The Ultimate Fall Hiking Gear Packing List

Everything You Need To Hit The Chilly Fall Trails

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Fall Hiking Is the *Best*

We are convinced that fall hiking is the best kind of hiking! The only other type of hiking that may win over fall hiking is spring hiking. But honestly, we love them both for the same reasons — changing season!

When seasons change the trails are never boring. In general, this is great news. But sometimes this can become a bit more of a challenge than we’d like. Fall hiking requires more gear [layers!], more planning [trail conditions!], and possibly a Plan B [weather!]. This fall hiking gear breakdown and printable packing list will help ensure you have everything you need.

We will discuss the apparel, outerwear, footwear, and gear you’ll need for a fun and safe adventure on the chilly trails of fall. As you scroll you’ll notice that the list is broken into categories. Each category starts with an explanation of why it is important and how to choose the best items for you. There is also a short list of recommended products that we have personally used and loved. Finally, near the bottom, you’ll find access to a downloadable PDF packing list…or you can jump right to the packing list by clicking the button below! Happy hiking! 

The Most Important Gear For Fall Hiking

Fall Hiking Gear Guide

Click the links above to jump to the whys + hows of choosing the right gear in each category.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of fall hiking? Fall colors? Chilly mornings? Rainy days? It really does vary by where you’re hiking. However, there is one thing that nearly every fall hike has in common…variable weather! No matter where you are you can expect to encounter changing weather in the fall. This could simply mean cold morning and warm afternoons. It could also mean high elevation snow, pouring rain, soggy fog or gusty wind. This potential for inclement weather makes layers and properly outerwear the most important parts of fall hiking!

It is vital to dress [or at least pack] in layers when you’re headed out on a fall hike. You may be lucky enough to have great weather, but you want to be prepared! We’ll get into the types of layers as we talk about specific products but in general you’ll want to include three things. A base layer, an insulating layer and an outer layer. The combination of these three layers will provide warmth and protection in nearly any outdoor situation. The real trick is choosing a compatible combination and known when to us it! This is a skill learned over time, but reading gear reviews and packing lists will help build a foundation.

Adventure Feet First - Fall Hiking - Packing List - Apparel

Fall Hiking Apparel

The clothes you choose for fall hiking can make a big difference. You’ve probably been told not to wear cotton when you’re adventuring. This is because cotton quickly absorbs sweat. In the summer it leads to chafing. In the colder months, this can actually make you colder. This is why sweat or moisture wicking material is *essential* as your first layer. This goes for both the upper and lower body. Most outdoor apparel material is a blend of hard-to-pronounce fabrics. Generally speaking, this will get the job done. Each brand tends to have its own proprietary blend of fabrics to create their version of “moisture wicking”. They all do better than basic cotton.

Beyond the material itself, what is important in hiking clothing? Honestly, comfort and functionality! You and your body need to be comfortable in whatever you’re wearing on the trails. If you run hot, shorts may be ideal for fall hiking. If you are often cold, tights may become your best friend in the fall. Ultimately you’ll want gear that fits well, feel comfortable, and does its job of keeping you warm/cool/dry/protected! In an attempt to provide as much information as possible we have included a few of our favorite items from each of the layering categories of apparel…

Hiking Tops [Short + Long Sleeve]

Let’s start at the top…with tops! The shirt you choose is important for a few reasons. First, it is going to be responsible for regulating the temperature of your core. This is vital in emergency situations, but it is also important in terms of keeping you comfortable in general. Secondly, your shirt is going to be against your skin, across the parts of your body that will be moving the most while you’re on the trail. The repetitive motion of movement has the potential to create hot spots or chafing. Third, the top half of your body will likely show up in the most trail-side photos so you want to feel comfortable and confident in whatever you choose. Keep scrolling to get the details on the tops we love for both women and men. Or jump to Hiking Bottoms [Shorts, Tights + Pants]

Women's Tops

AFF Product Image - BD Rhythm Tee - Women's

The Facts: The Black Diamond Rhythm Tee is an extremely lightweight Merino wool t-shirt with a “next to skin” fit. It is designed to be moisture wicking and quick drying while also warding off any adventure stank.

The Opinions: The wool does make it a bit itchy, even after multiple washes. However,  does manage to avoid holding in the smell of epic adventures. Definitely SIZE UP! Even if you like a tighter fit, size up.

Shop @ Black Diamond

AFF Product Image - Smartwool 150 Crew SS - Women's

The Facts: The Smartwool 150 Base Layer Short Sleeve shirt is created with Core Spun Merino wool. This means the Merino wool is wrapped around nylon strands for durability. It is lightweight and breathable.

The Opinions: This shirt has a great fit with a raglan sleeve, meaning no annoying shoulder seams. Both the shirt and the sleeves are just long enough for comfort and coverage. 

Shop Smartwool @ REI

The Facts: The Icebreaker Cool-lite Amplify Crewe t-shirt is made with a corespun Merino wool. The lightweight wool and Cool-lite technology makes this shirt functional in both cool and warm temperatures.

The Opinions: This t-shirt is lightweight and it does fit next-to-skin [size up if you prefer some wiggle room]. It is a bit itchy until you put it through a few washes.

Shop Icebreaker @ REI

The Facts: The Le Bent Le Base 200 Long Sleeve top is made with a fabric blend mixing bamboo and Merino wool. It has four-way stretch and a scooped neckline. All together, this creates a comfortable top with a relaxed fit.

