Whether you’re planning a weekend backpacking trip or setting out for a day hike, you’ll want to make sure you leave the house prepared.
Since you’ll likely be commuting to your trailhead of choice, stowing gear in your vehicle means you won’t leave something important behind. Here are a few key pieces of gear to consider carrying along.
Headlamps aren’t just for night hiking. Every hiker runs the risk of staying out past twilight, so having access to a reliable source of illumination is vital.
Unlike a flashlight, a headlamp frees your hands to help with navigation, gear repairs or tending to emergencies. Most lamps feature multiple brightness settings and an adjustable beam length. Hands-free illumination can also be an asset to adventurers who stumble across a cave that fuels the urge for spelunking.
Our recommendation: The Black Diamond Spot 325 ($40)
Why we picked it: Compact and lightweight, the Black Diamond Spot 325 is waterproof and features a maximum beam distance of 262 feet. It offers three different beam distances and a 200-hour runtime on its lowest setting.
Weather is unpredictable. You’ll be glad you brought a rain jacket when a sudden downpour begins.
A rain jacket shouldn’t take up much room and is good to have, even in the summer. It’s lightweight, compressible and easy to stash in a trunk, glove compartment or the back of a seat.
Our recommendation: Outdoor Research Interstellar ($300)
Why we picked it: Weighing just 11.6 ounces, the Outdoor Research Interstellar offers unrestricted mobility with a fully adjustable hood and pockets for stashing essentials.
Hiking can be rough on gear, and in-field repairs are often necessary. Prepare for any quick fix by packing a roll of repair tape. It helps to cover holes in puff jackets, patch tents and tarps and mend rain gear.
Outdoor-specific repair tape is a durable adhesive that sticks to almost any surface. It even acts as a seal for leaky seams and stops rips from spreading. Clear versions help cover unsightly tears on clothes, while a variety of colored options allow for matching fabrics on large repairs.
Our recommendation: Gear Aid Tenacious Tape Repair Tape ($7)
Why we picked it: Gear Aid’s Tenacious Repair Tape is constructed of aggressive adhesive designed to make repairs last longer. The strips measure 3 inches by 20 inches. The tape is also available in the form of circular, mini or flexible patches.
Sunscreen is one of the most important items to have in the summer. Whether the sun’s visible or not, it emits harmful UV rays. Sunscreen offers protection against UVA and UVB rays. And many types are water- and sweat-resistant.
Keep a bottle in a visible location in your vehicle, and you’ll be more likely to apply some at the trailhead. If you have a bigger bottle at home, buy a travel-sized tube to add to your hiking kit.
Our recommendation: Sun Bum SPF 30 Original ($10)
Why we picked it: Free of parabens, oils and PABA, Sun Bum sunscreen features broad-spectrum UVA/UVB coverage and is water-resistant for as long as 80 minutes.
ADDITIONAL GEAR TO CONSIDER
- GPS device: Even the most prepared hikers can get lost. GPS devices are more durable than a typical smartphone and can be more reliable than an app like Google Maps.
- Hydration pack: Water is one of the most important things to have while hiking. A hydration pack offers easy access to drinkable water and a solution for packing along the rest of your gear.
- Multitool: A multitool can be used to repair broken gear, size bandages or open bottles. Buy one with a knife to also have access to a sharp blade.
Editor’s note: All product photos courtesy of REI
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