Pictured are 10 of Carey Kish’s new and tried-and-true pieces of hiking gear. Carey Kish photo

Springtime is gear time, that transitional period when countless hikers across Maine are sorting through their equipment and clothing in preparation for the traditional hiking season just ahead. Here’s a quick rundown on some of this hiker’s favorite items for carrying on day hikes and backpacking trips, a mix of new toys and some tried-and-true favorites you might want to consider for your own kit.

Anker PowerCore Power Bank: Hikers carry a lot of electronics on the trail these days –phones, cameras, GPS units, MP3 players and Kindles. If you’re out for any length of time, these devices will all require recharging. An Anker PowerCore power bank – I recommend the 10,000 mAh (milliampere hour) model – will easily take care of your needs. 5 ounces, $30.

Ben’s InvisiNet Head Net: When the insects are really bad and repellent just isn’t cutting it, a good head net is a must. The sheer fabric of Ben’s InvisiNet allows excellent visibility, and its elasticized crown and roomy fit makes it easy to get on, even over a brimmed hat. The drop-neck and drawcord ensures full protection, all for less than an ounce and $11.

Exped AirPillow UL: A good night’s sleep is essential on the trail, and the Exped AirPillow is super lightweight (less than two ounces) insurance toward that dreamy end. No more shoving clothes into a stuff bag for a lumpy, uncomfortable pillow! The soft polyester fabric pillow inflates easily with a few breaths and nicely elevates and cradles your head. $39.

Garmin inReach Mini: I’ve been sold on compact satellite communicators ever since carrying the Garmin inReach Mini on my Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike. Now I almost never hike without the palm-sized unit, which pairs with the companion Earthmate phone app for easy use. Just 3.5 ounces, the Mini provides big insurance should something go seriously wrong in the backcountry. $350.

Carey Kish has relied on LOWA Renegade boots for 6,000 miles of long distance hiking Carey Kish photo

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boots: From day hikes to thru-hikes, Lowa Renegades are up to the task. Lightweight and comfortable, these 2 1/2-pound boots are trail-ready right out of the box, with minimal breaking in required. I’ve worn these boots for more than 6,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail, Florida Trail and PCT without a blister. Boots are as varied as hiker’s feet, but Lowa gets high marks for its true-to-size build, snug heel and roomy toe box. $245.


Nemo Switchback Ultralight Sleeping Pad: Last summer, after reading great reviews on the Nemo Switchback, I gave the closed-cell foam pad a try and liked it almost as much as my air mattress. The space-efficient design is thicker and more comfortable than similar pads yet packs down just as compactly, and it’s sure not to spring a leak. 15 ounces (regular size), $55.

The new Nathan Sports QuickStart Race Pack is great for ultralight summer hiking Carey Kish photo

Nathan Sports QuickStart Race Pack: Designed for runners but equally functional for hikers, the minimalist QuickStart hydration pack (I’ve got the 4L model) is a real winner for ultralight day hiking in warm weather. This stretchy fabric pack features a hydration bladder and a surprising amount of room for snacks and layers, while the strap pockets will hold a phone and other small items. $70.

Petzl Tikka Headlamp: I’ve been using Petzl headlamps ever since they arrived on the market in the 1980s, and the last three have all been the lightweight (three ounces, including three AAA batteries), compact and ultra-reliable Tikka models. Three white lighting levels and one red to preserve night vision help illuminate the way in camp and on the trail. $30.

Sea to Summit X-Mug: Have a problem finding a suitable place to stash your coffee mug and you don’t like it dangling off the outside of your backpack? Then the Sea to Summit X-Mug is for you. Made of flexible, food-grade silicone, this collapsible mug holds 16 ounces and doubles as a measuring cup. The X-Mug weighs just two ounces and comes in eight colors. $14.

Swiftwick Flite XT Trail Socks: Grippy fibers at the heel and ball of this new, technologically-advanced sock help keep it from sliding around in your shoe, strong elastic around the ankle adds extra support, and the merino wool blend wicks away moisture and is comfortable to wear. Used on several spring day hikes, I’m pretty impressed with the performance of these socks. $22.

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island is a veteran hiker and freelance writer. His latest book, Beer Hiking New England, will be available later this year. Follow more of Carey’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram @careykish

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