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Hiking Gear and Clothing
They say that the journey is as important as the destination. This is as true in hiking, especially in places where the weather can be unpredictable. Not only do we want to enjoy our walk, but we also want to do it safely and comfortably as possible. This post is about the things and lessons that worked well for us through the years that we’ve hiked in various places. But first, let’s talk about the weather…
We favor to hike when the weather is cool. This is usually in the shoulder weeks between spring and summer or the beginning of fall. Weather in mountains can be unpredictable during these times, whether it’s in Patagonia Chile/Argentina, Peru, Banff, Switzerland, Norway, Faroe Islands or Iceland. Sometimes it’s a bright sunny day when you start your hike but as you ascend the mountains, you experience wind and rain. You need to be ready for all this mix of possibilities.
With the unpredictability of weather during mountain hikes, what do you wear? The short answer is layers: a base, a middle layer, and an outer layer. A strategic layering of clothes made of the correct materials is your best friend during your hikes, your thermo regulator especially in the mountains where the weather is very unpredictable.
Any long sleeve shirt will do but if you are hiking, I find a moisture wicking, insulating base layer great since I tend to sweat under all the layers despite the cold, especially in long hikes. For this, my favorite is the merino wool. Other than the ability to wick sweat, it is resistant to wear & odor while being warm and soft. It’s perfect for that nice cool weather hike. Other materials that work as well are silk, polyester, polypropylene, and synthetic blends of these materials. Choose a fit that’s snug, not constricting.
For warm days, I prefer long sleeve shirts that are lightweight and moisture wicking. The long sleeves also protect me from the sun’s harmful rays. These kept me cool and dry during my hikes.
For much colder weather, this is a better option. Some people are very sensitive to wool fabric so make sure you try these out as soon as you get them.
Check out the base layers for men here.
This layer is your main insulation layer that you can remove depending on how hot or cold it is. Choose a fit that has spare room for you to move your arms since you also have a layer under and above it. I prefer a thin, light layer since it can get quite uncomfortable if it’s heavy or too puffy and you don’t want that during your hikes. Good options include fleece, down insulated jackets, and other synthetic insulated jackets. When it is not raining or not so windy, this is going to be your main jacket.
Check out the mid layer for men here.
This is your wind and rain protection layer. The options range in terms of prices depending on the material you choose. Most of them should be treated with water repellents. The waterproof ones are the most expensive ones. The second option are water resistant and breathable shells. If you are hiking in cool, breezy weather, this is my preference. Other options are soft shell combinations of light insulation and wind and water protection. Lastly, there are non breathable, waterproof shells which are good for rainy days.
For pants, I prefer them to be lightweight & breathable. Some wear waterproof pants, with vents.
SHOES & SOCKS
A local in Norway shared this in an amused tone, “ I see a lot of tourists come here to hike with their small shoes.” Wearing proper shoes when hiking is essential for a lot of reasons regardless of where it is.
We’ve hiked in different countries, from short few hour hikes to a whole day hike. Choose shoes that will give you support. If you are prone to ankle inversion, wear something that supports your ankle & choose mid ankle shoes. Waterproof shoes are also a life saver on rainy day hikes, crossing those streams and going over puddles. You don’t want drenched feet especially during a long hike. Another important feature you need for your hiking shoes is traction both for wet & dry surfaces.
Just remember to break in your shoes as soon as you get them. You will get a feel about how it fits and if you do this at home, you can return them if they don’t feel comfortable. It is best if you try to do this with the socks you’re going to wear during the hike itself for a more accurate fit.
Last but not least, I truly value anti-blister socks. I remember doing an easy walk in Banff and I had blisters. I wanted to walk more but couldn’t. If you’re prone to blisters, these are very much worth it.
Other Important Things
Sun Protection: The sun is your friend during your hikes but it can also be an enemy of your skin. I never hike in the mountains without my sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses. For sunscreen, make sure you put them on 15 minutes before you head out and that you are putting enough. By enough, a nickel sized dollop to cover your face if you’re using lotion. Also reapply every 2 hours especially after sweating. I don’t like layering skin products when I’m out on a hike so my choice for sunscreen are brush ons. It doesn’t drip on my face when I’m sweating (and then stings my eyes). Colorscience is quite expensive but this is what I’ve been using for years now. Mineral Fusion has good reviews and has a way better price.
Hiking Sticks: Do you need hiking sticks? If you have bad knees or tend to lose your balance easily when navigating uneven paths, I highly suggest them. We love those light, collapsible ones.
Hiking bags: You need a light yet sturdy storage for all your hiking essentials like food, water, extra jackets and your photography tools. There are a million of options out there but this is our favorite. We love the user friendly pockets, how sturdy the material is despite all the stretching of fitting all sorts of things inside the bag.
What hiking tools do you use in your hikes?