The Ultimate Hiking Gear Guide For Women

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Drew loves analyzing gear down to the fabric, rubbers, and seams. An extension of his analysis and field testing is the female version of everything, tested by me. I just haven’t had time to write about it! At the end of several of his gear reviews, fellow females have asked about my bag and the gear I can’t hit the trail without. Without further ado, I give you the girl’s version of “what’s in my bag?” broken down into the following categories:

  • Backpacks
  • What I’m Wearing
  • Footwear
  • Accessories
  • Electronics And Photography
  • Nutrition And Health

The Ultimate Hiking Gear Guide For Women

Don’t hit the trail without the “10 Essentials of Hiking”, regardless of what you bring. Review your pack to make sure it includes the following items so you are prepared in the wilderness for the unexpected:

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


Backpacks have become substantially more complex when hiking with a little one! If Drew is carrying our son in the Osprey Poco Premium, that means I am carrying the Osprey Exos 68. Prior to having a child, I didn’t have to carry as much gear so I would opt for the Osprey Exos 48. The difference between the 68 and the 48 comes down to how much gear you need to carry. The efficiency of the strap design and breathability of this pack is perfect for over nighters, multi-day trips, and extreme conditions.

The Ultimate Hiking Gear Guide For Women

If I am doing a day hike that covers long miles, my go-to pack is the Ultimate Direction Fast Pack 35. This pack is designed to be light weight, similar to a vest pack, however it stores a tremendous amount of gear. I am able to store my “10 Essentials of Hiking” and so much more for the day with ease.

For runs or solo hikes where I am moving very fast, I opt for the Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set Pack. This pack wraps the body like a vest and feels like a part of my body when I’m moving. With 12 liters of carrying capacity, I am able to fit the bare necessities, without compromising my speed. I wish I could wear this pack on a regular basis instead of carrying a purse!

Item Use Weight
Osprey Exos 58 or 48 Overnighters or Multi-day Trips  2 lbs., 8 oz
Ultimate Direction Fast Pack 35 Long Miles  1 lb., 9 oz
Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set Pack Fast and Light Days 10.93 oz
Osprey Poco AG Premium Small Person Carrier  8 lbs., 5 oz


The Ultimate Hiking Gear Guide For Women

What I’m Wearing:

First and foremost, the most important clothing considerations are efficiency and protection. Fashion is secondary on the trail. After 20+ miles, you don’t want your feet to blister or your boobs to be chafed. Let’s not even discuss the damage caused by the sun at high elevation for multiple hours! The gear I wear is consistently efficient and protective for high miles, multiple days, and extreme conditions.

Item Use Weight
Trail to Peak Trucker Hat Every Hike  2.1 oz
Julbo Bivouak Sunglasses Long Hiking Days, Snow, Ice 1.1 oz
Goodr Running Sunglasses Short Hiking Days, Trail Runs  1 oz
Columbia Women’s Layer First Hoodie UPF30 Every Hike, All Season, Great Sun Protection  4 oz
Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie All Seasons (40-60degrees)  3 oz
Buff Headband Sun Protection or Warmth 2 oz
Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody Cold Days (0-32degrees)  14.1 oz
Outdoor Research Women’s Helium II Jacket Cold Rainy Days  5.5 oz
Oiselle Women’s Roga Shorts Most Hikes  3 oz
Columbia Women’s Just Right Straight-Leg Pant Cold or Rainy Days (0-32degrees)  9.6 oz
Exofficio Women’s Give-N-Go Lacy Bikini Every Hike  1 oz
Brooks Women’s Fiona Bra Every Hike  1 oz
Darn Tough 1/4 Sock Every Hike 2 oz

The Ultimate Hiking Gear Guide For Women


More than any other piece of gear, footwear is the most important item to consider. Selecting the wrong footwear can cause you to get injured or prompt an unexpected turn-around, back to the car. This is the once piece of gear that gets the most usage, and therefore, that should prompt you to take the most time considering which shoe type is best for you. I prefer a light weight shoe instead of a boot. Boots are heavy and decrease the range of motion at my ankle, which are two factors that cause me more fatigue and increase my injury rate. Here is what works for me:

Item Use Weight
Salomon XA Pro 3D Longer Technical Days or Heavy Pack 12 oz
Nike Wildhorse 4 Smooth Trails Long And Short 8.8 oz
La Sportiva Mutant Loose Or Wet Terrain 9.6 oz
Salomon X Ultra Mid GTX Snow And Ice 13 oz

The Ultimate Hiking Gear Guide For Women


The accessories category should take into consideration the “10 Essentials of Hiking” and the preferences of the hiker. For example, every hiker should have a water filtration system in their kit, but these can vary widely depending on a hiker’s preferences. I found on the John Muir Trail, combining the Sawyer Mini Filter with a Smartwater Bottle was the most lightweight and efficient option for me. I would suggest ordering a few different versions, reading reviews, and returning the versions that don’t work for you.

