- With shorts-and-tank-top weather on its way, it’s easy to get antsy to hit the trail. Stock up with these six essentials for spring hiking—they’ll keep you protected without adding weight or clamminess to your day on the trail.
Arc'teryx Cheema PantsTesters were obsessed with the cotton canvas Cheema Pants by Arc’teryx thanks to their flattering, jean-like fit and durable, work pant fabric. While they’re too thick for mid-summer hiking, they kept us warm but breathed well on nippy early morning hikes and when the weather wasn’t cooperating. Because they’re so abrasion-resistant and have a bit of stretch, testers wanted to hike and climb in them religiously. ($99)
Patagonia Innerspace TankYes, Patagonia’s silky soft Innerspace Tank was designed for yoga. But that means it's long enough to cover your lower back when you have a backpack on, and it will move with you as you work your way down the trail. The polyester-spandex fabric wicks moisture for warmer spring days and a built-in bra offers support. Without the optional soft cups, though, the fabric was too thin for modesty’s sake. ($55)
Eddie Bauer First Ascent Sandstone Soft Shell HoodieAs thin wind protection, the First Ascent Sandstone Soft Shell Hoodie excelled. It’s a simple, light layer that you can shove into your backpack as an afterthought because it packs so tightly. It’s lighter and thinner than most softshells, which had testers doubting that it would perform in serious weather, but for misty spring days, the Sandstone shed light rain and blocked chilly breezes. Its minimalist design (thumb holes, two hand pockets and one interior pocket) was welcome for fast-and-light missions. ($119)
Athleta Malibu Hike Half ZipAs long-sleeve synthetic layers go, the Malibu Hike Half Zip does everything it should: breathes, wicks sweat, unzips halfway for natural air conditioning, and is soft against skin. But, it’s stylish too. Pintuck details along the mid-back draw the waist in, giving it a more feminine fit than most. And, its length is appealing when you want a little coverage over your running tights. A pocket of fabric unfurls to create faux-mitts should the temperature drop, making the thumbholes particularly handy. ($79)
Vasque PendulumTrail running was the activity the designers of the Vasque Pendulum shoes had in mind as they drew up their blueprints. But when we ran in these somewhat spineless shoes, we found them a little flimsy for serious, fast-paced trail. But we loved hiking in them. The meshy uppers are thin and flexible, making them particularly airy for warm days. Underfoot, the Pendulums are hearty enough for boulder scrambling and other bushwhacking, or full days on the trail. A TPU plate protects from rocks and the EVA midsole is cushioned enough for multi-day hikes if you aren’t carrying a heavy pack. ($110)
L.L. Bean Lily 18 Day PackA lightweight daypack is a must for short hikes when the weather is fickle. But sometimes all you need is a classic pack without all of the bells and whistles. The Lily 18 Day Pack is simple: It holds everything you need (snacks, jacket, a first aid kit, water bottle) without superfluous straps, zippers, and other weight-adding features. And, it has smart pockets, like a fleece-lined sunglass pocket and smaller organizer pocket for IDs, keys, and ChapStick. If you’re heading out on mellow day-hikes, this will do it. ($79)
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