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Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.
Jonathan Stull | 09.03.2019

Can you feel it? The early morning’s cold-hearted treason belies the end of summer, signaling the oncoming fall. The days are shortening, and the leaves are beginning to turn. Fall is a special time for outdoor adventures, sometimes wetter, sometimes colder, a changing season that brings a need to change gear. Check out our picks below and bundle up!


Osprey Aphelia 26L

Designed for a woman’s body, the Aphelia is a versatile 26-liter day pack that can straddle the urban-wilderness divide. Its minimalist design, with compression straps that hide away and discreet water bottle mesh, allows it to fit in at the office without sacrificing functionality. It also offers a no-scratch pocket for delicate items (like sunglasses) and a laptop sleeve for urban excursions. The Aphelia is a great crossover pack for days on and off the trail. (Men, check out the Apogee.)

$100.00 • REI | Backcountry | Amazon


Hydro Flask Journey 10L

Designed to carry the essentials and 3 liters of water, the Journey is the perfect companion for fast and loose adventures. Its strap design maintains airflow between the pack and your body, limiting heat transfer, and the water reservoir has a dedicated, insulated sleeve to minimize temperature change. The result is one of the first hydration packs that promises to keep cold liquids cold for 4 hours.

$165.00 • REI | Backcountry | Amazon


Mountainsmith Dry Kick

For short hikes that require no more than a handful of essentials, a lumbar pack is a great option for its size and weight. Not only are they light, but packing them in with other items in bigger backpacks gives you added organization and versatility. Regardless of how you use it, the Dry Kick adds an extra element that we love: It’s also a waterproof, roll-top dry bag. Rain or snow, on its own or part of a packing system, you’ll have a compact option that keeps your essentials safe and dry.

$39.95 • Amazon | Moosejaw


Osprey Volt 60L

While we patiently wait for the Archeon to drop—spring 2020!—the Volt 60 is a fantastic substitute for fall adventures. At a capacity that will hold a few days on the trail, it's ideal for the shortened treks of the shoulder season. Included is the cadre of features you'd expect in a pack, but most notable here is the removable, integrated pack cover that you can easily deploy in wet fall weather, a price point more appealing than the Aether line (although the Volt is a less celebrated pack), and Osprey's reputation for quality and durability. (Women, check out the Vive 65.)

$200.00 • Backcountry | Amazon | Moosejaw


Leki Micro Vario Carbon Black

New for 2019, the Black series is the latest in trekking pole tech. Ultra light, but still fully featured, the Black series combines folding sections with a telescoping element for a customizable height in an overall package that is surprisingly compact and lightweight. Perhaps best suited for backpackers counting ounces, its toughness and intuitive design makes it great for everyday users as well.

$249.95 • Amazon


Kleen Kanteen TKWide

Seventeen hours hot, 58 hours iced. Those are the thermal specs for the TKWide 20-ounce bottle, and they’re hard to beat. Package that in a bottle that fits most cup holders and still features a wide mouth for easy drinking, and you have a great all-around bottle for fall adventures. The TKWide comes in several sizes and 9 colors, including the original brushed stainless, emerald bay, and kalamata.

$32.95 • REI | Amazon


Incredible Wild Edibles, Samuel Thayer

Samuel Thayer is one of the foremost authorities on forage, and Incredible Wild Edibles is his third guide. While his first two are more highly praised, they are best for foragers in the regional Northeast and Midwest. Incredible Wild Edibles, on the other hand, highlights 36 plants that can generally be found nationwide. Add to that Thayer’s general pointers on foraging in the wild, and you have a book that’s great for beginning foragers anywhere in the country.

$22.95 • Amazon


Atlas of a Lost World, Craig Childs

The inveterate writer of The Secret Knowledge of Water and Apocalyptic Planet brings an Ice-Age exploration of epic proportions. For example: During the last Ice Age, steppe-like grasslands spanned in one long tongue from Lisbon to New York City. When they came to the Americas, our ancestors found a continent with no hominid occupants, a wild and dangerous frontier with 6-foot beavers, enormous long-limbed bears, even a species of camel. Atlas of a Lost World takes us to there with prose backed by a sharp mind and sedulous research of archeology’s latest findings. Yet it retains a rare immediacy—of touch, sight, sound, smell, feeling—that belies a writer of Childs’ talent. It’s the perfect accompaniment for overnight trips when the temperatures drop; it will give you chills.

$17.00 • Amazon


Garmin fēnix 6

Alert: This is where we get to dream big. The watch category is plagued by poor battery performance when GPS is active, a problem that’s about as hard to solve as the renewable energy grid. (Ok, that might be hyperbole.) Is a solar glass face the answer? Garmin thinks so. One of the category’s newest watches, energy returns on the fēnix 6 are modest, as you might expect from the backpacking solar panel category in general: plus 3 days as a smartwatch, plus 6 hours running GPS. Still, it’s an impressive idea that stacks up quite nicely with the watch’s other features, especially the custom battery profiles, which allow you to mix and match the features you’ll use to maximize battery life.