The Opinions: This top truly is comfortable and capable of holding its shape over multiple wears. The sleeves are just long enough [although thumbs holes would be a plus]. Size up if you layer with a tank top.

Shop @ Le Bent

AFF Product Image - Brooks Notch Hoodie - Women's

The Facts: The Brooks Notch Thermal Hoodie brings comfort to the trail with a “notched” fleece interior to keep you warm and cozy when the weather is not-so-warm.

The Opinions: This is a warm, cozy top! The hoodie and thumb holes only make it better. However, the fit gets a bit wide and boxy at the hips. A bit more length in the top would help with that.

Shop Brooks @ REI

AFF Product Image - Title Nine Manresa Hoodie - Women's

The Facts: The Title Nine Manresa Hoodie is made with a lightweight “terry” spandex/poly blend. It is designed as a cozy, all purpose long sleeve top that’s both cute and functional.

The Opinions: If you’re looking for a cool weather top you can wear while hiking or brunching this is it! If you’re looking for truly technical gear this top may be a little too cute, but it is a great option for versatility.

Shop @ Title Nine

Men's Tops

AFF Product Image - Icebreaker Tech Lite SS - Men's

The Facts: The Icebreaker Tech Lite Short Sleeve Crewe shirt is made with a corespun Merino wool blend that offers a stretchy fit, odor-resistance and temperature regulation. This is a lightweight and breathable shirt.

The Opinions: The fit is true to size and just long enough to help the shirt stay in place when wearing a pack that may wriggle it up. It is a very breathable shirt, but with enough sweat it’ll hold onto your adventure stink.

Shop Icebreaker @ REI

AFF Product Image - REI Sahara Tshirt SS - Men's

The Facts: The REI Co-op Sahara T-Shirt brings moisture wicking, breathability and sun protection together with a poly/spandex blend of material. It also has an antimicrobial treatment to help ward off sweaty smells. It is a loose, relaxed fit.

The Opinions: Overall, this is a comfortable top that meets the needs of all trail-ventures. The looser fit adds to the breathability, although it may ride up a bit in the back if you’re wearing a heavier backpack. 

Shop @ REI

The Facts: The Brooks Running Ghost Short Sleeve shirt is made for the sunnier days with a very lightweight, breathable material. It is made with a DriLayer fabric that keeps an airy feel while wicking away moisture. 

The Opinions: This is a very lightweight shirt and almost feels too thin to be durable on the more rugged trails. It’s comfortable and functional, but may be best to save for warmer days.

Shop Brooks @ REI

AFF Product Image - Icebreaker 260 LongSleeve - Men's

The Facts: The Icebreaker 260 Tech Long Sleeve Crewe top is made with 100% Merino wool using a fine knit, which allows it to be both warm and lightweight. There are separate panels of material under the arms, making this a good base layer [ie: less bunching of material].

The Opinions: The images on the Icebreaker website make the shirt look much more fitted than it is. It has a more relaxed fit than expected [a good thing in our book]. Even with 100% wool it is quite soft!

Shop Icebreaker @ REI

AFF Product Image - REI Midweight Base LS - Men's

The Facts: The REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer Long Crew Top uses a blended fabric to provide extra warmth, moisture wicking and sun protection. It has four-way stretch and flat seams to make it comfortable on the trail.

The Opinions: This long sleeve is a durable base layer that has survived multiple adventures. Generally a comfortable top with a fit that layers well and can go out for a casual meal after your adventures. 

Shop @ REI

AFF Product Image - Brooks Notch Thermal LS - Men's

The Facts: The Brooks Running Notch Thermal Long Sleeve brings warmth of fleece to the table with a ribbed fleece-like material that is also breathable.  It has thumb loops and a stash pocket at one shoulder.

The Opinions: The stash pocket on the shoulder becomes problematic if you’re wearing a heavier pack as it has a zipper that rubs. That said, this is a warm layer and the thumb loops making layering easy.

Shop Brooks @ REI

Hiking Jackets [Wind + Rain]

The proper outerwear can make all the difference when you’re headed out for an adventure. What you will need will vary a bit by where you are adventuring and what the weather is like. In drier climates, you may only need “water resistance” features rather than the fully “waterproof” features required in wetter climates. For this list of gear ideal for fall adventure we will focus on wind shells and rain jackets. Before we jump into the specific products let’s talk about wind and water resistance.

Wind Resistance: A wind resistance jacket is designed as an outer layer to keep the wind from blowing right through your layer and chilling your skin. A jacket with high quality wind resistance will help you feel warmer even if it is paper thin. There is no standardized way to measure the wind resistance of a jacket so each brand gets to make its own claims.

Water Resistance: Many wind jackets and similar outer layer jackets come with a DWR [durable water resistance] coating, layer, or integration. This coating helps to repel water and works best in light rain or misty weather. It is worth noting that DWR can lose function with use and can be damaged if you wash your jacket. However, you can re-apply DWR to your outerwear to extend its life. Get more information on how DWR works in this REI article about Durable Water Resistance.

Waterproof: Finding a truly waterproof layer is a challenge. This is more about how stubborn water is than it is about a lack of technology or manufacturing ability. Water is attracted to itself and somehow manages to team up to find even the tiniest weakness in any layer you’re wearing. Waterproof jackets come with a rating, often written as “10K waterproof rating”. This means that the material is designed to withstand up to 10,000mm of water pressure before it begins to leak. That sounds great, right? Well, it is…for a piece of material. Jackets require seams, zippers, pockets, hoods, and other weak points to fit on your body. This is where features like taped seams, waterproof zippers, and overall design come into play. You’ll want to consider the material as well as potential weaknesses in the jacket when choosing a truly waterproof jacket. Get the full break down on how waterproofing works in this REI article on how waterproof gear is rated.

