I do a lot of individual gear reviews on Trail to Peak, but in this post I’ll be providing a comprehensive hiking gear guide for trails in Southern California. I will cover backpacks, clothing, footwear, accessories, electronics, cameras, nutrition, and more! We are blessed to have a variety of trail types in Southern California. Within an hours drive, I can find trails on rocky 10,000ft mountain peaks, sandy desert paths, scenic ocean bluffs, or shaded foothills. Having hiked thousands of miles on these varied hiking trails, I’ve put together what I think is an optimal kit to have you prepared for anything these trails will throw at you.
*Last Updated January 2018*
Every good hiking gear list begins with the “10 Essentials Of Hiking”. Developed in the 1930’s by a group of Seattle based climbers and adventurers called The Mountaineers, the 10 essentials were developed to help prepare aspiring outdoorists for emergency situations. I’ve listed all 10 essential items below, and you will find my specific products for each essential item in the following category tables.
The “10 Essentials Of Hiking”:
|1.) Navigation (Map, Compass, GPS)||2.) Sun Protection (Chap stick, Sunglasses, Sunscreen)|
|3.) Insulation (Warm layers)||4.) Illumination (Head Lamp)|
|5.) First Aid Kit||6.) Fire Starter And Matches/Lighter|
|7.) Repair Kit, Knife, Tools||8.) Nutrition And Food|
|9.) Water And Hydration||10.) Emergency Shelter And Protection|
My hiking gear bag post has been broken down into the following categories:
I rotate between a few backpacks for hiking. My first choice for shorter hikes and fast days is my Ultimate Direction Fastpack 35. This pack is built like a running vest, but also packs 35 liters of storage that can be cinched down on days the pack is empty. The UD Fastpack 35 doesn’t handle heavy loads well, so when I have a little more gear, I go with my Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest. This pack is super light and has 40L of storage. This is also my pack of choice for light overnighters. The comfort range for the HMG 2400 Southwest tops out at around 30lbs, so if for whatever reason I need more than that, I’ll carry my Osprey Exos 48. I prefer the Exos 48 for my backpacking outings, but every now and again I’ll use it for hiking, too. The final pack in my rotation is the Osprey Poco Premium. I use this heavy beast of a pack when carrying my toddler.
|Osprey Exos 48 (Review)||Longer Days And Winter Hikes||40 oz|
|HMG 2400 Southwest (Review)||Long days||31 oz|
|UD Fastpack 35 (Review)||Fast and light days||26 oz|
|Osprey Poco Premium||Hiking with my son||119 oz|
What I’m Wearing:
I have a pretty standard kit for hiking that includes a Nike golf hat, Julbo sunglasses, Nike shorts, and an Arc’teryx Motus longsleeve or Patagonia Capilene longsleeve. I’ll rotate sunglasses depending on conditions. You can read more about that on the post I did for Julbo lenses. I’ve added my cold weather clothes at the bottom of this table as well. I don’t need them very often here in California, but for high mountain peaks and hikes in the winter months, they get quite a bit of good use.
|Nike Golf Hat||Every Hike||2.1 oz|
|Julbo Bivouak Sunglasses||Long hiking days, snow, ice||1.1 oz|
|Patagonia Capilene Longsleeve||Warm weather hikes||3 oz|
|Arc’teryx Motus Longsleeve||Every Hike||4 oz|
|Nike Impossibly Light Jacket||All Seasons (40-60degrees)||3 oz|
|Buff Headband||Sun Protection And Warmth||2 oz|
|Arc’teryx Atom LT Jacket||Cold Days (0-32degrees)||13.4 oz|
|Marmot Precip Rain Jacket||Cold Rainy Days||13 oz|
|Nike Freedom Running Shorts||Most Hikes||3.8 oz|
|Outdoor Research Voodoo Pant||Cold Days (0-32degrees)||12 oz|
|Exofficio Brief||Every Hike||2.2 oz|
|Darn Tough 1/4 Sock||Every Hike||2 oz|
As you can see by the size of this table, footwear is my favorite category! I could have easily added a few more rows to this table given the number of trail shoes I rotate, but wanted to stick to my favorites. Two notable shoes that almost made the list but are still in the testing phase are the new Salomon XA Pro 3D and Salomon X Ultra 3.
|La Sportiva Akasha (Review)||Longer Technical Days||14.1 oz|
|Salomon Sense Ride (Review)||Longer days with smooth trails||14.1 oz|
|La Sportiva TX3 (Review)||Scrambling and rocky trails||14.1 oz|
|La Sportiva Bushido (Review)||Heavy pack and scrambling||13.3 oz|
|La Sportiva Mutant (Review)||Loose Or Wet Terrain||13.5 oz|
|La Sportiva Crossover 2.0 (Review)||Snow And Ice||14.4 oz|
These are gear items that I don’t bring along on every hike, but they still find their way into my gear back throughout the year. The weights listed for the water bottles include water. I take a minimum of two liters per hike, and sometimes will take up to five. I like to mix Tailwind into my water, which you’ll see in the nutrition section below.
|Black Diamond Trail Pro Poles||Most Hikes||23 oz|
|Black Diamond Storm Headlamp||Morning/Night||4 oz|
|1L CamelBak Bottles||Every Hike||26 oz|
|1L Smartwater Bottles||With Filter||25 oz|
|Sawyer Mini Filter||When Needed||2 oz|
|Hillsound Trail Crampons||Snow And Ice||15.7 oz|
|Homemade Tyvek Rainkilt||Rainy Days||2.5 oz|
|Multi-Tool||Every Hike||5 oz|
|Firestarter (cotton balls w/ vaseline)||Long Hikes||2 oz|
|Waterproof Matches||Long Hikes||1 oz|
|Suunto Compass With Maps||Long Hikes||1.1 oz|
|Emergency Blanket||Long Hikes||2.9 oz|
Electronics and Photography:
This is my standard camera and electronics set up. I take my Sony a6000 on most hikes, but sometimes will only take my phone if I’m looking to cut weight. I take my Delorme inReach on hikes that don’t receive cell service. It adds weight, but I like the peace of mind.
|Sony a6000 + Sony 10-18mm Lens||Every Hike||12+9 oz|
|Sony a7rii + Zeiss Batis 18mm||Every Hike||22+12 oz|
|iPhone 7 w/ Bose Headphones||Every Hike||8 oz|
|Delorme InReach||Trails w/o Cell Service||7 oz|
|Garmin Fenix 5||Every Hike||3.2 oz|
Nutrition and Health:
This is my standard nutrition pack. I mix tailwind with my water prehike and drink that along the way. It adds 200 calories to each bottle. I usually take and consume two vFuel gel packs and one ProBar. I apply sunblock and chap stick before and during my hikes.
|Tailwind Drink Mix||Every Hike||3 oz|
|VFuel Gels||Every Hike||1.1 oz|
|ProBar Meal Bars||Longer Hikes||3.1 oz|
|Neutrogena Sunblock||Every Hike||<1 oz|
|Burt’s Bees Lip Balm||Every Hike||<1 oz|
|First Aid Kit||Every Hike||2 oz|
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