The Next Generation of Hiking Gear Keeps You Safe, Comfortable And Oriented

Walk this way

Fully Loaded Hiking Gear

Brian Klutch

Breathable rain gear, carbon-fiber trekking poles, a $3 map app: Hiking technology comes in many forms. Here's what's arriving just in time for leaf-peeping season.

1. JACKET

The weather-resistant Kishtwar strikes a good balance—it withstands all but the worst rains yet doesn't trap sweat like fully waterproof shells do. Its fabric, Polartec Power Shield Pro, contains a polyurethane membrane woven into irregularly sized and stacked pores. This maze blocks moisture but lets in enough air to vaporize sweat and help it escape.
The North Face Kishtwar $280; thenorthface.com

2. BACKPACK

CamelBak packs, which build in water containers and straws, just got comfier. Revamped containers are flat and wide to spread water evenly, welded in the center to end side-to-side sloshing, and held by a strap so they don't slump.
CamelBak Highwire $115; camelbak.com

3. POLES

Trekking poles add stability in tricky spots. These 47-inch ones fold up small and light for packing and extend quickly when needed. Each 9.5-ounce stick is made of three 15.6-inch carbon-fiber tubes, linked by a Kevlar cord. Pull the handle to tighten the cord and draw the tubes together in a snap.
Black Diamond Ultra Distance $150; blackdiamondequipment.com

4. GPS

The best GPS unit for casual hikers is a phone. This popular app for the iPhone 3G or 4 saves open-source topographic maps and uses the GPS chip and motion sensors to track location, speed and altitude. An update shows places en route that have been geo-tagged on Wikipedia; tap to read articles.
Motion-X GPS $3; motionx.com

5. BOOTS

This boot reduces blisters with curves that match a foot's shape, like indentations for toes in its upper. TrekSta laser-mapped 100,000 feet to create its ultra-detailed shoemaker's mold. Bonus: Fiberglass in the sole grips wet rock.
TrekSta Evolution GTX $130; trekstausa.com