Fun Fact: The waterproof rating is often tested by stretching a single piece of material across the middle of a clear basin or beaker and adding millimeters of water to the top of the material. A jacket with “10K waterproof rating” means the material did not leak until there were 10,000 millimeters of water above it!

Women's Jackets

AFF Product Image - BD Distance Shell - Women's

The Facts: The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell brings together wind resistance and breathability to help balance the elements and sweaty efforts. It has a helmet compatible hood and it packs into the chest zipper pocket.

The Opinions: This jacket does its job to protect you from the wind and the lighter material makes it possible to hear your adventure buddies when wearing it. It does pack down, but the chest pocket isn’t useful for much more than storage.

Shop @ Black Diamond

AFF Product Image - Icebreaker Rush Windbreaker - Women's

The Facts: The Icebreaker Cool-Lite Merino Rush Windbreaker combines a corespun Merino wool inner layer with a wind and water resistant outer layer. It has longer inner sleeves with thumb holes and the jacket packs into one of the two pockets.

The Opinions: This jacket is soft and warm on the inside and it does provide protection against most of the elements. The thumb holes are great but the outer sleeve should be longer to keep the inner sleeve from soaking up moisture.

Shop Icebreaker @ REI

AFF Product Image - Ultimate Direction Ventro Wind - Women's

The Facts: The Ultimate Direction Ventro Wind Shell is made with a lightweight water-resistant material designed to provide a little extra protection against the wind and mist of moody trails. It does pack into an interior pouch.

The Opinions: This jacket fits comfortable and has a “duck tail” back hem that provides a bit more coverage. It does fit into the pouch easily but there is no zipper to secure it. There are also vents on the back for added breathability.

Shop @ Ultimate Direction

AFF Product Image - Arcteryx Novan SL Rain Jacket - Women's

The Facts: The Arc’teryx Norvan SL Hoody Rain Jacket utilizes GoreTex ShakeDry technology to be completely waterproof. It is designed to promote breathability while maintaining protection from the rain and staying lightweight.

The Opinions: This rain jacket is truly waterproof with only the weak points of the chin and wrist getting wet. It fits quite comfortably but you may want to size up if you prefer to layer more than just a thin long sleeve on rainy days.

Shop Arc’teryx @ REI

Men's Jackets

AFF Product Image - Brooks Canopy Jacket - Men's

The Facts: The Brooks Canopy Jacket provides protection from both wind and water with the DriLayer Seal. It packs down into the zipper pocket at the chest. The hood also rolls up and secures at the back of the neck.

The Opinions: This is a jacket that is very lightweight with a relaxed fit. The material is thin and doesn’t feel very durable but it hasn’t been an issue yet. It fits true to size.

Shop Brooks @ REI

AFF Product Image - UD Ultra Jacket V2 - Men's

The Facts: The Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket V2 is a rain jacket that is designed to provide breathability and protection from rain. It has vents under the arms, elastic along the back that allows it to fit over a pack and mitts for your fingers.

The Opinions: This jacket fits true to size and acts as a good wind jacket when there isn’t rain. It is waterproof in light rain, although the mitts tend to catch water rather than protect your fingers.

Shop @ Ultimate Direction

AFF Product Image - Columbia OutDry Jacket - Men's

The Facts: The Columbia PFG Terminal OutDry Ex Jacket is made with the durable, waterproof OutDry material with taped seams and PU [polyurethane] coated zippers and pockets. It also has an adjustable hood and packs into one of the pockets.

The Opinions: This jacket is definitely heavy duty and durable; however, this makes it a bit bulky to pack as a “just in case” layer. The sleeves also struggle to cover long sleeve base layers – they need to be a bit longer.

Shop Columbia @ REI

Hiking Bottoms [Shorts, Tights + Pants]

Moving right on down…to the bottoms. Why are the clothes you choose to put on your lower half important? For starters, your legs are doing a lot of work on any trail-venture so you need to do your part to make sure they’re comfortable and happy on your adventures. This means you need to choose bottoms that give you the range of motion, protection from the elements, and overall comfort. What people choose to wear on their lower half varies greatly but often includes shorts, tights, or pants. Oh, and hiking/running skirts or skorts, which we will include under “shorts” for women.

So, comfort…where do we find it and how do we maintain it? This also varies quite a bit by person but we’ll include the basics for each type of bottom:

Shorts: There are a wide variety of shorts to choose from. Inseams can range from 2″ to 14″ and materials can be anything from a lightweight blend to a sturdy khaki-style material. Some shorts come with built-in briefs or shorts — this is often the most complicated part of finding shorts that provide the fit and function you need. The built-in material may be too tight or too loose when the rest of the short fits fine [unfortunately the only way to tell how they’ll fit your body is to try them on and do jumping jacks or squats!] It is most important to choose a pair of shorts that will provide the coverage/protection you need to feel comfortable on your adventure. Other things to consider in shorts include pockets, versatility, and layering. 

