Philosophy - Modern gear can be of great value (even essential) to the serious dayhiker. Lightweight, high-tech fabrics enhance clothing performance while carefully-chosen packs can make even heavy loads feel comfortable. Huge improvements in LED technology now make those after-dark epics slightly more bearable, and inexpensive digital cameras allow the adventurer to document the trip in convenient, colorful detail. Well-designed footwear can help keep the terrain interface pain-free and efficient.

efficiency dictates that gear selection and packing is closely tied to route selection and overall strategy

All of this to say that the critical part of gear selection for the dayhiker comes down to a balance of weight, bulk, and usefulness. Expected or possible weather conditions must be estimated with skill in order to avoid overloading. Allowing for emergencies is a must, but taking the kitchen washbasin will 'sink' any chances of maintaining speed over an extended period of time. Thus, less gear is better.

Tip and tricks for planning the hike is a large topic in-and-of itself, and hopefully we will have a section devoted to that posted soon. For now, let it suffice that efficiency dictates that gear selection and packing is closely tied to route selection and overall strategy. Consequently the 'list' changes slightly with every hike and situation.

Contrary to popular suggestion, the only "essential" that must make EVERY trip is common sense. This in sufficient quantity will take care of the rest.

Here's a sample list from a typical early-summer 20-mile hike with 5-8k feet of gain and significant off-trail travel to class 3+, including possible light snow-field travel (think Split Mountain or similar). Precip = unlikely, Winds = unknown, Temp range 45*F - 90*F. Most fair-weather hikes involve some varient of this list, with heavier or lighter items being substituted as predicted conditions dictate.

  • ~1500ci pack
  • 100oz bladder, 50% Gatorade
  • Lightweight pump-style water filter
  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Suunto Vector watch/compass/altimeter
  • Map printout from Topo software
  • Compact digital camera
  • Petzl Myo headlamp with LEDs
  • AA batteries for camera/headlamp
  • Lightweight ice-axe w/strap
  • Two 3ft slings
  • One carabiner
  • Small pocketknife
  • North Face Mountain Light Shell w/hood
  • Windproof gloves
  • Beanie-style winter hat
  • Lightweight mid-cut shorts
  • Wicking short-sleeve tee-shirt
  • Padded, wicking athletic socks
  • Extra pair of socks
  • Lightweight high-top approach shoes
  • Meat & cheese sandwich
  • Two Clif Bars
  • Small bag of beef jerky
  • Snickers candy bar
  • Several ounces of gummy candy
  • Small waterproof bag with matches, painkillers, ACE bandage, tape, antibiotic ointment, Band-Aids.


Top Picks
A few products have gotten our attention over the years. Traits we look for in gear are things like flexibility, value, and durability. These products or their current replacements are a good starting point if you aren't sure where to begin.

Camelbak Ares
Hydration Pack - Light, super-comfy, and designed for the fair-weather essentials. Stiff frame vents the airflow to your back.

Mountainsmith Ghost Pack --- at 3000c.i., this is a great one-day alpine assault rig. It can carry up to 30lbs of climbing gear while remaining surprisingly comfortable all day (and night).

La Sportiva Exum Ridge approach shoes - Sticky, light, and surprisingly durable. Out of several approach tennies tried, we like these the best.

Petzl Myo 3 Headlamp - Well- balanced, takes AA batts, and about as mission-flexible as they come.

Duracell 2500mah NiMH AA Batteries - These rechargables last so much longer than alkalines in cameras and other electronics that it's not even funny.

North Face Mountain Light Shell - Although reputedly not as tough (or expensive) as some 2-layer shells, this serves as a great waterproof AND thermal layer for those unplanned bivies all by itself.

TOPO! Software by National Geographic - Worth every penny, this tool will allow you to plan hikes like never before. We use it every day.