Winter 2022 2023 Hiking Gear

Best Hiking Gear 2023

Don’t waste your money on hiking gear that’s no good; I’ve already done that for you! I only recommend hiking gear that I've used over hundreds of miles. I don't do any paid or sponsored reviews, and I don't waste your time with gear that doesn't make the cut. This is only the good stuff.

Last updated February 2023. 

An easy way to say thank you for my free guides to make sure you use the links on this page to buy your gear. I get a small commission that helps me buy gear to test and keep the website ad and paid promotion free. I depend on these commissions to keep the site running, so a big thank you!

Primary Winter 2023 Hiking Gear

There's more detail below, but for a quick glance at what I'm using all the time now and why, here it is.

  1. Altra Lone Peak 6 Shoes ( REI | Amazon ) - These are the most comfortable trail shoes that I keep coming back to after trying out many other options. I wear them with a heavier sock when it gets cold out.
  2. Garmin Mini 2 Satellite Communicator ( Amazon | REI ) - The Mini 2 lets me share my location and status with family using a text message. If I get into trouble, I can text back and forth with SOS/911.
  3. Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles ( REI | Amazon  ) - Trekking poles are a godsend on slippery and steep slopes, and stream crossings. The Trail Ergo are light, and the cork works well with sweaty hands,
  4. Gaia GPS App ( HikingGuy Premium Discount ) - Gaia GPS is a great way to get my hike track (a GPX) off the internet and synced to my phone. I use a premium membership to save maps offline. I also use it to plan my hikes before hitting the trail.
  5. Garmin Epix Gen 2 ( REI | Amazon ) - These watches are pricey but something to use 24/7. I use this for sleep tracking, workouts, heart rate, and for tracking my hike. It has preloaded hiking maps that help me navigate my hike.
  6. Gregory Zulu 30 ( REIAmazon ) - Now that it's getting cooler this 30l pack is big enough for all my layers, and the trampoline back still keeps my back dry when I sweat. It's rugged and handles anything and everything that I throw at it.

Use your gear at home first on a simple walk and get used to it before you take it out on the trail. Unboxing and setting up at the trailhead is usually a recipe for bad times.

Hiking Navigation


Gaia GPS
Smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS on board. So I recommend getting a good GPS hiking app like Gaia GPS that supports offline maps. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode so the battery doesn't drain. Gaia GPS not only has smartphone and tablet apps, but also an online planning tool. You can drag the GPX hike tracks from my (or any) guides into the online map and they will sync to your phone. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership.
Download Gaia GPS - HikingGuy Premium Discount
How to Use Gaia GPS
My Favorite Map Layers
How to Read a Topo Map

Garmin Epix

Garmin Epix
Another option for a dedicated GPS is to have a mapping smartwatch. They're not cheap, but they include topographic maps, an accurate GPS, altimeter, and compass. The watch is also a fitness tracker, sleep tracker, can load other apps, etc. It's like an Apple Watch but built for outdoors enthusiasts and athletes (and has buttons instead of a touchscreen - much better for the outdoors). The new Garmin Fenix 7 came out, but I prefer the better screen on the new Epix (Gen2), and the multi-band GPS can't be beatIf you want something similar without the maps, try the Garmin Instinct 2.
Epix Prices: REI | Amazon 
Garmin Instinct 2 Prices: REI | Amazon
Epix & Fenix 7 Review

Inreach Mini 2 Sos

Garmin InReach Mini 2
I'm a firm believer in carrying a satellite communications device which works where cell phones don't. I use a Garmin InReach Mini 2 which lets me send text messages back and forth to my family to let them know that I'm okay or if my plans change when I'm out in the backcountry. It also has an SOS function so that you can reach first-responders in an emergency. The devices also offer weather reports, GPS, and navigation functionality (what's the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator?). For a few hundred bucks they could save your life, so for me it's a no brainer to have something like a Garmin InReach. If you use a smartphone to navigate and want a more affordable option that integrates with your phone easily, check out the ZOLEO.
Latest Prices: Amazon | REI
My Mini 2 Review Here
ZOLEO Review Here

Gpsmap 66i

Garmin GPSMAP 66
Why get a dedicated GPS unit? The interface might not be as slick as a new smartphone, but a GPS like this is built for the outdoors, works in heavy rain, and with gloves on. You can also get more granular control over your track recording and navigation. The GPSMAP 66i includes inReach satellite communications. If you don't need inReach and just want a solid purpose-built GPS, I'd go for the highly-accurate GPSMAP 66sr.
GPSMAP 66i Prices: REIAmazon
GPSMAP 66i Review
GPSMAP 66sr Prices: REI | Amazon
GPSMAP 66sr Review
How to Use Your Garmin

