Gear 2024 Featured
play video

Best Hiking Gear 2024

Here's my unsponsored and non-promoted hiking gear list. I'm only sharing the gear that actually works and that you'll find me with on the trail. It's all been tested over hundreds of miles of hiking and backpacking.

Please use my links below to buy your gear. I get a small commission at no extra cost to you, and it allows me to keep this list and website ad and promotion-free.

Last updated July 2024.

Tip: Get an REI Membership, which lasts a lifetime. Every year you get 10% back from your purchases.

Day Hiking Essentials

  1. Garmin inReach Mini 2 ( Amazon | REI | Review )
    There are some exciting new satellite communicators on the market, and having tested them all, I can tell you that the Garmin inReach is the gold standard and one you can feel comfortable relying on to save your life. The Mini 2 model is rugged, tiny, and has a long battery life.
  2. Topo Pursuit 2 ( REI )
    The Pursuit 2 takes everything that I've loved about past hiking shoes and combines them. It's got a wide toe box, so no blisters. It's also got a high stack height with lots of cushion, and that's combined with an aggressive tread for the trails. They dry super quick with the new FKT insole. Love them!
  3. Osprey Hikelite 26 ( REI | Amazon )
    This updated version of the Hikelite 26 offers incredible value for the money. It's got a wider trampoline back, so your back doesn't get sweaty. It's under 2lbs, has deep side pockets, and is a great balance of what you need without what you don't. If you don't care about back sweat and want a minimal and much lighter pack, check out the Zpacks Sub-Nero 30L, which I sometimes use as well (video here). For longer hikes where I need a bigger pack to carry more gear, I use the super-comfy Osprey Stratos 34 ( Men | Women ). And for short hikes, I use a Talon 6 waist pack ( Men | Women ) for the "feeling free" vibe. Ditch the pack cover and go with a pack liner and/or use Ziploc bags to organize, it's much more effective.
  4. Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles ( REI | Amazon )
    I don't always use trekking poles, but these are my solid choice when I do. The cork grips are excellent when I'm sweaty; they're lightweight carbon fiber and work well after repeated use and abuse. When I want something to keep in my pack just in case, I use the folding Black Diamond Carbon Distance Z, which are almost half the weight of the Alpine Carbon but lack adjustability.
  5. Nitecore NU25 Headlamp ( Amazon | Zpacks ) - Most headlamps are overbuilt with button combinations that are easy to forget when caught out after dark. The NU25 is simple, affordable, ultralight, and recharges with USB-C. It's everything you need and nothing more.
  6. Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System ( REI | Amazon ) + Smartwater Bottle
    After years of using a hydration bladder, I've finally 100% switched over to using Smartwater bottles. They're simple, light, durable, and easy to pick up at any gas station in the USA. The Sawyer Squeeze just screws on the top of the Smartwater bottle, allowing me to fill it with untreated water and simply squeeze filtered water into my mouth. I do drink more with a hydration bladder, and when I use it, the Osprey 3L is my choice.
  7. Smartphone Navigation ( AllTrails | GaiaGPS | OnX )
    My primary navigation when conditions are good is on a smartphone. AllTrails is a great beginner's app, Gaia GPS premium has many map layers for power users, and OnX sits somewhere in between. The smartphone touchscreen is unreliable when wet or in extreme conditions, so then I'll use my Garmin GPSMAP 67 ( Amazon | Review ), which works with buttons.
  8. Garmin Epix Pro 51mm ( REI | Amazon | Review )
    These watches are pricey, but I use them 24/7 for sleep tracking, workouts, heart rate, and tracking my hike. It has preloaded hiking maps that help me navigate the trails and is a backup to my smartphone navigation. The Epix Pro has a great battery life, a screen similar to an Apple Watch Ultra, and works in harsh conditions when just using the buttons.
  9. Lightweight USB Battery Charger ( Anker | Nitecore )
    The nice thing about carrying USB devices like my phone, GPS, camera, and headlamp is that I just need one battery pack to charge them. New technology has made these smaller and lighter than ever. As an iPhone user, the Anker is Magsafe and snaps on my phone, but it also allows me to charge USB-C devices with a small cable. If you want the lightest option, Nitecore NB10000 is the gold standard.
  10. Paper Maps ( NatGeo | Tom Harrison )
    As good as electronic navigation is these days, it depends 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 your map in a Ziploc bag to keep it safe. Pair it with a good compass.
  11. Nutritionally Dense & Healthy Snacks
    I'll generally bring a bag of salted nuts and fruit, which take care of cramping and nutrition simultaneously. I also like Probars  and Greenbelly meals, which are healthy and nutritionally dense. It's nice to actually taste the ingredients.  And I'll carry a few Muir Energy Gels, a healthy and tasty equivalent of your standard (nutritionally horrible) gels.
  12. Electrolyte Chews ( REI )
    If I'm hydrated but still wiped out, I might be in need of electrolytes. I carry a small bag of chews with me; they do the job.)