Tights: When we say tights we’re including base layers and leggings. Essentially any next-to-skin fitted pants with a lot of stretch, usually somewhere between 3/4 to full length. As a piece of clothing that will be up against your skin you’ll want to be sure your tights are made with material that is soft, stretchy, and moisture wicking. Men often layer a pair of loose shorts over their tights for a little more coverage. Women have worked together to grow the “leggings are pants” movement beyond the trails and yoga mat. The biggest challenge with finding tights worth loving is finding a pair that fits your body without the dreaded “crotch droop”. This uncomfortable and unflattering droop occurs when the tights don’t stay secure on your hips and thighs. When trying on tights be sure to wiggle, jump, and shimmy in them to ensure they stay secure from knee to waist.

Pants: Hiking pants are probably the most versatile piece of clothing you’ll have for your lower body. They can easily be layered to provide extra coverage against the elements, they can come as “convertible” pants/capris/shorts [more common in men’s styles], and they have all the pockets! Men seem to have an easier time finding hiking pants that fit well. This is likely because men’s hiking pants tend to come in a more relaxed fit and variety of lengths. Women’s hiking pants have a more fitted cut and are usually just “regular length”. This makes finding a good pair of women’s hiking pants the ultimate jackpot [words Heidi has actually spoken aloud!]. When choosing hiking pants be sure you can easily move around in them. Test them out with squats and exaggerated stair climbs — ideally, you can do all this moving without needing to readjust your pants.

Women's Bottoms

AFF Product Image - BD Spring Shorts - Women's

The Facts: The Black Diamond Sprint Shorts were created as part of a system with waist pockets to fit basic gear and hydration/nutrition. They come in two lengths [2.5” and 4”], have a built-in brief, and a DWR finish.

The Opinions: These shorts are stretchy and durable with a lot of pockets [although not are truly useful sizes]. The shorts stay in place when you’re on the move, even with items in the pockets. Overall, VERY comfortable shorts!

Shop @ Black Diamond

AFF Product Image - Brooks Chaser - Women's

The Facts: The Brooks Chaser Shorts are made with variations of the DriLayer material that brings both moisture wicking, range of motion, and comfort together. They have a split-short design that overlaps to provide coverage.

The Opinions: These shorts give you a lot of room to move without leaving you to feel over-exposed. The built-in brief is comfortable and the split-short style keeps the shorts from restricting movement. The pocket is small, but okay for a key or card.

Shop Brooks @ REI

AFF Product Image - Title Nine Big B Skort

The Facts: The Title Nine Big B Skort is made with a stretchy, durable outer skirt and has a pair of fitted built-in shorts. The outskirt has six functional pockets and a drawstring at the waist. It measures at about 15.5” as a medium.

The Opinions: This is a very comfortable skort, great for hiking and general wear. It may be too rigid [fixed waist, etc] for running but a solid choice for hiking, scrambling, and exploring. The inner short fit true to size and stay in place.

Shop @ Title Nine

Brooks Momentum Thermal Tights

The Facts: The Brooks Momentum Thermal Tights take cold weather tights to the next level with a soft fleece lining that uses DriLayer Threshold fabric for warmth and moisture wicking. They have a light compression fit which keeps them secure when on the move.

The Opinions: These tights are WARM…in the best way possible. They are great for hiking in cooler temperatures and running in truly cold weather. The side pouches on the thighs are functional and don’t make the tights slouch when in use.

Shop Brooks @ REI

AFF Product Image - Icebreaker Tech Trainer - Women's

The Facts: The Icebreaker Tech Trainer Hybrid Tights have two layers of material — a Merino blend throughout and a Pertex Quantum Air nylon layer across the thighs and hips. This hybrid layering allows for breathability and extra protection from the elements.

The Opinions: The two layers make it a bit harder to wriggle into the tights but it is truly appreciated on windy or wet days on the trails. The tights are a bit short [~34” inseam] but the material does fold up into a comfortable ¾ length tight.

Shop Icebreaker @ REI

AFF Product Image - Columbia Saturday Pants - Women's

The Facts: The Columbia Saturday Trail Stretch Pants incorporates Columbia’s Omni technology [Omni-Shield and Omni-Shade] to provide extra protection from the elements. They are convertible pants with the ability to roll up into capri-length pants.

The Opinions: They fit comfortably and the stretch really does give you full range of motion. The zippered pocket is a plus when you’re really moving. They do come in a “tall” length; however, it is only 34”, not quite enough for many tall women.

Shop Columbia @ REI

Men's Bottoms

AFF Product Image - Brooks Momentum Thermal - Men's

The Facts: The Brooks Momentum Thermal Tights bring both warmth and moisture wicking to the trail with DriLayer Threshold material. There is a phone pouch on one hip, a zipper pocket on the other.

The Opinions: These tights have light compression, so you may want to size up. The side pouch fits a phone but it’s not as comfortable as women make it appear.

Shop Brooks @ REI

AFF Product Image - Kuhl Renegade - Men's

The Facts: The Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible hiking pants are made with DuraLux material that provides moisture wicking and quick drying features. They are convertible into shorts with a hidden zipper and have multiple pockets.

The Opinions: These hiking pants will become an easy go-to pant with a lot of versatility between the pockets, zippers and hems. They fit true to size and are comfortable on the trails.

Shop Kuhl @ REI

AFF Product Image - TNF Paramount - Men's

The Facts: The North Face Paramount Active Convertible Pants are made with a lightweight material with both moisture wicking features and a DWR [durable water repellent] finish. They are convertible to shorts by zipper.

