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Hiking Essentials For Spring: A Checklist for Day Hiking Gear

As you stand at the base of the trail, the vibrant green hues of spring unfurl around you in a breathtaking panorama. The air hums with the soothing symphony of birds singing their anthems to the return of warmth. Drawn in by the irresistible allure of nature's grand awakening, you step forward to immerse yourself in this symphony of rejuvenation. Hiking in spring is an exceptional experience indeed, but only if you are well-prepared.

From the sun-drenched deserts of the American Southwest and Middle East, to the lush mountain forests of New England and Europe, I've trekked countless trails across the world. Each day hike, with its own unique challenges and surprises, has imbued me with valuable insights and lessons. I've run out of water in the sweltering heat, found myself off-course as the sun set, and been caught in unexpected rain showers dressed in nothing more than a tank top. Oh, and I must not forget the time I regretted every bite of the snacks I packed.

With each hike, I've grown more savvy, more prepared, and utterly determined to refine my hiking kit to perfection. Today, I'm here to share this accumulated wisdom to ensure your spring hiking adventures are not just good, but great!

Lili wearing/carrying all the gear recommended in the blog post
My reviews are intentional and honest. I wear/carry all the gear I recommend!

The Right Footwear

As we embark on our spring hiking essentials journey, let's start from the ground up – our hiking footwear. Choosing the right hiking shoes can make all the difference between a trudging struggle and an exhilarating adventure. I want to effortlessly transition from a steep climb to a trail run. I also demand more style than the ugly hiking boots of old, I want them to be a part of my daily active wear closet. For me, the Adidas Free Hiker embodies these criteria perfectly. They're a hiking boot/trail runner fusion that combines the best of both worlds. I think they strike a wonderful balance between stiffness and flexibility, allowing for quick movements on the trail, whether that's nimbly hopping over boulders or taking on a brisk run.

  • They hug your feet like a glove, comfortable without compromising on much-needed support for those rocky ascents.

  • Aggressive lugs on the soles bite into the terrain during steep climbs and descends

  • The collar and tongue have a good amount of cushioning, however wearing tall, thick socks are a must to prevent any chafing.

  • While they're not entirely waterproof, their water resistance is more than sufficient for most day hikes.

  • Great breathability - no hot, sweaty feet even when the temperature rises.

  • Great durability - I've had mine for over three years now, worn them through all sorts of conditions. They're easy to clean, show virtually no signs of wear (only the exposed foam discolored a bit).

If you're on the lookout for a versatile, stylish, and comfortable shoe for your day hikes, I highly recommend the Adidas Free Hiker. I have linked them on my Amazon page. They're an investment ($160-250) in comfort, style, and durability that will serve you well on and off the trail.

Alternative: While I have not tried them out personally yet, I am very keen to try the On Cloudrock hiking boots ($230, waterproof)

Functional Fashion

Who said you can't be chic while conquering trails? Certainly not us! Dressing for a hike doesn't have to be a compromise between comfort and style. In fact, the right clothing can enhance your hiking experience and let you express your personal style simultaneously.

  • Let's begin with socks. It may seem trivial, but the right pair of socks can make a world of difference. Long socks are your best friend on a hike, especially if you are wearing shorts. They not only protect your legs from brambles, stones, and bugs but also offer extra cushioning to prevent blisters. They're an essential accessory that can add a pop of color or personality to your hiking ensemble.

  • When it comes to your outfit, layers are key. Spring weather, especially in the wilderness, can be fickle. Start with moisture-wicking base layers to keep sweat at bay, add an insulating mid-layer for warmth, and finish with a waterproof yet breathable shell to protect against unexpected rain or wind. And when the sun does come out, you can easily shed layers to bask in its warmth.

  • Pockets can be a game changer on a hike. Whether they're in your pants, jacket, or backpack, having easily accessible pockets means you can quickly grab your map, snacks, or camera without having to stop and rummage through your bag.

Now, if you're wondering how to bring all this advice together and still look stylish, don't worry! I've curated a Pinterest board full of functional yet fashionable hiking outfit inspirations. You'll find options for every taste, whether you prefer a laid-back, earthy vibe or a bold, adventurous look.

Hiking isn't just about reaching the destination, it's about enjoying the journey—and part of that enjoyment comes from feeling confident and comfortable in what you're wearing.

