Fall in the Midwest is upon us in all it’s colored glory. I’ve never truly embraced this season because I know what it signals: short days and long, cold nights to come. Still, the smell and crunch of leaves and dense forests lit up in reds and oranges and yellows are one of the main reasons I love this part of the country. Seasons. Fall colors. An excuse to wear plaid and drink apple cider and eat pumpkin everything. Now if only we could go straight from autumn to spring…
Hiking is one of fall’s best activities, but also one of summer’s, and maybe even winter’s too. Last January Nathan and I hiked in frigid northern Italy, and this summer we hiked around lots of Europe. My family has always done a lot of camping, and I’ve been lucky to take beautiful hikes in national parks across the country. The point? Get outside whenever you can, wherever you can!
Hiking in Montenegro
Freezing or sweaty, hiking is a great way to stay in shape while traveling and see a place in an intimate way, from new vantage points.
Hiking the volcano that’s used as ‘The Wall’ in Game of Thrones
Autumn might be the best time for a trek, as the weather is fairly temperate and Patagonia’s entire wardrobe (which I am obsessed with), is basically built for this season.
Patagonia pullovers are the best!
In addition to Better Sweaters in too many colors, here’s what else I always bring with me on a hike, no matter where I’m walking in the world:
Kind bars–Half the fun of hiking is stopping for snacks with a beautiful view, right? Kind bars are my snack bar of choice. Do you know how much sugar is in a lot of the other brands? Too much. Kind bars keep you satisfied mile after mile, hill after excruciating hill. They have these new Fruit Bites that I love too. The cherry/apple are addicting!
The mountains in Georgia are some of the most stunning I’ve seen anywhere
Patagonia everything–I am not sponsored by Patagonia, I promise. I just really love their hiking pants, and pullovers, and especially these hiking socks. They’re warm but don’t make your feet sweaty, they have cushioned arch support, and they dry quickly. You can even wear them in the sandy desert, as Nathan demonstrates below. (I actually wouldn’t recommend this. Our bags were sandy for days…)
Wadi Rum is a fantastic place to hike and camp!
Water bottle–In general, you should never be without a water bottle. One great thing about living in the Middle East, or any desert, was that I was constantly worried I would not be able to find drinkable water while out of the house. Nathan told me he was dehydrated at least once a day, which was probably not true, but it’s a mindset that really does get to you. Anyway, a water bottle (filled out of a giant jug of purified water we kept at home) became my most permanent accessory, and is especially useful on hiking trips.
Sunglasses–For protecting against hot summer sun or snow-induced glares, these are awesome.
Winter hikes require warm, waterproof boots
Hiking boots–I found these in Austria last year and they’re perfect for hiking in the snow. For most other hiking, I just wear my gym shoes. (I have also been known to hike in sandals, though I probably shouldn’t recommend that).
Sunscreen–How many packing lists do I put this on? All of them. In every season, in all types of weather, sunscreen is your friend.
Hiking in Canada
Chapstick–You can fit it in your pocket and it’s especially useful on windy, winter hikes. I always go original.
Taking a break from hiking in Iceland
This headband is great for colder hikes too.
Flashlight & first aid supplies–Mostly important for longer hikes.
The best backpack for short hikes or exploring cities
Where is your favorite place to hike? Some of my favorites include Jordan, Iceland, northern California, Georgia, and of course around the Midwest. Northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan all have great trails that are especially beautiful in the fall.
Comment with your favorite spots or let me know on Instagram! What hiking essentials do you always have in your carry on?
At the top of a breathtaking (literally) hike in Kazbegi, Georgia