If you’re like me, you like to be prepared. You research and you plan, so when it comes to a new pursuit, you want to have the gear. I let not having the right ‘stuff’ keep me from an outdoorsy life for years, until I realized what was keeping me from scaling mountains and camping in the snow wasn’t a lack of the gear, it was a lack of doing it anyway.
Yes, there is a lot of gear to be had, and lots of money to be spent on lovely things that may enhance your outdoors experience, but for the most part you don’t need any of that stuff.
Presenting, Gear for Girls 101. These are the basics, the things you need to get started on a life of outdoor adventure – say a 12KM hike in summer or fall in the PNW. Buy nice things like the ones I've linked to, pick up rejects in the bargain bin or borrow from a similarly sized friend. Use this as a guide and you'll be fine whatever you decide to wear hiking.
Good boots. You’ll see girls in wedge sneakers on the Grind, but there’s no faster end to outdoor bliss than a sprained ankle. Invest in a pair of waterproof but breathable boots with a high ankle, then break them in.
Good socks. Thick, wool, purpose-designed hiking socks will make long days so much more pleasant. Don’t skimp on the socks, and if there’s a chance of snow (ie any time before July or after October), bring two pairs.
Layers. You don’t need all Arcteryx or lululemon, but you do need layers – a base layer, something for warmth and a shell. My preferred combo is a tank with built in bra, a breathable long-sleeved shirt, a lightweight down, and a waterproof shell. My bottom half will be sporting lululemon leggings, water-resistant pants or a pair of shorts depending on the climate and the hike. When you're going to be going up a big mountain, always bring the full range of layers - you'd be surprised how cold August can be when you're above the treeline.
A lightweight backpack, big enough to carry food, water and layers with adjustable waist and shoulder straps. I’ve never had a camelbak, and although people say they're useful I like the excuse of stopping for a drink.
A set up for water. Whether that’s a Nalgene or a bladder, you need at least 1 litre per person – more for longer or more strenuous hikes, or hotter days. If you’re planning to re-fill your water, bring something to treat it with. I’ll cover our water filtration set-up in the next post. Food-wise, our packs are always filled with sandwiches, Babybel cheeses, apples, granola/protein bars, trail mix or chocolate, and other calorie-dense foods that can take a beating.
Sundries. Sunscreen, sunglasses and chapstick are requirements, and you will never regret extra hair elastics.
And that’s it! Baseball caps and (adjustable) hiking poles also come in handy on sunny days or rough descents, but you can get by without them on a dayhike unless you've got bad knees.
What do you think? Did I miss any of the essentials?