Since I would classify myself as an Adventure Photographer, it only seems to make sense that I would put together a little guide of the best of the best hiking gear out there. Not just for my clients, but for anyone who happens to stumble upon my blog or resources page. (Hi there new friends, if you want to learn more about me you can click here!)
One of my clients, Allison, purchased her most recent pair of Merrells in 2013. 2013, y’all. And she’s taken them everywhere. They’re waterproof/resistant and have amazing support for her “weak-ass ankles” (same, girl). She’s worn them snowshoeing in the Rockies, took them glacier hiking in Iceland, and just about every hike that she’s been on.
They’re easy to break in. Allison wore them for a couple days before taking them out on their first big voyage. “They were also a lifesaver when I broke my big toe and couldn’t justify wearing a splint but needed some stiff soles”.
Fit: Good for average feet, true to size
Break-in time period: Below average
Ankle Support Availability: Yes
Rating: “Two snaps up in a circle”
I have two pairs of Keens. One I purchased in 2013 and that still has amazing tread on them, even after all the places I’ve taken them. The other I purchased about two years ago, in a slightly larger size in case I did long distance backpacking and needed room for my feet to swell (so attractive). Both pairs are Voyageurs. They provide amazing ankle support and I didn’t even break them in before I wore them for a full day working for the BLM. I wear them hiking, bucking hay, etc. and they’ve stood the test of time. For shoes that last that long, I’d gladly pay twice the price. I also have a new pair of Targhees, which are also fantastic.
Fit: Great for wider feet
Break-in time period: Well below average
Ankle Support Availability: Yes
Rating: “Pillows for your feet”
I know, take a breath. Socks. What a fascinating subject. But for real, wearing the right socks will save you. Wool socks regulate temperature, help prevent blisters, keep your feet comfortable, and soak up moisture.
Based in Vermont, Darn Tough has a lifetime guarantee. That means, if you wear a hole in your socks, they’ll replace them. Yeah. Bitchin’. Darn Toughs are great because they’re wool and also slim, while still having some cushion on the bottom of your feet. Most people think of wool socks as big, puffy socks that barely fit into shoes. Not these.
These socks can have some more volume than Darn Toughs, but I love to wear them with my Keens. One of my favorite pairs are the Merino Wool Comfort Hikers. These socks wouldn’t be so comfortable with tennis shoes, due to their volume, but they work perfect with my hiking boots. Both these sock options are typically cheaper than Smartwool socks, which are another solid option!
Darn Toughs and Wigwams are both available at REI, but they’re also available at places like Fred Meyer, which is super convenient!
For the ladies, I’ve tried multiple brands of leggings, and the ones that pass the “stay up while hiking/jogging test are these leggings. Does anyone else have the same issue I do? Picture this: there you are, hiking up a trail, and your britches keep sliding down and you are constantly pulling them up.
I’ve worn these jogging, lounging around the house, camping, and hiking. They’re incredibly comfortable and versatile. You can wear them under a dress if it’s cold, too!
I’ve constantly been impressed by REI’s products across the board. This Trail40 pack is great for a day or even an overnighter. Bonus: REI brand is cheaper than brands like Patagonia or North Face.
Something I love about Osprey is that their shoulder straps are made specifically with women in mind. As women, we have a different body structure, and I’ve used other quality packs like Gregory that didn’t fit right in the shoulders. When looking for a good adventure pack, make sure there is a solid hip belt – it’s going to save your shoulders and distribute the weight properly so you can hike as much as you want without saying what I would say, “My shoulders are f***ing killing me.”
For adventure elopements over a certain distance, you’ll want lightweight trekking poles like these. Not only do trekking poles help stabilize you over uneven terrain, they actually help propel you forward, keep your hands from swinging down by your sides (which leads to more swelling), and they burn more calories despite the hike feeling like it’s easier with them. All in all, a great bonus.
For lengthier hikes, and overnight excursions, you’ll want to conserve as much room as possible. While Nalgene and Hydro Flask bottles are de rigeur and in style, Platypus SoftBottles are the clear winner here in my book. They flatten and can roll up when you’ve drank your water. They’re also flexible and can fit it places that firm water bottles can’t.
Your wedding dress. I’ll just put it this way, if you’re someone who’s worried about ruining their wedding dress or getting it dirty while taking photos, we might not be the best match. I’m obviously not going to make you jump into a mud pit, (but hey, if you want to I’m totally down for documenting that), but it’s highly likely you will end up with a dirty train and a few rips in the lace of your dress. And please, whatever you do, don’t wear a hoop under your dress and expect to climb up a mountain. The most logical dresses for movement are ones that have an a-line type bottom. Mermaid and trumpet silhouettes will prohibit a ton of range of movement, but if you’re up for packing your dress to your ceremony location, then let’s do it!
This is a great place to start for a bride wanting a modern bohemian look. The details in the dresses are to die for.
Free People is more affordable than a traditional wedding dress boutique, and they have a ton of boho selections, depending on your vibe. The link above takes you to the white dresses on Free People, but don’t let that limit you. Black dress? Silver dress? Purple dress? Bring it on!
Hayley Paige is sold in a lot of bridal boutiques and has TONS of movement and amazing detail. The taffeta, tulle, chiffon, and organza makes for fantastic movement.
Stella York designs are known for their flowing trains and details in the bodice. Here’s a perfect example. They’re available in lots of your local bridal boutiques, which is super convenient.
If you’re wanting a small, custom made dress, Daci Gowns is your gal. They describe their dresses as flowing and bohemian, and they ain’t wrong.
SUITS & SLACKS
For groom attire, stick to neutral tones with a potential pop of color if that’s your thing! Those neutrals will go with any backdrop and you’ll be less likely to notice any dirt on them. Suits and slacks are easier to hike in, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear them hiking to the ceremony site. Especially if it’s longer than a mile or two, I’d recommend packing them up and changing closer to the ceremony location.
Macy’s is a classic and affordable choice if you’re wanting to buy something special for your wedding day. Feel free to also mix and match a new blazer or vest with a pair of slacks and button up shirt that’s already in your closet!
If you’re wanting a larger variety of options, check out Men’s Warehouse! Like I said before, don’t be afraid to add in a pop of color somewhere – Men’s Warehouse has those great pops in the shape of ties, vests, and pocket squares.
BONUS: KULA CLOTH & RUMPL BLANKET
I know this might be TMI, but every gal at some point ends up needing to do some business out in the bush. A businesswoman and adventurepreneur, Anastasia Allison (also one half of the Musical Mountaineers) is in the process of rolling out her new p-cloth, the Kula Cloth. It’s antimicrobial and silver infused, and also features work from outdoorswomen artists. I’m excited to get one when they roll out!
I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple Rumpl blankets. They’re made out of down alternative and have a sleeping bag-like feel. That means they’re easy to lay out on the dirt, grass, or sand, then pick up and easily shake clean. They’re also great for people who have dogs. Not only does animal hair not cling to it, dogs seem to love the comfort. My dog, Leo, will choose the Rumpl blanket in the back seat over sitting on my husband’s lap nearly any day. Also cool: they come in different patterns, including the Cascadia Flag, and the PDX carpet (all you PNWers know what I’m talking about).
I think that pretty much summarizes all the basics, if there’s any hiking or outdoor gear you think I missed, leave a comment and I would be more than happy to write up pt. 2! I’m all about encouraging people to “get after it” with the gear that works best for you!
And they ain’t wrong.