Essentials For Spring Day Hikes
There’s not really a bad time of year to hike, but spring might be our favorite hiking season of all if we had to play favorites. It’s still cool enough for a strenuous hike to be invigorating, a huge variety of wildflowers are in bloom, and if you’ve been cooped up for much of the winter due to bad weather (or just too much work and not enough play), getting outdoors for that first spring day hike will put you in a state of pure bliss.
As much as we all love the idea of sprinting out into nature without a second thought, there is the practical side to consider: what to wear for maximum comfort, what to bring along for that “just in case” scenario, and what snacks to pack (because everything tastes better after six miles of hiking). With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite hiking companions that make the journey more comfortable, delicious, and fun.
99.9% of day hikes will go swimmingly, but it’s a good idea to be prepared. Make sure you know a little about the area where you’ll be hiking. If it’s a well-marked trail with high foot traffic, you don’t need to worry as much, but if you’re taking the trail less traveled, pack a map of the hike. The Outdoor Project is a magical place where you can read about thousands of different hikes, see photos, and download and print an overview of your hike of choice. For a little more adventure inspiration, browse Stay Wild Magazine online. It’s loaded with adventure stories and incredible photos of places you’ll dream about.
If you have Google Maps on your phone, you can download specific areas and view them offline. This is a great option if your hike is out of range and you need to look at a map. Simply search for the location where you’ll be hiking, and tap “Download.” You’ll be able to see a map of your location even if your phone can’t detect a signal. To save your phone’s battery while you’re out adventuring, put it in airplane mode or just turn it off.
Finally, make a small first aid kit (an empty Altoids tin is perfect for this). Pack a few bandages in different sizes, some moleskin (especially if you haven’t been hiking in a while or have a new pair of shoes to break in) for potential blisters, aspirin, and a tiny bottle of rubbing alcohol.
Part of the fun of preparing for a hike is deciding what snacks to bring along. This time, skip the protein bars and dehydrated food. The nice thing about day hiking is that you can carry more food weight. Pack a mix of carbohydrates and protein–carbs for quick energy and staving off low blood sugar, and protein for sustained energy and satiety. Of course, bring along a couple bottles of our new Mango Habañero Kombucha for delicious hydration (and obviously, pack it out!); and don’t forget to pack a big water bottle, like the one from Miir.
For a salty-sweet lunch that will carry you up the next hill, make a Pacific Northwest PB&J sandwich. Bliss Nut Butters makes a honey-sweetened peanut butter with chia seeds that’s as delicious as it is satisfying. Chia seeds add a delightful crunch and provide sustained energy. Spread a layer of peanut butter on the inside of two slices of your favorite whole grain bread, then mash a handful of Oregon-grown blackberries or raspberries in a bowl and spread them over the peanut butter (the peanut butter will keep the bread from getting soggy). Enjoy the feeling of superiority as you relish your sandwich while your hiking companions choke down protein bars, or make enough for everyone and be a hero!
For a serious protein hit, a lot of hikers rely on beef jerky. The only downside is those pesky preservatives and questionable beef, but there are folks doing it right. True Jerky specializes in high-quality beef and turkey jerky in all kinds of creative flavors, from Honey Bourbon Brisket to Citrus Chardonnay. It’s made with beef from So-Cal, so you can feel good about your protein splurge.
Gear is where a hike can take a turn for the worse. A backpack that chafes, shoes that pinch, or clothes that don’t breathe can distract from the beauty around you. As much as we romanticize the rugged backpacker heading into the wilderness with nothing but a flannel shirt and a sack of trail mix, most of us like to be well-outfitted.
Wear breathable clothes, and layer them. Springtime days can be blustery, chilly, and drizzly one moment and sunny and hot the next. Spandex leggings are the best option for mobility, comfort, and breathability, like these from Helix Rising. They won’t constrict, and they’ll allow your hardworking legs to breathe. The fact that they’re made from 100% recycled materials is the cherry on top.
Rock your leggings with your Patagonia jacket, our favorite Portland local Shwood sunglasses, and a good hat from Coal. Protecting your face and eyes from the sun is something that not enough hikers pay attention to, but if you’re angling to spend more time outdoors, you owe it to yourself to block as many UV rays as you can.
Stuff all your snacks, an extra layer of clothing, and that first aid kit into a good backpack. We like the one from Howl Supply because it will look just as fine in the office or on the bus as it will in the wilderness.
All this is to say, hiking isn’t complicated, but being in the great outdoors is just a little nicer when you’ve got maps, tasty snacks, and good gear to support you. The miles will melt away and before you know it you’ll be sitting on some high mountain top, the wind in your hair, the worries of your day job momentarily forgotten, living the life of the wild human animal that you are.