1 PORTABLE CHARGER
Price: $20 | Buy it at Amazon
This charger is about the size of a candy bar, but it will recharge your phone roughly two times. Even better, the PowerIQ Technology can get the job done in short order compared with using a normal computer USB port.
FIRST AID KIT
GEAR TO TRY: NORTHBOUND TRAIN FIRST AID KIT
Price: $17.97 | Buy it at Amazon
This kit, housed in a durable nylon zipper pouch, weighs just 11 ounces and will take up next to no room at the bottom of your backpack. Inside, you'll find essentials like stainless steel tweezers, an emergency blanket, bandages, gauze pads, antiseptic towelettes, and more.
GEAR TO TRY: FOX 40 SONIK BLAST CMG
Price: $3.63 | Buy it at Amazon
This 120-decibel whistle can be heard up to a mile away, and the durable ABS plastic will be just fine no matter the weather. It comes in a ton of colors and includes a breakaway lanyard perfect for looping around your neck or backpack straps.
GEAR TO TRY: BRUNTON TRUARC 3 COMPASS
Price: $14.78 | Buy it at Amazon
This budget-friendly compass is accurate whether you're in the northern or southern hemisphere, includes both standard and metric measurements, and features tool-free declination adjustment. It includes a lanyard to loop around your wrist or backpack straps.
GEAR TO TRY: OFF! DEEP WOODS INSECT REPELLENT
Price: $7.46 | Buy it at Walmart
With 25 percent DEET, OFF! Deep Woods helps ward off flies, gnats, chiggers, ticks, mosquitoes, and other pests. It can be sprayed directly on clothing and is sweat-resistant, keeping you protected even on the most strenuous hike. Prefer to steer clear of aerosol? Pump sprays and towelettes are available, too.
MATCHES OR FIRE STARTER
GEAR TO TRY: UCO STORMPROOF MATCH KIT
Price: $7.30 | Buy it at Amazon
Even if it's windy or pouring rain, these matches won't leave you in the lurch. They'll even relight after being submerged in water. The plastic case is waterproof and includes an integrated striker.
GEAR TO TRY: LEATHERMAN WINGMAN MULTI-TOOL
Price: $49.95 | Buy it at Amazon
The stainless-steel Leatherman Wingman is a gold standard in this category, and the splurge is worthwhile since it's useful in so many situations beyond hiking. There are 14 tools, including pliers, wire cutters, a knife, a bottle and can opener, a file, a screwdriver, and more.
GEAR TO TRY: ADVENTURE MEDICAL EMERGENCY BIVVY
Price: $17.59 | Buy it at Amazon
Packaged in a palm-size carrying bag, this bivvy weighs only 3.8 ounces. It's windproof and waterproof, but most importantly, it traps and retains 90 percent of your body heat — crucial if the temperature drops or wet conditions threaten to leave you drenched and shivering.