The Best in 2020 Fall Hiking Gear
Looking for information on fall hiking gear? No offense to the other seasons, but Autumn is the best time to hike throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. Fall hiking offers the most stunning views of colorful foliage and natural beauty on earth. Not only are there less people on the trails, with summer vacations ending, but there are often more wildlife sightings with animals coming down from the mountains for easier water sources and to bulk up on food before the long winter.
Even though there is generally less volatility in weather during the Autumn months, there are still challenges for hikers to consider as they plan for their adventure. With shorter days, cooler mornings, warm and sunny afternoons, and the increasing possibility of cold winds and mountain snow, the gear you need becomes more and more critical. There is nothing worse than being in the best place, at the best time of year, and being too cold, wet, or simply not prepared to enjoy it. It is so important that you have the right fall hiking Gear.
Here is our advice on how to gear up and be ready for it all on your fall hikes.
Fall Hiking Gear Clothing:
We have three words for you: Layers, layers, and layers. Layering is the most important element when dealing with the elements.
Pro Tip: It’s best to start your hiking on the chilly side, without all your warm layers on. You’ll warm up fast, save time and effort dressing and undressing, and you’ll keep from overheating and sweating out all those electrolytes early on.
Base Layer for Fall Hiking
Base layers are a critical part of your fall hiking gear, as the temperatures start to dip a bit.
A common principle to follow when choosing your base layers is ”Cotton Kills”. Cotton absorbs water and doesn’t shed it like synthetics or wool. If you sleep in wet or damp cotton base layers, they will most likely still be damp in the morning. This can lead to hypothermia in damp and cold conditions. However Wool and synthetic base layers will shed the moisture and be dry in a few hours. So ditch the cotton undies and t-shirts and go with moisture wicking synthetic or merino wool base layers. Synthetic polyester blends do great for underwear as they stay cool and stretch for a more comfortable feel. As for the top, polyester is great, but merino wool long-sleeve shirts are awesome. Merino wool is a tad thicker than polyester, making it a little warmer, and it is naturally moisture wicking and antibacterial, meaning a merino wool shirt will keep you warm, dry, and not so stinky when you wear it over and over.
Warm Layer for Fall Hiking
Warming layers are an important part of your fall hiking gear. For those chilly mornings or along the trail if the sun is being bashful. Again, cotton kills, so keep to synthetics. A good lightweight fleece hoodie is perfect to throw on whenever you take breaks and at the end of the hike. They aren’t for really cold temps but will keep your core temp up while you rest and are lightweight enough to stash anywhere. The hood provides extra warmth for your head and a helmet can fit easily over top.
The North Face Summit L2 FuseForm Grid Fleece Hooded 1/2-Zip Jacket
The Summit L2 FuseForm Grid Fleece Hooded 1/2-Zip Jacket from North Face, is breathable, stretchy, and welded construction keeps you free of sweat, mobile, and adequately covered is all extreme conditions. As part of The North Face’s Summit Series, this jacket is fit for functional wear at high altitudes. Wear it comfortably under a shell and it will efficiently manage moisture from sweat so it can comfortable used again and again in the alpine environment. This Fleece is ideal for the hiker that is looking for something a little more extreme.
Light Weight Fleece
Insulating Layer: How to Layer Clothes
These are optional, depending on the temperatures you are expecting, but it’s never a bad idea to have one around as the weather changes. Insulated jackets are designed to buffer against the colder air while keeping your body heat close to your core. Down sweaters or vests are the best lightweight insulators, just don’t get them wet. If there’s a chance for rain, there are synthetic alternatives that mimic down and offer some water repellency.
The North Face Kilowatt Thermoball Insulated Jacket
This jacket is insulated with PrimaLoft ThermoBall insulation, offering you effective and weight-saving insulation for reliable core warmth. With polyester-knit fleece in the arms and side keeping you comfortable and warm in those places where you have a lot of motion. The body is made of wind stopping and water-repellent nylon, while the fleece has been treated with FlashDry-XD to manage moisture well and dry quickly. With two hand pockets for valuables and smaller pieces of gear, and a media-compatible chest for your electronics.
Layering up top is pretty clear-cut. Choosing the right pants for your fall hiking gear is something else. Do you wear shorts? Pants? Convertibles? The best answer is usually a pair of lightweight, durable, synthetic pants. They’re reinforced where it counts, wick moisture in case you get warm, and protect better from the elements if the weather turns.
