Hiking gear recommendation

as a new SOTA activator, I’m quickly discovering the need for proper hiking gear. Today as I climbed W6/SS-388 I realized that the running shoes I had on were not ideal.

What hiking gear is your favorite? What always comes along with you?


I shall state the obvious - footwear. Tennis shoes or trail running type shoes are okay for flatland but ankle-height are my preferred if dealing with steeper inclines and/or rocks. Waterproof also and removable insoles for my orthotics - or to just upgrade to a better insole. Oh, another one based on past experience…THE POWER CORD, yes I once made that mistake…once only though.

It was good to work you today on your activation! The list of what always comes along with me is fairly long, the standard essentials for hiking safely that you can find online and others can summarize better. I’ll just throw out a couple of personal preferences - I almost always wear hiking boots, though my ankles are sound enough, I like the support and protection that boots provide. Trekking poles are great for maintaining balance on steep descents and whenever footing is iffy. I like gaiters for when you’re dealing with snow in weather that isn’t bitterly cold and windy - if it is nasty, I’ll wear snow pants instead (these are both seasonal gear.) I carry but don’t always use leather gloves to protect from scrapes. Most months of the year, a baseball cap and sunscreen. It’s almost always windier and colder on the summit than I expect, so an extra layer that insulates even if wet.

Peter KD0YOB

Being safe and prepared for something untoward is a goal that guides me, so check out this REI list.


And one item I really appreciate when in the Sierras or any remote area is my DeLorme InReach.


  1. Hiking boots - for the last 20+ years I’ve brought a pair of British army winter hiking boots every 5ish years. I get them resoled once in this period and by the time I’ve worn out the second soles the boots have had their day and it’s onto a new pair.
    They’re quite cheap, an absolute cow to put on, but they nice once they’re on and good for anything (they also double as my motorbike boots.)
    1a) “Toe-socks” your toes will thank you for it at the end of a long day in the mountains, but they do take getting used to, and they’re worth paying ridiculous prices for. Look out for Merino wool and get them.
  2. Garmin GPS - the Etrex range (currently on the 30) together with a decent high resolution map. The concept of knowing where you are relative to your destination takes much of the worry away.
  3. my favorite treat - when it’s tough and your morale is down, it’s nice to take a break and spoil yourself with something special (it’s worth the extra weight)
  4. Coleman dual fuel stove I’ve the 422 it’s awesome and take it for anything longer than 2 days hiking. Yes it’s relatively heavy and despite what they say the variability of the heat source doesn’t really work (it’s either nuclear or off)
  5. water bladders - I drink less but more often since switching to a bladder system and it maintains a better hydration balance. I’ve got 2&3l but find that the 3l doesn’t really fit in most backpack bladder sections so that I only fill it to 2l anyway.
  6. I prefer the layers approach to technical one jacket does all approach. My heavy wool submariners jersey is about twice the weight of fleeces but really is so much better especially if it gets wet.
  7. Jungle oats “oat-so-easy” porridge sachets. Just add hot water - really keeps the weight down and adds a big punch of the right kind of nutrition. Unfortunately difficult to find outside South Africa - (look in the South African stores)
  8. Decent 4 or 5 season sleeping bag. Even in Africa open it up and use it as a duvet because a good nights sleep is a powerful thing.
    8a) combine the sleeping bag with a gortex bivi bag and no amount of condensation will ruin your nights sleep - in a closed tent in winter I’ve collected over 5l of water from condensation just me in the tent.- open the vents!
  9. poncho - a decent nylon rip stop one makes a portable shelter from sun or rain. Also a good ground sheet
  10. a hat. Peaks are perfect for when it’s raining to help keep the water from running into your face when wearing a hood
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I disagree on high shoe height. I started hiking exclusively in mid-high boots that covered my ankles but have switched over to low hiking shoes. All my fears on exposed ankles and twisted ankles were wrong. And I often hike in rocky terrain. And I ALWAYS hike with trekking poles - very important!

Barry N1EU

  • KE6MAK Thank you for your response. Proper footwear is high on my must get list. After my wet and sliippery hike I want to find a boot that has good tread and also is waterproof. I did have some trekking poles with me which really helped a lot!

Peter (KD0YOB) Thank you for the contact. I only made 4 contacts so your call was necessary for me to officially activate the summit - Thank you!

