Hiking Gear Guide (Clothes + Accessories)
Hiking is such a rewarding activity and one that we have become more and more obsessed with, since moving to Vancouver, Canada. Since we started hiking years ago, we have tried a lot of different options of hiking clothing and gear. The clothing and gear we currently have is some of our favourites yet and so we want to share what we use with you to hopefully help you choose your own hiking gear!
In this guide, we will list all of the clothes we wear when hiking throughout the year as well as some of the extra pieces of gear that we bring along with us. We will list our own personal favourite items as well as some alternatives for you to check out.
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What to Wear Hiking
When choosing what to wear hiking, the most important thing you need to make sure is that you are comfortable. There are so many different options for clothing, especially for pants. For example, I love wearing leggings when I hike, but you might prefer shorts or hiking pants.
When choosing your hiking clothes, the most important thing to do is layering. Your clothing layers should consist of a base layer, mid-layer, waterproof shell and an insulated jacket. Then you need some comfortable socks, hiking boots or shoes and a pair of pants/shorts/leggings.
Merino Hiking Tops
You can’t go wrong with a soft merino top when hiking. The reason for this is that they are moisture-wicking, dry quickly and odour resistant so perfect for hiking. We get most of ours from Icebreaker because we love the quality.
A mid-layer such as a fleece is especially important for hiking in the mountains as the temperatures can be super warm until you reach higher elevations when they can really drop. A good fleece will also keep you warm when you stop moving to take some photos or stop for a snack.
Shop for Kerry’s current favourite fleece in the US here. (also available for mens)
Shop for Kerry’s current favourite fleece in Canada here. (also available in mens)
We each carry a puffer jacket with us on our hikes in the mountains. Depending on how cold it is going to be, sometimes in Summer we leave these behind but we always check the mountain temperature before starting our hike.
Raincoat or Windbreaker
We have found a lot of the time when hiking in Spring, that wearing a light raincoat takes off the chill but then doesn’t get too hot. Other times, when on top of a mountain when it is super windy, a light raincoat or windbreaker really makes a huge difference. Other than this, we always have our raincoats with us just in case the weather decides to change.
Hiking Pants or Leggings
Dave usually wears long hiking pants and I usually wear leggings to hike. I like wearing long pants on hikes for protection from both the sun and the mosquitoes! My favourite leggings are the Align Pants from Lululemon. They are the softest leggings that I have ever worn! Some great men’s pants options are the KUHL Renegade Rock Pants or the Patagonia Quandary Pant.
As an alternative to leggings, hiking pants are also a great option for women. Some great hiking pants are the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pant.
If you want to go hiking no matter the weather, rain pants will be super useful! They are great in Winter when it is constantly rainy and you still want to hike. You have to make note that rain pants do get rather hot and sticky though, so you might not want to take them on every rainy adventure.
If you have a larger budget or are planning on going on a hike or backpacking trip that you know if going to be super rainy, some good options are the Outdoor Research Prologue Storm Pant for Men and the Outdoor Research Motive Ascent Shell Pant for Women.
Shop for rain pants shorts in Canada here.
Merino Hiking Socks
A beanie is not always a necessity, especially not during Summer, but in the shoulder months we like to bring our beanies along for when we get to the viewpoint.
Shop Kerry’s favourite beanie here!
It is so important to protect yourself form the sun. As well as sunscreen, we always take a hat each with us when hiking. Tilley have some great options for adventure hats.
Shop for Tilley Hats in the US here!
Shop for Tilley Hats in Canada here!
Girls Merino Underwear
I had to add this to the list because it is such a game changer! Because I usually wear leggings when hiking, I constantly have the problem of the underwear line showing through. Girls, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about! Recently I discovered Smartwool’s Seamless Merino underwear which is a huge improvement and they are super comfy!
Shop for Merino underwear in the US here!
Shop for Merino underwear in Canada here!
Hiking boots are probably the hardest hiking gear item to choose but also the most important as you will be wearing them all day long and so you want them to be as comfortable as possible. Boots are a great choice over trail runners on really long hikes, or on hikes where you are going to be covering a lot of rough trail as their soles tend to be harder.
