Summer is getting underway and so is my hiking and running. Some of the pieces of gear I depend on to stay comfortable and have fun are a lightweight pack, a new pair of shoes and only the best socks.
Socks are some of the most underrated pieces of gear in the pantheon of outdoor equipment. Before Smartwool made merino wool socks commonplace, even less thought was given to the still underestimated piece of gear.
Most of my friends buy whatever they find on the sale rack at REI or are wearing the socks their grandmother gave them for Christmas while they were in college. I’ve been paying particular attention to socks lately, and have found some stand outs that not only perform well, but will make your adventures even more enjoyable.
For running, my new favorite socks are made by FITS. Their Ultra Light Runner is extremely thin, breathable and durable. It’s made from Merino and does a great job keeping my feet comfortable on my regular runs in the Santa Fe high desert. The uniquely snug, yet comfortable fit of these socks come from a deep heel pocket that I’ve become so accustomed to, it’s easy to notice when I’m not running in a FITS sock.
I have a few favorites when it comes to hiking socks, but the Darn Tough’s continue to rise to the top of my sock drawer. Darn Tough is a vermont based sock company that makes merino wool socks backed by an unconditional lifetime guarantee. Their Micro Crew Cushion socks are well coushined, breathable, and comfortable even in summer heat.
ECCO, a Danish shoe company celebrating its 50th year and best known in the US for their comfortable and styleish shoes found at stores such as Nordstroms or Dillards, has been venturing into the outdoor space for that past decade. I first encountered ECCO through their fantastic golf shoes, but was recently impressed by their cross-trainer – the Biom Ultra Quest. I used a pair for some mountain biking, and hiking on a press trip to the Abajo Mountains just outside Canyonlands National Park and found them to be versatile and very well ventilated. I’ll be putting them to use quite a bit this summer on day hikes, and a few overnight trips in the four corners area – and maybe some trail runs.
A pack that’s light and multitalented can come in handy no matter what you have in store for the day. The Casamir 27 from The North Face is a very light pack coming in just under 2 pounds. It’s capable of carrying a good amount of gear, food and water, but doesn’t get in the way or feel bulky at all even when it’s carrying a lot less. It features an internal steel frame and TNF’s OptiFit technology that makes it easy to customize through a velcro based adjustment system. I use it on anything from a few hours on the trail to a light-weight overnight trip to the mountains. It’s hydration bladder compatible and sports huge hip belt pockets which can accommodate even the largest modern cellphones, a handheld gps, a multi-tool and suscreen.