What's in My Pack?

Not at all art-related, but I’m an avid hiker and I love to explore the trails around where I live in the Salt Lake Valley and beyond. We just got home from spending a weekend at the Devil’s Garden Campground at Arches National Park with eleven other families and we had a blast exploring trails, arches, climbing boulders, and eating really well. A few weeks before that trip, I got to spend five days in the Zion area of southern Utah with a group of amazing women where we hiked and explored a bunch of really fantastic trails.

Image by Arika Bauer - Zion Adventure Photog

Image by Arika Bauer - Zion Adventure Photog

Spending time with other hikers ALWAYS results in us “shopping” through each other’s clothing and gear. We are always on the lookout for items that make the experience easier or more comfortable for us. This is even more helpful when we’re hiking with our kids. Sometimes there are little items that you don’t even realize could be useful to you until you see another hiker rocking them.

This post has LOTS of affiliate links. You are under no obligation to shop through these links, but they do help keep my business going and it’s very much appreciated.

In My Pack

  • Deuter Speed Lite 22 Backpack (it’s probably bigger than I really need for most of my hikes, but it’s comfy and it’s sometimes nice to be able to throw in something extra).

  • Peak Design CapturePRO Camera Clip (attached to the shoulder strap, gives me the security and confidence to bring my DSLR on trail, this clip also fits on baby carrier straps or a standard belt)

  • Canon 50mm f1.4 lens, Canon 18-135mm f3.5 lens, Canon 70D DSLR, and a zipper pouch with spare batteries (obviously the camera and bigger lens were used to take this photo. This camera has been so good to me in the years I’ve had it. Eventually I would love a 24-70mm lens… someday)

  • Matador Mini Pocket Blanket or Wenzel Mini Blanket (downright handy to have, the Wenzel blanket is waterproof too)

  • Adventure Medical First Aid Kit (FYI, these have the BEST tweezers for removing tiny splinters)

  • Black Diamond Carbon Z Trekking Poles (they fold down nice and small, small enough to fit in the water bottle pocket of my backpack. When opened, they are too tall for my kids to use, I did that on purpose! For poles my kids can use, I have Cascade Mountain Tech poles from Costco)

  • Deuter Zip Pack Lite 2 - My Period Go-Bag (contains a few pads, tampons, wet wipes, and a pair of Thinx undies, useful for when I hike with any women)

  • LifeStraw (I’ve never had to use it, but I still bring it, just in case)

  • Fifty/Fifty or Hydroflask Water Bottle (size varies on the length of the hike, for long hikes, I’ll use a 2L or 3L Camelbak Water Bladder)

  • Travel bottle of sunscreen (current fav for my face/body is Super Goop and Alba Botanica for my kids)

  • Deuter Dirt Bag (In cahoots with the Leave No Trace initiative, Deuter made these waterproof, reusable bags designed to hold trash you find on trail. Donate to LNT and you get one of these bags for free.)

  • Lots of hair rubber bands

  • Bottle of useful medicines, usually Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Excedrin Migraine, and Zyrtec.

  • Nite-Ize Flashlight Keychain (damned handy, I keep one on my keys too)

  • Bag of random snacks, varies on the day, but usually contains fruit snacks, fruit leather, random trail bars, string cheese, and sometimes candy… because I’m all for bribery. I also like bringing cheese, salami and nuts for myself)

  • My own business cards and Hike it Baby stickers

  • Random carabiners, the non-climbing variety (handy for clipping random stuff to my pack, like a child’s backpack when said child can no longer carry their own)

  • Glow sticks or bracelets (usually purchased from the dollar section at Target, they’ve saved me from many-a-meltdown)


I hiked the summer of 2016 in running shoes and after rolling my ankle on trail twice, I reached out to my brother (a shoe buyer for a big retail company) and asked for suggestions on hiking boots and trail running shoes. I hated the way hi-top hiking boots rubbed my ankles when I was a teen, but my brother convinced me to give them a try again. Merrell and Ahnu are really the brands that seem to fit my slightly-wide feet and pronating ankles, AND come in sizes larger than a woman’s 10. Ahnu was bought by Teva a while back, so the models I have may be found under Teva now.

