I’ve been there plenty of times: an hour into the hike and kicking myself for my gear choices. Whenever you prepare to head into the backcountry, even if it’s just for a day hike, you have to hit that balance between preparedness, comfort, and the limited space in your pack. I can’t count the how many times I’ve gone out on a trek only to realize that several items in my pack are useless, and what I could really use in that moment was sitting on my bedroom floor.
To cut down on the number of times this happens to you, we’ve curated a list of compact hiking gear that you’ll be happy you brought along. Quick disclaimer: this list complements and does NOT replace the essential items you need for any hike (water, map, etc.).
BLDG Active promotes faster and healthier healing for superficial injuries. The multi-functional, non-toxic solution uses the same molecule that our own bodies produce in response to injury. Toss a little bottle of this in your med kit on your next hiking, climbing, biking, or surfing trip. There’s nothing worse than a super minor injury preventing you from getting after it.
Tree Tribe’s Chameleon sunglasses are my favorite pair I’ve ever owned. Stylish, light wood frames, perfectly polarized lenses - these shades have it all. Plus, Tree Tribe plants 10 trees for every purchase so you can wear them and feel good about your contribution to the earth. Word of warning: if you are going on a trip that requires a lot of throwing and catching packs, don’t wear your Tree Tribe glasses around your neck as they snap pretty easily under that kind of weight (learned that the hard way - RIP sunglasses pictured above).
The quality of your socks can make or break a hike; that hole on the left side of your heel will starting churning out blisters before you can say “hotspots are the worst”. You can rely on Cloudline’s premium wool socks to wick moisture, regulate temperature, resist odor, and most importantly protect your hard-working feet all the way up and down the mountain. Cloudline is so confident in their product that they offer a lifetime guarantee. The socks come in different cushion weights so you can pick the perfect fit for you adventure (pro-tip: medium cushion is perfect for a moderate to strenuous day hike, consider thicker options for longer multi-day treks).
Make sure you have proper sustenance to give you those spurts of energy you need to get through tougher trail sections. You’ve probably tried Clif Bars and the crumbliest of Nature’s Valley bars, and I encourage you to branch out and try these two smaller brands that are making some pretty awesome innovations in the granola bar space: ReGrained and Huppybars.
ReGrained “upcycles” the grain leftover from the beer brewing process to produce their bars. This grain is high in fiber, protein, and micronutrients and it does in fact taste a little like beer! They combine this grain with other spices, fruits, and chocolate to make deliciously crunchy bars. ReGrained has also demonstrated their sincere desire to distribute their products in a sustainable way by packaging their bars using compostable wrappers. Win-win-win!
Huppybars stick to all natural ingredients like nuts, fruits, and chocolate (which also happen to be three of my favorite things). The result is a perfect nutrient-dense bar to replenish your energy on a long hike. It’s also gluten, soy and dairy free, and doesn’t contain any preservatives, refined sugars, or GMOs.
Whether it’s a hot sunny day or it’s hitting the high-30s, you should not go into the woods without a proper hat. I’m a proud owner of Cirque’s MTN Vibes Flat Brim cap, and I’m very pleased with how it looks AND how it protects my face from the sun. They have an impressive cap selection, so you’ll definitely find a style that speaks to you.
When it comes to warmer wool hats, it doesn’t get better quality than Yampaca. The company handcrafts their hats with all natural fibers sourced from humanely-run alpaca farms. Yampaca hats are water resistant, moisture-wicking, warm, breathable, and so so soft.
I’ve never hiked in skorts, but plenty of my friends swear by them as the most comfortable article of clothing you can wear to traverse up and down mountains. Kind Apparel skorts are made using recycled plastic and printed with non-toxic inks, and the resulting material is super flexible and durable. These skorts stand out from the rest with their bright and intricate patterns (a holdover from the founder’s art school training).
Reward yourself for crushing those first few miles with a lakeside hammock hang sesh. Out Gear Recreation’s hammocks are handmade in the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania. They’re also super light and compact - perfect for tossing into your day hiking pack!
I first used trekking poles on a backpacking trip in Big Bend, TX, and fell in love. I had just started forming pretty bad blisters, and taking the weight off of my feet was a huge relief. Trekking poles allow you to engage more muscle groups to support your day hiking adventure and navigate tough trail and river crossings more quickly and confidently. CNOC Outdoors has developed an awesome pair of ultralight, adjustable, durable trekking poles using 100% carbon fiber and cork grips.
LifeStraw has made themselves the one-stop shop for staying hydrated in the outdoors. In addition to your typical lightweight water bottles, they’ve created a personal water filter. The ultralight LifeStraw water filter allows you to drink right from the water source, filtering out 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, parasites, and plastics. Next time you’re thinking about how refreshing that stream looks, you can go ahead and drink right from it!
When you’re day hiking with one or two other people, chances are you don’t all need to wear a big ol’ pack to carry all your gear. Or maybe your day pack is hard to sift through and you want all your essentials in easy-access spot. Thrupack’s fanny packs are perfect to hold the small essentials like your phone, keys, a ReGrained bar, and your LifeStraw.
If any of these items evoked an "aha!" moment for you, I encourage you to check them out! Since they're all Reddy Yeti brands, you know they are sustainably crafted by individuals just as amped about getting outside as you :)
Elissa loves striking that perfect balance between outdoor adventure and organized sports. Her ideal week is full of basketball, soccer, and rock climbing followed by a weekend of hiking and camping. She works on the website migrations team at HubSpot and is based out of Cambridge, MA. Elissa is passionate about startups, particularly in the outdoor industry, and her life goal is to one day win a Reddy Yeti gear giveaway.