Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This Colorado Girl's favorite hiking gear

Some of my fav gear, crochet wrist warmers & North Face Pack
I am often asked what kind of gear do I use on hikes; what are my favorite hiking shoes, camelback (or water carrying source), coat, hiking poles, accessories, etc? I do have very specific favorites when it comes to these items; I have wore the same hiking shoes for 6 years and they are still comfy; I carry the same pack every-time I hike, and I always try to add a little personality to my wardrobe with handmade accessories that look cute and are useful! 
One of my pet peeves with hiking gear is that its not really very attractive at all. What lady wants to look like her husband/boyfriend on the trail with the exact same coat in a different size, horrible hiking pants that make your hips look really wide and your skiing gloves that are too hot to wear but you don't care if they get dirty? I know not me!  Now, I am not saying to forgo the comfy Colorado lifestyle (say; hiking boots and tall socks, or socks with sandals) but lets try to update this a little bit for a cuter Colorado girl look.  First I want to show you this You-Tube video;
Colorado Girls; and after you watch, I am sure you'll understand what I mean .

My Merrell Hiking Boots
The most important thing you should spend your money on if you like to hike is shoes.  It amazes me how far your feet can take you; and with good shoes it makes that trip a lot more comfortable.  I own and constantly wear my Merrell Pulse Mid Hiking Boots.  I plan on buying these exact same shoes again, if I can find them not "sold out' somewhere; they have lasted me 6 years, countless miles and still feel great!  The reason I like  these shoes; they are completely waterproof and my feet have never been wet, they are mid height giving good support to your ankles, the soles are still comfortable and don't hurt my feet at all and the grip they have on rocks and gravel is top notch.   Now, these shoes might not work for you, but they have been great for me, and a great value after using them for so many years.   Here are a couple of pointers for buying shoes that I have found over the years. 
1.  Buy hiking shoes a half size larger than your normal size because when you are hiking downhill, your toes push to the front of the shoe and can really hurt; so leave extra room for your toes, they will thank you for it! 
2.  Make sure the shoes grip really well on rocks and on wet rocks, read the reviews for the shoes you are buying to make sure of this! 
3.  Try to buy from a place that lets you return the shoes; REI is good about this, Moosejaw is pretty good; Zappos is great,(I have bought from here many times and returned many shoes).  If you buy hiking boots, always ask about return policy, hiking boots are made to be stiff and sometimes its hard to find the right fit walking around in the store or online.  Don't settle for shoes that are just an 'OK' fit, return them and find some you love to hike in! 

Warmers clipped to North Face pack
Second to shoes (in my opinion) is a good pack to carry your water, extra clothes and food for your hike.  When Josh and I first moved here, I remember we looked at hydration packs constantly and they were so expensive!  We scrimped and saved up for a good one North Face pack and then bought on ebay (for $22) a larger 3-Liter bladder to put inside the pack and it's worked great.  Camelbak was the first maker of this type of pack that really caught on, so you may hear the hydration packs called Camelbak's even though that is not the brand maker.   The small hydration packs that just carry a bladder can range from $30 (on SALE) to $70; these are conveinent for shorter day hikes and carrying little gear.  Our pack is in the middle between a backpack and a hydration pack; we have pockets enough for food and some gear, we have a 3-Liter bladder and the North Face pack has numerous ways to carry the weight of the pack with chest and waist straps.  I find this pack very comfortable and I often volunteer to carry all the water (even though it's heavier) rather than wear a different backpack.  A couple of pointers for the hydration packs:
1.  Buy one with the largest bladder that you can afford; OR, just buy the pack you like and buy an individual bladder that is 3 Liters or more(around $10-$30 on ebay).   It's so much easier to carry water in the bladder than in bottles and it's less weight too!
2.  Find a pack that is very comfortable for you; lots of strap options are great.  Our North Face Pack even has a built in safety whistle and we use metal carabiners to clip things to the outside of the pack. 
Wrist warmers; find more here.
3.  Often you can find the pack you like cheaper online; so go and try out some packs, read reviews, and then search for the best price for your pack!  It might save you quite a few bucks in the long run. 

I will have to split this post into two or three posts because there is just so much gear out there that can be commented on, but my last item for today are hiking wrist warmers. 
I love to wear wrist warmers because I am constantly fighting the hot/cold/hot/cold battle; its too hot when the sun comes out, but it goes behind a cloud and the wind picks up and I am cold...then hot again, etc.  It's the one thing that drives me crazy on a high altitude hike!  One item that I found that helps with keeping my temperature constant, looks cute and is actually useful are the wrist warmers I make.  After shopping for warmers and finding only fleece warmers with a high price tag, boring colors and made in China, I decided to make some of my own. 
They are great because they leave your fingers and hand free to move, grab your dog leash, eat an apple, etc, without having to take them off and put them back on.  Plus they are super warm, look great, and you can clip them to your pack when you are done using them for the day without causing more bulk inside the pack.   
Try a pair and let me know what you think!

I'd love to hear your comments about what you wear or like to have on a hike, please leave a comment.


  1. I love your idea about wrist warmers and totally agree! I made a scarf last year that has fingerless gloves on the ends and that works great for me in the fall.

  2. Only recently I started doing some "real" hiking. Now I'm really getting how every piece of equipment can change everything while you are hiking. It's great that you wrote about different things we can get, it gives me ideas for my next trip. Thanks a bunch! 

  3. Having the right gear makes a hike so much easier and more fun, I sure hope my input helps! Good luck and I'd love to hear about some of your hikes!!

  4. Pretty nice post thanks and Good luck!

  5. Awesome blog post - you go girl!