Less is More: The Outdoor Gear You Can and Can’t Live Without

hiker with minimal outdoor gear

For adven­tur­ous folk, out­door gear is like skin­ny jeans to hip­sters; it’s essen­tial. In fact, you prob­a­bly have five brows­er tabs open to var­i­ous gear sites right now. How­ev­er, get­ting all the gear can get out of con­trol fast. So, below, we’ve list­ed the stuff you need and the crap you should skip, thus sav­ing your mon­ey for, well, more cool­er gear.

Take It With You

Hydra­tion Pack:
You need water. It’s super sweet to not have to car­ry it or attach it to var­i­ous parts of your body via cara­bin­er (I know you think this makes you look cool and rugged. It doesn’t. Stop it.)

Hik­ing Boots:
Whether you’re a hik­er, camper, climber, or canyoneer-er, the great out­doors demands a stur­dy, water­proof, high-top boot. Buy some. Now.

A blade can repair gear, help you build a fire, and make you look way cool­er and sex­i­er than you actu­al­ly are. A fixed blade is much sharp­er and stur­dier than your nails.

Gear that Keeps You Warm and Dry:
Even if it’s the most gor­geous, clear day you’ve ever seen in your life, it’s always a good idea to have this gear or, at least, keep it in your car.

  • Rain Shell
  • Gloves–waterproof, obvi­ous­ly
  • Wool Socks/Wool Hat–Smart Wool and Darn Tough are eff­ing awesome.
  • Syn­thet­ic Puffy Vest–more water­proof, and bound to keep you dry­er than down (think about the baby duckies…quack, quack)

Strike Any­where Matches:
As the name sug­gests, they work any­where. Just keep ‘em dry.

Duct Tape/Athletic Tape:
Repair gear, use as a makeshift ban­dage to stop bleed­ing (Seri­ous­ly, the ladies will eat that up when you cut your arm on a super sweet move while climb­ing some­thing epic and then cov­er it with duct tape).

It’s a lamp, but it goes on your head, so you can use your hands.


Of all the gear you’ll come across, there’s bound to be a few things that are just down-right exces­sive. Ultra­light pack­ers would refer to these items as “overkill.”

Leave It Home

Any type of Hik­ing San­dal / Road Run­ning Shoe:
Yeah, so your feet are gonna get hot in your hik­ing boots. Cry me a riv­er. Pic­ture this: you slip on a rock, you start to slide. Next thing you know, you’re in Yosemite Med­ical Clin­ic with a shat­tered ankle that broke your fall–you’re effed, and not in a good way.

Per­son­al sto­ry? Maybe. Do I make a point? Absolute­ly. Cov­er­ing and pro­tect­ing your feet whilst out and about in nature is one of the most impor­tant things you can do. Do it.

GPS Devices/Cellphones:
In some sit­u­a­tions, these elec­tron­ics can be help­ful but, by and large, they can’t be relied upon. Learn to read maps, leave a note detail­ing your where­abouts, and if you’re tex­ting on the moun­tain then you’re prob­a­bly doing it wrong. All of it.

Ear Muffs:
You lose a ton of heat through the ball of your head. You might as well light your ear­muffs on fire. They’re just that use­less. Invest in a wool hat that cov­ers your entire head, as well as your ears.

Bic Lighters:
Lighters run out of fuel, get wet, and mal­func­tion. Use strike any­where match­es or a firestarter.

Flash Light:
Head­lamps are way hot­ter and again, keep your hands free.

A Tent:
Yep, I said it. Tents are cool and can pro­vide you some shel­ter from the ele­ments but they aren’t 100% nec­es­sary. Instead, sleep in your sleep­ing bag, under the stars. Car camp if you’re at a site, or invest in a light­weight bivvy for emer­gency sit­u­a­tions. Many ultra­light pack­ers are also opt­ing for a light­weight tarp.