It is so important to invest in the right kind of hiking footwear as it can make OR break your hiking experience! There is a massive array of choices available - trail runners, hiking shoes, and hiking boots. After hiking through some of the toughest terrains, we think that a pair of HIKING BOOTS protects you the most. Apart from being sturdier and more versatile, boots protect you from ankle twists and injuries by locking them in place, and give you that extra support and traction on uneven ground.
We both wear Columbia's Peakfreak™ X2 Mid OutDry™ boots (links below). Columbia's OutDry™ is basically a waterproof, breathable technology. Many shoes claim that they are waterproof, but it is important to ensure that they are breathable as well, because the waterproof construction can be heavy, and your feet need circulation for the moisture and sweat to evaporate. Columbia's Outdry™ shoes are super easy to break into, and did not give Senora a single shoe bite (which is amazing, considering she always manages to get them in almost any new footwear she wears!).
NOTE: We crossed rivers, and even walked in mild snow about 3 inches thick, in these boots combined with something called 'gaiters' (scroll below) and they're still in perfect condition! But if you're going to hike in heavy snow, then you would have to look for winter hiking boots which are specially insulated and come with non-slip soles for walking on ice.
Another amazing feature of this shoe, is that it has NO LEATHER (not even in the soles), which makes it an animal-friendly choice! :)
PRO TIP: It is recommended to purchase a hiking boot of a size bigger than your actual feet size. This is to give room to the thick hiking socks. And do note that on hikes, your feet often tend to swell, so you definitely want to make some room for that. :)
Oh, how we underestimated the importance of these! These socks have been a saviour, especially on downhill journeys when your feet chafe against the front of your shoes (and that can be quite painful!) A good pair of hiking socks provides a cushion/padding at the pressure points of your feet. They might seem a little pricey initially, but it's the best thing you can do for your feet. We wear the Quechua ones (link below), which are double-layered socks but are super breathable and soft!
These are also made of spandex, and NOT merino wool unlike most other hiking socks, so this makes it a very animal-friendly choice! :)
Gaiters are simply a protective covering of a waterproof cloth for the lower leg and ankle, to prevent any rain or snow from getting into your boots. And no matter how waterproof your shoe is, there is always a possibility of water entering from the hole where you insert your leg into the shoe, and gaiters are A MUST to fully cover this opening!
We absolutely love Columbia's Heavyweight Stretch Thermals range (links below). The thermal reflective lining helps retain body heat and is a great base for layering in the cold winters.
There is a HUGE variety of jacket technologies available in the market which can be quite overwhelming. Our priority was warmth, and that it should be easily foldable, lightweight, and occupy the least space in our backpacks. We also wanted to avoid the 'Down' jackets which use duck feathers. The Powder Lite Insulated jackets by Columbia perfectly fit all our needs, along with being animal-friendly since it uses a synthetic insulation. Synthetic insulations are not only less expensive than down, but they are water-resistant and continue to insulate even when wet!