Merrell Mariposa jacket
Merrell Mariposa jacket

9 Women’s Hiking Essentials of Summer 2012

Merrell Mariposa jacket

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Merrell Mariposa

There are lighter, more technical waterproof jackets out there. The catch? They cost two or three times as much. Merrell’s Mariposa has a decent hood and breathes nearly as well as fancier options (pit zips and mesh-backed hand pockets help let the air flow). The flattering, nonboxy fit seals the deal.

Komperdell C3 Carbon Power Lock Iraja

Iraja poles
Iraja poles (Courtesy of Komperdell)

If you’re hiking steeps, you want to protect your knees—especially on the way down. Komperdell’s C3 Carbon Power Lock Iraja poles together weigh 16 unnoticeable ounces and have smaller grips designed specifically for women. Plus, the adjustment levers locked down without fail.

Oakley Underspin

Oakley Underspin sunglasses
Oakley Underspin sunglasses (Courtesy of Oakley)

The frames on Oakley’s polarized Underspin sunglasses sit close to your face so nothing can blow in, the big lenses optimize visibility, and the polarization (available in 5 colors) nixes glare on the water.

SmartWool Cortina

Cortina tee
Cortina tee (Courtesy of SmartWool)

Small perforations in SmartWool’s mostly merino wool Cortina tee kept testers cool on a steep five-mile ascent to southern Colorado’s Ruybalid Lake in mid-July. We love the fit—narrow and long—and a well-hidden pocket on the lower back with a media port means you can listen to tunes easily, too.

The North Face Arches

Arches hiking pants
Arches hiking pants (Courtesy of The North Face)

Normally, hiking pants are either techy and ill-fitting or cute but not very tough. The stretchy, mostly nylon North Face Arches pants are a nice compromise—breathable and highly water resistant, with a flattering waistband. Bonus: you can snap them into capris.

Arc’teryx Cita

Cita vest
Cita vest (Courtesy of Arc'teryx)

Light-and-fast hikers will appreciate the tissue-thin nylon Arc’teryx Cita vest. The front panel is wind resistant, while the all-mesh back breathes to eliminate a sweaty back.

No-Show Active Light

No-show socks
No-show socks (Courtesy of Fits)

Thick cushioning on Fits’ merino wool No-Show Active Light socks under the forefoot kept our arches happy, and they come in neutral colors or girly designs—your choice.

Patagonia P26

P26 hiking boot
P26 hiking boot (Courtesy of Patagonia)

At 14 ounces, Patagonia’s P26 hiking boots feel as feathery as trail runners, thanks to ample air cushioning and a lighter (supposedly by 25 percent) version of EVA foam. But, with full toe bumpers, high arch structure, and over-the-ankle height, they’re beefy enough to wear backpacking.

ProBar Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

ProBar (Courtesy of ProBar)

Prefer earthy nuts-and-seed-style bars? Then you’ll love Probars. They pack a serious punch (the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavor has 393 calories), which makes them ideal for throwing in your bag when you don’t have time to pack a proper lunch.