7 Essential Items For A Summer Of Happy Hikes

Photo: Sarah Fitzgerald

Getting outside to move is always a good idea — even more so in the summer when the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming. Several studies have linked major health benefits like decreased anxiety, lower blood pressure, and higher levels of happiness to outdoor exposure — so now summer is the ideal time to gear up. Whether you're brand new to hiking or already a veteran, the right goods can help you get the most out of your trek through nature.

Here are the 7 products that will make all your summer hikes top-notch.

1. A pair of hiking boots

KEEN Women's Terradora Hiking Boot, ($140)

Sure, you can hike in sneakers, but why not hike in a sneaker-boot hybrid to take you from the trails to everyday walking in no time. The KEEN Terradora Hiking Boot is perfect for travel, hiking, city, walking and everything in between. It was also created with a woman's specific fit in mind including a narrower las and a strategically positioned cushioned heel panel to take pressure off a woman’s Achilles, to name a few. The boot is super lightweight and designed to be versatile: It has a mesh lining that offers breathability, allowing you to wear the shoe all day long.

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2. Nut butter to-go packs

Justin's Classic Peanut Butter Packs, Pack of 10 for $5

You're not necessarily privy to scarfing down a full meal mid-hike, which is why snacks are your best friends. Regardless of your preference for nuts, Justin's varied selection of travel-sized nut butter packs offers something for everyone. With classic and new flavored options like cinnamon almond butter, maple cashew butter, and honey peanut butter, these snacks average around 7 grams of protein and include a healthy dose of fats to keep you fueled throughout your hike. Add an apple or two or some celery to the mix and you're good to go.

3. An insulated water bottle

Klean Kanteen Insulated Classic Water Bottle, 32oz, $36.95

Hydration during any physical activity is key, but especially when said activity takes place outside in the summertime. Keeping water and liquids cool during a hike can be difficult, and there's a good chance your standard water bottle won't cut it. Invest in an insulated water bottle like this one from Klean Kanteen that's sustainable and guaranteed to keep your water ice cold for up to 90 hours.

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4. A light rain jacket

REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket, $79

Sure, summer temperatures tend to be high, but when hiking, you should come prepared for a turn in the weather, including rain or heavy winds. This REI jacket is lightweight enough to keep stashed away in your daypack and also comes equipped with pit zips to provide extra ventilation and space to stow away the hood when not needed.

5. A daypack

Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack, $95

There's nothing worse than schlepping around with a large backpack in the summer heat — especially when you're hiking the trails. This Osprey daypack was designed to keep all your hiking essentials stacked and stored, without the bulkiness of your average backpack. Also, the mesh-covered back panel has slotted foam for ventilation and breathability.

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6. Sunscreen

Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, $12.99

Hiking during the summer most likely means extended sun exposure, even if not directly in the sun's rays. Opt for a clean beauty option that'll provide you with proper UVA/UVB protection without a load of chemicals. You can find this lightweight, non-whitening mineral sunscreen lotion at your local Target. It's free of phthalates, sulfates and parabens. Navigating the sun protection aisle can be tricky, but this guide lists the cheaper and safer brands to help lessen the stress. You can also try incorporating the foods into your hike for a boost in sun protection.

7. A sturdy pair of socks

KEEN Women's Bellingham Lite Crew Socks, $17

Hiking socks can add another level of comfort and ease for a hike. These KEEN crew socks have extra cushioning to support tired feet and are reinforced at the toe and heel for maximum durability. They also provide arch support and a seamless toe to avoid bunching of material.

Ready to go plastic-free? Start with our picks for reusable straw options.

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