Last month, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Yosemite National Park, one of my favorite places in the world, with a handful of outdoor brands. Staying at AutoCamp just outside of Mariposa, we drove into the park each day to explore the trails, including a sunrise photography tutorial with Chris Burkard at some of his favorite spots to shoot in the valley.
The Mist Trail lives up to its name this year as California’s record snowpack means high runoff rates for the waterfalls in the park. The Merced River flooded large parts of the valley floor and the waterfalls were roaring, even the ethereal ones, pointed out by our extremely knowledgeable guide Dan from Y Explore.
If you are headed to Yosemite or one of the other national parks this summer, or even just heading out on your local trails, what gear do you need for hiking? Here is a list of my favorite day hiking gear that I used during my weekend in Yosemite and have continued to use over the past couple of months.
Prana Halle Straight: I’m obsessed with Prana’s water- and abrasion-resistant Stretch Zion performance fabric as it’s comfortable, stretchy-not-slouchy, and dries super quickly. The women’s Halle Straight pants look great on everyone and can be rolled up to the knee for river crossings, biking, or hot days on the trail. An integrated drawcord let’s you cinch up the waist as needed throughout the day or during different activities.
Prana Eileen Long Sleeve Sun Shirt: I am all about covering up to protect myself from the sun instead of slathering myself in sunscreen. This quick-drying shirt offers up UPF 50+ sun protection and the white color helps to keep you cool under a baking sun.
SmartWool Merino Sport Ultra Light Hoodie: For sunrise photo shoots and hiking wet and windy trails, this lightweight jacket makes the perfect extra layer to quickly throw on for a bit more warmth and protection. A DWR-treated shell fabric is paired with body-mapped panels of merino mesh to help enhance breathability and regulate your temperature. When you don’t need it anymore, the jacket packs into its own chest pocket for compact storage.
Osprey Skimmer 20: You don’t need to carry a huge load on day hikes but you do want enough room for hydration, extra layers, snacks, and your camera. This women’s-specific daypack is comfortable to carry all day, with an open mesh ventilated back panel to help keep things cool. The wide-mouth bucket-style opening lets you quickly access all your gear in the 20-liter main compartment, with a separate hydration compartment for the included 2.5-liter reservoir. On top of the pack, a scratch-free zippered slash pocket will safely store your sunglasses or phone as you hike.
Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX: I’m all about lightweight shoes when hiking as the less weight on your feet, the longer you can hike without getting tired. One of the lightest shoes in Vasque’s popular Breeze line, the new Breeze LT Low GTX offers all day comfort out of the box and is waterproof to boot — something that came in handy while hiking through puddles and spray up to Vernal and Nevada Falls. Never once did I slip (something you really don’t want to do on this trail) thanks to the grippy Vibram Megagrip outsole.
SmartWool PhD Outdoor Lite: Don’t forget the socks — they can make all the difference to your happiness on the trail. These lightweight merino wool socks have a virtually seamless toe to cut down on the chance of getting blisters and are naturally breathable and antimicrobial. Light cushioning in the heel and ball of the foot is paired with mesh zones on the top of the foot for extra venting.
Glerups: Your feet take the brunt of the beating when hiking so give them a little pampering as soon as you get off the trail — ditch the sweaty shoes and socks and slip into a pair of Glerups. Made from 100% pure natural wool felt, the shoes keeps your feet warm and dry, thanks to their ability to absorb moisture. Meant to be worn barefoot, the shoe will conform to your own foot shape over time. These are now my go-to shoes for around the house, as well as shoes for after any activity. I brought them with me on a recent bikepacking trip through Europe and even wore them walking around a trade show all day. I find them extremely comfortable and your feet do not overheat like they can in insulated shoes.
Sun Bum Sunscreen: This mineral sunscreen scores well with the Environmental Working Group and does not turn you face all white when applied.
OtterBox Elevation 20 Tumbler + Hydration Lid: You need to carry water when you hike and thankfully Yosemite is one of the national parks that have ditched single use plastic bottles. So make sure you have this stainless steel tumbler/lid combo on hand to fill up at the water station and bring with you on the trail. Best part? The tumbler doubles as a coffee cup for caffeinating on that pre-dawn drive into the park.