The Opinions: These pants fit true to size…but be sure you take into consideration the “slim fit” sizing. They are easy to convert into shorts, although are more comfortable as full pants.

Shop The North Face @ REI

Hiking Socks

The socks you pull onto your feet are important! They don’t necessarily need to be works of technical material art, but they do need to agree with your feet and befriend your shoes. An unfriendly pair of socks will result in hot spots and blisters. We’ve all had blisters at some point — if not on our feet, then on our hands or elsewhere. They are annoying and painful! The pain is what really throws a wrench into your trail-venture. Moreover, a burst blister can lead to infection down the road. None of this adds to your adventure. So, let’s talk about what makes hiking socks good.

Wicking Material: You will want a pair of socks that wicks away the sweat you work up while adventuring. Nearly every sock designed to wear while hiking or running will come with wicking features.

Seamless Design: Seams are necessary to link pieces of material together, so you may not be able to find truly seamless socks. However, many socks are designed with “invisible seams” or “flat seams”. This will help reduce any friction between your feet and the socks.

Reinforced Toes/Heels: This is more of a durability and longevity feature, but if you have sensitive feet a little extra material around your toes can be a crucial part of your sock choice.

A Good, Comfortable Fit: It doesn’t matter how technologically advanced your socks are if they don’t fit your feet correctly. Your socks should fit comfortably from toe to heel, allowing your toes to wiggle around and with the heel cup truly holding your heel. Be sure to check the size chart for any brand that is new to you.

Women's Socks

AFF Product Image - Balega Ultra Trail - Women's

The Facts: The Balega Ultralight No Show socks take a lightweight [and therefore thin] material and match it with a protective design to provide reinforced durability, easy breathability, and long-term comfort.

The Opinions: These are true no-show socks that stay in place and don’t create hot spots when worn on the trails hiking or running. When in doubt consider sizing down.

Shop Balega @ REI

AFF Product Image - Smartwool PhD Hiking - Women's

The Facts: The Smartwool PhD Outdoor Micro No Show sock use Indestructawool technology in the Merino wool material to create a durable, lightweight sock that wicks away moisture and wards of smells that accompany feet on adventures.

The Opinions: These socks stay put on your foot, even after multiple wears [yea, we tried it!]. They are worn on feet so they do retain smell but they don’t create blisters or annoying slippage.

Shop Smartwool @ REI

AFF Product Image - Zensah Tech+ Compression

The Facts: The Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks are knee-high socks made with a graduated compression material that promotes blood flow and muscle recovery. The material is breathable and reinforced at the heel and toes.

The Opinions: These socks are tall, even on long legs which is sometimes hard to find. The compression is tight enough to stay in place without being too difficult to get on and they layer well with tights or pants.

Shop Zensah @ REI

AFF Product Image - Le Bent Lucy Ultra - Women's

The Facts: The Le Bent Lucy Trail Ultra Light Crew were designed by an ultra trail running so they are set up for success when taking on long miles on the trails. The bamboo/Merino blend makes them durable, comfortable, and moisture wicking.

The Opinions: As crew socks, these do really well. They stay up when you’re on the move and they are comfortable throughout. They do not cause hot spots or blisters.

Shop @ Le Bent

AFF Product Image - Darn Tough - Women's

The Facts: The Darn Tough Her Spur Boot Socks use a fine knit Merino wool material to create a performance fit and an “undetectable seam”. They are lightly cushioned to provide extra protection and added warmth.

The Opinions: While these are technically “boot socks” they work great for hiking. They are a bit taller than the standard crew sock which makes them great at keeping your tights in place if you’re layering.

Shop Darn Tough @ REI

Men's Socks

AFF Product Image - Swiftwick Pursuit Hike - Men's

The Facts: The Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Socks are made with Merino wool blended with Olefin for better comfort, moisture wicking, and durability. They have added cushion under the forefoot to help combat trail fatigue. They come in multiple cuff heights if you prefer variety.

The Opinions: These socks are thicker than expected, but this provides extra warmth and cushion. They do stay up when on the trails and feel comfortable while hiking.

Shop @ Swiftwick

AFF Product Image - Le Bent Trail - Men's

The Facts: The Le Bent Trail Light Crew socks are created with the Le Bent Signature Blend of bamboo/Merino wool. They use the Definitive Fit System to help keep the socks in place with a snug fit throughout the entire foot and providing additional arch support. 

The Opinions: These socks stay in place when you’re on the trail and the lightweight, low-profile design keeps them comfortable in any shoes you choose.

Shop @ Le Bent

AFF Product Image - Darn Tough - Women's

The Facts: The Darn Tough Heady Stripe Micro Crew Light Cushion socks are made with lightweight Merino wool. This provides naturally antimicrobial features, moisture wicking, and a securely comfortable fit.

The Opinions: These socks are warm and cozy. While Merino wool is versatile enough to wear year round these socks are thick enough to be better in the cooler months. They are comfortable and don’t cause hot spots or blisters.

