• Hannah Smentkowski

6 Weird Hiking Gear Purchases That Will Change Your Hiking Game

Updated: Dec 17, 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!)


Table Of Contents:

  1. Packable Rain Jacket

  2. Trail Runners

  3. Trekking Poles

  4. Cooling Towel

  5. Bladder Hose Magent

  6. Pee Rag


1. Packable Rain Jacket

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!



2. Trail Runners

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.



3. Trekking Poles

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.



4. Cooling towel

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