Fall Day Hiking Essentials

Fall has finally descended on the Bay Area which means lots of day hiking with Lola and longer backpacking trips to the Sierras. Most of the gear listed here I have been using on day hiking trips throughout the summer in places like Utah and Colorado, but will continue to pack these essentials for weeks to come.

  1. Granite Gear Rongbuk 28 ($135): The Rongbuk 28 features a smaller outer pocket with just a strap and buckle over the top for those things you need to access quickly, a middle compartment with a zippered top to secure items, and a large main compartment for clothing or other bulkier gear. Inside the main compartment is a sleeve that can hold a hydration reservoir, an iPad, or small laptop. A fleece lined garage for your sunglasses or cell phone is at the top of the pack. The hipbelt and framesheet are removable for those lighter days and the pack comes with a built-in rain cover in case the skies open up.
  2. Sierra Designs Outside-In Hoody ($179): On varied weather hikes, the benefit of the Outside-In Hoody is that it allows you to control your body temperature with one garment. Sierra Designs figured out that with the shell side next-to-body, faster evaporation keeps you cooler when you’re on the move. If it gets colder and windier, flip it so the shell is outside, trapping more heat in the fleece. Two zippered hand warmer pockets on the shell side are placed above your hipbelt for easy access, while chest pockets hold sunglasses and a phone without interfering with pack straps.
  3. Columbia Titan Ice Short Sleeve Shirt: This time of year, the days usually remain pretty warm even if the nights get cooler, so I still hike in a cooling short sleeve shirt. For Spring ’16, Columbia updated their Omni-Freeze Zero collection by adding small perforations strategically placed in the fabric to aid evaporation and therefore the cooling process. While this particular shirt won’t be available until spring, Columbia currently sells other Omni-Freeze Zero shirts.
  4. Columbia Titan Peak Pant: Again, another Spring ’16 product but I love these hiking pants so much, I am giving all you women a big heads up. These pants fit great, look great, and are comfortable enough to wear all day and for many days on end. If they get soaked (which happened to me in Colombia), they dry incredibly quickly.
  5. Vasque Inhaler ($120): Incredibly breathable with a combination mesh and perforated foam upper and air-permeable toe and heel counters for maximum air flow. The mixed Vibram Pneumatic outsole and Megagrip rubber delivers traction over a variety of terrain. Vasque offers a Gore-Tex version of the Inhaler but with a low, light, and fast hiker, I don’t see much point–if your feet get wet the shoes will dry out pretty quickly.
  6. Five Ten Camp Four GTX ($180): These are a technically a men’s shoe but regardless your gender, if your typical day hike looks more like scrambling, you will appreciate the Stealth S1 rubber outsole on these comfortable hikers.
  7. UCO A-120 Comfort-Fit Headlamp ($40): I always keep a headlamp in my pack just in case and the new A-120 is not only comfortable to wear without any hard plastic bits pushing on your head but incredibly easy to operate–simply turn the dial one way for white light, infinitely adjustable up to 120 lumens, then turn the other way for red LED night vision mode.
  8. Beyond Coastal Sunscreen: Even though the temps are cooler, you still need sunblock. My favorite is Beyond Coastal–the All Natural version provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection using micronized Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. 
  9. Trimble Outdoors App (Free with in-app purchases): As you are going to bring your phone with you regardless, you might as well turn it into a full GPS with the Trimble Outdoors app. You get access to maps offline to use for navigation, mark waypoints and collect tracks, capture photos and videos, and record your trip stats.
  10. Adventure Medical Kits Heeler ($9.95): As Lola is a bit accident prone on the trail and I have had to carry her out over two miles before, I now bring a little medical kit purpose built for dogs when we go on longer hikes together.
  11. CamelBak Chute ($13): Durable and leakproof, the 0.75-liter water bottle has an angled spout that provides a high flow of water without sloshing or spilling.
  12. Buff ($15): I like to hike with a Buff as it can protect your neck from burning in the midday sun or work to keep your hair out of your face when it is windy.
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