Shop Darn Tough @ REI

Adventure Feet First - Fall Hiking - Packing List - Footwear

Fall Hiking Footwear

When you’re hitting the trails you’ll need to wear something on your feet. This can be pretty much anything that will protect your feet from the elements. You’ll likely see people hiking or running in sandals, which is an option. However, we’ll be focusing on trail running shoes and hiking boots. In our experience, people tend to prefer the flexibility of trail running shoes or the support of hiking boots and one they’ve picked their favorite they stick to it. That said, we have roamed the trails in both, depending upon the terrain and adventure. Which is better? It’s up for debate. Here are a few common reasons people choose either option:

Trail Running Shoes: Trail running shoes are very similar to what you’ll see on runners on the sidewalks in your neighborhood..but with added protection such as a rock plate. A rock plate is a sturdy piece of material [varies by brand] that is placed inside the sole, usually near the forefoot, to protect your foot against the rocks and roots of the trails. Trail running shoes also come with a more durable upper material and stickier traction on the sole to take on the terrain. Some models are also available with various levels of waterproofing. You do not get as much ankle support or overall foot security as you may with hiking boots but you do get to stay in closer contact with the ground.

Hiking Boots: Hiking boots provide more protection against the terrain with a stiffer sole, thicker upper material, and ankle support. This added protection does come at a price. Hiking boots are heavier and bulkier than trail running shoes. While many boots do come with some level of breathability, the added materials often result in sweatier feet. You will find that hiking boots do provide good traction against the terrain but you may not “feel” the trail as much as you would in trail running shoes. Some hiking boots also come with insulation to keep your toes warm on cold, snowy trails.

Women's Trail Running Shoes + Hiking Boots

AFF Product Image - Brooks Cascadia 15 GTX - Women's

The Facts: The Brooks Cascadia 15 is available with and without the GTX Waterproof feature. It is a neutral trail running shoe with an 8mm drop, uses the new Brooks Pivot Post System for added stability, and provides added protection with the Ballistic Rock Shield.

The Opinions: This shoe is a solid trail running shoe with moderate support throughout. The GTX Waterproof feature is great for wet trails but will not get you through a creek dry. It looks like a traditional running shoe and performs as expected.

Shop Brooks @ REI

AFF Product Image - OnRunning Cloudventure Peak - Women's

The Facts: The On Running Cloudventure Peak takes durability to the next level with a ripstop upper, an aggressive Missiongrip sole, and supportive taping wrapped around the shoe. It is a neutral trail running shoe with 4mm drop.

Opinions: While this is a “normal” width shoe it is more narrow than the traditional trail running shoe. It manages to be “slimming” without being restrictive, although your toes may get overwhelmed if they are used to a wider toe box.

Shop On Running @ REI

AFF Product Image - Merrell Moab Mid - Women's

The Facts: The Merrel Moab hiking boots come in both “mid” and “low” heights as well as with or without M Select Dry waterproof material. The FIT.ECO+ creates a contoured footbed that supports both the arch and heel. The Vibram outsole provides traction on all types of terrain.

The Opinions: It is a sturdy and durable hiking boot that is truly comfortable, even if you’re not one to enjoy having a boot around your ankle. It is good for summer hiking and it will keep you dry on wet or snowy trails.

Shop Merrell @ REI

AFF Product Image - Vasque Talus XT - Women's

The Facts: The Vasque XT GTX hiking boot has a leather upper with a GTX waterproof treatment. When paired with the Vibram outsole this makes for a durable hiking boot ready to take on the trails, wet or dry.

The Opinions: The amount of comfort provided by this boot was a pleasant surprise as leather boots tend to be on the stiff side. It is a heavier boot, but the sharp design makes it wearable on and off the trail. Consider sizing down if you’re unsure or not planning on layering thick socks.

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Men's Trail Running Shoes + Hiking Boots

AFF Product Image - Brooks Cascadia 15 - Men's

The Facts: The Brooks Cascadia 15 is the latest rendition of the tried and true Cascadia line. It has an 8mm heel-to-toe drop with neutral support throughout. The BioMoGo DNA technology provides additional cushion and protection against the terrain.

The Opinions: The bright colors of this shoe make it hard to blend in when you’re off the trail, but the shoe is definitely comfortable enough to wear the shoe anywhere.

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AFF Product Image - Merrell Phasebounder - Men's

The Facts: The Merrell Phasebounder 2 Tall hiking boots utilizes the M Select Dry technology to seal water out while allowing your feet to breath. There is also added cushion and shock absorbing technology in the soles for long hours on the trails.

The Opinions: These boots will truly keep your feet dry and they are comfortable to wear day after day, whether you’re on the trail or not. They are a bulkier boot but your feet don’t overheat in the warmer months.

Shop Merrell @ REI

AFF Product Image - Vasque Breeze AT - Men's

The Facts: The Vasque Breeze AT GTX hiking boots are one of the newest additions to the popular Breeze family. They use GoreTex to provide a waterproof outer and Vibram for a dependable grip on the sole. 

The Opinions: The ankle support is very rigid, which may become a problem if you prefer to wear your hiking boots tied tightly. Beyond that they are comfortable on day hikes and have proven waterproof on wet trails.

Shop Vasque @ REI

Adventure Feet First - Fall Hiking - Packing List - Gear - Packs

Fall Hiking Gear

Technically the gear we’re talking about here can be used year round. However, it may be a bit more important to consider the various features of these pieces of gear when you’re headed out into the variability of fall trails. When choosing a trail running vest or hiking day pack you’ll want to be sure it has enough room for all the layers you’ll need. Having a pack that is large enough for fall/winter essentials while also being capable of compressing down for spring/summer adventures makes for extra space in your gear closet!

Running Vests + Day Packs

When you’re headed out onto the trails you’ll likely want to have a pack of some sort with you. This pack will be the home of your water, snacks…and all the other items in the list of the ten essentials. Choosing a pack that is best for you will depend upon how you want to use the pack, how much gear you’ll need to stash, and the terrain you’ll be adventuring in. We will cover the details of running vests and daypacks below.