Want to snag that hard-to-get permit? Check out, which monitors the permit page and texts you when a spot opens. I've used this many times with excellent results.

Hiking Emergency Kit

  1. Titanium Micro-Blade Knife ( Zpacks )
    I don't need a massive blade when hiking, and I rarely use all the options on a Swiss Army knife. A simple and lightweight blade is generally all I need for a repair. If you want a couple of more options, the Victorinox Classic Knife is small, light, and includes a scissor and file. And if you do like a bigger option, the Morakniv Spark 3.9-Inch Knife and Fire Starter is an outdoor favorite.
  2. Recco Radar Reflector ( Amazon | Video )
    I've been seeing more search and rescue organizations utilizing Recco in summer for hikers and climbers. It weighs 6 grams and clips on my pack. It's another simple tool that hopefully helps me get found if need by.
  3. SOL Fire Lite Fuel-Free Lighter ( REI | Amazon )
    This lighter is impressive. It's a USB charging, weatherproof, no-fuel lighter that burns very hot. There's also an emergency flashlight and cord that you can use to start a fire. And it weighs less than 2oz. I'll also carry a cheap Bic lighter as a backup.
  4. Emergency Bivvy ( REI )
    This lightweight sleeping sack can help protect me from the elements and keep me warm. Simply stuff it with leaves or pine needles if you want extra warmth.
  5. Small Duct Tape Roll ( Amazon )
    Take 12 inches of tape off, coil it up, and use it to repair gear or cover a blister out on the trail.
  6. Whistle ( Amazon )
    Most sternum straps on backpacks include a whistle, which you should blow if you think a rescue is close. Otherwise, just grab a cheap one from the dollar store and keep it in a hip belt.
  7. Water Treatment Tablets ( REI )
    I'll keep some tabs in case my water filter dies and I need to clean my water.

Visiting a National Park, Forest, or Monument? Invest in an America the Beautiful Pass. It gets you (and your whole car) free admission everywhere you need a federal pass in the USA, including National Parks like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and Smokies. Worth its weight in gold. Buy through REI, and they'll donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation.

Main Hiking Clothes

  1. Sahara Convertible Pants ( REI )
    Some pants come and go, but the Sahara model are solid year after year, as are the KUHL Renegade. I get the convertible version which I mainly use as a short. I keep the legs in my pack if it gets cold or overgrown.
  2. Hiking Hoodies ( KÜHL | Ridge )
    Lots of shirts have come and gone, but if I had to pick one, the hoodie is the best all-arounder. Use it on cool mornings, hot days, or under a rain jacket. It's soft and wicks away moisture; I couldn't ask for more.  The KÜHL model is lightweight, the Ridge is a nicer Merino wool that I like when it can be colder out.
  3. Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks ( REI )
    There's not much debate in the hiking community about which socks are the best; it's Darn Tough. The Micro Crew Cushion model offers an outstanding balance of comfort and weight; it was designed for hikers. And as the name suggests, no holes or rips. I've been using one pair since 2006.
  4. Oakley Gibston ( REI )
    Being out on the trail all day exposes your eyes to sunlight, especially above the treeline or outside the tree canopy. Putting sunglasses on has eliminated sun blindness (photokeratitis) on long days.
  5. Outdoor Research Swift Visor ( Amazon )
    Smartwool Merino 250 Beanie ( REI )
    I've found that a workout visor is the perfect balance. The brim shades my eyes; the band soaks up sweat, and heat vents out the top when I work hard on a climb. I pair it with a Smartwool Merino 250 Beanie when temps are cooler.
  6. Enlightened Equipment Visp Jacket ( Enlightened Equipment )
    REI Co-op Trailmade Rain Pants ( REI )
    A shell jacket and pants go in my pack, just in case. Not only are they great for when it rains, but they also add warmth when I need it. The Visp jacket is my new favorite. It's comfy, breathes well, and is under 6oz., about the weight of a candy bar. If you want an option that's a bit more affordable and has pockets, try the Black Diamond StormLine Stretch Rain Shell ( REI | Amazon ) which has been solid for me too. The REI Trailmade pants are affordable and simply pull over your regular pants or shorts. I found they work as well as the more expensive models. Treat them with Nikwax every year or when they stop repelling water.

