A new local park with miles of excellent hiking trails opened last month; it’s only 10 minutes from my house, so I plan to spend a lot of time there this spring. Here’s what I’ll have with me:
Keen Ambler Mesh ($95; KEENFootwear.com) Sure, it’s only April, but hey, I live in Alabama (hello, warm weather), so I really appreciate how cool these kicks keep my feet. The secret is the combo of “closed mesh” on the top, which allows air to circulate without making my feet feel exposed, and a moisture-wicking lining inside to absorb sweat. The Amblers have the other important trail-shoe element—traction—mastered too, as the tread is super-grippy, even on damp rocks. And did I mention how great they feel? Chalk that up to the perfect ratio of cushioning and support.
Horny Toad Swifty Zip Hoodie ($75; HornyToad.com) Call it love at first touch: This light hoodie feels like a well-worn t-shirt—so soft! But it’s not cotton: It’s actually a tech shirt that wicks sweat and dries pronto, making it a terrific top layer for hikes with lots of hills. There’s also a handy pocket on the lower back, which is perfectly sized for an energy gel or, let’s be honest, a couple bucks for coffee. The Swifty is so cute and comfy that it’s now a go-to weekend topper even when I’m just out running errands.
Osprey Escapist 20 ($99; OspreyPacks.com) Full disclosure: This pack was designed for mountain bikers, and there’s even a helmet attachment (called a “LidLock”) to prove it. But I love it for day hikes, too. It keeps sweat at bay better than any other pack I’ve tried, thanks to the ingenious mix of strategically-placed foam and mesh on the back panels and straps, and that’s a huge thing if you live in an often-steamy climate. In addition, there are lots of little extras that show that great care went into the design: a secret rain cover hidden in the bottom, a small top “slash” pocket so small items (wallet, sunglasses, camera) are easy to access, a pocket on the shoulder strap for your ID and some cash, and two water bottle pockets.
See you on the trails!