You moved to Colorado and you have made a great decision. Yes, we had a blizzard in May, which has come to be expected from Colorado locals, but now you can look forward to sunshine and the great outdoors. Gearing up to tackle your first summer summiting mountains and forging over streams is thrilling. But what do you actually need for all the adventures ahead?
Getting ready for your first big excursion in the Rocky Mountains can be intimidating. Everyone seemingly knows what to bring, where to go and which trail shoe is just right for that particular day. In reality the majority of Colorado hikers just reach for their uniform. These pieces have been put together over time and countless suggestions from friends and REI, to create a simple outdoor uniform of essentials that will make your day in the woods the best day yet.
Water, Water, Water
Everyone in Colorado seems to be attached to their favorite water bottle; it’s because this is the number one essential for heading up the hills or moving through the city. Stop creating waste and invest in a water bottle that won’t leak, keeps your liquids cool and has an appearance that you like. Splurging for a Sigg water bottle may seem frivolous at first, but you will use this guy more than anything else this summer. Purchasing a water bottle that has the capability to be clipped to a backpack with a carabiner will make it easy to carry and accessible when you need it.
Living at over 5,000 feet high means you are that much higher to all of the glorious Colorado sunshine and elements. Hiking 14er’s or any hike that goes above timberline will greatly expose you to the sun and offer no relief.
Timberline is the point at which the high alpine eco-system begins. Trees will start dwindling down in size till you have broken above timberline and there are simply no more trees growing. This high alpine environment is beautiful and harsh, so your skin will need protection because there is no shade.
Get yourself a new pair of specs and this year go for polarization. Polarized lenses will defend your eyes from harmful UV rays and help keep your eyes healthy. Sun damage can cause cataracts and sun spots on your eyes, which can permanently harm your vision.
Look for shoes that have a larger tread than an average running shoe. This will give you more traction when scrambling over rocks and boulders as you make your final ascent.
High vs. Low
- High cuff or low cuff hiking boots is a personal choice. The advantage of a higher cuff on a hiking boot is that it will give you more stability around your ankle and support for longer treks. If you are planning on a multi-day hike or backpacking trip the higher cuff is for you. Low cuff hiking shoes are great for day trips. Ranging from mid-grade to ultra-light trail running shoes, there is an option for every budget.
Insider tip: Pack a pair of flip flops or a second pair of comfortable shoes that you can change into after your hike. Especially over the next few months as the snow melts and the trails are extra muddy. Your feet and your car interior will thank you.
Climbing a mountain is not for that faint of heart. You will be working your body and burning fuel faster than you think, especially at altitude. Bring a high protein snack to help replenish your strength. Almonds, walnuts and classic trail mix are not only nostalgic, they provide proteins and nutrients that your body needs. And yes, the M’n’M’s are an essential part of this mix.
Weather moves in and out very quickly in the high country. Packing an extra layer will help fight off the elements and warm you up once you have reached the top of the peak. When all of that sweat finally hits the cool mountain air at the summit, you’ll be glad you brought that long sleeve layer, even in August.
Lightweight, comfortable and affordable. These are the three must haves in a day pack. Your day pack is going to be the hub of all of your adventures. It’s also going to be well loved, thrown on mountains, scraped against rock walls and rained on more times than you can remember. Once you have gathered all the hiking essentials, put everything in your day pack and the next time someone invites you on an adventure, your pack is all you’ll need. Now you have transformed into a savvy mountaineer.