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My Favorite Hiking Apparel

I never imagined so many of you would be interested in my backpacking clothing choices. You asked, I listened. I’ve received lots of questions lately about apparel selection and articles of clothing that you’ve seen me wearing in photos throughout my blog. It’s great to hear you’re digging around through my older articles. So for those of you that asked, below is a collection of the items that I most commonly wear. These are my “go-to” pieces.

Find what works for you

The clothes that I wear are probably outdated compared to many of today’s more technical fabrics, but each and every item was selected through personal trial and error over the years and I’ve grown to trust them. Each piece has served me well through all manner of situations and weather conditions. I’m confident that any one of the items below will serve you well too, but I encourage you to follow your own path, test different types of apparel under varying conditions until you find what works for you. Don’t just take my word for it. Your mileage may vary as they say.

My basic clothing system

This is my starting point. I would only loosely call it a layering system. It’s really just a collection that I love and feel comfortable in. I can add or subtract from this configuration depending on the needs of my trip or weather. I can swap out my down jacket for my soft shell, or take both. I can add gloves, rain protection, or anything else – but I always start with these trusted favorites.

My Favorite Hiking Apparel - Backpacking Layering System

Items shown above

  1. North Face knitted beanie – I’ve worn this incredibly soft, fleece lined beanie for years. If I ever lose it I’d buy the same one again.
  2. Montbell ultralight down jacket – Ultralight 8oz down jacket. Packs smaller than a 32oz bottle, blocks a fair amount of wind, and is relatively water-repellant.
  3. GoLite Dakota wind shirt – This incredibly lightweight () shirt/smock
  4. EMS techwick 1/4 zip base layer – Midweight base layer with amazing sweat wicking ability to keep you dry and warm. The stretch spandex greatly enhances mobility.
  5. 5.11 Tactical Burner polarized sunglasses – I’m on my third pair of these sun glasses. I lost a pair, crushed a pair (ran over them with my car) and just bought another pair. Best sunglasses I’ve ever had for fit and function.
  6. Suunto Vector – Rugged, reliable, feature rich, and trail tested. More watch than you probably ever need. I wear one constantly. It could only be improved if it were solar powered like G-Shocks.
  7. EMS wool boxer briefs – Whether you hike, run, ruck, or climb — these boxers wick moisture to keep you dry and comfortable on the move.
  8. 5.11 Tactical TDU belt – Belts may not be sexy, but this one does what it needs to do with ease and reliability.
  9. Mountain Khakis Granite Creek convertible pants – Quick-dry, UV 50+ lightweight convertible pants. Perfect for PCT to AT or any hike. Relaxed fit and extremely comfortable.
  10. Salomon Speedcross 3 GTX trail running shoe – Everyone’s wearing them because they rock! Comfortable, high quality, reliable footwear ready for just about anything.
  11. EMS merino wool hiking socks – Happy feet = happy hiking. Get yourself some Merino hiking socks. Warmth, cushioning comfort, and moisture-wicking.

Items not shown

  • Montane Minimus Rain Jacket – Love this jacket. Packs extremely small which means I can always have it with me in my pack.
  • Mechanix Wear Fast-Fit gloves – Lightweight gloves for trail work. May not keep your hands warm in winter, but will protect them during camp tasks.
  • Fitbit Flex activity tracker – I’ve been tracking my daily activity for two years now with my Fitbit Flex. Waterproof when all others aren’t.

Shelter and Sleep System

I’ve had a lot of inquiries about the components of my sleep system and shelter configuration so I’ll start work on pulling that together soon.

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  • When I went on a hiking/climbing trip to Italy, I noticed almost EVERYONE was wearing the Salomon Speedcrosses, including me. They are the best. I even wore them throughout 70 miles of the West Highland Way in Scotland, and they gave me ZERO blisters. They are sooo good and I’m glad to see another Salomon fan :D -Vivs