Our Favorite Fast and Light Hiking Gear of 2018
At prices that won't break the bank
Adidas Outdoor Terrex Tivid 1/2 Zip Fleece ($59)
A lightweight pullover helps counter unpredictable weather. We like fleece for its low cost, breathability, and performance when wet.
Ultimate Direction Fastpack 15 ($120)
Vest-inspired packs fit better, bounce less, and provide easier access to your stuff than conventional daypacks. The Fastpack 15 has pockets on the straps for calories, water, and a phone, and there’s enough room in back for a rain shell, a warm layer, and kibble for your trail partner.
My Trail Company Chrome Umbrella ($49)
An umbrella can be a through-hiker’s savior. It provides protection in heat and humidity, takes the brunt of torrential storms, and offers portable shade in sun-baked desert.
Headsweats ProTech Hat ($26)
There’s no better hiking headwear for sunny conditions. Like any cap or visor, the ProTech’s brim shields your face from the elements, but the back flap means ear and neck coverage, too.
Salomon Odyssey Pro Shoes ($140)
The Odyssey Pro features a supple, foot-wrapping upper, a moderately cushioned midsole, a smooth, neutral ride, and long-lasting outsole rubber.
DeFeet Wooleator Socks ($17)
These 61 percent merino socks dry slower than polyester, but they’re more odor resistant and warmer when wet. A pair can withstand 500 miles of abuse.
CalTopo Subscription ($20 and up annually)
GPS can be useful in the backcountry, but paper is more reliable. There are no charging or dropping worries, and a single sheet displays more info than a smartphone screen. CalTopo lets you print custom tiles with annotations, distances, and other details, and it gives you access to numerous terrain overlays.
Platypus 2L Platy Bottle ($13)
At 1.3 ounces, the Platy holds about ten times more water for its weight than a typical hard-sided plastic vessel. Even better, it takes up minimal space when not in use. It’s ideal on long day hikes and when you must camel water for two- and four-legged children.
Julbo Vermont Classic Glacier Sunglasses ($150)
High-quality optics are expensive, but the investment is worth it. We have yet to encounter another pair of shades with the clarity, durability, and fit of these Julbos. The frame curvature and removable side shields provide full coverage, and the polarized lenses boost clarity in harsh light conditions.
Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Aluminum Trekking Poles ($23)
The grips, shafts, and locks are comparable to what you find on more expensive poles. Our only gripe: the carbide tips wear out quickly, and replacing them will set you back $7.