Adventure Time: 11 Must-Have Spring Hiking Gear Items

Spring can be a tricky time for hikers. The mornings and evenings are still quite chilly, while the middle of the day may be absolutely perfect. In other places, it’s a bit dreary and wet, and the trails themselves can be total rivers as gravity takes hold of snowmelt and shoots it down the mountainsides.

But no matter what weather conditions you’re in, you still want to get outside to enjoy our beautiful natural world. Keep reading my recommendations for spring hiking gear.

Spring Hiking Gear: What to Prioritize


As mentioned above, the weather can vary throughout the day during your spring hikes. Find gear that can work in multiple climates or will keep you warm in the cooler times but not overheat you in the afternoon. (Wool is a great asset for this.)

a hiker strolls through the hoh rainforest in olympic national park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Keep an Eye On the Weather

Thanks to warming temperatures, storms can appear in the afternoon, depending on your location. Keep an eye on the weather, and if you’re hiking in the mountains, aim to be off exposed areas by the afternoon if storm clouds are present.

Need New Car Camping Gear? Check out my 10 “Must-Have’

Drink Water

It ain’t winter anymore! In spring, some places like Arizona and the desert southwest are reaching the upper 90’s or even 100’s. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and bringing at least 2L of water on your hikes.

In this scenario, it’s far better to be over-prepared than under.

Essential Spring Hiking Gear

Rain Jacket

You probably don’t need the heavy outer shells you’d see in winter or heavy monsoon adventures for spring hiking gear. A lightweight but effective rain jacket is perfect if all your area gets is the spring sprinkle or drizzle.

Water Resistant Hiking Shoes

This is one of those middle-ground situations. Do you need a heavy leather, waterproof boot? Probably not unless you plan to cross major streams or hike in swampy locations. This still leaves you with a lot of options that will be perfect for spring hiking.

An easy way to do it is to look for GorTex (GTX) branding, and you’ll be all set!

Middle wallace falls with a big rainbow over the middle surrounded by trees.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Light Gloves

A classic set of runner gloves is just what the doctor ordered to keep your hands warm while hiking in the forest or on a moody day. Now, this only works if it is not dumping, as those will get soaked.

Fleece Pullover

If it’s not rain jacket weather, hiking in a fleece is perfection! Comfy, cozy, and versatile, fleeces are a must-have for all spring hikes. Sure, you might heat up in them after a while, but they’re an essential part of your layering process.

PS: I have one of the below and LOOOVE it.

Trail Runners

 a hiker steps over a log while hiking
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Is your climate dry? If so, trail runners are my go-to for hiking. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and offer lots of grip. I’ve been rocking the Altra Lone Peaks for years and keep coming back year after year.

Hiking Watch

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

I love my Garmin hiking watch, full stop. It’s great to know how many miles and elevation I’ve crushed and my elevation on the trails. It’s definitely not a cheap buy, but I’m going on year three of my watch, and it still lasts the full 11 days that it did when I bought it in 2021.

Day Pack or Running Vest

Nothing crazy is needed for your day packs. Get something comfy and can hold the extra layers, food, snacks, and water you need. This one is perfect for your spring hiking gear.

Hiking Pack

Lightweight Water Filter

If you’re doing a short hike, there’s no need to bring this. But if you’re going to push 8-15 miles in a day, it’s wise to bring a water filter for peace of mind.

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Hiking Poles

It is not a necessity for everyone, but some people swear by it. I’ll use it if I’m backpacking or if there’s a lot of elevation gain. But if not, I like to keep my hands free for photography.

Power Banks

Again, it’s not needed in all scenarios, but if your phone can’t hold a charge or you plan to track your hike the entire time, it’s better to be safe than sorry and have a fully charged phone in case you need it in an emergency.

As a side note, I’m pretty impressed with the Garmin inReach Mini 2 if you want a satellite phone.


Say goodbye to those 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. sunsets. Up in Seattle, we’re looking at sunsets around 8-8:30 p.m. during spring, and it’s amazing. This means you can tackle some post-work hikes, though you might need a headlamp to bring you back safely.

For those who don’t have one, this one’s perfect and won’t break the bank as you browse spring hiking gear.

Spring Hiking FAQ

What to wear while hiking in the spring?

As you tackle spring hikes, take into consideration the weather. For most people, a light jacket or fleece, hiking shoes, a hat, and leggings/pants should be enough. If it might rain, have a jacket there, but otherwise, spring hiking gear is pretty low-key and easy!

What not to wear when hiking?

I would stay away from hiking in constrictive clothes such as jeans that don’t allow you flexibility. Furthermore, steer clear of hiking in cotton shirts, as they do not wick away moisture nor cool you down like wool does. Lastly, if the hike is rocky or wet, leave the Vans and Converse at home and go with true hiking shoes.

Should I wear leggings or jeans to hike?

Definitely go with leggings. They’re more comfortable and will make the overall experience better. I never recommend anyone hike in jeans.

Is hiking in sneakers OK?

If you’re doing an easy trail that is flat or on pavement, sure. But if you’re going on a real trail, get hiking shoes or boots that will protect your feet, keep them dry, and keep you from rolling your ankle. There’s no reason to risk slipping or falling when hiking shoes are quite affordable.

Final Thoughts on Spring Hiking Gear

Spring hiking gear is essential for a safe and enjoyable outdoor adventure. From waterproof jackets to sturdy hiking boots, having the right equipment can make all the difference in your experience on the trails.

By investing in quality gear that is specifically designed for the changing conditions of spring, hikers can stay comfortable and prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws their way. So before you hit the trails this season, be sure to stock up on the necessary gear to ensure a successful and memorable hiking experience.

Until next time, adventurers, take care and be safe.

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Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside