Spring Hiking Must-Haves
Spring has arrived here in Virginia and that means it's time to transition from puffy warm jackets to rain jackets, t-shirts and shorts. This spring I'm all about three things when it comes to my clothing: moisture wicking clothing, protecting yourself from the sun and layering. During the spring it typically rains more and you also start to sweat more due to the warming temperatures therefore wicking moisture away from the body is super important especially to avoid catching a spring-time cold. Also during the spring the sun is progressively getting stronger and of course protecting your skin from the sun should always be a priority while you're adventuring outdoors. It's also always a good idea to bring extra layers while hiking in the spring. In the spring, mountain tops can be 10-15 degrees colder than valley temperatures so it's always a good idea to have an extra sweater or pair of leggings in your car in case you need them. But, without further ado, here is my list of spring gear must-haves.
A Waterproof Rain Jacket
A waterproof rain jacket might sound silly because aren't all rain jackets waterproof? You'd be surprised to find that they actually are not! When picking out a rain jacket it's really important to pick something that's truly waterproof. Too many times I've spent money on rain jackets just to discover that when I'm caught in a torrential downpour it can't keep me completely dry, or it just straight up falls apart within a year. I've learned that oddly enough, not all rain jackets are waterproof. In order to avoid getting soaking wet when you least expect it, look for rain jackets that are Gore-Tex... they're a little bit more expensive but it's worth it. The material reliable and really keeps the moisture away. Another waterproof technology that's reliable is H2No from Patagonia. I have a rain jacket from Patagonia (first product below) which is insanely comfortable, lightweight and waterproof to the core. It's actually meant for fly fishing but it doubles as my rain jacket for hiking. When purchasing a rain jacket try sticking to sites like REI and Backcountry where their customers have written thorough reviews. Reviews will ALWAYS tell you how waterproof and durable a rain jacket is- no one likes to buy a "waterproof" jacket just to find out its not waterproof when it rains so the reviews will be a true reflection of the product.
Ventilated, Quick Drying Shoes
Quick drying shoes are so practical and easy to wear in the spring. In addition to my hiking boots (I have a waterproof and non-waterproof pair) I really love to have a ventilated, open, quick drying sandal. I wear my waterproof hiking boots all winter so I love to let my feet out and breathe the second the air gets warmer in the spring. Strappy, ventilated sandals are so great for any activities where you'll be around/near water and want to be able to hike through it without thinking twice. These are also great for fly fishing in the summer when waders are just too dang hot but you need a good grip on the mossy rocks. Look for shoes that advertise "multisport performance," "moisture wicking" and/or "waterproof" and shoes that look very ventilated (not a typical closed shoe).
Sun Protectant Tees
In recent years I've really studied up on the benefits of protecting your skin while outdoors. I use to think wearing a simple t-shirt would suffice but I've learned that's just not true. The sun can penetrate your clothing to your skin so it's extra important to put sunscreen on everywhere before heading outdoors and choose clothing with UPF 30 or higher. A lot of UPF shirts are also moisture-wicking so you get two great features in one shirt. Investing in good quality shirts means you're gear lasts longer and you'll be more comfortable out on the trail. I have a few of the REI shirts and one from The North Face and I loveee them. Check out REI Outlet to find some good shirts for great prices.
Water Repellant Shorts
Over the last two years I've purchased a bunch of the Patagonia Baggie Shorts (linked below) and I am obsessed. They're super lightweight, breathable and stay put while you're moving around a lot. Not to mention they're stinkin' cute. I could dump a bottle of water on me by accident (it's happened before) and within minutes they'd be dry again. Water repellant shorts are great because no matter what you throw at them and put them through, they'll dry instantly. They also seem to always be made with better, more reliable material so they end up lasting longer than other cheap shorts. In addition, a majority of them are moisture-wicking so that obnoxious lower back sweat (lets be real, that's the worst kind of sweat) will be managed while you hike. Try looking for an inseam thats 3" or longer to allow enough fabric to cover everything while you're outdoors and being active.
I added this one just for fun and because I love finding fun, practical backpacks that are great for everything- not just hiking. I've bought and tested a lot of backpacks over the years and I really wish I had more money (and closet space) to have tons more! I always look for something that can distribute weight well, has pockets to hold gear and extra layers that are easily accessible and that is versatile. An added plus is if there's an area for your hydration reservoir. I've linked some of my favorite packs below!
Well that's it. My list of spring gear that you've gotta have is all spelled out! Of course each hiker has their own preferences and gear that they just cant live without but these are my essentials for spring. Hope everyone gets out to enjoy this insanely beautiful spring that we've already begun to experience!