W6PNG - Thanks for the link to the REI “ten essentials”. I have to admit that I did not have all ten with me on this recent summit hike. Looks like a visit to the local REI is in order to make sure I have the essentials covered for the next outing. Also, I have been thinking about a device such as the DeLorme InReach just as a backup for safety… my wife really likes this idea as well :slight_smile:

ZS1FSX - Thank you for your thoughtful response! I read your list just after waking up and your #7 suggestion of Jungle oats sure sounds goods! It was interesting to see how switching to a bladder system has worked for you. I have been grappling with the same issue of whether or not to continue carrying water in a bottle or switch to the bladder. There has been a few hikes where my water level gets dangerously low and I think I can carry more if I go with a bladder system so I am leaning in that direction right now. I also think I will tend to drink with greater frequency if I use the bladder system which is probably better.

NIEU - I see that there are a lot of low hiking shoes on the market. The one advantage to these is that they seem to be lighter. Many boots that cover the ankle tend to be heavier it seems to me… and I do prefer a lighter shoe…This last hike I used trekking poles (which I just purchased) and I honestly don’t think I would have made it to the summit without them!

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I really appreciate them! They have helped shape my thinking as I go out to look for better hiking equipment…

Start with a checklist; print out a fresh one for every activation. the list will evolve as you gain experience.
Hiking gear items, radio items, summit reference and posting alerts, etc. Has saved me forgetting things more times than I can count!
Main "on-hiker "items for me are footwear, poles, hat, sunscreen, first aid kit, pre-hike and hike electrolyte and more-than-adequate water supply.
Listening for you on the bands,

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Beware of the fallacy of having a single all-purpose list of gear. What you will need will vary with the terrain and the season, modulated by the weather forecast, whereas if you carry the lot every time you will grow tired of being a sherpa! Even if your “essentials” are stripped down, they will probably weigh a lot more than your station!


Ken K6HPX - Thanks for the tip. I need to create such a document… 30 minutes into the drive I realized I had left my mug for coffee at home. I remembered the jet boil to boil the water, and the coffee, but I forgot to bring something to drink the coffee out of! I had to make a quick pit stop at a sporting goods store to pick up an overpriced mug

Check out Leave No Trace as well. They have helpful ideas on gear and planning which will help.



You can also use the deLorme InReach to spot yourself to the SOTA WATCH site which if you are operating non CW can be a boone.

The near real-time tracking, which is available if you choose, via the web is also great for chasers to get a sense of how close you are to your peak/activation.

Remember, the true destination is not the peak but home!


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Thanks Paul,
In addition to the other advantages of the In-Reach, I would add: Peace-of-mind for the folks at home.
In-Reach is the basis for my YL, who does not backpack, agreeing to me wandering off in the wilderness alone for several days!

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The fact that you can use the Delorme InReach to spot yourself makes this very attractive… I have had difficulty with cell phone usage… I will need to explore this option…

Thanks Paul

If you do acquire the inReach, contact Andy MM0FMF to help get your inReach registered with the SMS gateway into SOTAWATCH.


You mentioned shoes. It’s a personal preference and somewhat based on the local terrain. Out here in Colorado, I prefer a good hiking boot. I have gravitated to the Scarpa brand because they come in 1/2 EU sizes, so you can get a very precise fit. I normally wear a 43 street shoe but wear a 43.5 hiking boot. I have a pair a Kalish for easy hikes and a pair of Zanskar for tougher terrain. I get a lot of visitors to my mountain QTH and have written up a list of suggestions Here’s the link. http://www.w0cp.com/2017/09/7-essentials-for-hiking-in-colorado.html

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Can’t dispute what you have found for you; but - for me the ankle-high boots made a real difference. My left foot/ankle were ‘rebuilt’ with less functionality - the extra support matters.


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Have been using Oboz backpacking boots for past 2 years. Regard Limmer and Sons customs from NH, as the gold standard for all aspects, but they break-in the old fashioned way; it’s them or you for the first 15 hours or so, plus they are 5.5 pounds for the pair. For tough bushwhacks only!


G’Day, Barry. Congrats for tramping through the snow to the summit of your choice. I’m another proponent of ankle support and have my old stand-bys, USCG issued BDU boots. Tried that once but found they were too heavy for a long slough although being able to blouse the trouser cuffs does keep the ticks out. Better footware answers, above. Second, I started out with a double spaced list crossing out the items I did not need and added items better brought along. The longer the hike / climb, the more weight becomes your enemy.

A set of quality trekking poles are worthy of consideration as they can stabilize your walk and also share about 25% of the weight you are carrying. Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork’s are worth a look.

Back to footware, you might also consider Trail Runners and this lady makes an excellent case for those:

Besides from the obvious: good hiking boots. Bring along an extra shirt to wich you can change in to when you arrive at the summit. If you stay in your sweaty (from the climb) shirt,you’ll get cold in no time wether it be winter or summer as it’s almost always windy and colder on summits.

This very good advice i got fro another sotaist.


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