Running Vests: Running vests, which are smaller and more lightweight than traditional backpacks, have become quite popular in recent years. This makes sense as trail running has also become much more popular and you do need to carry all your essentials with you. However, don’t limit the use of running vests to just running. They can also be a great choice for shorter day hikes. The biggest perks of running vests include their compact size, the designated hydration storage, and the pockets for organization. On the downside running vests tend to be quite expensive.

Daypacks: A daypack is a backpack…but smaller. Assuming you envision massive backpacks that fit all the gear you’ll need for camping on the trails. If you’re more likely to envision the backpack you carry to classes then a daypack is a more specialized version of that. Daypacks often come with a hydration sleeve, multiple pockets, space to store trekking poles, and plenty of room for gear. The benefits of a daypack include the larger size, the weight distribution to your hips, and versatility to use for longer days [or even an overnight]. The biggest struggle with daypacks is finding one that fits both your shoulders and hips.

Women's Running Vests + Day Packs

AFF Product Image - Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta - Women's

The Facts: The Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta 5.0 is the latest version of the women specific line of trail running packs. It is the largest of the Vesta line with up to 16.5L of space. It has a sleeve for a hydration bladder, a designated pocket for a soft flask bottle on the front strap, and multiple other pockets throughout. There is a “rain cover” to help protect the entire pack on wet days. It is adjustable at the chest and around the ribs.

The Opinions: This is a solid trail running back and stays inline with the features and quality of Ultimate Direction trail running vests. The main pocket is large but only accessible from the top ¼ via a single zipper. The outer bungee is also very long [but you can trim it down].

Shop @ Ultimate Direction

AFF Product Image - Gregory Juno 30 H20 - Women's

The Facts: The Gregory Juno 30 H20 is a women specific daypack that brings together a sturdy frame, ventilating back panel, padded hip straps, and a traditional storage layout. There is a large zipper compartment, a few organizational pockets, and outer pouches. It has a dedicated hydration sleeve and comes with a 3d Hydro bladder that has a magnetic bite valve to attach the strap out of the way.

The Opinions: This daypack has the fit and feel of a more traditional backcountry backpack — contoured straps/hip belt, large main compartment, two side pouches, and metal frame. This makes it very easy to get comfortable while fitting the pack to your body and finding gear in the pack.

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AFF Product Image - CamelBak Sequoia - Women's

The Facts: The CamelBak Sequoia 24L daypack is a robust and versatile backpack with up to 24L of space. It has a dual hip belt that will distribute weight to your hips while compressing your gear. It comes with a 100oz hydration bladder, trekking pole storage, zippered pockets, and compression pouches. The Air Support Back Panel is designed to keep the pack riding comfortably across your back while also enabling ventilation.

The Opinions: This pack really does have a little bit of everything. These added features [ie: dual hip straps, padded organizational pockets, supportive back panel] do add to the weight of the pack so it may not be ideal for multi-day adventures. However, these features also make it a good option for day hikes as well as active commutes.

Shop CamelBak @ REI

Men's Running Vests + Day Packs

AFF Product Image - CamelBak Ultra Pro Vest

The Facts: The CamelBak Ultra Pro is a unisex running vest that brings all of the basics to the table with a large pouch in the back, two pouches on the front straps, and two soft flask water bottles. It will hold up to 6L of gear and 1L of water [more if you use soft flasks and hydration bladder]. There is also a stash pouch across the back for layers.

The Opinions: This is a very basic trail running vest; however, it has what you need. The main pouch does not zip [it has a folding top] so you can’t overfill it or organize too much. It has a lot of adjustment ability and will fit nearly any body type [male or female]. The front pouches and pockets are easy to use and do hold food/water securely.

Shop CamelBak @ REI

AFF Product Image - Ultimate Direction Mountain Vest - Men's

The Facts: The Ultimate Direction Mountain Vest 5.0 is the mid-size vest within the men’s/unisex line of trail running vests. It fits up to 13.4L of gear [but you’ll need to use every. single. Pocket!] and has storage space for a hydration bladder or two soft flask water bottles. The main pocket has a large opening with a dual zipper. It is adjustable at the chest and around the ribs and there is a bungee for extra storage on the back.

The Opinions: This is a reliable trail running vest that provides space for essentials in the back pocket and food/drink that you want easy access to on the shoulder straps. The adjustment around the ribs requires a little extra work so size it a bit large and use the chest straps for micro-adjustments.

Shop @ Ultimate Direction

AFF Product Image - Black Diamond Nitro Pack

The Facts: The Black Diamond Nitro 26 is an all-mountain pack that will hold up to 26L of gear. It has four straps to compress the gear or keep the pack compact when it is not full. There are a few smaller zipper pockets within the pack, an expandable pouch on the back, side pouches, and zippered pockets on the hip belt. It is compatible with a hydration bladder.

The Opinions: This pack is flexible, both in what activities you use it for and how easy it is to compress/fold when you’re packing it along on bigger adventures [ie: easy to stash is a duffel for a road trip/flight]. The pockets are easy to access and fit enough gear for an ultralight overnight and the hip straps are compact enough you can strap them away if you’re not using them.

