Best Hiking Gear 2023

   Last updated April 2023.

   An easy way to thank my free guide to make sure you use the links on this page to buy your gear. I get a small commission to help me buy testing equipment, keep website advertising and paid promotion free. I rely on these commissions to keep the website running, so thank you very much!

   More details below, but for a quick look at what I’ve been using now and why, here it is.

   Topo Athletic Terraventure 3 Shoes (| Amazon) – after using for a long time, I can’t recommend this new model (7) (reasons). I switched to Terraventure, which is almost the same but not as soft, has a much better grip and is more durable. Osprey Stratos and 24 Daypack Sirrus (| |) – this bag is the perfect balance of comfort, space, and durability, suitable for almost all hikers. I’ve tried them all. I landed in Stratos. Garmin Mini satellite communications device (|) – Mini 2 can let me via text message and family share my position and status. If I’m in trouble, I can text SOS/911 back and forth. Black diamond stone Ergo cork foot rod (|) – I don’t always use the rod on foot, but in the wet and steep slopes, and streams the ferry, they are a godsend. The Trail Ergo is light, and the cork is great for sweaty hands. Gaia GPS App ()- Gaia GPS is a great way to get my hiking trails (a GPX) synced from the Internet to my phone. I use premium membership to save maps offline. I also use it to plan my hike before I leave. Garmin Epix Gen 2 (|) – these watches are expensive, but it can be all-weather use. I use it to track sleep, exercise, heart rate and track my hikes. It comes pre-installed with a hiking map to help me navigate. Petzl Actik core head lamp (REI) |

   The Actik Core is a very bright, yet lightweight headlamp that can be recharged or run on AAA batteries. I always carry a headlamp (and some extra aaa) in case I get stuck outside after dark. America’s Beauty Pass (aka National Park Pass)

   In the United States, with the exception of state and local parks (National Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation), you can get free admission anywhere you need a pass. Also available in place of adventure passes. It’s worth a fortune. Purchased through REI, they will donate 10 percent of their sales to the National Park Foundation. Sawyer squeezing water filtration system (|)

   Katadyn able folding filter water bottle (|)

   Even if I have clean water in my backpack, I will have some sort of filtration system in case I need more water. If I have a clear stream available, I will use Katadyn BeFree. If the water is rougher or unstable, I’d choose Sawyer Squeeze, which attaches nicely to SmartWater bottles that you can buy at any convenience store. They’re light, they’re effective, and they work. Some people have reported that BeFree tears, but after hundreds of hours of hiking with it, I have not encountered this problem. Super light spatula (|)

   I carry this light and effective shovel in case of an “emergency.” It sits in a Zip-Loc bag with a small roll of single-layer toilet paper and hand sanitizer. It’s light, and it makes life easier when you need it. Some also carry bear spray (|)

   Most of the time you don’t need bear spray, but in some places it is prudent or necessary. It’s also good for cougars and people. If you’re feeling anxious about wildlife, I suggest you read my guide to bears and my guide to mountain lions. The more you know, the better you will be. Mini USB Battery Charger ()

   The great thing about carrying around USB devices like my phone, GPS, camera and headlamp is that I only need a battery pack to charge them. New technology makes them smaller and lighter than ever before. I used this model as a backup for day hikes and overnight backpacking trips. Take a short cable and charge it. Wormhead reticulum

   These headnets look really silly, but they have been my saviors, saving me from insanity many times over. There’s nothing more maddening than climbing mountains, sweating, and keeping mosquitoes away. I carry this with me at all times, just in case. Picaridin Mosquito Repellent (Amazon)

   I carry some of these little lotion packs in my backpack for insects. It’s easier than applying mosquito repellent before every hike. I only use it when I need it. I also have good Osprey bag liner ()

   I’ve never had any luck with backpack covers, but the backpack liner does a great job of keeping everything dry when it’s wet outside. Keep your gear in a liner so it’s easy to switch bags if you do it once in a while. If you don’t want to spend money on a trash bag, use a trash bag or trash bag. Nutritious, healthy snacks

   I usually bring a bag of salted nuts to prevent cramps and maintain nutrients. I like it too, it’s sweeter than nuts, but still packed with healthy calories. I’ll bring some Muir Energy gel, which is the standard gel for health and taste (malnutrition). Electrolyte chewing ()

   I carry a few around with me in the summer, and if I sweat a lot, I stick one in my mouth. It helps me avoid cramps or any weird bumps from the heat. REI Membership ()

   For just $30, you can enjoy up to 10% interest for life. This is obvious. I keep a few things at the bottom of my bag in case I need them. The idea is to make you comfortable if you need to stay outside after dark and wait for help. Or if you need to signal a rescue without InReach.

