The Best Hiking Essentials To Help You Make The Most Of Unpredictable Fall Weather

By Erin Kelly

It's hard to top the summer season: there are pool parties, backyard barbecues, and impromptu beach weekends. But hot summer days don't hold a (pumpkin-spiced) candle to the crisp weather of fall. After months of relying on my AC unit, I’m so happy to be leaving the heat and humidity behind and basking in the gloriousness of cooler temperatures and colorful leaves.

One of the best ways to take advantage of the amazing foliage and crisp fall air is by embracing your outdoorsy side with a hike. Not only does spending time outdoors give you a fresh perspective and a chance to escape your constantly connected lifestyle, but walking in the woods is just plain good for you.

And as with every adventure, it pays to be prepared. Along with that refreshing breeze we love so much comes fast-dropping temperatures, quickly changing forecasts, and sometimes even a premature snow shower or two. To keep both rugged explorers and first-time hikers equal parts comfortable and stylish, Bustle partnered with Athleta to find the best hiking essentials that will help you make the most of unpredictable fall weather.

Here are the essentials that should be on your fall shopping list:

Here's the truth about hiking: prepare for nasty weather and you'll be granted sunshine and mild temps. Forget those waterproof socks and you're sure to be trudging through the mud on a rainy trail adventure.

So even if the forecast calls for clear skies, roll up a rain jacket and stash it in your day pack. And if you’re destined for higher elevation, make sure you’ve got an insulated outer layer with you in case of snowfall or quickly dropping temps. When it comes to your feet, always opt for waterproof socks — you never know what puddles might be lurking on the trail!

Deciding what to wear for a hike is basically the sport before the sport. You’re bound to experience a variety of temperatures, wind levels, and sun exposure between the trailhead and the peak, so the key to staying comfortable is to layer accordingly. Look for fabrics like nylon and keywords like "water-repellant," "quick-drying," and "sweat-wicking" on clothing labels to ensure the fabrics are lightweight and breathable, but still durable enough to withstand the elements (and, let's be honest, your own sweat).

At a minimum, aim for three layers up top, and two on your lower half. That way, you can peel off and add accordingly without worrying about turning around early.

No matter where you’re hiking, a few universal accessories will go a long way. Always, always, always wear a hat: When it’s hot, you’ll keep the sun off your face, and when it’s cold, you’ll have some additional (and very necessary) insulation. A hip pack is perfect for stashing accessories and snacks you don’t want to zip away into your backpack (think: sunscreen, keys, and trail mix). Finally, an insulated water bottle will keep your water cool on warm days, and your hot cocoa hot enough to warm you up mid-hike when it gets chillier.

This post is sponsored by Athleta.