Item Use Weight
Black Diamond Trail Pro Poles Most Hikes  23 oz
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp Every Hike 4 oz
1L CamelBak Bottles Every Hike  26 oz
1L Smartwater Bottles With Filter  25 oz
Sawyer Mini Filter When Needed  2 oz
Kahtoola Microspikes Snow And Ice  11 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 Every Hike (in case of emergency)  1 oz
Suunto Compass With Maps Long Hikes  1.1 oz
Emergency Blanket Every Hike  2.9 oz

The Ultimate Hiking Gear Guide For Women

Electronics and Photography:

Documentation has been increasingly important to me since having a child. I want to capture memories of our adventures together. This has prompted me to always have a camera on me. Access to emergency services has also become essential. For this reason, I always carry our Delorme InReach. Here is my list of electronics and photography gear:

Item Use Weight
Sony a6000 Camera Body Every Hike 12 oz
Sony 10-18mm Lens Every Hike 9 oz
iPhone Every Hike  8 oz
Delorme InReach Every Hike  7 oz
Suunto Ambit2 GPS Watch Every Hike 3.2 oz

The Ultimate Hiking Gear Guide For Women

Nutrition and Health:

As a vegetarian, nutrition is something I have spent a lot of time researching for the back country. I need to make sure I am providing my body the right amount of carbohydrates and protein to sustain long miles. I couldn’t get enough ProBar Meal Bars on the John Muir Trail, so I carry them on every hike now. We often eat while moving, so these options are convenient, lightweight, and nutritionally dense:

Item Use Weight
Tailwind Drink Mix Every Hike  3 oz
VFuel Gels Every Hike  1.1 oz
ProBar Meal Bars Every Hikes  3.1 oz
Neutrogena Sunblock Every Hike <1 oz
Sun Bum SPF 30 Lip Balm Every Hike <1 oz
First Aid Kit Every Hike 2 oz

The Ultimate Hiking Gear Guide For Women

Now you’ve seen what’s in my bag! Let me know what you’d like me to expand on for future posts in the comments below!

Disclosure: All product links provided in this post are affiliate links. Purchases made using these affiliate links go to support the content created here at Trail to Peak at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!


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Hiking The Mt. Baldy 6 Peak Loop: West Baldy, Mt. Baldy, Harwood, Thunder, Telegraph, and Timber


13 thoughts on “The Ultimate Hiking Gear Guide For Women”

  1. Julia- what an awesome list, thank you! I’m looking for a warmer sleeping outfit that could double on the trail in a pinch. Currently wearing Smartwool leggings and long sleeved top (purchased at REI) with silk cami and poly blend socks. I am a cold sleeper and nearly froze two two nights ago on Baldy. Any suggestions? Something I could wear in camp with guys as well. Hiking Kili in two weeks. Also any light-weight camp shoes you recommend? Thanks so much! 🙂 -Gina

    • Thanks, Gina! I find that the Smartwool line is an effective base layer for keeping dry, but not necessarily warm. For that reason, I have opted for other gear for extremely cold conditions. I’ve had the best luck with the Columbia Fast Trek Fleece Jacket as my top. The zip down allows me to adjust my warmth in the middle of the night (later on, I also discovered it works well for breastfeeding). The thickness of the fleece allows you to go braless if you are drying your bra out for the next day. It also doubles as a great mid layer during the daytime. The only downside is the pack size bulk with this item. For my legs, I wear the Salomon Trail Runner Warm Pants. These have zippers at the legs allowing you to make adjustments in the middle of the night, if necessary. The Windstopper Softshell fabric also makes it easy to go outside of your tent in the middle of the night. These pants also double as a base layer for me underneath my Columbia pants, in extremely cold conditions. They pack really small. For my feet, I bring an extra pair of socks that I only wear at night (I only carry two pairs of socks on thru-hikes). I wear the Darn Tough Vermont Women’s 1/4 Merino Wool socks at night. They are nice and thick. These also double as an extra pair of socks if something disastrous happens to my daytime pair. In snow and ice or extreme wind, I throw a Hothands Hand Warmer in the bottom of my sleeping bag. I also bring a Minus33 Beanie and Outdoor Research Women’s PL 400 Sensor gloves to bed too. For camp shoes, I just wear my trail shoes. I opt not to carry an extra pair of shoes because of the weight. If weight isn’t an issue, I bring the Crocs Women’s Sexi Flip Sandal and wear them with socks, which makes them very sexy. HA! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  2. your list and comprehensive look at weight, function and durability are very useful for all trial pickers here and abroad. Thanks for the insight for must haves and the range of product designs out there. I will follow this up to bring my gear up to grade for our next trek.
    The photography is really inspiring and kudos to Drew for his compositional eye. Happy trail Robinsons!

    • Thanks! I wore the Nike Wildhorse 3s for Havasupai. At the time, my child and pack were pretty light weight. If I were carrying a heavier pack, I’d opt for the Salomons.

  3. Hi Julia, Great post!

    We are going to Iceland around the same time you all did…mid June.

    I saw in one photo from your trip that you were wearing your Patagonia sweater but most of the time it looked like you weren’t. Were you glad you brought it? Did you need it often?

    I kind of like the lighter weight one (style wise…I know that shouldn’t matter!) just a bit more. It’s the Nano Puff. Did you look at it?
    Do you wish yours had a hood? Is it roomy enough for a hoodie under it? I really like to layer!

    Thanks so much!

    • Chris,

      I love bringing the Patagonia Down Sweater with the hood when I am anticipating extreme cold. With 800 fill down, it has kept me warm in the most extreme conditions. It was used frequently at the beginning of our Iceland trip as we experienced ice cold rain and wind.

      I wear my Patagonia Nano Puff (without a hood) when the weather is more predictable and not as cold. This jacket has 60g Primaloft so it isn’t as warm, however, with the Primaloft insulation it keeps you warm even if it gets completely wet.

      If you are getting one jacket, I would opt for a jacket with a hood. Your body will stay warmer.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.


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