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Hiking gear recommendation


trail Runners are great if not in the snow…
In the Spring/Winter time (and in the Sierra you are going to have snow for a few more weeks up high as I’m still dealing w/ snow above 7k here in Tahoe)…
I wear mountaineering boots if I know I need crampons/snowshoes, and knee high gaiters (double leather, not plastics). I prefer the sturdier shank IF I am going to be in snowshoes, especially if i need the risers. Low cut boots and even with tall gaitors you will still get snow inside yoru shoe, and well, that’s what your current situation is like. If I am doing a splitboard ascent, then snowboard boots… As far as good weather shoes, just wear what you think you will be comfortable in trail runners, low top hikers, mid top, whatever fits etc… In the summer I wear Merrell Moab Ventigators and wear low top gaiters (I hate getting stuff in my shoes)…

Someone already tossed the 10 essentials list, so no need to repeat that…
For emergency shelter though I would recommend a 2p Bothy bag…a little easier to work with then a bivy sack, and I know of a couple of Colorado activators who have activated form inside their bothy in bad conditions…https://www.terra-nova.co.uk/tarps-bivis-bothies/all-bothies-bothy-bags/bothy-2/

I took a Therma Rest Z-rest and cut it in half, one half for sitting, and one half for radio gear/what not… This is more important in the winter if sitting on snow, I made the mistake of forgetting my sit pad once, and ended up soaking thru one of my emergency shirts from my spare clothes bag; needless to say if I’d gotten into trouble later, that’s one layer I would’ve been without and might have needed. G8ADD has the best advice, the season will determine your list, especially if you are going to be activating in the Sierra. BTW…i’m up in Tahoe, feel free to drop me an email, or hit me on a local repeater if you ever get up this way…

Here is a write up I did on my winter list back in Dec of this winter b/c we were seeing a rise in the SAR callouts in the local area… http://n6jfd.meatball.net/?p=309

Good luck on your future activations, hope to S2S chase you at some point, and glad to see more and more W6 Activators getting on the mountain tops and the air…


I’ve had about 4 pairs of the Oboz. Like them alot!


I didn’t see mention of my next most important bit of gear after radio stuff: a jetboil and tea. I use an MSR like this https://www.msrgear.com/pocketrocket-2 along with a titanium boilpot. On winter hikes a cup or three of tea makes the sitting part vastly more comfortable. If it’s a long day, you can also carry less water by using the stove to melt some snow after you make tea. Good stuff.

Count me in the camp of trail running shoes over boots. I keep the boots around for heavy duty mud and snowshoeing, but trail shoes for everything else. I was a Montrail fan until they lost their way (i.e. got bought out) but really love Altra shoes these days.



I’ve gone from boots to shoes and now using super lightweight “alpine trainer” style of boots (Salomon X Ultra Mid 3). Just to get rid of small chunks of crap getting into the shoe. Winter time 3 season mountaineering boot just more warmth while still light weight. It really comes down to the terrain and what you are comfortable with.
Winter time, I carry a thermos with a sweet tea in it. If I know its going to be a long day or multiple activations with a stop by the truck, then I have my stove sitting ready to brew something there. On occasion I will have a esbit stove with me as well.


I was going to mention those. Inov-8 (hailing from the same country as SOTAs origin I believe) carry a version too, designed for fell running. I haven’t tried them yet, but may.

On a recent activation I was traveling downhill fairly quickly to clear the mountain before dark settled. The descent was rocky and loose. I managed somehow to step on the edge of a small flint boulder and it flipped over and landed on the top of my foot. It wasn’t heavy but a pointed bit really dug in and it was sore for a week. I remember clearly thinking at the time “this would not have hurt nearly as bad if you were wearing proper boots.” So, ymmv I suppose. I find the weight tradeoff general is worth it though.


I did an 8 mile out and back activation in which I wore trail runners. Everything was fine except for that scramble at the end. Boots would have been preferred.

Also, a good seat, whatever your preference is.


I’ve been running a cheap stove with attached piezo lighter https://amzn.to/2q2XtZ6 with a GSI Halulite minimalist cook kit. Very light https://amzn.to/2q2Sk3M


I have the same one and really like it. Despite reading reviews which warned me, I still managed to perform the bamboo-under-the-nail torture maneuver with the collapsible spoon several times. I finally threw it away. If you hold it in the most obvious way and try to collapse it, the sharp handle of the spoon launches directly at your perfectly positioned thumbnail.


