My Best Hiking Gear List

My Best Hiking Gear List

In This Guide
  • Must-have gear
  • Navigation
  • Clothing
  • Camping
  • General gear
  • Planning Tools

Don’t waste your time getting hiking gear that’s not great. I spend a lot of my time on the trail testing and reviewing hiking gear in real-world scenarios, and only recommend gear that I actually use and that has passed muster*. I just skip posting or talking about anything that isn’t worth your time or money.

I take a high-tech and low-tech approach, giving you the convenience of hiking with technology while offering low-tech backups in case the fancy gear fails. Everything you see in this hiking gear list is what I use on every hike that I do. I update this page regularly when I test and use new hiking gear (subscribe to my quarterly email to get updates on gear).

This list features all the hiking gear that is worth your time, skipping the junk that you don’t need.

* Gear companies often offer me compensation in exchange for a review, and I don’t do it. I also don’t work for REI, but I highly recommend them and many of their products because they’re great.  For most gear on this site, I link to REI, and if you click on the link and purchase the item, I receive a very small affiliate commission. Think of it as an easy way to support the blog and free hiking guides. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

And don’t forget, 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.

Must Have Gear

Let’s cover some essential hiking gear before we get into the details of everything in my pack. These are the pieces of hiking gear that I think are worth every ounce and dollar.

Rei Trail 40 and Cris Hazzard
There’s a lot of great daypack choices. I found the REI Trail 40 to be the best.

I use the REI Trail 40 for everything. It’s big enough for any length of day hike, and can even do weekend backpacking trips. It weighs as much as packs half its capacity, has been well thought out and tested, also works as a carryon, and costs less than comparable daypacks. Check out my full review here or go right to REI and check it out.

Women’s REI Trail 40 Reviews & Prices

Men’s REI Trail 40 Reviews & Prices

la sportive synthesis hiking boots
The La Sportiva Synthesis – my goto hiking footwear. It’s a beefed up trail running shoe: comfortable, light, and tough.

These are my favorite hiking boots of all time.  The La Sportiva Synthesis (for women and men) are waterproof, super-light, have incredible grip, and won a Backpacker Magazine Editor’s Choice Award (my review here). I’ve gone through a lot of boots, and these are my favorite. They feel like comfortable sneakers with the protection of hiking boots.

UPDATE: I spoke with La Sportiva and it looks like the Synthesis are being discontinued at the end of the year and are being evolved into the Spire line of shoes (for women and men). You can still find the Synthesis in some sizes on REI, and Amazon has the Synthesis too (women and men). I’m in the process of testing the Spire and some other options and will have an update for you on what hiking boot I’m recommending shortly. Until then, I can say that the Spire has been great and similar to the Synthesis.

Garmin inreach review

If you ever hike out of cellphone range, you need this. The Garmin InReach allows you to send and receive text messages where cell phones don’t work using satellite technology. You can tell your family you’re okay, that you’re running late, or signal for a full blow emergency to search and rescue. It also has weather, maps, and some navigation tools. It’s worth every cent, and you can read my in-depth review here or go right to REI and read the reviews and specs.

Garmin InReach Prices & Reviews

Fenix 5x Hiking Review

I use this Fenix 5x GPS mapping watch every day.  The Garmin Fenix 5x is a GPS with topo maps that you wear on your wrist. I use it to track my hikes and also load GPX tracks onto it that I want to follow.  I don’t do a lot of on the fly planning using the maps on the watch, but I can if I need to. Outside of hiking, I use the Fenix t to track my heart rate, my sleep, all my other workouts, and it integrates with my smartphone. I have an id-depth review if you want to learn more.

Garmin Fenix 5x Prices & Reviews

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 have in my closet:

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:

General Hiking Gear

Camping Gear

camping gear

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

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.

Planning Tools and Software

Here’s what I use when planning hikes.

Gear To Produce Hiking Guides

This is what I use to produce the content on the website.

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