Kerry’s boots are the Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Boots.
Dave’s boots are the Scarpa Kailash Plus Gore-Tex Backpacking Boots.
Hiking Shoes / Trail Runners
If you are doing a shorter, less technical hike on a fairly flat surface, you may prefer hiking shoes or trail runners over hiking boots. Living in Vancouver, we find boots really useful even for smaller trails that are super muddy as they are waterproof and keep protect your feet all the way up to your ankles.
Shop for hiking shoes and trail runners in the US here!
Shop for hiking shoes and trail runners in Canada here!
What Gear to Pack Hiking
Day Hiking Backpack
Let’s start with what we use to pack all of our extra layers, food and water in. We have a backpack each. One for our camera gear and one for everything else! Our camera bag is the Lowe Pro Flipside” title=”Lowepro Flipside”>Lowepro Flipside which is the only camera bag we have ever had and so we are probably almost in need of an upgrade as this one has been EVERYWHERE. It has been a great bag though!
The day backpack that Kerry uses is the Osprey Tempest 20 litre which is perfect for day hikes.
Choosing a backpack that is right for you, is completely subjective and you might want to try a few on for fit and comfort before buying.
Shop for day backpacks in the US here!
Shop for day backpacks in Canada here!
We don’t use hiking poles on every hike, but they definitely help on hikes that have more elevation or are more technical or slippery. Hiking poles are beneficial as they balance the work through your entire body and help keep the load off your knees. This keeps you fresher for longer and able to hike further distances. Poles also really help on the way down as this is where a lot of people run into trouble with knee pain.
Personally poles have actually saved me a few times from slipping and hurting myself. When Dave and I were hiking on steep shale in Alberta, I took a bit of a tumble. Luckily, the pole broke my fall and I wasn’t really hurt at all. The pole was bent but it was worth it. ?
You may feel like poles will only get in the way of your hiking, which is how I felt at first, but now I can’t imagine hiking without them! Check prices for Black Diamond’s Hiking Poles for men here and for Black Diamond’s Hiking Poles for women here.
Shop for hiking poles in the US here!
Shop for hiking poles in Canada here!
When you are going hiking, your clothing isn’t the only important thing you should consider. There are a few important items that you should always take with you such as a first aid kit, bug spray, sunscreen, headlights and even a navigation device. When we are hiking in Canada, we also always carry bear spray with us.
First Aid Kit
Shop for a first aid kit in the US here!
Shop for a first aid kit in Canada here!
Bug spray is a necessity, especially in the Summer months! There’s nothing worse than getting eaten alive by mozzies while you are trying to enjoy being out in nature.
Shop for bug spray in the US here!
Shop for bug spray in Canada here!
Sunscreen is another necessity when hiking and we make sure we reapply after 2-3 hours of hiking. We find the bottles that sunscreen comes in always way too big and bulky, so we purchased some travel bottles to carry our sunscreen in when hiking. This helps a lot with bag weight and space.
Shop for sunscreen in the US here!
Shop for sunscreen in Canada here!
Head lights are a really important emergency item. If you were to end up hiking in the dark on the way home due to misjudgement of timing etc, you are definitely going to want a fully charged headlight with you to help navigate back.
A GPS such as a Garmin eTrex 22x or a Garmin Montana 700i is something we do not have yet and so we download maps from All Trails before we leave to go on our hike. You should always research the trail you are going on and ensure that you have something to navigate with that is not going to fail you, whether it is a map and compass or a GPS device.
Shop for a navigation device in the US here!
Shop for a navigation device in Canada here!
This is next on our list of things to add to our emergency kit. If you were to get injured on the trail and have to wait until dark or even longer for help, you are going to want to stay as warm as possible. Buy an emergency blanket here.
Shop for an emergency blanket in the US here!
Shop for an emergency blanket in Canada here!
I’m sure if you live in the PNW you are familiar with needing bear spray when hiking. Coming from Australia to Canada, this was something that was completely new to us but now we carry bear spray on every single one of our hikes.
Shop for bear spray in the US here!
Shop for bear spray in Canada here!
Are you curious about what photography gear we take hiking? Check out our Camera Gear!