Autumn often brings cooler weather—a treat for hikers after the heat and humidity of summer. However, the sun is still quite warm, and that, combined with the increased body heat during hiking, requires a bit of planning.
Fall Camping Tips
It would be easy to assume that you don't need to hydrate as much. Hydration is still critical during the fall—along with a handful of other autumn hiking essentials.
Multi-Day Camping Essentials
Before you step onto the trail, your first step is to invest in a quality tent and sleeping bag. The REI Co-op Trailmade Backpacking Bundle makes it easy to skip the usual hours of research when deciding on hiking gear. The set includes a 3-season tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad—all autumn-ready. The sleeping bag, for example, has a (tested) lower limit of 21°F.
Depending on the location and elevation, your autumn hike might include navigating snowy terrain. So it’s best to have backcountry poles. They’re great for stability as well as poking at the ground to get an idea of how firm, soft, or frozen the ground feels. It’s worth the additional money to buy high-quality poles that fold down with a quick-release mechanism. MSR offers a few, but these DynaLock™ Ascent Carbon Backcountry Poles are incredibly light since they’re carbon fiber.
Comfortable Ripstop Pants
Whether you're car camping, day-hiking, or through hiking, your pants choice is critical. Though the air temperature is cooler in most locations, hiking generates body heat, so breathable material is essential. It's also important to look for pants made with ripstop fabric, like Athleta's Trekkie North Jogger, made from reinforced fibers to stand up to the occasional rock scramble—or that rogue pricker bush that grabs your leg.
A Hip Pack and Plenty of Hydration
Whether you’re hiking all of the breathtaking fall hikes in Georgia or any other state, autumn hiking still requires having hydration on hand. Select a pack that has easy-to-reach water bottle compartments and is appropriate for the distance and technicality of the hike. A hip pack works well for shorter distances, and the Park Pack from Uncharted Supply Co. ships with two water bottles and is totally waterproof.
Be Prepared and Bear-Aware
Enjoying the great outdoors means sharing the land's beauty with critters, big and small. In some areas, that might mean being on the lookout for bears. Chat with other campers, a park ranger, or even folks at the nearest coffee shop; ask if bears are in the area. It's always a good idea to have bear spray with you, just in case. Created through a collaboration with the University of Montana, the Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray covers a distance of 32 feet and was honored with the IGBC Stewardship Award for Research and Development of Bear Pepper Spray.
Get The Right Size Backpack—for The Trail and Your Body
Hiking backpacks are not one size fits all, and an ill-fitting pack can cause discomfort. Gregory makes packs in an inclusive range of sizes, up to 6X, and the Citro 30 H2O Plus Size includes a hydration reservoir. Be sure to stock your pack with autumn hiking essentials such as a light, waterproof jacket and protein bars. Those tackling longer hikes can increase the capacity of their pack, but be sure to keep Gregory’s backpack size and fit advice.
Plan Amazing Camp Meals
Eating on the trail doesn’t have to be boring, and the folks at Good To-Go can help. These dehydrated trail meals set a new standard for hiking meals and backcountry gourmet. The Mushroom Risotto Camp Meal tastes like a restaurant dish, plus all the varieties are made with clean ingredients. Pair it with apples drizzled with honey and cinnamon to turn any ol’ regular hike into one of the best backpacking trips in the US.
A Wool Vest Is Great for Fall Hikes
The weather can be tricky when deciding what to wear for a fall hike. The constant movement of hiking creates a lot of body heat, so too heavy of a coat might cause you to overheat. A hearty vest, like The Ironwood Vest from Stormy Kromer, is a well-balanced option. The wool is a good insulator, but the sleeveless design helps release some body heat.
Recharge (And Warm-up) With Camp Coffee
The AeroPress Coffee Maker–Go is one trail accessory that deserves a few inches of space in your pack. Once you set up your camp stove and boil some water, this compact gadget becomes a trailside French press-style coffee maker. Plus, all the components nest inside, making it a cinch to pack and store away in your sack. Having a perfectly robust coffee on the trail? Priceless.
Invest in Waterproof Hiking Boots
Athletic sneakers work well for non-technical and short hikes with well-maintained trails. Longer treks or trails with rocks, roots, and muddy areas require hiking boots. Good hiking boots support your ankles, provide traction, and keep your feet dry. Hi-Tec’s Ravus Mid WP for men is under-$100, which is a great overall value. It’s a fully waterproof option that gets rave reviews from customers for its breathability.