When one mom finds a great pair of shoes, others follow suit!

When one mom finds a great pair of shoes, others follow suit!

I rarely wear leggings on trail anymore, favoring breathable pants that have real pockets instead. The biggest selling points for me are great pockets, lots of stretch, and LONG enough. I’d also like them to be available in my size, which isn’t a single digit number. I have a hard time supporting companies that stop at a size 12 or 14, when I personally know PLENTY of amazing women who are bigger than a 14 who love to hike. I don’t think I’m asking too much.

When it comes to tops, I buy whatever I can find that fits. I’m not loyal to any one brand. Sometimes I find athletic or running shirts from Target, Costco, Sierra Trading Post, or our local outlet stores. Some of my favorite shirts, tanks, and pullovers are from Champion/Target, Columbia, and Under Armour. These are my favorite bits of clothing for hiking that are worth singling out:

  • 5.11 Women’s Mesa Pants (I love these pants SO much, they come in Long, have lots of stretch, a real waistband that can handle a belt if needed, and wonderful, deep pockets. They have pockets on the hips that can hold my phone and allow me to sit comfortably. I wear them all the time, even not hiking.)

  • Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Stretch Pants (very comfortable with lots of stretch, my only complaint is they aren’t easy to find in the Long length and Regular is about 2-3 inches too short on me, so I wear them as capris until I can find the long ones at my local store)

  • Merrell AlphaTherm Mid-Layer Fleece (lightweight, warmer than it lets on by feel)

  • Lolë Packable Down Jacket (not as pricey a other brands, it packs down small, includes a cinch bag)

Other Accessories, Sometimes Weather-Specific - Random other stuff that I only sometimes carry that also isn’t apparel or shoes, this stuff is sometimes seasonal.

  • RoShamBo Baby Sunglasses (designed for kids but also made in adult sizes, so they’re kinda indestructible, which means I can cram them into a pants pocket or my backpack without worrying that they’ll get damaged, and they’re only $35 with polarized lenses)

  • AlaskiWear Hooded Scarf (warm and snuggly without giving me hat hair, I love them so much, I have two)

  • Fingerless Gloves (handy for when it’s cold but I still need dexterity to take photos or tie kid shoelaces, these are handmade by my aunt, but you can find plenty online)

  • Kahtoola MICROSpikes (handy for hiking in the snow or on ice. I also own YakTrax that work well and are WAY less expensive than Kahtoola, but they sometimes slide off my boots. If you opt for YakTrax, spend the couple extra bucks to get the YakTrax Pro with a strap that goes over the boots)

  • Sunday Afternoons or whatever trucker hat is actually in my car and my oldest hasn’t stolen (I’m on the lookout for a proper wide-brim actually looks decent on me)

  • Art Toolkit (this thing is freaking awesome for the rare times I can sit in one spot and paint, everything you’d need has been well thought-out)

  • Way 2 Cool Mesh Cooling Towels (handy in the summer, especially on hikes with no shade, just get it a little wet and it stays cool on your skin)

  • Líllébaby CarryOn Toddler Carrier (if I have room in my pack, I may bring it if I think my son will need a ride, we’re almost to the point where I won’t be carrying him anymore… almost)

  • Onya Baby Pure Baby Carrier (always in my car in case another parent needs it or if I am volunteering to wear someone’s baby. I actually prefer the fit of the Onya Baby Outback carrier, plus it has a big pocket and a hood, but the Pure is what I currently have)


That’s all I can think of for now. I’m sure as I do more hiking and camping this spring and summer, I may add more.

Are you a hiker, what items are essential for when you go hiking?