Plus, Garmin knows not everyone wants a watch with such an enormous price tag. Solar is its highest-end product, but simpler smartwatch and GPS options start at $599.99.

$1,149.99 • Garmin


Smartwool + The Nature Conservancy socks

Socks! Smartwool socks are already renowned for Merino wool’s impressive warmth-to-weight ratio. This time, they’ve collaborated with The Nature Conservancy to release a sock emblazoned with a unique mountain scene. Proceeds from every purchase go to The Nature Conservancy to support its conservation efforts in projects like the Yampa River Fund.

$19.95 • Smartwool


Ruffwear Overcoat

Ruffwear’s classic winter coat for canines, the Overcoat is abrasion resistant and lined with fleece. While you’re out on the trail or cruising the sidewalks, the overcoat will keep your pup warm and dry. Easy to put on, the Overcoat also features a leash portal that makes it compatible with most harnesses.

$64.95 • Backcountry | Amazon | Moosejaw

Patagonia Cloud Ridge

A great option for rainy climes, the Cloud Ridge is an ideal outer layer for hikers looking to stack water resistance on top of mid- or base layers. Lightweight and compact, waterproof and breathable, the Cloud Ridge also features additional breathability at the sternum and waist, where packs cinch tightly and restrict airflow.

$249.00 • REI | Backcountry


Kathmandu Trailhead

Designed for men and women, the Trailhead is a lightweight pant cut to fit on top of your normal hiking gear. For quick transitions, it features a boot zip that allows you to put them on over your boots, and it packs down tightly into its own back pocket. During the shoulder season, when temperatures and precipitation are more unpredictable, it’s a nice option that you can deploy in a wide range of environments.

$199.99 • Kathmandu


Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX

A companion for the light and fast, the Breeze LT Low GTX performs best in rough conditions. While its weight, about 22 ounces, is double the standard for an ultra-lightweight hiker, its features justify the added weight. GORE-TEX makes the shoe resilient in wet conditions, while the Vibram outsole and its lugs ensure grip on unstable surfaces. Looking for more ankle support? The Breeze LT is a more supportive boot.

$149.99 • Backcountry | Amazon


Danner Trail 2650

Roomy in the toe box, snug in the heel with an 8-millimeter drop, and featuring a supportive EVA foam midsole, the women’s Trail 2650 is a Frankensteinian marriage of the best of traditionalist, minimalist, and maximalist shoe trends over the past decade. At a hair over a pound, it’s a versatile shoe designed to breathe, which makes it a great all-around, comfortable shoe in dry conditions.

$150.00 • REI | Backcountry | Amazon


MSR Hubba Hubba NX

One of the best three-season tents on the market, MSR made structural upgrades for its 2019 model of the Hubba Hubba two-person tent. Billed the most indestructible model yet, every model now features Xtreme Shield, essentially a waterproof coating that can endure dust, heat, and weather and prevents seam-tape failure. MSR also introduced the Easton Synclone Poles, which incorporate a proprietary blend of aerospace composites to improve tent pole durability. It's a match that promises to extend that price point over years and years.

$449.95 • REI | Backcountry | Amazon


Nemo Kyan

When it’s a little too early to break out those zero-degree mummy bags, you want an option that will keep its heat in cool (but not cold) temperatures. The Kyan, with models rated at 20 degrees and 35 degrees, does just that. As an added bonus, it features gills top-side that release heat and moisture, an additional tool for comfort that will also help you stay dry.

$199.95 • REIAmazon


Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite

We’re still in three-season territory, and the NeoAir XLite is an award-winning camp mattress in the lightweight category. Best-in-class warmth-to-weight ratio and extreme packability, down to the size of a water bottle, make it an ideal option for nearly all summer and fall adventures.

$129.95 • REI | Backcountry | Amazon


Jetboil Flash

Its maker says it's the fastest Jetboil ever, with boil times as low as 100 seconds. Whether it’s your go-to option in the backcountry or not, that’s extremely fast, and it makes us think of cool autumn mornings that call for a hot cup of coffee. "That’s express-o," you might say, followed by endless and ruthless ridicule from anyone within earshot. Let the fools laugh. You'll be warming yourself while they're still shivering in their sleeping bags.

$99.95 • REI | Backcountry | Amazon


Katadyn Steripen Adventurer Opti

Among the many water purification systems out there, few can compete with the convenience of Katadyn’s Steripen. As long as you have access to clear enough water and a wide-mouth water bottle, Steripens are the quickest and easiest water purifiers around. The Adventurer Opti is ideal for lightweight, multi-day trips where you expect frequent use.

$99.95 • REI | Amazon | Moosejaw


Good To-Go Backpacker Meals

In the world of instant backpacker meals, salt is a key ingredient, and it adds up quickly. Good To-Go, under the guidance of classically trained chef Jennifer Scism, chooses to dehydrate its ingredients, a process that helps to minimize the salt content compared to freeze-dried methods. Good To-Go currently offers 11 entree options, including healthy options, that include minimally processed ingredients.

$12.95 • REI | Backcountry | Amazon


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