Shop Black Diamond @ REI

Adventure Feet First - Fall Hiking - Packing List - Dog Gear

Fall Hiking Dog Gear

If you’re hitting the trails with a dog you’ll need to take a few extra things into consideration. Things such as functional leashes, dog backpack, jackets, and first aid essentials. What works for you will vary greatly by the size, same, and temperament of your dog. This means you will definitely want to test out the gear in your living room, your backyard, or on trails close to home. Once your dog had given the gear a thumbs up you are good to go!

Dog Gear

AFF Product Image - Nite Ize RadDog Collar+Leash

The Facts: The Nite Ize RadDog All-In-One Collar + Leash is meant for the adventures for when your dog will be mostly off-leash. In the collar there is a 36” retractable leash. This design allows you to simply reach down to pull out the leash if you’re in a situation where your dog needs a leash.

The Opinions: The retractable aspect of this leash works well, it’s easy to grab on the collar and works as a fully functioning leash [albeit, a thin leash]. The collar is a bit bulky so you may want to be sure your dog is comfortable with it before going out on a big adventure.

Shop Nite Ize @ REI

AFF Product Image - Kurgo Bungee Leash

The Facts: The Kurgo Bungee Dog Leash is a traditional leash that is designed to have the option of hands-free dog leash. There is a wide handle as well as a d-ring to allow for attachment to your pack or waist. Whether you’re holding the leash or securing it hands-free the leash has a bungee that will allow for more movement between you and your dog.

The Opinions: The bungee aspect of this leash is great, especially if you have an excitable dog that is easily distracted. You’ll also find the d-ring to be very handy if you want to secure your dog to your pack [also great at camp!], just remember to bring a carabiner.

Shop @ Kurgo

AFF Product Image - Ruffwear Overcoat

The Facts: The Ruffwear Overcoat Dog Jacket is a classic yet versatile jacket that is designed to keep your dog warm while standing up to the terrain and underbrush of the trail. The outer fabric is water and wind resistant and the inner layer has a fleece lining for warmth. The jacket collar is lined with fleece as well. This allows it to fit comfortably along your dogs neck without getting too tight or chafing.

The Opinions: This jacket will withstand nearly anything the trail has to throw at you. The outer material is very durable and it does appear to fit the dog very well without restricting any movement or causing hot spots.

Shop @ Ruffwear

AFF Product Image - Outward Hound DayPack

The Facts: The Outward Hound DayPak Dog Backpack is made for long miles on the trail and proves it with a lot of storage as well as multiple ways to adjust it. It has expandable pockets, a d-ring to hook a leash, and breathable mesh to help keep your dog comfortable.

The Opinions: The multiple adjustment points are vital! They take a bit of time to get fitted right so you may want to get it adjusted after you’ve already tired your dog out, but once in place it is quite easy to put on and take off. The storage is adequate and includes a few smaller zippered pockets.

Shop @ Outward Hound

AFF Product Image - Vapur Dog Watter Bottle

The Facts: The Vapur Ez Lick Portable Dog Water Bottle uses a Lick Activated technology to only release water when the nozzle is licked. This design helps to prevent wasting water on dry trails while also reducing weight in your pack and keeping your dog out of your personal supply of water.

The Opinions: This water bottle does work…but you’ll need to train your dog to use it first [more challenging if you dog has trust issues with hydration bladder hoses]. Definitely use it around the house or close to home first. This will help you all get more familiar with a new piece of gear.

Shop @ Vapur

AFF Product Image - Nite Ize RadDog Collapsible Bowl

The Facts: The Nite Ize RadDog Collapsible Bowl is a very lightweight bowl made with a coated nylon. It will hold up to 16 ounces of food or water [yes, it is water-tight]. It can easily be folded down to be nearly unnoticeable when attached to your pack with the Micro S-Biner carabiner [or stashed in your dog’s pack]. 

The Opinions: This bowl is great! Whether you’re stashing it in your car or taking it on the trail you’ll find a use for it. It does collapse inward a bit as it gets empty but you can easily puff it up to keep easy access for your dog.

Shop Nite Ize @ REI

AFF Product Image - Dog First Aid Kit

The Facts: The Adventure Medical Kit Trail Dog Medical Kit is designed specifically for the most common injuries dogs get on the trails — injuries on their paws. There are packets of dressings, gauze, and a few dog-specific tools included. There is also a compact “Pet First Aid” book included for you to reference on the trail.

The Opinions: This first aid kit does have some items that would be helpful with an injured dog paw as well as basic human first aid. However, you will likely want to go through it before you hit the trail and add/remove items to meet your needs. The main carrier pack is durable and great for stashing all your first aid gear.

Shop Dog First Aid @ REI

Get Your Adventure Packing List Today!

We’ve gone over all the little details about the clothes and gear you’ll need on your fall adventures…but how do you make sure you have everything with you when you leave the house? With a list, of course!

Tap that button below to get access to a complete list of items you’ll need for any fall trail-venture. It is a downloadable and printable PDF with space for you to add quick notes like “blue t-shirt” or “borrow rain jacket” do you’ll be sure to have everything you need!

Adventure Feet First - Fall Hiking

Heidi Berghammer

Heidi is the founder of Adventure Feet First and the Creator of Experiences. She is the brains and legs behind all of the adventures created here at Adventure Feet First. This means she thinks up the itineraries and when they’re even remotely close to home she is the one out there scouting the routes, campsites and local businesses. As a trail running, bikepacker and overall adventure seeker Heidi is definitely the person you want creating your adventures!

"Carry as little as possible, but choose that little with care."

- Earl Shaffer

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