Our Summer Hiking Checklist
Choosing the right gear for your outdoor adventures can make a big difference in how fondly you remember a trip. We wanted to share our hiking checklist we include in our day hike and backpacking adventures. Feel free to comment with questions or gear you also love.
For more hiking tips, check out our article titled What to Bring in Your Daypack for a full pack list to ensure you are adequately prepared for your outing.
Day Hike Backpack
The Osprey Kyte 36 pack is the most comfortable pack I’ve found. It holds everything you need for a day’s adventure. There may be lighter daypacks out there (weighs 3 lbs. 3.7 oz.), but I like it for its size, comfort, adjustability, and I really enjoy the external reservoir sleeve (meaning you don’t have to stuff your bladder in with your other belongings in the main compartment). I found the shoulder straps have the perfect amount of padding so my collar bones don’t get sore.
The Mountain Hardware Canyon Pro is the perfect summer shirt. It’s super lightweight and has snap closures which make it easy to take on and off. I prefer long-sleeve shirts like this for more protection from the intense Montana sun. I find that I can roll up my sleeves and keep cool enough during summer days on the hike up and then roll them down for those chilly alpine winds up high.
Hands down, I love the Women’s Saturday Trail™ II Stretch Convertible Pants. So much so that I don’t hike in any other pants/shorts during the summer months. The fit is fairly snug with stretchy material so they aren’t overly baggy, but have enough room to stretch and move comfortably. For that reason, I take these everywhere – even when bushwhacking or in scrambling terrain.
The Marmot Women’s Variant Hybrid Jacket is my favorite lightweight jacket during summer. It fits like a glove and is incredibly comfortable. The arms are made of a soft material, have a good length, and have thumbholes. I feel like this jacket blocks the wind just enough for most cool summer breezes and is the perfect lightweight layer for chilly days.
Mountain weather can be unpredictable – so we always pack a rain jacket. Even if it doesn’t rain, it’s great to use as a shell for windy days or blocking cool breezes from early mornings or late evenings. I always have my Women’s PreCip® Eco rain jacket with me in the summertime.
If you haven’t bought yourself a pair of DarnTough socks, go out and buy a pair. You don’t want to have foot problems when out hiking. I love the snug fit of these socks and their durability is outstanding. Plus they have a lifetime warranty, so you really can’t go wrong.
Prior to buying the women’s Asolo TPS 520 GV Evo Hiking Boots, I came to realized my boots aren’t lasting more than 2 years. I bought these Asolos with the expectation that they will last longer. So far, they are a very sturdy boot, are waterproof, and have a super-stiff sole which makes it easier to climb up rocky slopes. The only downfall so far is they don’t make a great insole, so I replaced them with the Superfeet Trailblazer Insoles. The Superfeet insoles do take a bit more space than the soles that come with Asolos so keep that in mind when trying on sizes.
GPS and Communication Device
The Garmin inReach Explorer+ is our go-to navigation device. I enjoy using it to track our hikes which end up on our explore page. It has the ability to text friends and family and includes the emergency SOS for peace of mind (whether that be for yourself or friends and family). It’s fairly simple to use and pairs with your smartphone for easier texting and zoom features.
While we always bring our GPS, we like to pack a physical trail map as well. Physical trail maps are great for discovering nearby landmarks and trails but are more importantly a great backup navigation resource. Physical trail maps don’t run out of battery and are highly durable.
If you haven’t hiked with hiking poles, once you’ve used them a few times – there’s no going back. They are a great way to keep weight off your knees when descending steep trails and make your arms pull their weight a little more. I’ve used the Leki Cork Lite for the past 3+ years and haven’t had any issues with them. They are a good durable trekking pole great for all seasons – backcountry skiing, hiking, backpacking, and more.
I prefer the Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir – 2.5 Liters. I like the lightweight design and prefer it for having a relatively flatter shape when filled. I like the 2.5 liters because most of our hikes end up being 8+ miles. My philosophy is I’d rather have more than enough water and dump it if necessary than not have enough.
Reusable Water Bottles
You can’t really beat Nalgene water bottles. They have a lifetime warranty, include helpful measurement increments on the side, and hold a full liter of water. These are ideal for winter adventures where your water bladder hose can freeze.
You should always have a Medical Kit in your backpack. It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared when in the backcountry. This kit is organized for quick access to key remedies and includes a wilderness first aid book for more serious scenarios. Regardless of your experience, always have a medical kit and emergency kit. Make sure this one is on your hiking checklist.
I’m a fan of hats with a brim. The Filson Tin Cloth Packer Hat provides more shade from the intense Montana sun and repels water with its oil finish tin cloth. It is a little on the warmer side for summer hiking, but Filson came out with a more breathable summer version of their Tin Cloth Packer Hat.