For decades, outdoor brands gave little attention to women’s products. That’s changing fast. We asked a field of expert female athletes to nominate the best new performance tools in a range of sports. Here, we present our favorite high-performance hiking gear.
Petzl E+Lite Headlamp ($30)
The E+Lite’s locking switch ensures it won’t turn on in your bag. And at less than an ounce with batteries, this headlamp is ideal for summer hiking, when days are long and a beefier torch is excessive.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket ($320)
At seven ounces, this is the lightest puffy you’ll every have the pleasure of destroying. The warm QShield 800-fill down shrugs off moisture and light precipitation.
Ula Equipment Ohm 2.0 Pack ($210)
With enough capacity for your three-season kit, this super-comfortable, 32.5-ounce bag is a perennial favorite among through hikers. Plus, it comes in a bevy of colors.
Fjällräven Abisko Trekking Tights ($175)
Hikers love these leggings for the reinforced fabric at the knees and in the seat, combined with an incredibly comfortable fit.
Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles ($160)
Collapsible and weighing in at just nine ounces per pair, these poles are extraordinarily resilient. I’ve tallied 8,000 miles over every conceivable terrain with mine. They can also double as supports for your shelter.
Western Mountaineering Versalite Sleeping Bag ($559)
Cold sleepers, rejoice. Weighing in at just two pounds, this ethically sourced 850-fill goose-down bag will keep you warm on the coldest nights the Pacific Crest can throw at you.
Outdoor Research Women’s Helium II Jacket ($159)
Stuff this 5.5-ounce shell in your pack and forget it’s there until you need it. It staves off cold, alpine rains, and shoulder season hail. The hood stays put in brutal wind, and the women’s version even comes in a few legit colors (read: not pink).
Brooks Cascadia Shoes ($120)
Here’s a secret: most long-distance hikers wear trail runners, not boots. The Cascadia boasts comfort combined with tread so good you’ll practically skip across talus fields. If you plan to log more than a few hundred miles, size up so your feet can swell.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad ($130)
Superlight, cushy, and insulated, the NeoAir does an ace job of protecting me from the cold, hard ground without turning my pack into an anvil. Tuck a sheet of Tyvek underneath to guard against punctures.
The Expert: Carrot Quinn has hiked 9,000 miles in the past four years, including the Pacific Crest Trail—twice—and the Continental Divide Trail.