Hiking Gear & Gadgets


Hiking Equipment: Essentials.

  • Hiking Boots : What kind of hiking boots do you need for the different terrain you are hiking, you can get away with running shoes on a lot of the easy trails but the harder and longer the trail gets to more your going to need a good pair of hiking boots, for ankle support, grip, and comfort. A great pair of hiking boots is essential to enjoying the hiking experience.
  • Backpack or Hydration Pack:
  • Water – always bring a little extra water, its better to finish your hike and have a little extra then to run out before your finish your hike and be thirsty, and again you just never know when you may get stuck somewhere and some extra water is a necessity.
  • Proper Clothing & Extra Clothing- make sure you are properly dressed for the conditions, and it never hurts to throw a small jacket into your pack even if it is hot outside, you never know when you may need it.
  • First Aid Kit ( smaller kits for short easy and medium hikes, larger kits for longer and more severe hikes)
  • Food a small snack for easy to medium hikes, a meal and or energy bars for harder and longer hikes, if your hike is going to be longer then a few hours you need to plan it out. Its always good to have a little extra food just incase the worse happens and your stuck somewhere in need of nutrition.
  • Map & Compass – less important on well marked trails and smaller hikes, but extremely essential on long hikes the further away from civilization you get. If you can get a good cell signal you can use the maps app on your smart phone to make sure your one the right trail but you can’t always count on that.
  • Sunglasses and Sunscreen – The sunglasses will help your eyes from getting fatigued from the intense sun, around San Diego most hikes don’t have a lot of shade and a good pair of sunglasses is a necessity. If your fair skinned like me your going to want to make sure you get all exposed areas of skin before you go on a hike, its not fun dealing with sunburn after a great hike, even if your not fair skinned if you are on a long hike and or a hike in higher elevations where there is more direct radiation sunscreen is an important tool.
  • Knife – the longer the hike and the further away from civilization you are the more important this tool becomes. You never know when you may need a good knife, if you want to think of the extreme example look at the story of Aron Lee Ralston in his book “Between a rock and a hard place”,  and subsequent movie “127 hours” of course the real take away from that story should be always let someone know where you are going !
  • Flashlight or Headlamp – again not really important on smaller shorter hikes, but the further you go the longer its going to take to get back right! So it makes sense to have just incase your stuck in the dark on the way back down the trail. On longer more intense hikes this item is essential because you may need to start your hike before the sun comes up and or you may be on the trail when the sun goes down.
  • Emergency Blanket or Space Blanket– a good thing to have in your pack just in case you ever need it.
  • A fire starter, lighter , matches etc.,…I’m reluctant to put this item in here, I’ve never needed this but then again you never know when you might, just take a lot of caution when you are out in the middle of nowhere and you need to build a fire make sure you do it the right way, if it gets out of control not only can you cause a catastrophe but you can be screwed as well.

Hiking Equipment : Gadgets ( things that are cool to have but not essential)

  • Trekking Poles – I’ve started to see these on trails more often and never really thought I needed a pair, but as I get older I want to minimize the amount of stress on my knees and these can really help. When your one a really steep trail they can come in quite handy.
  • GPS Navigation – The more I get into hiking and getting this web site up and running the more I want to accurately record my hikes and know where I am ( specifically so I can make more accurate maps), and that’s where this can come in quite handy.
  • Solar recharger or Wood burning Power Charger– the more gadgets you have, the more essential one of these items can become in order to keep all your gear running.
  • Camera and or a Helmet Camera – there is nothing like capturing the perfect image during a hike and then sharing it with family and friends. I use both a small point and shot camera, the camera on my smartphone, and sometimes my helmet camera, it all depends on what I want to capture with them.

My Gear : The equipment that I count on as I hike my adventures.

  • My Back Pack: I use the Osprey Atmos 65. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DZs1lLNQHI I really use this pack by mistake, I had already bought a pack, but a buddy of mine at work had several packs and was looking to get ride of one, so I bought this one off of him for less then half of what it would cost new, no brainer right! only problem is I’m not sure if it really fits me perfectly. I like the fact that it has a web mesh that push’s the pack away from your back slightly for better ventilation, but ( and I think this only pertains to the older models like I have) I find that when I put my Hydration bladder in the sleeve for it, that it really push’s out into the packing compartment and makes it harder to pack. Here is another view point on this pack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUYtyyd6Tug. I am also not a small guy and the hip belt barley fits me, making the convenient looking side pockets on the hip belt impossible to use.
  • My Hydration Bladder: I use the Osprey 3 L Bladder. I like the built in handle for the bladder, it makes it easy to hold as you fill it up. I like the bite valve that turns 90 degrees to turn it on and then 180 degrees off to turn it off, I have gone one step further and added the CamelBak Filter Adapter  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZCdmzlNt-g to it as well so that I can easily back fill it from a water filter on the go without having to wrangle it out of my pack. It comes with a high strength magnetic disc on the back of the bite valve so that you can attach it to a sternum strap magnet attachment ( comes on osprey packs but you can buy it separately as well )http://www.rei.com/product/840703/osprey-sternum-strap-hydration-magnet-kit. The only thing that I don’t like is the built in plastic backing, because my pack already has a built in outward bowing curve to the back mesh, having the hard bowed plastic on this just exacerbates the matter when inserting it into the hydropack sleeve.
  • My Boots: I use the Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid Hiking Boots. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRXSkwNgthk I like these boots because they are very light and easy to clean. They are extremely breathable, the only downside to that being that your feet are extremely dirty after a hike because a lot of the finer dirt particles get right in. I also find that they wear out faster then other boots because of the light materals, I’ve already had to switch out the insoles and the laces, but they are extremely comfortable from the get go.
  • My Sunscreen : I use the Neutrogena Ultimate Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 100+ Spray on ( I am fair skinned and burn easily so this is an important item to me), and lets me honest, I use this because its the spray my wife got for me : ) http://www.amazon.com/Neutrogena-Ultimate-Sport-Sunblock-Spray/dp/B0037LOQ9U. I spray this onto my hands and rub it in everywhere that’s going to be exposed to the sun and it does a great job, it absorbs well and doesn’t smell awful.
  • My Camera and or Cameras: I started out with a little point and shoot Canon Powershot SD800 IS. When that camera finally bit the dust I moved up a bit to the Canon Powershot G15. The Canon Powershot G15 was small and lightweight. I could easily attach it in a small pouch to my shoulder straps on my backpack, this camera took photos in RAW which allowed me a lot more freedom as an artist to play around in photoshop or lightroom, it did the job but I started to feel like I was being held back from what I wanted to do with my photos. Someone must of heard my artists souls plea’s when a large check landed in my lap and I decided to take the plunge into the professional photography world. I bought a Sony A7 (2) and have been learning and refining my skills ever since. You can check out my photos at Http://www.spiessphoto.com Even though the Sony A7 (2) is a mirrorless camera and a little bit lighter in weight then its DSLR counterparts do not think its light weight by any means, especially if I’m using it with my Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens.  When I use my camera for Panoramic’s I take several photos with the camera turned vertical so that I have more coverage of the scene as I scan from one side to the other.  I used to use the automatic stich function in Photoshop to get really good Panoramic’s. It takes a little bit of practice, you need to slightly overlap your photos by about 30% , & if anyone is in the photo and moves while you are taking successive photos it can really throw the stitching process off, but it gives me a little more control over the photo then the automatic Panoramic function in my iPhone, but I have to say that the Automatic function in the iPhone has gotten better and better. I then started using the stich function in Lightroom. Lightroom has come leaps and bounds since I stated using it. Lightroom handles Panoramic photos really well, nothing is perfect but it does a damn good job, it also allows you to stich your photos in a RAW format and outputs the Panoramic Photo as RAW as well which gives you a lot more freedom with the photo. I obviously also use my iPhone camera as well, its easy to whip out, take photos, and share with friends, the camera is getting better and better with each generation but its never going to completely replace a good camera for large outdoor shots, although I have experimented with taking several panoramas with my phone and then stitching them together later in Photoshop and the result wasn’t bad. I use my GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition and GoPro Hero 4 Sliver for doing films for Vimeo or Youtube. While I really like the video quality better then most of the other helmet cameras out there I’ve always thought that the menu process and user interface can use some work, linking it into your iphone with the GoPro App makes it much easier to tweak on the fly, but I would suggest that you practice with it quite abit before you start using it for anything you want quality work from so that you can master the functions, all off which mean nothing without the right software in order to put it all together. I use Photoshop CC for my photos and I use Sony Vegas Pro 13 for my videos, although I’m starting to play around with the new GoPro Studio 2.0, its a free download and so far seems easy to use.
  • My Hiking Watch : I use the Suunto Core All Black. I bought this because I thought that the built in altimeter, barometer, compass would come in handy but I find them to not be accurate, and the watch battery already needs to be replaced before I’ve even worn it for 1 year. I think I might try a GPS enabled watch so that I can better record my hikes for map making, but I’m not sure if I’ll go with a Garmin or a Suunto yet.
  • My Hiking App: I use the Map My Hike app. I like using this app to record my hike in order to make more accurate maps. I like the voice feedback as I’m hiking so I know when I reach each mile and what my pace is. My only problem is that when I go online in order to see my maps enlarged in order to use them for this site I get 2 different readings, the reading from the app,  and the reading from the enlarged map ( which ends up being significantly lower then that of the app), I sent and email asking about this issue and this is the response I got.