Backpacking Gear

This is going to look like a Zpacks ad! Their stuff is overall just excellent, although it does cost more. I've dealt with their customer service, and it's top-notch. I've listed good budget options that have worked for me as well where possible.

  1. Arc Zip Ultra 62L Backpack ( Zpacks )
    This 62-liter backpack, big enough for a week of backpacking, is lighter and stronger than most day packs. It's such a well-thought-out pack, I can't imagine using anything else anymore. Especially appreciated is the trampoline back, which keeps my back dry when carrying heavy loads. Try the Osprey Exos 58 or Eja 58  for women for an excellent similar, yet more affordable option.
  2. Plex Solo Tent ( Zpacks )
    For years I used freestanding tents (and this is my favorite) because they work anywhere and are easy, but the elastic cord in the poles always fails. You can replace it, but who needs the hassle? I tried the Plex Solo tent last year, and I loved it. You need one trekking pole to make it stand; Zpacks sells ones long enough, or just use a small pole. Even with the pole, it's easier to set up than a freestanding tent and weighs about half. I use the 7" Super Sonic Stake in a stake sack.
  3. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm NXT ( REI | Amazon )
    I tried a few of the top-rated pads, and this was the most comfortable and warmest. I can roll on my side, and it doesn't squeak. Its extremely high r-value (7.3) is good even in the coldest environments.
  4. Zpacks 20F Solo Quilt ( Zpacks )
    This quilt is much lighter and packs smaller than other quilts with the same temperature rating. The sleeping pad straps are easy to use, and no mystery cords or straps leave you wondering if you're missing something. The REI Co-op Magma Trail quilts have also worked well for me; you can often find them on sale.
  5. Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Compact Plus Sleeping Bag Liner ( Amazon )
    Man, that's a long name. This sleeping bag liner is an excellent balance of weight and warmth and is as comfy as expensive sheets that you'd find in a fancy hotel. For summer camping, I just use this with my pad.
  6. Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow ( REI | Amazon )
    I used to be a tough guy and just put clothes in a stuff sack for a pillow, but I've mellowed out in my old age. This pillow is worth the few extra ounces. My quality of sleep is much better.
  7. MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove ( REI | Amazon )
    It's lightweight, tested over the years on the trail, and dead simple. Screw it onto the fuel canister, press the self-lighting button, and voila. The self-lighter has worked every time without a problem.
  8. TOAKS Titanium 750ml Pot ( REI )
    I just rest this guy full of water on the stove, boil it for a few minutes, and then dump the water into the food bag. After it's sat for a few minutes, just eat it with a long spork. The 750ml size is perfect for the average camping food bag. I also use it to drink my coffee. When I'm done, I store my fuel canister inside.
  9. Backpacker Cache ( Amazon )
    Ursack AllMitey ( REI )
    My attitude toward food storage has evolved over the years. I no longer use a bear hang. If I just need to protect my food from rodents and little critters, I use an Ursack. If I am in bear country, I'll use a (Garcia) Backpacker's Cache made out of ABS. I saw a bear gnaw through the clear blue container brand this year, which is made from polycarbonate, so I don't use those anymore.
  10. Basic Lightweight Flip Flops ( Amazon )
    Don't forget to pack comfy sandals for when your hike is over. It beats walking on sticks and rocks barefoot in the middle of the night when you have to pee.

