10 Trail Gear Essentials for Great Summer Hiking

Every year, there’s a bounty of new trail gear items that hit the market, all to entice us to weigh down our packs just a little more to enjoy some backcountry comfort and convenience. Here are ten of our favorite new items that have become our latest trail gear essentials for summer hiking.  


Managing a large water container inside a fully loaded backpack is always a hassle—especially when you need to stop and refill while on the move. Not any more with Gregory’s 3D Hydro Trek Reservoir. This lightweight, 3-liter water storage bladder is designed to sit atop your backpack load for quick access and easy management. It features a semi-rigid back panel to help maintain its shape, a large screw-top opening for easy filling (and cleaning), and a bite-valve hose for easy sipping. It’s also got a handy hanger and high-flow valve for convenient in-camp use. $45

One of your Ten Essentials is sun protection—and this summer in Oregon is forecast to be warm one! We recently received the Parks Project Trail Crew Bucket Hat in one of our recent Nomadik Gear Boxes, and it was an instant fave. This lightweight, breathable, wide-brim hat is made of weather-resistant polyester, and features an adjustable strap to help keep it on while grinding over windy passes, and slogging across hot, sunny lava fields. Visit Nomadik to find out how you can get sweet trail gear items like this, and use code PCT20 to save on your first gear box purchase. 

Even in Oregon’s moderate elevations, there are a handful of PCT stretches that can retain snow long into the summer (e.g., Devils Peak, Diamond Peak, and the Central Cascades). For safe and secure early-season passage, Kahtoola’s EXOspikes are a compact traction solution that weigh just 8 ounces per pair (size large). The EXOspikes’ elastomer harness goes on easy over most trail footwear, and their three-stage spikes provide dependable traction over snow, ice and rugged terrain. When not in use, just roll them up and stash them in their own little travel bag. $60

Even with vaccine distribution improving, COVID will likely be with us for a while yet. Thus, face masks will continue to be a necessity in some crowded public spaces. Outdoor Research’s Adrenaline Sports Face Mask has an extended pouch and form-fitting internal baffle that helps direct your exhalations out the front of the mask, instead of back into your face or up into your eyes. It’s great for masking up during strenuous trail activity (hiking, running, biking, etc.) and not fogging up your glasses—or rebreathing your coffee breath! Please be kind, and #RecreateResponsibly. $29 $14.50

This was another score from one of our recent Nomadik Gear Boxes—although we were already a fan. A couple years ago, we got a small sample tin of this miracle salve and found it to be a great treatment for bug bites. It also works well on abrasions, sunburns, blisters and chafing. Made of all-natural, plant-based ingredients, the handy stick applicator makes it easier than ever to apply a little Green Goo First Aid to whatever hurts. Just a little larger than a standard lip balm, and weighing less than an ounce, its definitely worth adding some Goo to your first aid kit. $10


National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated PCT Map Booklets cover the entire PCT with the same format, scale and information you need for planning and hiking anywhere along the trail. This includes trail mileage, elevation profiles, trailhead locations, connecting trails, resupply locations, etc. There are seven booklets for covering the CA section, and two each for OR and WA. PCT: Oregon was invited to review the OR maps and have approved of their information and accuracy. Pick up a single map for a small section, or a bundle for larger sections or the whole trail! $15–$125

Following the devastating wildfires that engulfed Oregon in 2017, we rehiked the PCT to update our 5-star guidebook, Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon. Revised chapters for the Sky Lakes/Crater Lake area, Central Cascades, and Columbia River Gorge include new trail descriptions, new campsite and water source info, and updated resupply and resource details. We also included an update about new wilderness permit requirements. We’re glad to continue working with Mountaineers Books to ensure that our guidebook provides the best and most current Oregon PCT information available.* $25


Our favorite insulated bottle just got even better! Hydro Flask has just launched the limited-edition Scenic Trails Series which feature unique colors and artwork to commemorate America’s iconic long-distance trails: the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), Appalachian Trail (AT) and Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Bottles are BPA-free, and feature Tempshield double-wall insulation for keeping your favorite trail drinks hot or cold for hours. Not only can you show off your favorite trail pride, but each bottle purchase benefits the trails through Hydro Flask’s Parks for All program! 20 oz: $43; 32 oz: $53

As professional trail and backcountry kicker-backers, we know our way about a camp chair. While it’s far cry from a luxury lounger, NEMO’s Chipper Reclaimed Foam Seat is an ultralight closed-cell foam cushion that’s way better on your butt than sharp rocks and buggy stumps. You can even use it for a dry seat in the snow! Each unique Chipper is made of reclaimed foam scraps, which diverts production waste from going to the landfill, so you can feel good about each time you use it. The Chipper weighs just 5.6 ounces, and is compact enough to stash in any pack’s side pocket. $20

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Eating ramen, udon and spaghetti with a spoon or spork is no easy task. If noodles are a staple of your trail menu (like they are ours!), and you’re tired of struggling for tiny bites of noodles, these ultralight Snow Peak Titanium Chopsticks are a must-have. Weighing just 0.8 ounces, these compact, easy-to-handle chopsticks help you scoop up big mouthfuls of tasty noodles to help you satisfy that end-of-the-hiking-day hunger. They even come with a compact nylon case to keep them together and easy to find in your food bag. You might just find yourself hiking a little faster to get to dinner time. $30

Early summer hiking in Oregon means mosquitoes—lots of them! But now you can keep your tender and tasty ankles safe and bite-free with Royal Robbins’ Bug Barrier Venture Crew Socks. Woven of a blend of breathable, recycled polyester and hemp, these medium-weight, unisex socks feature a seamless toe and mesh ventilated panels for keeping feet dry and comfortable. Even better, they’re infused with Insect Shield treatment for keeping the biting beasts from sneaking up under your pant cuffs and chowing down. These are a must-have for bug season. $26   

Who likes hiking with sand, rocks and twigs in your boots? How about jagged lava pebbles or razor-sharp obsidian? All of those are found along the PCT in Oregon, and any one of those invading your boots can be a quick path to blisters—or worse—and result in a potentially painful end to your hike. OR’s Ferossi Thru Gaiters are constructed of lightweight, stretchy, ripstop material for keeping the trail debris out of your footwear so you can cruise along in comfort. They’re also weather resistant, so you can keep on trekking during those stray summer thunderstorms. Be kind to your feet. $39

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*The 2019 edition of Hiking the PCT: Oregon does not include changes to the trail resulting from wildfires in 2020. This information will not be available until later 2021. Updated information will be posted on PCT: Oregon when available, and will be included in the next book printing.

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