It’s officially fall, and the weather is starting to cool down up here in the Pacific Northwest. While many people mourn summer being over, I love fall. Besides pumpkin spice lattes, fall means it’s the perfect weather for hiking around here.
Whether you’re in Seattle or on the other side of the country, make sure you’re prepared before you head out. This list of essential hiking gear will be sure you have a safe and comfortable hike!
There’s two jackets I would recommend – water resistant or waterproof. A water resistant jacket will protect you some from the rain, so if the forecast isn’t calling for clouds or rain you’ll probably be safe wearing that. If you live in the PNW though, go with the waterproof jacket. I’ve used this Columbia one for years and it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Water literally rolls off it in downpours, and it dries completely in almost 15 minutes.
A sure fire way to get blisters and foot pain is to wear old, flimsy shoes. Make sure you have supportive shoes that come up to at least your ankle. Not everyone wants or needs hiking boots, but I like these shoes in particular because they don’t let any mud or wetness get in my shoe.
First Aid Kit
I realize I probably sound like your mom right now, but she was right. While hiking is generally safe, you never know when you’ll slip and scrap your knee on a rock. Bleeding for the rest of the trip isn’t what you want, so bring a small kit with bandaids and ointment in case that happens.
Anything But Cotton
You’ll be sweating a lot as you warm up, and cotton does not dry quickly. It’s not fun to feel wet and sticky halfway through your hike. Synthetic clothing will dry much faster, making it more comfortable when you’re wet.
It may sound simple, but please wear socks that fit. Thin, stretched out socks will have your foot sliding around in your shoe and give you blisters before you’ve even had your first rest break. I like a medium-weight pair of socks that’s a little thicker to protect against blisters.
(Dress in) Layers
Hiking in the fall is tricky – the mornings start off really cold and foggy, but by noon it might be sunny and warm. Bring items that can easily be peeled off, such as long underwear, a zip up fleece jacket, and a rainjacket. When you warm up, just tie your jacket around your waist. It may be very 1990s, but you’ll be able to continue on your hike quickly.
Being warm is crucial during those chilly fall mornings, so start out wearing a fleece jacket to protect you from the chill. If you’re going somewhere prone to wind, this will help fight the windshield a bit as well. You can easily peel it off once you get warm and put it in your backpack.
Plenty of Snacks and Water
As you increase your mileage, you’ll need to refuel more often than your shorter hikes. There’s nothing worse than being hungry and thirsty before you’ve even reached the top. For shorter hikes, pack nuts or granola bars to fuel you up along with water for each person. If you’ll be gone all day, pack those snacks plus a sandwich with plenty of protein.
I bring my iPhone on some hikes to snap quick shots, but my Nikon D7100 is what takes all the quality shots. It allows me to capture specific motions, like freezing a waterfall for a feathery affect or capture fast moving animals. Landscape shots are my favorite with it too, as it captures all the little details and beautiful fall colors.
I used to hike with a cheap backpack, but as my hikes got longer that got uncomfortable. If you’re going to be hiking a lot, it’s important to invest in a proper hiking backpack. I use this lightweight one because I can fit it properly to sit on my back and secure both the hip and waist straps around me. This way it never moves around on me as I hike. There’s also storage for my essentials and the camelback feature keeps me hydrated.
There’s nothing against hiking by yourself, but it’s way more fun with a friend. You can motivate each other to get up early, hike up the mountain, and celebrate with lunch afterwards. If no one’s free, bring your dog so you both get some exercise.
Do you have any tips you’d add to this?
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