I’m frequently asked questions about hiking gear. I’m no expert, but I thought it would be beneficial to share my favorite hiking products. The following is a review of the top products I use on almost every day hike.
Hiking Boots: I’ve tried numerous brands, styles, and fits, but my tried and true boots that have been consistent from year to year are my Salomon Quest 4D GTX Hiking Boots. Once upon a time they used to be blue…I think…but now they are appropriately showing 50 shades of dirt! They are a solid, mid-shaft boot that fit snugly to the contour of my feet but also have a roomy toe box. The Gore-Tex waterproof bootie construction keeps my feet dry while trekking through light water. These boots take time to break in. I would suggest taking them on small distance hikes first until they start conforming to your feet. They are pricy, but they are high-quality and will last you a few seasons if you are an avid hiker.
Backpack: My pack of choice is my Osprey Daylite Backpack. It’s a light weight, comfortable, and constructed of durable nylon. It’s small, but fits everything I need for an average 4-6 hour day hike. It has a 1 large compartment that makes it easy to locate gear and 1 small pocket at the top to hold small essentials. I like using the side mesh pockets to hold my trekking poles when I’m not using them. It also has a hydration compatible interior sleeve. My 2 liter Geiggerrig Hydration bladder fits snuggly in the sleeve.
Hydration System: To easily drink water on the go, I use the pressurized Geigerrig Hydration Engine. Benefits of using a Geigerrig:
- Easy to secure: I’ve found that in the past that other hydration bladders have leaked or the screw on lid is difficult to tighten. Not so with the Geigerrig! It’s a simple pouch with a fold over top that fits securely with a slide across clamp.
- No plastic taste: First time I’ve used it there was not even a small trace of that icky plastic taste that you get from regular hydration bladders.
- Pressurized: Geigerrig Hydration Packs spray, making it easy to share water with others and cool yourself down in high action activities.
- Filter ready: The filter easily attaches to the base of the sack on one end and the drinking tube on the other making it incredibly easy to drink filtered water on the go. I used the drinking filter while hiking Mount Whitney. I could filter water on the trail and I didn’t have to carry extra water weight while completing the difficult trek.
- Easy to clean: It’s dishwasher safe (on the top rack)! Simply pull the reservoir inside out for easy cleaning.
- Durable: The Geigerrig sack has nylon attached to one side, protecting the bladder from getting poked or ruptured by other items in your backpack.
Trekking Poles: I believe they are a necessity when hiking any trail over 10 miles, particularly if there is a steady elevation gain. Trekking poles primarily reduce impact on knees and joints and help distribute the weight put on your back. They also improve balance hiking down hill and when crossing water. In addition, trekking poles help you establish a consistent rhythm, improving circulation and heart rate. The trekking poles I use are Black Diamond Distance FLZ Z-Poles. These poles are incredibly light-weight and compact. Each trekking pole folds up into three segments and locks into place. They are easy to transport, and fit snuggly in the side pocket of my backpack. They are made from 100% carbon fiber, weighing in at less than a pound! Carrying extra weight is always a burden when hiking long distance so using light-weight trekking poles is vital!
Sun Protection: A hat may seem like a trivial item to feature but I believe it is super important to find one that fits your head properly and protects you from the sun. I stupidly did not wear a hat when I hiked Mount Whitney for the first time and got a nasty sunburn on my scalp—OUCH! Lesson learned, I never leave the house without wearing some protection on my head. My favorite hat to wear during the cooler SoCal winter months is my Scala Classico Crushable Felt Outback Hat. I wear my Scala hat on most of my hikes, making it my trademark on the trail! The crushable wool material makes it easy for me to stuff inside my pack when I’m not wearing it, but is structured well enough to keep it’s shape. It also has a little more style than your average trucker hat!
It’s also equally important to wear sunglasses. I love my sunglasses by Cayo Eyewear. Made of bamboo, they are light-weight yet durable. They are also polarized—neutralizing glare on a sunny day. As an added bonus, they float in water! They come in a variety of styles and prices start as low as $42!
When buying new gear, I advise trying it out before you purchase the item. See what works best for you. Happy hiking friends!