I certainly began SOTA as a died in the wool adherent to low cut trail shoes, Salomon variety, about all I wore for hiking for 40 years. But SOTA in the Southwest becons to MANY totally untrailed peaks where edging your way up very steep loose stuff, climbing over deadfall, bulling through bushes, is pretty common. (until on the way down you discover there was really a trail all along !!) To me that requires more shoe than actual class 3 scrambling. And keeping the loose stuff out. Salomon has some very excellent high top trail boots that I use that fit that bill and would not be considered heavy hiking boots at all. As far as all the other stuff I am quite sure most would consider me foolishly ill equipped. If its less than two hours even the water bottle is left behind. And snacks are so good AFTER arriving back at the car. You likely will not starve to death on a few hour outing. I don’t ever have a GPS. You can SEE where you are. Not so in the heavily forested parts of the world. We are a bit spoiled with our climate and peaks here though. I understand fully there are more challenging spots on the planet for getting around.


I see the spoon in my minds eye and I totally see it doing that. With that said, its never happened to me. Maybe because I hold it between my two hands right that joint. So it never builds up any momentum.


There is some kind of carnal lizard brain part of me that recoils at not having most if not all the ten-essentials on me when out hiking. The rational human side of me thinks you’re probably right in most situations :smiley:


For me the biggest improvement to my outdoor gear was to eliminate cotton. It gets wet either from rain or sweat and doesn’t dry. So most of my gear is polyester although there are other materials that are suitable. So there’s no need to take a change of shirt to the summit.

Also take a map and compass (and make sure you know how to use it).


I have to agree there!


Yes, Cotton Kills…unless you live in the desert, then Cotton is good for keeping cool
Never wear Cotton in the winter time, or in cool wet-tish climates.


Lots of good discussion here. I think the best hiking shoes are the ones that you can wear without blistering up or losing toenails. I wear Vasque brand which uses Vibram rubber for the soles- a good rubber will make a huge difference on how well your boots grip on rock, which can be life-saving. I occasionally run trails and have specialized trail runners for that purpose, but when you are carrying a heavy pack full of radio gear and bushwhacking through steep terrain with dense rock and plants, you need something more rugged. So I’d suggest your shoe choice should depend on whether you plan to activate where there are well-maintained trails only, or if you want to go a little more remote.

I prefer ankle-high for the protection from scrapes and (hopefully) critter bites. Here in Arizona there is always a serious risk of rattlesnake or Gila monster bites so covering low to ground is important. In fact, whenever I am bushwhacking in the desert, I also wear “snake gaitors” to cover the entire lower leg for protection from thorns, sharp rocks, and venomous bites.

I’ve likely become too dependent on my Garmin GPS64, which has maps and makes it far easier to remain on course. Any GPS with good mapping can be extremely helpful but also be sure to carry a spare battery for it at all times.

One last suggestion, immediately after each hike, prepare all gear for the next one. Charge up batteries, replenish fluids, etc. I do this and keep my pack in a large plastic storage bin in my vehicle. You are far less likely to forget something important if you pack up before you even have a planned hike, and it makes impromptu activations much easier!

73 es GL de KR7RK


Speaking of GPS units: I finally replaced both my ancient Etrex and running watch with a Fenix 5x. It wasn’t cheap but it’s a fantastic piece of kit. It’s a full featured gps device (including topos) that you can store routes and waypoints (i.e. summit points and ascent routes) on via garmin’s basecamp software. I had my doubts about how useful the screen could be for wayfinding, but the quick panning/zooming tools make it work.



I bought one of those a week ago, figured out how to put CalTopo 24k maps on the watch (ie…free vs 99.00 for the Garmin regions). I used it to nav the other day, yes the screen is a touch small for NAV, but pretty impressive that I can replace three devices with that one watch :D…


Exactly. And it strikes a nice balance I’ve found. It’s small enough that you’re not tempted to stare at it like it was onbaoard nav. On the other hand, it’s plenty big enough that you can follow your own trail out or find a particular waypoint where you need to take a left etc. In a pinch you could use it to navigate overland for many hours on a decently charged battery. Meanwhile it will let you know that your summit took only 45k steps etc etc. Good stuff. :grinning:


I just looked this up and that fenix 5X watch is $650. Are you kidding me?


Hahaha, that’s cheap. The UK price is around $800 :cry:

It is seriously sexy technology though.