Hiking in Maine: Ten useful items for your next hiking adventure

Pictured are 10 of Carey Kish’s tried and tested new hiking gear. Photo by Carey Kish

Spring is gear time, that time of transition when countless hikers across Maine are sorting out their gear and clothing in preparation for the traditional hiking season ahead. Here’s a quick look at some of this hiker’s favorites for day hikes and backpacking trips, a mix of new toys and a few tried and true favorites you might want to consider for your own kit.

Anker PowerCore Power Bank: Today’s hikers carry a lot of electronic devices on the trail – phones, cameras, GPS, MP3 players and Kindles. If you’re away for a while, these devices will all need to be recharged. An Anker PowerCore power bank – I recommend the 10,000 mAh (milliampere hour) model – will easily meet your needs. 5 ounces, $30.

Ben’s InvisiNet Headnet: When the bugs are really bad and the repellent isn’t enough, a good head net is a must. Ben’s InvisiNet sheer fabric allows for excellent visibility, and its elasticated crown and roomy fit make it easy to slip on, even over a brimmed hat. The drop collar and drawstring provide complete protection, all for less than an ounce and $11.

Exped AirPillow UL: A good night’s sleep is essential on the trail, and the Exped AirPillow is super lightweight insurance (less than two ounces) towards that dreamy end. No more putting clothes in a stuff sack for a lumpy, uncomfortable pillow! The soft polyester fabric pillow easily inflates with just a few breaths and beautifully elevates and cradles your head. $39.

Garmin inReach Mini: I’ve been sold on compact satellite communicators since wearing the Garmin inReach Mini on my hike through Pacific Crest Trail. Now I almost never walk without the palm-sized unit, which pairs with the Earthmate companion phone app for easy use. At just 3.5 ounces, the Mini offers plenty of insurance in the event of a serious problem in the backcountry. $350.

Carey Kish trusted LOWA Renegade boots for 6,000 miles of long distance hiking Photo by Carey Kish

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boots: From day hikes to treks, the Lowa Renegades are up to the task. Lightweight and comfortable, these 2 1/2 pound boots are trail-ready right out of the box, with minimal break-in required. I’ve worn these boots for over 6,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail, Florida Trail, and PCT without a blister. Boots are as varied as hikers’ feet, but Lowa gets high marks for its true-to-size construction, snug heel, and roomy toe box. $245.

Nemo Switchback ultralight sleeping pad: Last summer, after reading great reviews of the Nemo Switchback, I tried the closed cell foam cushion and loved it almost as much as my air mattress. The space-saving design is thicker and more comfortable than similar pads, yet folds up just as compact, and it’s sure not to cause a leak. 15 ounces (regular size), $55.

The new Nathan Sports QuickStart race pack is ideal for ultra-light summer hikes Photo by Carey Kish

Nathan Sports Quick Start Race Pack: Designed for runners but equally functional for hikers, the minimalist QuickStart hydration pack (I have the 4L model) is a real winner for ultralight day hiking in hot weather. This stretch fabric bag features a hydration bladder and a surprising amount of room for snacks and diapers, while the strap pockets will hold a phone and other small items. $70.

Petzl Tikka headlamp: I’ve used Petzl headlamps since they hit the market in the 1980s, and the last three are all Tikka models that are lightweight (three ounces, including three AAA batteries), compact, and ultra-reliable. Three levels of white lighting and one red to preserve night vision help light the way in camp and on the trail. $30.

Sea to Summit X-Cup: Struggling to find a suitable place to store your coffee mug and don’t like it hanging outside your backpack? Then the Sea to Summit X-Mug is for you. Made of flexible, food-grade silicone, this collapsible cup holds 16 ounces and doubles as a measuring cup. The X-Mug weighs just two ounces and is available in eight colors. $14.

Swiftwick Flite XT Trail Socks: Grippy fibers in the heel and ball of this new, state-of-the-art sock prevent it from slipping in your shoe, strong elastic around the ankle adds extra support and the merino wool blend wicks moisture and is comfortable to wear. Used on several spring hikes, I’m quite impressed with the performance of these socks. $22.

Mount Desert Island’s Carey Kish is an avid hiker and freelance writer. His latest book, Beer Hiking New England, will be available later this year. Follow Carey’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram @careykish

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