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Best Hiking Gear 2021 2

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 November 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 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 thank you!

FYI ➤ Huge REI Cyber-Week Sale On Now + Many Amazon Items On Sale + 60% Off

Primary Hiking Gear

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 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 the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of this page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.

Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon | Backcountry | Cotswold
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon | Backcountry | Cotswold

Rei Traverse 32

REI Co-op Traverse 32 Pack
This year has been tough with backpacks. Some existing great models changed for the worse, and other new models became hard to find because of supply-chain issues. However, the overall best pack that I can recommend for everyone is the REI Traverse 32. It’s light, well-thought-out, durable, big enough for winter hikes (and short overnights), comes in size/gender variations, and is affordable. It’s hard to see how you can go wrong with this pack. Another pack that I like (but is hard to get) is the Osprey Talon Pro 30 (womenmenvideo review), which is a little lighter, more expensive, and more specific to day hikes.

Women’s Latest Prices: REI
Men’s Latest Prices: REI

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. 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 | Backcountry
My Review & Guide


Gaia GPS
Now 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

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. I use the GPSMAP 66i, which includes inReach satellite communications, to document all my trail guides. 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: Amazon
GPSMAP 66i Review
GPSMAP 66sr Prices: REI | Amazon
GPSMAP 66sr Review
How to Use Your Garmin

Fenix 6 Map White

Garmin Fenix 6
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 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 Instinct.

Fenix 6 Prices: REI | Amazon | Backcountry | Cotswold
Fenix 6 Review
Garmin Instinct Prices: REI | Amazon | Backcountry | Cotswold

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 | Black Diamond
Z-Poles: MacPac | REI | Amazon | Black Diamond

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.

General 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 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

Other Hiking Footwear Options

Moab 2 Mall

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator
For most casual hikers looking for a good value, a hiking shoe is a 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.

Latest Price on Women’s ShoeREI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s ShoeREI | 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 videos about them here and here. I’ve found these HOKAs are the best of all the HOKA options for hiking.

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.

Latest PricesREI | Amazon

Have an idea on how to make these guides better? Leave me your thoughts here..

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