Rei Trail 40 Review

Best Hiking Gear 2021

In This Guide
  • Hiking Footwear & Clothing
  • GPS & InReach
  • Must Have Gear
  • Camping Gear

Don’t waste your money on hiking gear that’s no good; I’ve already done that for you! Here’s my trail-tested best hiking gear list, last updated April 2021. 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.

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 offset my website and gear costs. I depend on these commissions to keep the site running, so thank you in advance!

Primary Hiking Gear

Moab 2 Mall

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator
For most hikers, a hiking shoe is the great choice, and the Moab 2 is a winner. The ventilation is great, they last forever, offer good protection, and have a solid grip. There are sizing options for everyone’s foot in this really comfortable and reliable shoe. This shoe is also a favorite of thru-hikers. The only downside is that they are a little heavy. If you are looking for something more aggressive or lighter, go to the bottom of this article and check out my alternative shoe recommendations.
Latest Price on Women’s ShoeREI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s ShoeREI | Amazon


Osprey Talon
I try so many backpacks and I can usually find something I love about all of them. But no matter how many I try, I always find that I come back to the Osprey Talon 33  (or for women, the Osprey Sirrus 36). It’s just the right balance between everything. You save weight because there is no frame, but the vented and padded back holds its shape, giving it a pseudo-frame. It’s big enough for long day hikes or overnighters, but when I don’t fill it on a shorter hike, it’s still nice and light. It’s got a sleeve for a hydration bladder and side pockets for Smartwater bottles.  I’ve been using (and beating) the same one since 2017 and it’s still going strong.
Latest Women’s Prices: REI | Amazon
Latest Men’s Prices: REI | Amazon

Inreach Mini On White

Garmin InReach Mini
I’m a firm believer in carrying a satellite communications device which works where cell phones don’t. I use a Garmin InReach 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 subscription built in so that you can reach first-responders in an emergency. The devices also offer weather reports, GPS, and navigation functionality. 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.
Lowest Prices at  REI | Amazon
Review & Guide: InReach Mini


Gaia GPS – Now smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS onboard. 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. GaiaGPS 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 (HikingGuy readers get up to 40% off here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

Want a dedicated, purpose-built GPS unit that has InReach included? Then check out the GPSMAP 66i (REI | Amazon | My Review ), which I use when documenting trails. Unlike a smartphone, it’s built for the outdoors, but the downside is that the interface seems a bit dated. I recommend reading my deep dive review on the GPSMAP 66i to see if it’s for you.

Fenix 6 Map White

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar – Another option for a dedicated GPS is to have a GPS smartwatch. They’re not cheap but they have topographic maps, a 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 lovers and athletes. The Fenix comes in several variations and you can customize it. If you don’t want to spend that much money, check out the affordable Garmin InstinctOr if you have an Apple Watch, read about my recommendations here.
Garmin Fenix 6 – REI | Amazon | My Review

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:

Hiking Gear

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 a rescue. Or if you need to signal a rescue without you InReach device.

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.

Camping Gear

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

I don’t do very long thu-hiking; my longest trips are usually 4-5 days. Here’s what works well for me.

Osprey Exos

Osprey Exos 58
This is a popular backpack with thru-hikers for a good reason: it’s light, durable, and roomy. This pack only weighs a fraction more than my daypack (under 3lbs) and carries 58 liters, enough for a long trip. I appreciate the fact that it’s a little roomier for my 3-5 day backpacking trips and easily fits a bear canister. I don’t have to jam everything in there like a puzzle. And the back is well-ventilated so it doesn’t become a soaked mess.
Latest Women’s Prices: REI | Amazon
Latest Men’s Prices: REI | Amazon

Winter Hiking Gear

Post Hike Recovery

Photo / Guide Gear

Planning Tools and Software

Other Hiking Footwear Options

Lone Peak 5

Altra Lone Peak 5
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 shoe. It’s not a hiking boot, it’s a shoe, which I think is better in most conditions, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2. Some people also have quality issues. I’m wearing these shoes now and testing them, and so far, so good.
Latest Price on Women’s ShoeREI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s ShoeREI | Amazon

Wildcat Small

La Sportiva Wildcat
If you’re looking for something more aggressive than a normal hiking shoe and have medium/narrow feet, the Wildcat is perfect. It’s fast and light on trails, the sole gives me good grip off-trail or scrambling, and they dry quickly. I wear these quite often, especially when I’m going light or not really long.
Latest Price on Women’s ShoeREI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s ShoeREI | Amazon

Not sure of which hiking shoe to get? This video might help you choose.

La Sportiva Spire Gtx

Best Winter Hiking Shoe: La Sportiva Spire GTX
I used to wear these all year, but switched over to ventilated shoes for the main 3 seasons. But in the winter I like the water-resistance and warmth of a hybrid shoe / boot / trail runner like the Spire GTX. I get mine a half size larger so I can wear them with heavier socks.
Latest Price on Women’s ShoeREI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s ShoeREI | Amazon

Asolo Fugitive

Best Hiking Boot: Asolo Fugitive GTX
This boot is a perennial favorite. The Fugitive is not only comfortable, but is also bomb-proof. If you’re bushwhacking or hiking in extreme conditions, go with this hiking boot. Otherwise a trail runner or shoe is probably a better choice. I’ve had a pair of these last me 8 years.
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