These softshells have a wind- and water-resistant synthetic construction, with a comfortable stretch and articulated knees that let you move freely on the trail. Outdoor Research stuck a zippered pocket on the thigh for easy access when you’re wearing a harness, and the lightweight construction feels breathable on warm days but protects you enough for windy spring climbs.
Weather can change rapidly in the fall, so choosing the right shell, both top and bottom is key. If you’ve done your research and packed your layers, then all you really need to worry about here is waterproofing and windproofing. This is also where choices can get a bit high-tech. Simply put, you’re looking for an outer layer that has a laminate or membrane built in. Gore-Tex is the most well known, but not necessarily the best. Laminates can be found in all kinds of brands and products. These membranes block rain and wind to around 60mph but are breathable to varying degrees.
The perfect all-around jacket made for the versatile mountaineer who climbs alpine all summer and skis in the winter. Its three-layer construction includes a Gore-Tex Pro laminate for incredible waterproofing for those days on the trail when the weather turns. This jacket best suits those who are at it every day in every season whether they’re climbing, skiing, or exploring the great outdoors.
Shoes and Socks
The right shoes are always one of the most important elements of hiking. Autumn is not usually the time for insulated boots, but take this chance to get away from the trail shoes in favor of a waterproof light hiker. Many brands add Gore-tex and other waterproof membranes into their hiking shoes to protect you from wet conditions. Just make them fit and take care of your feet.
Salomon X Alp Mid LTR GTX Boot
The Salomon Men’s X Alp Mid LTR GTX Boot delivers with an aggressive sole, reinforced upper, and waterproof Gore-Tex membrane. If your trail consists of some off-rout exploration, the gusseted tongue, aggressive sole, and molded midsole keeps rugged terrain from slowing your pace.
As for the socks, and since you are going away from insulated boots, this is the time to wear a little thicker pair. As with all other adventure clothing, stay away from cotton and choose synthetic or merino wool. The moisture wicking is better for keeping your feet dry and, as is the case with merino. They limit foot friction and don’t stink up the place.
Lightweight is what all hikers are looking for. The Hiking Light sock from SmartWool is just that, with an impressive blend of features woven into a thin sock. Support and comfort are built in for mile after mile of quick, blister-free hiking. Wool has its own natural ability to resist moisture and odors. Durable and soft merino wool is used to make these socks a perfect trail companion.
Additional Items to Pack
For the rest of your Autumn hiking gear, much of depends on your journey and destination, but much of it doesn’t. Fall hiking calls for increased importance being placed on the essentials that you should have every time you leave the house for an activity:
- First-aid kit
- Waterproof matches
- Compass and/or trail map
- High-energy food
- Drinking water
- Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
- Insect repellent
Pro Tip: When considering food, increase your carb intake as the temperature decreases. Carbs are the fuel for the body’s furnace. See HERE for more ideas on what food to take hiking with you.
Optional Autumn Gear
Duct Tape – You never know when you might have to repair something or create an easy blister barrier.
Thermal Hat and Gloves -Temps can go low fast, so protect yourself.
Bandana – Perfect for a headband, handkerchief, or makeshift facemask. Also, bandanas can act as crude water filters in a pinch.
Gaiters – Gaiters help keep your lower legs and feet dry and warm in wet or slushy conditions.
Ice Axe and Crampons – If snow and ice are a possibility, an ice axe for stability and safety, and crampons, MicroSpikes or YakTrax for your boots can be priceless.
If you have all this gear, and you plan the right clothing options, then you need the right pack for it all. There are seemingly as many backpacks as there are trails, but look for one that has at least a 30 liters capacity, a few different pockets to suit your stash-ables, and is compatible with a hydration system. And make sure it fits. You’re going to be carrying 15 pounds of stuff. Make it comfortable. See more backpacks [Here]
Black Diamond Nitro 26L Backpack
The Black Diamond Nitro 26L Backpack has everything you need for spending all day in the mountain pines or a long desert trek. With a good-sized volume for day trips, this backpack has enough room to pack warm layers, rain shells, food and water for the day and other essentials to make your trip safe. The ReActiv suspension system allows the shoulder straps and a waist belt to move with you on the trail, while OpenAir technology in the back panel, waist belt, and shoulder straps circulate airflow to keep you cool when the desert heats up. The top-access zippered panel opens wide for easy retrieval of snacks or first aid kit, and there are plenty of gear loops for clipping additional items or attaching trekking poles to the back.
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