   Emergency traffic ()

   It’s a lightweight sleeping bag that will help protect me from the elements and keep me warm. If you want extra warmth, just fill it with leaves or pine needles. SOL Fire Lite without fuel lighter (|)

   This lighter is amazing. This is a USB-charged, weatherproof, fuel-free lighter that burns extremely hot. There is also an emergency flashlight and rope that you can use to start a fire. It weighs less than 2oz. I’ll also carry a cheap Bic lighter for backup. Zpacks Titanium Micro Blade Knife ()

   I used to carry a Swiss Army knife, but I never used a bottle opener or anything like that. Now I’m carrying this mini blade, which weighs about the same as a potato chip. Satellite communicator (all reviews here)

   Satellite communicators allow you to send text messages in remote areas where there is no cell signal. Just like with mobile phones, you pay a subscription fee, but if there is an accident, you can access search and rescue. These items are worth every penny to me and I highly recommend carrying one. At the top of the guide, I have some communicators’ suggestions. I think it’s the key to my emergency Arsenal. whistle

   Most backpacks now have a whistle on the sternum strap that you should blow if you think help is on the way. Otherwise, just buy a cheap one from the dollar store and put it on your belt. Basic medical kit

   I have a small roll for wounds or blisters. Then I use a combination of gauze pads, small packages of antibiotic ointment, and small packages of alcohol wipes. Consider taking a field First Aid course with NOLS. Suunto M-3 D Leader Compass (|)

   While I know how to navigate with a compass, I don’t do it much these days because there isn’t much demand between my phone and my GPS device. But I have a sturdy compass in my backpack in case I need to go there. This Suunto is light and of good quality. I wouldn’t use a compass if I’d been using it to navigate, but it’s great if I need it in a pinch. Petzl e+LITE Emergency Headlight ()

   Lighting is really important, so I brought a spare headlamp. The Petzl model is super light, small and has a whistle. I don’t like to have a lot of stuff in my wardrobe, so I only bought a few key hiking outfits. In general, I like clothes that come from harmony, they fit well, are built for hikers, and blot out quickly.

   Here’s what I used on the trip:

   KUHL REBEL Convertible Pants ()

   Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants ()

   I usually wear pants as shorts, but if it’s cool or I want to protect my legs from brushing, I have the option of wearing long pants. Patagonia Capilene Cool Everyday Hoodie ()

   KUHL Engineering Hoodie ()

   I use hoodies as my all-around outerwear, and I’m really happy with what they have to offer. I can use it on cool mornings, hot days, or under a raincoat. If you plan on covering up, you can also wear a hood for warmth or protection if needed. REI Co-op Sahara T-shirt

   I chose a light shirt as a base, which absorbs moisture and keeps me cool. If I need to get warmer, I’ll pile a few layers on top. Black diamond rain storm line stretching shell (REI) |

   REI Co-op Dry Dry GTX Pants ()

   I have a shell jacket and pants in my backpack, just in case. They’re great for rain, obviously, but they’re also great for use in a pinch if it gets cold, especially if they go together. The Black diamond case is nice, but if the price isn’t an issue, the Arc’teryx Beta AR jacket () is a move. Patagonian bomber jacket

   A very light down jacket that you can tuck into your bag and wear on cool nights or cold peaks. This Patagonian model has some space in the armpits so you can walk around with a backpack. 150 Beanie Smartwool NTS merino (amazon) |

   I keep this lightweight cap in my bag to keep warm when the temperature drops. adidas Superlite Performance Visor Hat ()

   Outdoor Research Swift Sun Visor ()

   For me, the visor keeps sweat out of my eyes, gives me shade to see, and allows the heat to dissipate. When it got cold, I put my cap over it. Oakley Sunglasses ()

   I only wear sunglasses occasionally because I like the natural colors of the outdoors. But I can get photokeratitis (snow blindness) when hiking in harsh conditions like deserts or snow, and it’s not fun trying to navigate or use inReach when your vision isn’t 100%. I like Oakley because they are light, shatterproof and make my eyes feel good. Super cap risk storm on Sunday afternoon (|)

   I use it for shade during very hot hikes and heavy rain. I recently used it on a non-stop rainy day in Olympic National Park and it changed my life for the better. Versatile, lightweight, flat, and totally worth it. ExOfficio Give-N-Go 2.0 Boxer briefs

   The underwear is light, dries quickly and doesn’t roll up when you walk. They work very well. Hiking socks (REI) |

   There’s a reason “tough damn guy” has a reputation. They dry quickly, don’t blister, and last a lifetime. They are very useful to me and a no-brainer. NRS HydroSkin wet socks (|)

   Wet socks keep your feet warm in wet weather and are great for camping on cool nights. If you’re planning to hike in the rain, check out this video.Want to camp here too? Check out my guide to Parsons World. I don’t do long through-hiking; My longest trip is usually 4-5 days. As a general rule, I prefer not to buy specialized (and expensive) ultralight devices, but to keep things light. Here’s what works for me.