Let's talk about sleep systems because there are many options, and it can get confusing. I've found that the best move that gives you the most flexibility is to use a quilt with a liner and a high r-value (warmth) sleeping pad. The quilt lets you sleep naturally under a cover; if you are too warm, you can simply put less over you. The liner adds warmth when it's cold, allows me to keep the quilt clean, and also works alone when it's hot out. And the high r-value pad insulates me from the ground and, combined with the quilt, allows me to regulate my temperature by simply covering up less.

Hiking Dangers & Annoyances

  1. Insect Head Net ( REI )
    These head nets look silly, but they are a lifesaver and have saved me from insanity many times. There's nothing as maddening as climbing a mountain, sweating, and swatting gnats out of your face. I carry this with me all the time, just in case.
  2. Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray ( REI | Amazon )
    You don't need bear spray most of the time, but it's prudent in some places where you find bears. It's also good for mountain lions and humans. If you are anxious about wild creatures, I suggest reading my guide to bears and mountain lions. The more you understand, the better off you'll be.
  3. Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellant ( REI )
    I try to avoid DEET, which is pretty toxic, so I'll give myself a spray of this repellant and it does the job well. When the situation gets bad, I have a few DEET wipes on hand for reinforcement. I use it sparingly.
  4. Permethrin Pump Spray ( REI )
    I treat my clothes with Permethrin. You can mix it from concentrate and it's cheaper, but I find this spray bottle to be easier to use.
  5. Tick Remover Tool ( REI )
    Big animals don't freak me out, but ticks sure do. I carry this simple tool to pull the tick out without leaving it's head or legs in your body to cause infection.

Cold Weather Hiking Gear

I keep my cold-weather gear in a couple of stuff sacks. It's easy to grab and put it in my pack if the temperatures are cooler outside.

  1. Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket  ( REI )
    You can stuff this lightweight puffer jacket in your pack and have it for cool nights or cold summits. This Patagonia model has some room in the armpits to move around with a backpack on.
  2. Smartwool Merino 250 Beanie ( REI )
    I keep this light beanie in my pack and use it to stay warm when temperatures drop.
  3. Smartwool Intraknit Thermal Tops & Bottoms ( REI )
    I combine these heavier layers with my regular hiking gear when it's cold. There's no need to buy special winter gear unless you plan to spend a lot of time snowshoeing or hiking in winter. Combining layers with good shells will usually do the trick.
  4. Kahtoola MICROspikesREI | Amazon )
    I'll take these micro-spikes when there's a chance of snow or ice. I keep them in a little stuff sack so they don't get everything dirty when they come off.
  5. REI Co-op Minimalist GTX Mittens 2.0 ( REI )
    Black Diamond WindWeight Convertible Mittens ( REI )
    I'm a convert to mittens over gloves. I'll just go with the shell mittens if it's rainy or cool. And then, if it's colder, I'll wear the fleece mittens underneath. Or cold and dry, I'll just go with the fleece.
  6. Hand Warmers ( Amazon )
    I used to think these were a gimmick but after trying a few models out, the Grabbers worked the best. I keep a pair in my emergency kit as well in case I have to spend the night or in case I'm in water and need to warm my digits up.

Heavy Rain Hiking Gear

Here's what I use in addition to the rain shell and pants I mentioned earlier, mainly when I know it will be very wet.

