Hiking Gear Check List

Apparel and accessories for photo-scouting adventures
Hiking Gear Check List
Vasque Inhaler II GTX; Columbia PFG Tamiami II

Exploring our national parks and other wild places for photo opportunities is more enjoyable when you’re properly outfitted. The key is to protect yourself from sun exposure and changing weather conditions with lightweight, packable clothes, plus carry multipurpose accessories, that all can be stowed in or attached to your camera pack. Here are recommendations for key items to bring with you for photo hikes.

Hiking Gear Check List

Convertible Pants

They’re pants and they’re shorts. The Outdoor Research Equinox Convert spandex-blend pants for men and women provide UPF 50+ protection from the sun, and are treated to help repel rain from a sudden shower. Wear them long at the end of the day, and pull off the lower legs when it heats up. A zipping pocket on the thigh is perfect for carrying small accessories securely, and an ankle zipper makes it easier to remove the leg bottoms with your boots on when converting from pants to shorts. List Price: $85. outdoorresearch.com

Hiking Gear Check List

Packable Jacket

The forecast called for sunny and calm, but the wind is picking up and those clouds have rain written all over them. A lightweight, packable jacket like The North Face Cyclone Hoodie, available in men’s and women’s (pictured) designs, features WindWall nylon ripstop fabric for serious windchill protection, with a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish for unexpected showers. When you’re not wearing the Cyclone, you can fold it and stow it in its own hand pocket, taking up minimal room in your bag. List Price: $60. thenorthface.com

Hiking Gear Check List

Wicking Baselayer

Worn alone or as a baselayer, Patagonia’s Long-Sleeved Capilene Daily T-Shirt offers 50+ UPF protection and Polygiene permanent odor control when you’re working up a sweat on the trail. Made from a combination of polyester (35% of which is recycled) and spandex, the shirt’s jersey face is soft to the skin, and underarm gussets allow for range of motion when wrangling photo gear. Available in a variety of colors in men’s and women’s sizes. List Price: $39. patagonia.com

Lightweight Long-Sleeved Shirt

When you’ll be out all day from dawn until dusk or later, layering is smart. A lightweight shirt like the Columbia PFG Tamiami II adds an extra layer of warmth for the chillier hours of the day. Made from UPF 40 ripstop fabric with Omni-Wick technology to keep you dry, the shirt features a mesh-lined vent at the center of your back—a “cool” feature when you’re carrying a camera backpack. The women’s version has a more sculpted silhouette than the men’s version shown here. List Price: $48 (men’s); $45 (women’s). columbia.com

Hiking Gear Check List

Wide-Brimmed Hat

Perfect for sun protection and a little shade when reviewing images on your LCD, the Filson Tin Bush Hat offers an extra-wide, three-inch brim, ventilation to keep your head cool and a built-in cotton sweatband. It’s water-repellent and wind-resistant and available in five sizes for the most comfortable fit, with an adjustable chin strap to keep it on if the wind kicks up. List Price: $65. filson.com

Hiking Gear Check List

Cushioned Socks

Rule number one for hiking safety and comfort: Protect your feet! Socks with moisture wicking and padding like REI’s Lightweight Merino Wool Hiking Crew help shield you from blisters and keep your feet dry. The stretchy nylon midsection adapts to your foot to keep the cushioned heel and toe in the right place. Four size options ensure a proper fit. List Price: $14.50. rei.com

Hiking Gear Check List

Generous Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is critical, and if you’ll be away from camp all day and don’t want to carry portable filtration, a large water bottle like the Klean Kanteen Wide 64oz holds a hike’s worth of hydration. The stainless-steel bottle features an extra-wide mouth that can accommodate ice cubes, is durable and dishwasher-safe, and can be clipped to your pack with a carabiner via the oversized loop on its cap. List Price: $35. kleankanteen.com

Hiking Gear Check List

Trekking Pole Plus Monopod

Many hikers prefer to carry a trekking pole for extra stability on rough,inclined sections of the trail. One that can also serve as a monopod like the Trekker FX from Mountainsmith is a nice option. The three-section, adjustable-height design extends from 28 to 54 inches and features a spring-loaded anti-shock system for vibration dampening. Unscrew the handle to reveal a standard threaded camera mount. List Price: $29. mountainsmith.com

Hiking Gear Check List

Versatile Multi-Tool

A pocket-sized multi-tool like the Leatherman Wave can come in handy in a variety of ways on the trail and around the campsite. Among the 17 tools in the Wave are needlenose pliers, standard and serrated knives, a saw blade, bottle and can openers, screwdrivers, scissors and more. List Price: $99. leatherman.com

Hiking Gear Check List

Packable First-Aid Kit

Handle common injuries on the trail with a pack-friendly solution like the Adventure First Aid 2.0 from Adventure Medical Kits. It holds enough supplies for a group of up to four people for a day trip, with remedies for cuts and scrapes, headaches and allergic reactions, and even sprains and fractures. It includes instruction cards for handling a variety of first-aid emergencies. List Price: $23. adventuremedicalkits.com

Breathable Hiking Boots

Don’t ask your sneakers to do a hiking boot’s job—quality footwear for the trail is the best investment you can make. The Vasque Inhaler II GTX has an athletic, modern design with a waterproof liner if you need to cross a stream. With ample ventilation at the toe and heel, it’s especially well-suited for warm-weather hikes. The Vibram Pneumatic sole features Megagrip rubber for traction. List Price: $159. vasque.com

Hiking Gear Check List

Night Vision Headlamp

Photographing sunrise and sunset light means being on the trail before dawn and after dusk. A headlamp like the Black Diamond Storm provides hands-free illumination of the trail ahead, and makes it easier to find you in an emergency. Completely waterproof for year-round, all-weather use, the Storm delivers max output of 160 lumens at up to 70 meters, is dimmable and features two red LEDs for night vision mode. List Price: $49. blackdiamondequipment.com

Hiking Gear Check List

Double-Duty Carabiner

Useful for clipping items like water bottles and ball caps to your camera bag, the Nite Ize S-Biner Ahhh has another trick, too: It’s also a bottle opener for end-of-day refreshments. Made of stainless steel, it’s available in black and stainless versions. List Price: $4. niteize.com


    Water bottles are too hard to get to while hiking. I modified my Lowepro Trekker to take a hydration bladder and with the tube over my shoulder I can keep sipping while walking. I don’t know why more manufacturers don’t fit a hydration bladder as standard in what are supposed to be outdoor packs.

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