14 for 14ers: Fall Hiking Gear

We’ve all checked off some 14er summits this summer and feel confident we can continue into fall. When the mercury drops, we are faced with new challenges above tree line when picking fall hiking gear. Here is our list of 14 must haves on all fall 14er hikes.

Dynafit UPCYCLED SPEED POLARTEC® BEANIE
Dynafit Upcycled Speed POLARTEC® Beanie

Beanie

This one is a bit of a gimme, however it is easy to forget. Temps are going to be much lower and could be windier up at altitude in the fall. Rotating between a trucker hat when hiking and a tuque while stopped is a common practice amongst the pros.

Fall hiking gear jacket Cotopaxi fuego jacket
Cotopaxi Fuego Down Hooded Jacket

Puffy Jacket

Your summer fleece or running hardshell may be perfect for Elbert in June, but come October you need something warmer. Look for a puffy in the 800 fill range and with a water repellent finish. You want something that is lightweight and packable to shove in the top of your pack. Remember, temperature regulation is so important when it’s getting cold.

Fall hiking gear headlamp BioLite Headlamp 330
BioLite Headlamp 330

Headlamp

The dog days of summer are winding down and days are getting shorter. That means your 6am dawn start time is now going to be dark. There are 2 schools of thought on headlamps – battery operated and rechargeable. The advantage of battery operated are when the batteries go dead, you can throw new ones in. The advantage of a rechargeable headlamp is you don’t have to carry batteries and worry about the cold sucking power from them. Disadvantages are just the opposite.

Fall hiking gear Poles Black Diamond Equipment Vapor Carbon 2 Ski Poles
Black Diamond Equipment Vapor Carbon 2 Ski Poles

Poles

Around the office we lovingly call hiking poles “nerd sticks”. I feel like a lot of  people don’t use them because they feel they are amateur. Well, you’re wrong! When I buy poles I want something lightweight, a flip lock type fastener and packable. Most of the time my ski poles double as hiking poles so buy one quality pair and it will work all year.

Fall hiking gear traction Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System
Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System

Traction

When it comes to traction it could be a difference between an enjoyable hike or an awful epic. When throwing my fall hiking gear in the truck, I throw spikes in just in case. If I find some ice or hard pack on the route, I am ready. I never want the determining factor of turning around being a small section of ‘impassable’ trail.

Fall hiking gear shirt First Lite Fuse Henley
First Lite Fuse Henley

Base Layer Top

In fall my go-to top is generally a base layer as my outer shirt. I mostly prefer the smooth hand of Merino Wool but am down to try a blend. If you find the right cut and style you won’t look like you are wearing your underwear outside your clothes.

Fall hiking gear Spot X transceiver
Spot X

Satellite Messenger

It is not every outing I take my Spot with me but I do take it on most solo missions. It is a something to fall back if everything hits the fan. Sometimes even the best planning won’t get you out of every situation. 2 way messaging is an upgrade for most services now, what better way to give your location than explaining it in text.

Fall hiking gear boots Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX Hiking Boot
Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX Hiking Boot

Hiking Boots

I am always keen to wear the right footwear for the right job. In the summer I can get away with trail runners on almost every mountain. However, in the fall I tend to wear 3 season hiking boots for the added warmth, stability and rigidity. Being at altitude or hours away from the truck with cold feet could make a great day turn miserable rather quickly.

Fall hiking gear pants Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated Trouser
Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated Trouser

Midweight Pants

It is sadly time to hang up the 3″ running shorts and put on a little more protection. With the possibility for weather to get cold up at altitude a proper pant is a necessity. I look for something with breathability, excellent actuation while stepping and maybe a little insulation for warmth. 

Fall hiking gear food Patagonia Provisions Wild Pink Salmon
Patagonia Provisions Wild Pink Salmon

Real Food

Fall hiking gear isn’t just clothing and footwear, it’s food too. Gels, bars and gummies are some of my favorite foods when it comes to high energy adventures. However, when the cold weather starts to fly some of those high energy foods become hard to chew. That is when I start to use real food more consistently. Summer sausages, jerky and salmon don’t get any better when it comes to taste and consistency in the alpine.

Fall hiking gear hardshell Arc'teryx Zeta LT Jacket
Arc'teryx Zeta LT Jacket

Hardshell

You need a lightweight hardshell, on almost every hike, but definitely a fall hike. Hardshell jackets are basic and essential…  block the wind, rain and snow. On a fall hike at altitude sometimes the wind can cut right through you. You don’t need anything too heavy duty so pick up a lightweight hardshell and stash it in the pack.

Fall hiking gear gloves Hestra Vertical Cut CZone Glove
Hestra Vertical Cut CZone Glove

Midweight Gloves

How warm or cold your hands stay are obviously going to dictate the warmth of your midweight glove. Think of a midweight Glove sitting in between your mitten and your fleece glove. My personal preference would lean towards a leather glove and something with a wrist strap to keep it snuggly in place.

Osprey Soelden 22
Osprey Soelden 22

Backpack

This is another one of those pieces of gear that I buy that is versatile across seasons. I generally go for something water resistant and in my case doubles as a ski touring pack. It has all the needed compartments for 14er action, while it also has the ability to carry skis if need be in winter. Versatility people. Versatility.

Fall hiking gear boot UGG Classic Short Winter Boot
UGG Classic Short Winter Boot

Post 14er Boots

After a solid 8 hour day hiking a 14er my feet tend to get tired. When I get back to the truck 2 things are imminent. 1. I have a sip of Genepi and 2. I take off my shoes and slip on something comfortable. In the fall I don’t throw on a sandal, I throw on my Uggs. Born to keep surfers warm on the beach, I tuck my tootsies in those things and it’s like I’m walking on clouds.

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