Paper Maps

Paper Maps
As good as electronic navigation is these days, it's all dependent on having power and your device not breaking. As a backup, you should always carry a paper map. Paper is also handy when you want to make some decisions in a larger format—spreading out a paper map and understanding the landscape as a whole blows away scrolling a screen any day. Put it in a ZipLoc bag to keep it safe. These are the maps that I like.
National Geographic Trail Maps: REI | Amazon
Tom Harrison Cartography: REI | Amazon
Suunto M-3 D Leader Compass: REI | Amazon

Hiking Backpacks

Gregory Zulu Big

Gregory Zulu 30 & Jade 28
After testing quite a few backpacks, the Gregory Zulu 30 (and Jade 28 for women) is, for most hikers, the best all-season day pack. First off, it's very comfortable, and the mesh "trampoline" back keeps your back dry. Its 30L capacity is enough for all the essentials and plenty of layers for winter hiking. External pockets make it easy to grab gear. It's hard to find something wrong with the pack; if anything, it could be a bit lighter, but overall, it's not heavy. And its price-point makes it not only affordable but generally a great value.
Women's Latest Prices: REIAmazon 
Men's Latest Prices: REIAmazon
My Review Here

Hikelite18 Side Shiitakegrey

Osprey Hikelite 18
On shorter hikes and ones in the summer, I opt for a smaller and lighter pack. With a smaller load, I don't need hip belts to distribute the weight, and I can take them off this pack. It carries a bladder inside and can also have bottles on the side pockets. The 18 version is big enough for my essentials and some layers without extra space flopping around. I love the trampoline back, which lifts the pack off my back and keeps it dry. At 1.5 lbs, it's the lightest small day pack I've found with a trampoline back.
Amazon | Osprey
My Review Here

Hiking Footwear

Lone Peak 6 Yellow

Altra Lone Peak 6
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they're reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here's why. The downside of this shoe is that it won't last as long as something like a hiking shoe. I've been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. I have a video on the details of the Altra Lone Peak 6 here.
Women's Latest Prices: REI | Amazon 
Men's Latest Prices: REI | Amazon 

Terraventure 3

Topo Athletic Terraventure 3
If you want all the features of a shoe like the Altra Lone Peak, but with some more durability (at the expense of a little comfort), the Terraventure is perfect. To understand how these perform and what the differences are, watch my video on them here.
Latest Price on Women's Shoe - REI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men's Shoe - REI | Amazon

Hoka Stinson 6

HOKA Stinson ATR 6
When you need something really cushy and forgiving, these HOKAs are a great option. They're also good if you need to hike long distances and your feet are not used to putting in that kind of distance.  They do have some drawbacks, and I recommend checking out my 300 mile review and why I wore them. I've found these HOKAs are the best of all the HOKA options for hiking.
Latest Price on Women's Shoe - REI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men's Shoe - REI | Amazon

Hoka Speedgoat Boot

HOKA Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX Hiking Boots
I don't wear these a lot, but when the conditions are right, they're great. I find that these mid-cuff and water-resistant shoes are great for cold days in the snow. The GORE-TEX keeps the moisture out, my feet stay comfy and dry, and they're extremely comfortable.
Latest Price on Women's Shoe - REI 
Latest Price on Men's Shoe - REI 

General Hiking Gear

Black Diamond Ergo Poles 2

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I've gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I've had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.
Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon
Z-Poles: REI | Amazon

Survival / Emergency Gear

I carry a few items in the bottom of my pack in case of an emergency. The idea is that you can make yourself comfortable in case you need to stay out after dark and wait for rescue. Or if you need to signal a rescue without your InReach device.

Hiking Clothing

I don't like to have a lot of crap in my closet, so I just invest in a few key pieces of hiking clothing. In general I like clothing from REI and Kuhl. They fit well, are built for hikers, and wick/dry quickly.

This is what I use on the trail:

Winter Hiking Gear

Camping Gear

camping gear
Want to camp here too? Check out my guide to Parsons Landing.

I don't do very long thru-hiking; my longest trips are usually 4-5 days. Generally I like to keep things light without buying specialized (and expensive) ultralight gear. Here's what works well for me.

Post Hike Recovery

Production Gear