best hiking gear

Best Hiking Gear 2020

In This Guide
  • Must-Have Hiking Gear
  • Hiking Boots & Clothing
  • Navigation
  • Camping
  • Everything Else

Don’t waste your money on gear that’s no good; I’ve already done that for you! Here’s my trail-tested best hiking gear list, last updated August 2020. I only recommend hiking gear that I’ve used over hundreds of miles. I don’t post any paid reviews and don’t waste your time with gear that I try but isn’t up to snuff.

For most gear on this site, I link to REI, and when you click on the link and purchase the item, I receive a very small affiliate commission. I use that commission to pay for website hosting and other costs of running HikingGuy. So please use the links on this page to buy your gear within 24 hours of clicking. Think of it as an easy way to support free hiking guides for everyone.

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 Essentials

Inreach Mini Review

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.

Fenix 6 Pro Altitude
My GPS watch gives me lots of different stats and infographics to help me pace myself and navigate a hike.

In this day and age everyone should have some kind of GPS device, and I actually have a few options with me in case one fails. I usually carry a paper map with me and then use a GPS watch to cross-check my position. Being able to glance at my wrist and see if I’m in the right place is something I do often. And because I’m a fitness geek, my GPS watch is also a sports tracker, sleep tracker, measures my heart rate, blood oxidation, and a host of other metrics.

Osprey Talon On Trail
I carry a pack that’s a little bigger than I normally use in case need the room for extras, like these two 1L water bottles in the outside pocket of my Osprey pack.

Hiking Clothing

cris hazzard wears 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, Columbia, and Kuhl. They fit well, are built for hikers, and wick/dry quickly.

This is what I use on the trail:

General Hiking Gear

Resting On Blady
I try to find gear that not only works well, but is also light (without being fragile). The less crap that I have to haul up the hills the better!

Navigation Gear

hiking essential navigation
Using a GPS is easy, but know what to do when your battery dies.

Any good planner will tell you that backups and redundancy are important, and that holds true for your hiking navigation too. I recommend bringing multiple sources of navigation for your hike in case one fails or is incorrect.

Here’s what I bring:

Camping Gear

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

I don’t do really long trips, with my longest being a week. Here’s what works well for me.

Winter Hike Gear

Emergency Survival Kit

Here’s what I carry as my emergency hiking essentials. Most of this gear sits at the bottom of my pack, there in case of an emergency. When I do a longer hike, I carry emergency gear to get me through the night. On a shorter hike, I bring a subset of emergency gear.

Post Hike Recovery

Car Camping / Basecamp Setup

If I’m doing some car camping or setting up a little basecamp, this is what I use. It’s generally too heavy to lug into the backcountry, but is nice and comfortable for a car campsite.

Planning Tools and Software

Here’s what I use when planning hikes.