Read the response from Map My Hike

Thanks for contacting us. The reason your workouts have differing distances is because of a GPS error and how our app handles these upon uploading. Once saved the workout is cross referenced with Google Maps for correct distances, and if there are any discrepancies one of the areas is replaced with Google Map data. You can check to see which is correct by identifying “spikes” in the route. If the route has many spikes then you can assume the route page is more correct for distance.

The steps below should resolve most problems with GPS tracking including incorrect tracking, errors with recorded distance, and it should also reset algorithms to improve statistics calculations. Be aware that GPS accuracy depends on a variety of factors including the device you are using, battery life, your cellular network, weather conditions, and whether you are in an open area (trees and buildings can obstruct GPS). Keep this in mind and please know that slight miscalculations are to be expected.

If you have any workouts that appear on the app but not the site navigate to the app settings and select the tab labeled “Unsynced Workouts” to sync the information to the site before deleting and reinstalling the app to your phone. Failure to do this could result in recorded workouts being lost.

The following are a set of instructions to make sure the app is able to successfully connect to a GPS signal. First, ensure that you have enabled GPS for the app. Instructions on how to do this are as follows:

iPhone (iOS) devices: System Settings > Privacy > Location Services and turn the switch on for MapMyRun Android: Settings > Personal > Location Services. From here enable Google location services and Standalone GPS Services Windows Phone: Settings > System. From here enable Location, Cellular, and Wi-Fi services to ensure the best recording experience.

If the GPS is enabled then try the following steps, they are known to resolve almost all issues.

  1. Delete the application from your phone entirely.
  2. Re-download the application from the app store and update to the latest version. You will not be charged again for the app you have downloaded previously (even though the prompt is to “buy” the app).
  3. Restart your phone.
  4. Turn off wifi before starting your workout. Wifi is known to decrease the accuracy of your GPS and also cause network data transfer conflicts.
  5. Navigate to your location settings and reset the location warnings option. This will ensure the prompt to allow MapMyFitness access to GPS appears upon the next open session.
  6. Navigate to your device’s System Settings and from the Date and Time settings enable automatic time zone. This will prevent GPS points from being reported at an incorrect time when connecting to a GPS signal.
  7. If you receive a prompt about GPS lock, please allow up to two minutes for a better GPS signal before recording your workout.
  8. When recording make sure your device has a clear line of site to the sky so it can accurately and reliably stay connected to the satellite for your timezone.
  9. You may need to turn auto pause off from the in-app settings. Auto pause goes into effect after 30 seconds of inactivity or when travelling less than 2.4 mph and can cause some problems with distance and time measurement.
  10. Specifically for calorie calculation errors related to GPS signal please ensure your profile height and weight are correct on the site.
  • My Hiking Appropriate Vehicle: 2005 Nissan Xterra. I love my car. It is a great rugged vehicle that can get anywhere. When I was in the Army and drove Humvee’s during the 1st Gulf War I was amazed at how that SUV could go anywhere and that I was passing by tanks stuck in the mud on our way out of Iraq, I thought I would get one of these beasts one day and this is the next best thing. That being said here are the things that I like about it and then things I dislike about it.
  • Lots of room for hiking buddies and their gear, also snowboarding buddies.
  • Lots of charging outlets for everybody’s electronic gear.
  • Large cup holders on the sides of the door and console that can easily fit large water bottles or my coffee cups.
  • the fact that the back seats fold completely flat and that the front passenger seat can fold relatively flat, this has come in handy helping friends move ( maybe not so handy : ) ) and any time I need to pick up large objects at home depot or other similar runs.
  • I bought the rubber floor mats from Nissan and really like how they look at work.
  • The large glove box’s and center console.
  • The Steering Wheel control buttons for the radio.
  • Slippery cheap plastic in the back cargo area that scratch’s easily.
  • Cheap Plastic on the dash that also scratch’s easily.
  • Crappy gas mileage ( but who doesn’t expect that when buying this type of vehicle)
  • several recalls including one that had my car stalling on the freeway as I was traveling over an overpass at 80mph, not good.
  • the fact that now need to replace my catalytic convertors at a cost of $2000, also not good.