Adventure gear guide: the basics

We get asked all the time what kind of gear we rely on for our adventures so we put together this handy little gear guide just for you!

Shoes & Socks: Keeping Your Feet Comfortable & Pain Free

The single best way to ruin a good adventure is with a nasty blister or worse, toenails that have been damaged to the point of falling off.  Not only is it uncomfortable (to say the least) but it’s not cute – at all!  If there’s one thing on this list we recommend investing in above all else when it comes to gearing up for adventure it’s proper footwear.

That means heading to a  store and getting fitted for the correct shoe size and picking up a pair (or two) of performance socks.  We’re both hiking in Solomon shoes and they haven’t let us down yet.  Here’s what to look for:

Trail Shoes

Light weight – we hike in trail runners or trail sneakers (also known as hikers), not hiking boots, because we love the versatility and flexibility of this type of shoe.  A sneaker gives us much more freedom than a boot and can also be worn on more occasions than a boot.

No tie laces – When you’re on the trail and have other things to be thinking about it’s a convenience you’ll really appreciate.  Many great trail shoes now come sans traditional laces.  You just pull these tight, tuck them in and you’re good to go.

Goretex – dry feet make all the difference in the world and a shoe with a gortex lining will keep your feet dry and comfortable.  Less thinking about where you’re stepping and more enjoying the ride!

Socks

Smart Wool – these aren’t your granny’s socks.  The smart wool technology keeps your feet dry, cool (I know, weird right?), and they’re anti-bacterial which means they keep your feet from getting smelly.  Very handy if you’re on a multi-day hike and don’t have access to fresh socks everyday!

Fit – Yes, socks come in more than just small, medium & large…And great socks actually come made in panels that support your feet and keep the formation of blisters at bay.  There’s literally nothing worse than getting a nasty blister on the trails so do yourself a favour and invest in a pair of socks that will keep your feet safe and healthy!

Day Packs & Hydration Systems

Backpacks & hydration systems have come a long way in the last few years and we’ve been through a ton of them!  After 15+ years of hiking we have a very specific set of criteria we use when choosing a pack & hydration system whether it’s for a weekend adventure or a day hike.

Backpacks

WARRANTY – I repeat, WARRANTY!  When you’re in the wilderness and on the road your gear takes a pounding so the very first thing we look for when choosing a pack is one with a warranty (lifetime please).  We spend our hard earned cash on these items so we want to be sure they’re going to last!

Pockets, Pouches, & Compartments – First and foremost, does it have a compartment for a hydration system?  If yes, you’re good to go.  If not, step away from the pack and move on.  There should be a padded section at the back of the pack (nearest your body) that can hold your water bladder with a tunnel for the drinking tube to come out the top.  Aside from that, you also want to make sure there is enough space left over for snacks, camera gear (if needed), first aid supplies, layers of clothing, and anything else you’ll need on the trail.  We also look for external, easy access compartments to put things in that we reach for often like sunscreen, phone/camera, lip balm, trail mix, etc.  That way, we don’t have to stop every time we want to snap a picture or pop a few m&m’s into our mouths!

Straps – Every pack has shoulder straps but there are two others that are essential for longer distance hiking.  A waist strap keeps the pack from moving around on your back (which can cause blisters, chafing, and other unpleasantries).  It’s also a spot that great packs typically have some pouches or pockets(above) which is awesome.  The last set of straps you’ll want to look for are the chest straps!  The chest strap that is the real jewel of the pack.  Never…Ever…Ever buy a pack without a chest strap.  This strap takes some of the load off your lower back which will save you on longer hikes.  It also makes the whole fit of the pack more adjustable and comfortable.

Construction – this doesn’t fall under the “essential” category but it will make things more comfortable for you and if you’re ticking off all of the boxes above you’ll likely be looking at packs that have these features anyway so it’s worth mentioning.  Look for lightweight, quick dry materials and a mesh or breathable back panel (the part that rests on your back).  Trust us, you’ll get sweaty and if you’re pack helps to wick away moisture and dry’s quickly that’s an A+ in our books.

Hydration Systems/Bladders

Hydration systems, also known as bladders, are pouches that you fill with water (or your drink of choice) that fit into your pack with a tube that runs to the outside of your pack for you to drink from while on the move.  While this may not be a necessity (likes shoes and a pack are) it is a convenience that we highly recommend.  The last thing you want is to have to stop every 30 minutes to dig your water bottle of out of your pack while everyone else marches on.

Anti-Bacterial – most hydration bladders come with this feature now but double check before you buy.  They should be made from anti-bacterial materials to decrease the risk of nasty bugs growing in your water.

Style – this is personal preference but having tried most varieties out there we have firmly settled on a top closure model.  Many bladders have a circular opening somewhere in the middle of the bad that you screw open and close – we haven’t yet figured out why they’ve been designed this way because, in our view, it’s a huge pain in the butt to clean!  The newer models (and the smarter ones) have a top closure that looks like a giant ziplock with a  safety mechanism that slips on over the zip to keep you water in.  This makes for MUCH easier filling, emptying and cleaning!