Hiking Essentials: Everything you need for your next (or your first!) big climb

Don't let a rainy day or slippery shoes hold you back.
Why hike alone when you could be with your virtual friends? (Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of doing one of the most beautiful hikes in Canada, the Quarry Rock trail in Vancouver. Before this hike, if you asked me whether hiking was one of my favourite fitness related activities, I would have answered with slight indifference. But after my QR experience I can safely say my attitude has changed. Why? It's way harder than I expected it to be! Though it's known to be one of the easier trails among West coast hiking enthusiasts, that one and a half hour trek definitely got my heart pumping and my sweat dripping. Along the nearly four kilometer trail, I climbed over 100 meters, amassed 8,000 steps and burned almost 500 calories – a stat that rivals an average jog. For a novice hiker, the learning curve was almost as steep as the climb – among the lessons I learned: it's important to use the washroom before you begin, to watch where you step and to never skimp on waterproof gear. I put together a list of must-haves for your next big climb, here is everything you need for your next hike.

Long sleeved layer

This Day Break long-sleeved top from Saucony is as perfect for a hike as it is for bed. Seriously, it's maybe one of the softest shirts I've ever worn. But that's not the only thing that makes it great; it's also warm, breathable and slim fitting, making it a great layering option. I also love that it has thumbholes helping to keep the sleeves down and the hands warm.

Saucony Daybreak Long Sleeve, $64.99, saucony.com

Water-friendly pants

These might look like regular (though fashionable!) workout pants but they're anything but basic. These new designs from Lole, known as the Cayo Leggings, are so ideal for the water that you can literally swim in them. Actually. Designed with the same fabric as their swimwear, these pants are the perfect choice for sporting on your hike because they can handle whatever Mother Nature throws (or spits) at them.

Lole Cayo Leggings, $100, lolewomen.com

Protein-rich snack

When you're sitting on top of the world, there's not a lot in the way of food options. That's why on my hike, and basically everywhere else I go in the world, I pack a snack that I know will energize me and keep my digestion in check. These fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ bars from Genuine Health are great for taking along on workouts, not only because they're jammed full of protein (a whopping 15 grams) but also because they're known for being incredibly gentle on the digestive system – helping with gut bacteria and allowing us to absorb more nutrients. My favourite is the cinnamon pecan flavour.

Genuine Health fermented GREEK YOGURT proteins+ Bar, $41.99 for 12, well.ca

Comfortable Footwear

The night before the visited Quarry Rock, I actually lost sleep worrying about the fact that I was going to break in a new pair of shoes on the hike. At the time I had a slight foot injury and was worried I would be uncomfortable in new kicks. Also, there's the bister factor, which doesn't seem like a big deal but can be incredibly painful and distracting. To my delight and relief (mentally and physically) these Merrell Siren Sport Q2's might actually be the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. I felt stable on the uneven terrain, my feet felt like they had so much room, they didn't hurt at all and unlike most other heavy hiking boots, the shoe was quite light. Not surprisingly, the boot is specifically engineered for the way women move offering support, alignment, and gender-specific stability. Game. Changer.  

Merrell Siren Sport Q2, $159, sportcheck.ca

Waterproof Jacket

Hiking (anywhere and especially on the west coast) can get wet as hell. Obviously, there's the rain factor but there's also the sweat factor. This ROMA rain jacket from Parajumpers helps combat both elements. It's a bit of an investment and maybe something to commit to once you've committed to hiking, but it's worth it. It's totally waterproof which helps keep the water out and it's also got major breathability, with mesh paneling under the arms, which helps with the internal moisture factor. Also, it's adorable, so that helps too.

ROMA rain jacket, $635, parajumpers.it

Skin care

FYI, even when it's cloudy, the sun can still scorch your skin – no bueno for both our health and age-defying goals. But, most sunscreens cause me to break out – especially when I try to layer my foundation over top of it. Enter – Skinceuticals Physical Matte UV Defence – a tinted SPF 50 perfect for hiking (and any workout, really) because even in the sweatiest of conditions the mousse formula maintains a matte finish. Obsessed. Available at dermatologists offices and medi-spas nationally.

Skinceuticals Physical Matte UV Defence, $34, skinceuticals.ca