Hydration is Key

Hiker wearing Salomon hydration vest on a desert mountain hike

Let's talk about hydration, arguably one of the most crucial elements of any outdoor activity, especially hiking. I’ve been there, schlepping water bottles in my backpack, always a hassle to retrieve when I needed a quick sip. If that's your current situation, trust me, there’s a game-changer out there: a hydration pack.

Enter the Salomon ADV Skin Hydration Pack. This nifty gear piece has transformed my hiking and trail-running adventures, and I have a feeling it can do the same for you. Available in several color variants (I'm partial to Beach Glass), not only does it give you instant, hands-free access to your water, but it also looks stylish while doing so.

One of the great things about the ADV Skin is that it comes in several capacities, with 12 being the largest. Now, you might be thinking, "Do I really need that much capacity?" But here's the beauty of it - you can fill it up to your desired volume. You're not obligated to fill it to the brim every time, but having the option for longer treks or hotter days is a plus.

The convenience of having your water so accessible cannot be overstated. No more halting your hike to take off your backpack, no more digging around for your water bottle, and certainly no more putting everything back together. Just reach for the straw and take a sip, all while maintaining your stride.

If you're ready for hassle-free hydration, check out the Salomon ADV Skin 12 Hydration Pack on my Amazon page. This hydration packs was doubtfilled purchase for me, but it revolutionized the way you hydrate and pack on the trail!

Fueling the Journey

Snacks are more than just a tasty treat – they're an essential part of your gear. But not just any snack will do. You need something that not only hits the spot but also replenishes your energy, sustains you throughout the hike, and actually tastes good.

Enter my top two protein-packed picks for the trail – the Anabar and Barbells protein bars. Forget the idea that protein bars are tasteless, tough, and hard to swallow. These two options will transform your snack game and make you look forward to refueling.

First up is the Anabar. Close your eyes, take a bite, and suddenly, you're reliving Saturday morning cartoons with a bowl of fruity pebbles. Yes, it's that good! And aside from its nostalgic taste, it offers a substantial protein punch that keeps you going.

Next, we have the Barbells protein bar in Chocolate. Imagine sinking your teeth into soft, gooey, chocolate fudge, but instead of a sugar crash afterward, you're fueled and ready to tackle the next section of the trail. That's what this protein bar offers.

Both of these options are soft, easily digestible, and never become a chore to eat, making them the perfect companions on your hiking adventure. Ready to give them a try? Check out the Anabar and Barbells protein bars on my Amazon page.

Bugging Off

Nothing can quite take the wind out of your hiking sails like a cloud of pesky bugs buzzing around you. Bug sprays can be smelly, sticky, and sometimes not the healthiest choice for your skin or the environment. But don't let those pesky insects put a damper on your outdoor adventures. I have a major hack to share with you – citronella soap!

Citronella is a well-known natural bug repellent, but here's the kicker: you can use it as a soap before your hike. That's right, no sprays, no creams, just a refreshing, bug-repelling shower! This easy step integrates seamlessly into your pre-hike prep and provides all-over coverage to keep bugs at bay.

Simply lather up with this citronella soap during your shower before your hike. Not only will you feel fresh and clean, but you'll also enjoy the citrusy scent that bugs can't stand! It's a win-win situation: a chemical-free, eco-friendly bug deterrent that leaves your skin feeling soft and refreshed. Check out Citronella Soap on my Amazon page.


So, there you have it! This is my essential gear list for a delightful day hike in spring. I hope these tips help you stay comfortable, safe, and savor the journey every step of your hike.

Whether it's the glove-like fit of your Adidas Free Hikers, adaptable and stylish hiking style inspiration, the hands-free hydration convenience of the Salomon ADV Skin 12 Hydration Vest, or the irresistible taste of Anabar and Barbell protein bars, each piece of gear plays its part in making your hike a pleasure.

And let's not forget the unexpected gems— a pre-hike shower with citronella soap to keep the bugs at bay, all in a chemical-free, eco-friendly way. It's the small things that often make the biggest difference.

So, the next time you hit the trail this spring, remember these gear essentials. They've certainly transformed my hiking experiences, and I hope they'll do the same for you. Don't just endure the trail— embrace the adventure and savor every moment.

Get out there, fellow trail blazers. Breathe in the spring air, step on the vibrant path, and see where the trail takes you. And when you do, know that you are equipped and ready for whatever the journey holds. Happy hiking!

In love and lunges,

Lili Byrne

1 Comment

May 26, 2023

The shoes were such an upgrade

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