Gear Up for Adventure!
What's in my backpack?
InReach Mini is a great GPS device that allows text communication in case of emergencies! It has a monthly fee, but since I hike alone the majority of the time it is great safety net. I have also used it just to let my husband know that I have made it safely, running late, etc.
First Aid Kit! Don’t leave home without it! You can buy pre-made kits or you can put one together on your own. Band-aids, pain killers, Bactine pain relieving spray (added to my kit after my son fell on a cactus), etc.
Another thing I have because I hike alone frequently in places without cell service, is my Road ID shoe tag. It has contact information on it so if I happen to fall and I’m unconscious someone can contact my husband or kids.
Navigation is essential! You can be a map & compass kind of person or an online map kind of person. I have had great luck with AllTrails Pro. I download the hikes before I go so I have access to the map and their filter search is pretty great. For my 80th hike I needed a hike that was a certain length and elevation gain to meet my goals and AllTrails helped me find it! One downside is that if you end up on a different trail without cell service, you can’t download that trail. COTrex, the Colorad
In the dry climate of Colorado, having enough water is essential. Any type of hydration pack is great, but I do love my 3L platypus bladder. It is easier to drink enough water if you don’t have to stop to take out a water bottle! Everyone in my family has a Platypus or Camelbak for hydration and rarely hike without it.
Hiking poles! I didn’t start to use these until my mid-40’s, but they have kept me from falling more times than I can count. I like collapsible so they can be strapped into my backpack when I don’t need them.
Don't slip! In Colorado these are in my backpack ten months out of the year because it snows in June and there are many places that have icy patches even when it is sunny elsewhere. I used to have some cheap traction devices from Costco that worked pretty well, but recently received Kahtoola microspikes and they are really nice. If you don’t hike often, the cheap ones will work for a while, but if you hike a lot or frequent snowy and icy trails, spend the money on good quality micro spikes
Comfortable shoes are probably the most important thing you need. I love my Oboz Sawtooth shoes, but you do you!
Wool socks. WOOL. SOCKS. I am not a huge fan of wool anything, but wool socks are the best. They reduce blisters, keep your feet warm even if they get wet and are generally awesome. I bought a pack of six ankle height wool socks for summer hiking and have taller ones in the winter.
For most of the year I hike in my Eddie Bauer Horizon Roll-Up pants. They are comfortable, are easy to clean (if I happen to hike two days in a row and get them muddy the first day they rinse right out!) and if you get hot they roll up to capris. In cold weather I put long underwear underneath them. In the summer I switch to EB Ascent shorts and love those too.
This one is for the ladies! I like having a separate bra just for hiking so that my regular bras don’t get all gross and funky.
Do your hiking clothes and gear smell BAD? OxiClean Odor Blaster works like a charm. I can soak anything for a bit, rinse it out and it smells great. I used this on my backpack straps which were disgusting after a summer of hiking in sleeveless shirts.
Okay, this isn't necessary, but it makes your dog look great and I find that people like a dog with a bandana on. I write Milo's name on his in sharpie or paint pen and then people approach him using his name, which makes him more comfortable.
If you hike a lot or over rocky terrain, this can help provide an extra layer on your dog's paws.
POOP BAGS! So many poop bags. Our older dog, Max, poops four times on every hike. So not only do I carry poop bags, but I also carry two gallon ziploc bags. I put the poop bags in one of them and put that one in another ziploc bag.
Collapsible bowl is a necessity. Your dog needs to hydrate too! As much as I tried to teach Milo to drink from my hydration pack, he will not.
When I hike with both dogs, I prefer to use a carabiner to attach the leash to my pack. This keeps my hands free to use my poles! I also use a split or Y-leash so they get less twisted up. They have to stay closer together, but it does keep them from making a mess of two leashes.
Do you want your dog(s) to pose for cute photos? Then pack a bag of training treats or other small dog treats in your bag and hopefully they will pose for selfies!
They can be useful in the winter, but also on sharp rocks and hot sand. Hiking a 14er in Colorado with your pup? Don't let him get cut pads on his feet! (I know this from personal experience...)
Unfortunately, not everyone leaves a clean trail of campsite. My daughter and I have started bringing rubber gloves and a small trash bag to pick up trash we find on the trail. Lots of granola wrappers but also lots of toilet paper and the random tampon. (Gross, ladies. Pack that out.)
I keep a raincoat in my backpack at all times because even if it doesn’t rain, it is a great extra layer and provides good wind protection. Having a dedicated hiking/camping raincoat has worked out well because I (almost) always have it when I need it.
Sunscreen and Chapstick: I have a small sunscreen stick and Chapstick (they are about the same size) that I keep in the belt pocket of my backpack all the time. Much like keeping your water accessible, I am much more likely to apply sunscreen if I don’t have to stop and remove my backpack to do so.
Gloves. I keep a pair of glove liners in my backpack all the time so that if the weather turns (I’m looking at you, Mt. Sniktau on June 30th) I’m not caught with freezing hands. Heavier gloves may be needed for certain hikes, but always having a pair with me is comforting.
A hat and a visor! When I forget my sunglasses (more times than I would like to admit) I am glad that I keep a visor in my backpack. And a hat that covers your ears for cold weather is also a great idea. I have an Outdoor Research Yukon Cap that lives in my backpack and when I need it, I need it. A large brimmed sun hat is a good idea too - I bought one at Eddie Bauer that is packable and has saved me from sunburn this summer!
I hate having my hair in my face, so I have a collection of Boho half Bandeaus I wear while I hike. They are cute, wash easily and can second as a pony-tail holder if needed. I have even worn it as a mask during Covid times when I needed one.
Small hand sanitizer. A couple sandwich bags and some toilet paper. LEAVE. NO. TRACE.
My Peak Design Capture Clip is essential when I want to bring my DSLR along. It attaches to your backpack and doesn’t move! I take a lot more photos with my camera accessible. And if a pair of young bull moose suddenly appear in front of you, there is actually a chance that you can grab a photo! #BlueLakes