My Hiking Essentials.

It’s no secret that I LOVE hiking.  If you have read my Utah I & II Recaps, you know that I basically just went for a ‘hiking vacation.’  When I’m not training for my next Marathon or Triathlon, you can find me hiking in the New Hampshire White Mountains with my husband Todd and our adventurous Westie, Oliver. I’m pretty sure I would live outside if I could:)

I’ve had some blog readers and twitter followers ask me about what I wear for hiking, so I thought I would spend today highlighting some of my favorite hiking gear! Fall is my favorite time of year to hike, but it also means conditions in the mountains can change drastically. Todd and I always make sure we are prepared for any change in conditions, as it can go from sunny and warm to cold and windy very fast in the White Mountains. I tend to pack A LOT of gear, and since my hubby is an Eagle Scout we are always super prepared;)

Here my favorite hiking staples… I will need even MORE gear come winter.


  • This is the perfect day hiking pack! I will obviously need something bigger if we get into backpacking one day, but for day hikes, it’s everything I need and more. It’s a great size and is suited for women.  The Jade sits comfortable on my shoulders and never rubs or chafes when I hike.
  • Gregory has stopped making my version of this bag, but lots of new designs can be found here like the J38 & J33, which are very similar to mine.


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  • A while ago, Darn Tough sent me some hiking socks to try, and I have been meaning to write a review (so sorry it took so long, Darn Tough!). I already had a few pairs of Darn Tough socks when they contacted me, but they sent me a few new styles, that are now my favorite. My favorites are the Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion sock (as seen in the photo below). 
  • I wore my Darn Toughs all throughout Zion National Park a few weeks ago. These socks are made in Vermont (so awesome) and are the most durable, comfortable hiking socks. This “all-weather” sock stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter, plus it’s naturally antimicrobial so it repels bacteria and odor—a great feature when you need to get an extra day (or two) out of your socks. Boring old hiking socks see you later! I like hiking with socks higher than ankle height, because it keeps the dirt, rocks, etc from getting at my feet. They pair nicely with the boots below! Darn Tough also makes socks for running and cycling, which are also high quality, high performing socks.

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  • My Vasque hiking boots have been through it all… I’ve logged hundreds of miles in these babies. For example, I’ve hiked over (30) 4,000 foot peaks in New Hampshire in these boots and they are still going strong.  The tread is starting to wear after many years of use, but I plan to get a new pair for next season! With any hiking boot, it’s really important to break them in before logging a lot of miles.  My Vasque boots did not take a lot of time to break in, and I honestly don’t recall ever getting blisters in these boots.  As someone that has suffered from Plantar Fasciitis, these boots provided great foot and ankle support for my feet. I even wore my Vaque boots into the Virgin River when we hiked the Narrows.
  • Here’s the model I own: TALUS ULTRADRY 

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  • The Camelbak Reservoir (i.e. bladder) is essential for hiking and fits nicely in my Gregory Pack (see above).  I can just drink my water out of the straw and it ensures that I am properly hydrated.  The only downside is, the tube can freeze in the winter. They do sell sleeves for the straw that prevent freezing, but I haven’t tried one yet.  In the winter, we just put bottles of water in our hiking bag. Oliver likes it when I splash water from the CamelBak straw too!


Part neck warmer part hat… these balaclava’s are awesome! Made of merino wool, they are super soft on the face and are great at protecting your skin in harsh conditions.

I love my green balaclava

Great for fall/winter hiking to keep your face and neck warm.  I also use them for winter running, since they can help shield your face from frost bite. The material is nice and thin, so you can almost breathe through the fabric if it’s covering your face:) Double up the Balaclava for extra warmth!

THE NORTH FACE CONVERTIBLE Hiking pants (which unzip into shorts)

I’ve had the same pair of these hiking pants for years now and they have lasted through it all.  I highly recommend hiking pants like these that unzip into shorts, great for when the weather is changing! I use them for shorts in the spring/summer and for pants in the winter/fall, definitely a must-have for hiking year round.


and shorts:

THE NORTH FACE Waterproof/ windproof Shell jacket

A high quality waterproof/windproof jacket is essential for all seasons of hiking. Sometimes you never know how windy it’s going to be a the summit! The one shown below is from the North Face (circa 5+ years ago). I recommend checking out your local REI store and seeing what works for you!


Most of the gear I’ve highlighted is stuff that lasts a LONG time.  If you buy high quality gear from reputable brands, it will be worth the investment, I swear.  Don’t cheap out on your hiking gear! It’s not worth the risk:)

If you have any questions about what I hike with feel free to ask!

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  • Reply Jamie @ Wandering Portlander October 14, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    I have the same hiking boots and LOVE them! They definitely didn’t take long to break in and I have never gotten blisters. I don’t have Darn Tough socks, but my significant other just bought some and they seem super soft and awesome. I might have to try out a pair in the near future.

    • Reply Kristin October 24, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      Love how you have the same hiking boots! They are the best! I have also never gotten blisters:) The Darn Tough socks are awesome… very soft and lots of different styles.

  • Reply Kristen @ Glitter and Dust October 14, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    I have honestly been looking for a good, sturdy pair of hiking boots. Thanks for the recommendation. I am going to check these out!! I completely agree with you about the North Face convertible pants. I love their comfort and flexibility.

    • Reply Kristin October 24, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      No problem! I love my vasque boots:) There are lots of different kinds out there, it’s hard to know what’s best. I wish we could go hiking together!

  • Reply Kecia October 15, 2014 at 1:34 am

    Thanks for the recommendation on the socks!! I have been looking for good hiking socks and will have to look into these 🙂 I love convertible pants (although mine are Athleta)…so versatile and comfortable 🙂

    • Reply Kristin October 24, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      You’re welcome.. these socks are the best!

  • Reply Abby October 15, 2014 at 3:14 am

    Love this- thanks for posting! And thanks for the pants recommendation. I only have one pair of hiking pants that I love, and they don’t convert to shorts. I think it’s important for the mountains when the temps can vary so much!

    Can I suggest a backpack? It’s for a camera, but it fits SO much more and even has a hydration reservoir: http://www.mec.ca/product/5026-528/lowe-pro-photo-sport-200-aw-backpack/?f=10+50131+50337! I only use this now, and it’s great because it *usually* means I take a decent camera with us 🙂

    • Reply Kristin October 24, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      ooooh LOVE that backpack Abby!!! Thanks for the suggestion. We are always looking for a bag that can actually fit a camera (and all of our other stuff)

  • Reply Natalie @ Free Range Human October 16, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    My husband hikes in Vasque boots, and he loves them. They’ve been really good for his Achilles tendon problem! I hike in Oboz, and I don’t know if I’ll ever pick anything else. Love them!

    • Reply Kristin October 24, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      Good to know you love the Oboz boots! Always looking for new things to try:)

  • Reply Megan @ Meg Go Run October 16, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    I just can’t get over these pictures. PA has beautiful mountains- I run on the Appalachian Trail quite often. But the most beautiful hike/run was in Colorado.

    • Reply Kristin October 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      Thanks Meg!! I’m jealous you can run on the AT quite often. The mountains in New Hampshire are about a 2 hours drive for us, not too bad though!

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