  1. NRS HydroSkin Wet SocksREI | Amazon )
    Wet socks are great for keeping feet warm in wet weather and for wearing on cool camping nights. I wear these with my regular trail runners, just letting them get wet.
  2. Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Storm Hat ( REI | Amazon )
    I use this for shade on hot hikes and in heavy rain. I recently used it during non-stop rainy days in Olympic National Park, making my life much dryer. It's versatile, light, packs flat, and completely worth it.
  3. Zpacks Lotus UL Umbrella ( Zpacks )
    I was skeptical about using an umbrella when hiking. I'm a convert after trying it out and using it with the Zpack clip; it fits right on my backpack. This feather-light umbrella keeps me dry in the rain and shaded in the sun. I saw hikers using it at the bottom of the Grand Canyon this year, and they were raving about how cool it was keeping them. When it's very windy it's not great, but otherwise I love it. If you like to hold your umbrella, the Six Moon Designs Rain Walker SUL has a great handle and only weighs 5.5oz. I've used both umbrellas and they seem comparable aside from the grip.
  4. Frogg Toggs Rain Suit ( Amazon ) - When I know that it's going to be heavy rain all day, I'll wear a non-breathable rain suit that just keeps me dry. I use the classic one because its beefy, but if you want to go lighter, try the the Ultra-Lite2 model, a favorite with thru-hikers. They're not too comfy but they keep you dry.

"The Other" Emergency Kit

  1. BoglerCo Ultralight Backpacking Trowel ( Amazon )
    If you need to go, dig a hole away from a water source and do your business. I like this trowel because it's not only very light, but has a small plastic cover at the top that's easier on your plam when digging.
  2. Single Ply Toilet Paper ( Amazon )
    Single ply is not as comfortable but it's light and biodegrades quickly. Just take a few feet and roll it up.
  3. Mini Hand Sanitizer ( Amazon )
    You don't need a lot, so just get the smallest size you can and replace it if you use it.

Post-Hike Recovery

  1. Crocs  ( Amazon )
    Yea, go ahead and make fun of me. I wear Crocs. They're super soft and comfortable after a long day of hiking. I use the back strap so they don't slip off while driving. Whatever you do after a hike, air your feet and give them a break from your hiking shoes.
  2. Trigger Point Performance GRID X Foam Roller ( REI | Amazon )
    It looks hokey, but rolling your back and legs on this thing does wonders.
  3. Pro-Tec Athletics Spiky Ball Massage Ball ( REI | Amazon )
    It's a dog toy, but just spending a minute or two rolling your feet on this little ball makes them feel great.
  4. NUUN Active Tabs Hydration Tablets ( REI | Amazon )
    Pop one in a big water bottle to ensure all your electrolytes and minerals are topped up. There's no sugar or crap, just the stuff you need.

Hiking Medical Kit

Most medical kits are heavy and have things you probably won't need. I customize my kit based on my needs, which are generally a laceration, blister, or ankle sprain. Customize it for your situation.

  1. Alcohol wipes and first-aid tweezers to clean my wound.
  2. Antibiotic cream to treat the wound.
  3. Sterile gauze pads to put on top of that and stop any bleeding.
  4. I wrap it with Leukotape, which stays on even if wet or sweaty.
  5. I'll also keep a few Merino Wool Adhesive Bandages which do the same thing for smaller issues like a blister.
  6. An ankle wrap brace is fairly light and helps if I roll the ankle.
  7. I take 2 full-strength aspirin tablets in case I experience heart or stroke symptoms.
  8. There are 2 antihistamine tablets in case of a bee swarm or snake bite.
  9. And a few ibuprofen in case of pain. They've even helped with altitude.

Hiking Travel

  1. REI Co-op Big Haul ( REI )
    It can be tough to travel with my backpack and gear when traveling with a carryon, especially if I have a blade and items that are not TSA-friendly. This bag is like a huge cave that I can throw things into without really having to think about it.

Production Gear

Overall, I'm using a setup that balances quality and portability. If you want to make your hiking videos and are just starting, I think using your smartphone with a gimbal (Magsafe adaptor) and tripod gives you the most bang for your buck. If you want to go deeper and learn more, then invest in the more expensive gear.

Both of these lenses work great for hiking. I chose them over the more costly and heavy G-Master lenses. The f4 aperture is excellent for hiking; I don't need to stop down to the f2.8 offered on the GM lenses. Often I'll shoot landscapes between f8-f11.

Here are the other elements of my kit.

Ulanzi F38 System - I mount this quick release on the bottom of my cameras, and it can easily be swapped between setups.

And in the studio it's this:

Need More Info?