Let’s talk gear. This is everything we need to be comfortable hiking in the spring.
That first sentence might be misleading because comfort is a feeling and less of a fact, but let’s dive in. Hiking means something different for everyone but since this blog may be being read by people new to the outdoors, we're going to talk about our basic gear for 2-6 hours outdoors. We wish we were rugged and our answer was put on a flannel and start marching through the woods, but it’s not. We like to be light and flexible while enjoying our time on a trail.
First. Water repellent or waterproof pants. There are many options out there for pants and they are available for all sorts of budgets. We prefer something with a bit of flex or stretch and also the right length. Pants serve as a barrier between you and the rain, mud, wind and bugs. That’s really the secret here. Although not completely impervious, water resistant pants usually help with mosquitoes and black flies as well. If we know it’s going to be cold, we will add a thermal base layer with some blend of wool.
While we are at it, the same goes for a rain jacket. Waterproof or at least water repellant is nice to have. Where we are located, in Michigan, the weather is unpredictable but so are bug hatches. The jacket in photo below is Merrell and we like it because it packs down into its own pocket when it is not being used after taking off a layer during a hike or, or in this case, a spring paddle.
As far as shirts and sweatshirts, that really depends on the weather but we like to layer. It also is part of personal preference here. Are you a hoodie person or a crewneck person? For everyday use, do you like plain t-shirts or moisture wicking shirts? What about a MI Playground shirt? Whatever you have in your closet can be a good start here. With a rain jacket with a hood, we typically lean towards a crewneck The t-shirt/sweatshirt/rain jacket combo should keep you warm warm on a cool day with the opportunity to remove a layer when needed.
Now, shoes and boots can get expensive but nobody want to get their daily use shoes covered in mud or soaking wet. So, here is our system.
Wool socks, buy wool socks first. Not big on brand, but Smartwool or anything with a merino blend should help. Even if you are using an old pair of runners. The wool will help regulate moisture are temperature better than any synthetic wicking material.
If you are going to invest it a spring hiking shoe. We like to find a mid height shoe with at least waterproof lower third and decent traction. Full waterproof? even better. Nobody likes to have wet feet on the trail and that can be common during spring if you aren't prepared. Once you have a pair of shoes dedicated to the outdoors, it eliminates the conundrum of having to decide what shoe gets sacrificed to the mud.
Finally, accessories and add-ons
Sunglasses of choice. We prefer polarized, especially if you are near water.
A water vessel.
Hat. We like Stormy Kromer because of ear flap options but a tuque or regular hat works just fine too depending on the conditions.
A change of shoe and socks to leave in the car for after.
And something to swim in…just in case.
Being comfortable changes the vibe. It’s not about how many miles you can hike, it’s about having fun while doing it. Once you have your basic spring outdoor gear. It takes away the burden of too many options. We think of it like an outdoor uniform. We hope this helps. Stay safe have fun and let us know if you have any must-have items for spring.
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