10 Hiking Essentials You Need Before Hitting the Trail This Summer
This is but one installment of 37 Things a Man’s Gotta Do This Summer, our annual compendium of everything worth seeing, doing, eating, drinking and generally making time for in your neck of the woods between now and September. Stay tuned all month for more.
Hiking is the quintessential “easier said than done” activity.
Shrug off the need for a decent pair of boots — You think I need specific gear for taking a long walk? — and there’s a good chance you’ll roll an ankle or start whining about blisters before the trailhead’s even out of sight.
In service of not being the group’s resident wet blanket, make sure to tick off everything on this checklist before heading out. And remember to break in those boots.
The Boot: Danner Mountain 600 EnduroWeave
The latest offering from Danner is ideal for the fair-weather hiker. The Vibram Fuga outsole with Megagrip, paired with an SPE midsole, offers a sturdy hold underfoot, but their inventive woven textile upper lets it breath like your favorite running shoes.
The Trail Runner: Adidas Terrex Agravic Speed
Adidas has been pumping resources into its “Outdoor” division in recent years, partnering with industry vets like Gore-Tex and Continental Tires to yield a line of lightweight but hardwearing hiking shoes, base layers and performance outerwear. The Agravic is their flagship trail runner, but if you’re really looking to get those cross-country mile-times down, we recommend the Speed, which tips the scales at a scant 8.6 oz. In your hand, it feels like nothing at all, but the structured, snug, breathable upper will still give you the confidence you need to kick things into high gear on any terrain.
Hiking Socks: Darn Tough Coolmax Micro Crew Cushion
Made from a nylon, polyester and acrylic blend, these crew socks cushion each step and manage moisture, while breathing well enough your friends will still want to stay for a beer after you take your boots off. Plus: Darn Tough still makes all their socks in Vermont, so you’ll be doing a compatriot some good.
Daypack: Mystery Ranch In & Out Backpack
A common rookie mistake? Humping your standard city backpack. This one-pound pack, one of the lightest offerings from military-approved Mystery Ranch, is an affordable way to circumvent that. Mesh and padding on the straps make it a comfy carry, but it cinches tight for scrambling up rocks.
Sunscreen: All Good Non-Toxic Sport Sunscreen Spray
When it comes to sunscreen, no one likes to wear it, the easiest kinds to rub in are being banned for killing coral reefs, and the non-toxic options make you look like a mime. The people at All Good weren’t happy with that, so they devised a water-resistant, eco-friendly and chemical-free zinc formula. No excuse not to reapply.
Water Bottle: Hydro Flask 24 oz. Standard Mouth
A cursory glance at hydration offerings would find that the standard 32-oz. Nalgene weighs less than half as much as this Hydro Flask. But you’re not an ultralight hiker (and if you were, you’d pack a hydration sleeve). So go for a slightly heavier insulated bottle that’ll keep your water ice cold all day.
Polarized Sunglasses: Sunski Treeline
These polarized shades are made to take you where the sun meets the snow, but they’ll keep you from squinting even if you stay within eyesight of the parking lot. But it’s the little upgrades, like sun-blocking side flaps and nose pads, that make the difference between an annoying accessory and an indispensable piece of gear.
Hiking Pants: Fjällräven Abisko Lite Trekking Trouser
As the temps climb this summer, you’ll be tempted to slip on shorts, but do yourself a favor and opt for this super breathable, full-length trouser. Made from Fjällräven’s G-1000 Lite fabric and reinforced in the wear-and-tear areas but ventilated in the hips, you’ll thwart swamp ass as well as any insects looking to latch themselves onto your leg hairs.
Lightweight Multitool: Leatherman Heritage Micra
There’s no need for serrated blades and glass breakers on a casual hike. What you will need are the admittedly unsexy tools: a standard blade, nail cleaner for removing various wilderness gunk and tweezers for pulling out splinters and ticks. The revamped Heritage Micra has all those things, plus they throw in a leather sheath.
Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Black Carbon
If you only hike a couple times a year, we wouldn’t suggest dropping $200 on poles. But if you find yourself seeking out more demanding treks, this new design from LEKI (if used correctly) will help with both stamina in the short run and joint strength in the long run. Here, the extended grips let you shorten or lengthen the pole without readjusting at every gradient change. When you’re done, simply push a button to release the tension, fold up and stow in your pack if you’re heading straight from the trail to the brewery.