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6 Weird Hiking Gear Purchases That Will Change Your Hiking Game

Updated: Dec 16, 2021


Hannah Unbound hiking in the Colorado mountains with her dog

While a lot of hikes can be done with a good pair of shoes and a bottle full of water, for the more avid hiker you have to get a bit more serious about your hiking gear choices. These products are probably ones you've either never heard of or never really considered that important for your hiking lifestyle, but I'm guessing you'll want at least one or two of these items before you're done with this post.


I'll start with the less strange and simply practical and get progressively more niche as we go along the list.


 

(Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a small commission at zero extra cost to you. I link to these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission. Thank you!)

 

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Hannah Unbound crouched in a mountain meadow in Colorado to take a picture in her packable rain jacket


Just having a rain jacket is great, having a packable down coat is great, but are you going to bring either of those on every hiking trip you go on, no matter how short?


A packable rain jacket is small enough that I can always bring it with no thought to size or weight, and will cover you in any situation. Too chilly? It works as a windbreaker. Too sunny? A lightweight option to cover your arms from burning. Too rainy? Well, you get it.


orange Marmot Precip Eco packable rain jacket packed on the ground



I bought my jacket from Marmot, it's

the Precip Eco, and I love it, it's lightweight, keeps me dry, blocks the wind and it's eco-friendly recycled material!



 


 


Hannah Unbound wearing Saucony trail runners on a hike in Colorado

Now that I've bought trail runners I don't know how I ever hiked in big bulky boots. While I still use my ankle supporting boots for backpacking to keep some stability, for the everyday hikes I just love my trail running tennis shoes.


These hiking shoes are breathable, lightweight, offer more traction than my hiking boots, and despite the name require zero running. While mine are not waterproof like my hiking boots. if I know I'm going on a wet hike I just wear my boots out or go barefoot on river crossings.


If your feet get sweaty quickly, or boots are just too heavy for your regular hikes, then I highly suggest adding a pair of trail runners to your hiking gear.


Red and black Saucony Peregrine 10 trail runner hiking shoes

These are the ones I've been using from Saucony, I like that they look edgy and offer amazing comfort and traction.



 


 


Hannah Unbound hiking in Colorado using trekking poles

While not necessarily a strange piece of hiking gear, trekking poles have gotten a bad rep by most hikers. Normally they're seen as a beginner piece of hiking gear or some sort of sign that you're weak and need hiking assistance. Since I've been using them for the last 6 months, I have a totally new point of view.


I'm in my 20's and trekking poles have become mandatory for me while backpacking, taking off some of the weight of the backpack from my hips and shoulders. Also, helping me push up inclines and saving my knees on steep declines. You are not old or weak if you use hiking poles, they are a helpful hiking tool that will save your body from extra strain so you can keep hiking for longer.

Black Sierra Mountain Gear trekking poles used for hiking gear

While could talk about the benefits of trekking poles all day and probably will in a future post, all I can really say is they're not for everyone, or for every hike, but they may just be for you.


Plus, you can try them out fairly cheap if you go to the right shops. I got mine at Sierra for $20, they're a bit heavy and the straps aren't super comfy but they're very stable.



 


 



Hannah Unbound hiking in the Rocky Mountains with a cooling towel around her neck

Talk about a real lifesaver.


While I was hiking and camping in the Moab desert of Utah the midday temps reached into the 90's with the sun beating down harshly all day. Utah has a few small creeks to cool off in but nothing near the site I was camping at. Getting almost dizzy from being in the heat I found a spot of shade and dripped some water on my cooling towel to put on my face and neck with instant relief. Seriously, I was drinking tons of water but this was what made me feel the best.




A weird piece of hiking gear, the blue cooling towel

If you don't know what a cooling towel is, it is a microfiber towel that you get wet, ring out, and hold to your body to help cool you off. While I used a bandana for a long time for this purpose, getting a real cooling towel makes a world of difference. The towel actually feels cool to the tough when damp and holds that coolness longer. I really can't recommend one enough!



 


Hannah Unbound wearing her hiking gear including a bladder hose magnet

If you're unfamiliar, a hiking bladder, or reservoir, is a drinking device that allows you to forget your water bottle and enjoy hands-free and simple drinking experience while exercising. (This is the one I use, and it comes with the magnet)



This tiny magnet by Osprey goes on the hose portion of your bladder and connects to your chest strap on your hiking bag. This way your spout is 5 inches from your mouth and not swinging all over the place, which has saved me so much time fiddling with my bladder hose. It's such a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but when your spout is flopping all over the place while you're trying to hike and enjoy the scenery it can get very annoying. Like if the tag in the back of your shirt is itching your neck all day kind of annoying.


So if you use a drinking bladder while hiking and you're done dealing with the spout flop issue, I highly suggest grabbing yourself a bladder hose magnet.



 


 


A microfiber clothe used as a pee rag attached to a piece of hiking gear

This one is just for the ladies but is a very vital piece of equipment that can help save you and the environment. Normally women either use toilet paper or "drip dry" when they go pee in the woods, but toilet paper rarely gets buried and when it is it takes a long time to disintegrate making it an environmental hazard. And the "drip dry" method can lead to yeast infections that would be a difficult thing to take care of out in the woods.


To solve all of these issues, we have the pee rag or pee cloth. This rag can be an old shirt, bandana (or "peedana"), microfiber cloth, Shamwow, or a fancy designated pee rag like a Kula Cloth that has antimicrobial and leak-resistant fabric. You simply use these rags in place of toilet paper, and hang them on the back of your backpack to dry, then wash it at the end of each hike, easy.


two towels used as pee rags while hiking

Environmentally and women-friendly! Is it a little gross, sure, but you get over it really quick and it has saved me so much time and money, plus you'll never worry about having enough toilet paper again!

I personally use this microfiber towel which works great:



But here is the Kula Cloth pee rags if you're feeling fancy:




 

Hannah Unbound hiking in Colorado with all of her weird hiking gear

Those are my 6 weird hiking gear suggestions, packable rain jacket, trail runners, hiking poles, cooling towel, bladder hose magnet, and pee rags. I use all of these products personally when I hike and I love each and every one of them.


Am I a bit of a gear hoarder? Maybe, but I like to make things easy and as stress-free as possible when I'm in the backcountry. If you're looking for some essential camping gear to check out you can read this post here.


What are your weird hiking gear suggestions t hat you can't live without? And what do you already use from this list? Let me know in the comments or by contacting me directly through Instagram or E-mail!


Until Next Time,

Happy Travels




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Hey there! My name is Hannah Smentkowski, I'm the photographer, writer, hiker, camper, and craft beer drinker of this blog!

 

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