The Best in 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.

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

Best base layers for hiking: Base layers are critical as the temperatures start to dip a bit. 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.

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs

Underwear Suggestion: ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs

SmartWool Midweight Zip-T Top

Base Layer Suggestion: SmartWoolMidweight Zip-T Top

Base Layers

Warm Layer for Fall Hiking

Warming layers are great 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 North Face Canyonlands Fleece Hoodie

Suggestion: The North Face Canyonlands Fleece Hoodie

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.

Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket & Nano Puff Vest

Suggestion: Patagonia Down Sweater or Patagonia Nano Puff Vest

Insulated Jackets

Hiking Pants

Layering up top is pretty clear cut. Choosing the right pants for fall hiking 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.

Arc'teryx Palisade Hiking Pant

Suggestion: Arc’teryx Palisade Pants

Hiking Pants

Outer Layers

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-techy. 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.

Mountain Hard Wear Dragon's Back Hiking Jacket

Suggestion: Mountain Hard Wear Dragon’s Back Jacket

Shell Jackets

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.

Asolo Avalon GTX Hiking Boots

Suggestion: Asolo Avalon GTX Hiking Boots

Hiking Boots

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.

Smartwool Hiking Socks

Suggestion: SmartWool Hiking Socks

Hiking Socks

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
  • Whistle
  • Knife
  • Compass and/or trail map
  • High-energy food
  • Drinking water
  • Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent

Pro Tip: When considering food, increase your carb intake as the temperature decreases. Carbs are the fuel for the body’s furnace.

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]

Osprey Manta 36 Hydration Pack

Suggestion: Osprey Manta 36 Hydration Pack

’’Osprey decked out the Manta 36 Hydration Pack with all the thoughtful features that grace the rest of its Manta series and gave the pack a large 36-liter size for epic day hikes and super-light overnighters. Stuff all your needs and wants into its capacious main compartment and plentiful pockets, and marvel at how comfy and light your load feels with the AirSpeed suspension system and BioStretch harness. Tons of ventilation and padding reduce sticky sweat, and the hydration system with stabilizing HydraLock and magnetic valve holder keeps your whistle wet, so you can keep on trucking from sunup until sundown.’’

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By | 2018-04-08T20:35:54+00:00 December 24th, 2015|Gear, Hiking, Outdoor Adventure|0 Comments

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