   Osprey Exos/Eja 58 packs

   This is a popular backpack for trail hikers because it is light, durable, and roomy. The backpack weighs just a little more than my day bag (less than 3 pounds) and holds 58 liters, enough for a long trip. For my 3-5 day backpacking trip, I appreciate that it’s a little more spacious and easy to fit a bear cone. I don’t have to fit everything in like a jigsaw puzzle. And it has a well-ventilated back, so it doesn’t get messy.


   Osprey Exos 58: |

   Osprey Eja 58: | big Agnes copper thorn HV UL2 tent (|)

   This is another top choice for PCT hikers and is where I learned about it. Now I love it. It is easy to install, spacious, lightweight and durable. If you took the tent parts out of the bag and put them separately in my backpack, it wouldn’t hold anything. Kammok Mantis Ultra Lightweight all-in-one Hammock Tent

   I usually use a hammock when I’m backpacking somewhere with trees, and this is the best. Everything is light enough to fit in a bag. It even has a built-in insect-proof net (detachable). From Sea to Mountain Top Ember Ultra Light 25F Down Comforter ()

   Nemo Disco 15 Sleeping Bag

   I like both sleep systems, and I switch between them when I’m out camping. When it’s a little warmer, I usually bring my comforter if I want to use it as a blanket. When I know I’m just trying to stay warm, the sleeping bag retains more heat but shrinks a bit. Both are light and small to pack. NEMO quasars three dimensional insulating air sleep pad (|)

   I found it very comfortable, especially when sleeping on my side. It is good at ground insulation, small size, and quite light. Sea to Summit Aeros senior pillow (|)

   I used to be a tough guy, just carrying clothes in stuff bags for pillows, but old age has mellowed me out. This pillow is worth a few extra ounces. I sleep much better. Hot melt the stone to the top of the mountain sea reactor limit bag liner (|)

   Padding is another device I’ve recently adopted. It means I don’t have to wash my quilt, adding extra warmth. In the summer, I just use this, I don’t use anything else, it’s great. Spray quick cooking cooking system (REI) |

   I’ve been using Jetboil since 2006 and it’s great. It’s simple, it heats water quickly, and it works. I tried it for a while, but went back to the full-size Flash model because it’s easy to store the fuel tank and parts in the cup without any tricky maneuvers. From the sea to the top of the hill alpha light long spoon – (|)

   I try to keep it simple. I boil water, then pour it into a bag, soak it, and eat it with this long spoon. Xiong Ku BV425 (| |)

   Ursack AllMitey (REI)

   Z-Packs Bear Hanging Kit ()

   If you’re unfamiliar with how to protect your food in the wild, or don’t know which method to use, I suggest you read my Guide to Bear Safety while Camping, which may be helpful. If you want to know how much food can fit in a bear can or Essac, check out this video and this one. Basic Lightweight Flip Flops ()

   At the end of your hike, don’t forget to pack comfortable sandals. Better than walking barefoot on sticks and rocks when you have to pee in the middle of the night. Crocs (Amazon)

   Yeah, go ahead and make fun of me. I wear Crocs. They’re super soft and cozy after a long day of hiking. I use the back strap so it doesn’t slide off when I’m driving. Whatever you do after hiking, give your feet a breath of air and give them a break from your hiking shoes. Trigger performance GRID X foam roller (|)

   It looks pretentious, but rolling your back and legs on it works wonders. Pro – Tec Athletics spinal massage ball (REI) |

   It’s basically a dog toy, but just spend a minute or two rolling your feet on this little ball and they’ll feel great. NUUN activity (|)

   Put one in a large water bottle to make sure all your electrolytes and minerals are filled. No sugar or junk, just what you need. SONY FX-3() SONY FE 14mm F1.8GM (Amazon) SONY ECM-B1M Shotgun microphone () DJI Wireless Microphone ()Peak Design Travel tripod ()iPhone 14 Pro Max ()Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2 30L ()Shure MV7 ()Kahtoola MICROspikes (|)

   I use these spikes when it’s likely to snow or freeze. I put them in a little bag so that if they fall off, they don’t mess everything up. Cooperative Activator 3.0 Pants (REI)

   These are good in cold weather. They are durable, warm and resilient. REI Co-op Medium Size Base Half Zip Top ()

   REI Co-op Medium Base (REI)

   Hiking Socks (REI)

   When it’s cold, I combine these heavier clothes with my usual climbing gear. There is no need to buy special winter gear unless you plan to spend a lot of time snowshoeing or winter hiking. Combining layers with a good shell will usually do the trick. REI Co-op Minimalist GTX Gloves 2.0 ()

   Black Diamond Air Type Gloves ()