This really is the best daypack for hiking

Now that its summer, I’m seeing a lot of reviews for the best daypack to buy and I feel like I have to give my Patagonia Nine Trails 14L a proper shout out. I tried on every pack they had at REI and ultimately decided to order this one online because of all its features. It’s smaller than most other packs (1lb), and includes a 2-liter HydraPak so I can hike and drink hands-free without having to stop and pull out a water bottle. Aside from the main compartment where my HydraPak lives, there’s two more large compartments (one zippered, one stretch pocket) where I keep an extra layer of clothing, snacks, trauma pak, pStyle, and more. The waist belt has zippered pockets where I keep my keys, pepper spray, chapstick and a small bottle of sunscreen, but the most essential features are the two quick-stash side pockets where I keep my phone and sunglasses since I’m always sliding those in and out. My friend has an older version of this same backpack without the quick-stash pockets and is really jealous of mine. — CD

OutdoorsClaudia Dawson
Sturdiest big umbrella

We’ve had one of the rainiest winters in memory. I normally carry a compact foldup umbrella in my bag, but when I head out from my house in the rain, I grab the Blunt near the door. This full-length umbrella is built like a tank. It is super sturdy, larger than a solo umbrella but not as big as a golf umbrella. There are no pointy corners (they are blunt, hey), and high winds won’t faze it a bit despite its large sized canopy. It would take an actual hurricane to invert it. You’ll lose it before it wears out. It’s expensive, but worth it. — KK

OutdoorsClaudia Dawson
Touring by bicycle

I’m a huge fan of bicycles as the ideal way to tour. You see more than in a car, but you cover more than walking. Inexpensive, too. The Adventure Cycling Association is dedicated to encouraging bike touring in the US and offers very detailed maps and guides for many routes, short and long – including those paths without cars. I used their fantastic maps to bicycle 2,000 miles from Vancouver to Mexico along the Pacific coast with minimal traffic, hills, and hurdles. Plus tons of other help for bike touring. — KK

OutdoorsClaudia Dawson
Car and bike safety

Anyone can accidentally kill a bicyclist if you open your car door at the wrong time. Learn the “dutch reach” method (Holland is a serious bike country) to open your door mindfully and save a life. — KK

OutdoorsClaudia Dawson
Create local walking routes

Footpath is ridiculously easy to use. I missed my weekly hike recently and wanted to find an alternative walking route nearby. I downloaded Footpath for free and traced a route with my finger from my location to the nearest park. The line you trace snaps to roads and trails, and you can choose between a loop or out and back route, and then it displays the distance and elevation if any. I figured out that I would have to walk around the park ten times if I wanted to get 5 miles in. – CD

OutdoorsClaudia Dawson
Four legs

Hiking poles give me two extra legs. They are most useful going downhill, over uneven or wet terrain. I bring them wherever I hike, especially when I travel, because I use a collapsible set from Black Diamond that folds up to less than 14 inches (36 cm). That not only fits in carry-on luggage, it will also hide away in a day pack, so I can take them out only when needed. The $75 Distance Z-Poles are lightweight aluminum, unfold in a second, and are very rigid. You can get featherweight carbon fiber if you want to pay more. — KK

OutdoorsClaudia Dawson
Favorite pool float

I spent almost four hours lounging in this Papasan float on the 4th of July and it’s now my favorite purchase of the year. Half my body stays in the water, so I’m able to stay cool while basking in the sun. The only drawback might be how easy it is to relax — time went by so fast, I got sunburned. — CD

OutdoorsClaudia Dawson
Create your own vision quest

Four years ago I went on a vision quest in the Inyo Mountains guided by Rites of Passage. It was transformative and one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. If you’ve ever considered going on one or want to learn more about it, I very much recommend the book I read to prepare called Quest: A Guide for Creating Your Own Vision Quest. I might not ever get the guts to go back out there again, but revisiting this book and going through it’s exercises is an enlightening journey inward. — CD

OutdoorsClaudia Dawson
Affordable inflatable kayak

This inflatable two-person kayak is perfect for beginner couples. It’s sturdy and easy for one person to steer, and it even survived when we took a scary turn toward some fast flowing water — although it’s better for floating down flat water. The best part is it’s really comfortable to sit in and it took less than 40 minutes to both set up and deflate. We bought this a month before summer for $80 and right now it’s $115, reviewers say the price fluctuates between seasons. — CD

OutdoorsClaudia Dawson
Find new hikes

I’ve had the AllTrails app for 4+ years now, but I’ve been using it more often since I moved from SF to San Jose. I needed to find local hiking routes and I love that I’m able to filter by elevation, distance, and route type (e.g., loop, out & back, point to point). Since it’s been around for a while now, there are a lot of reviews for each hike and that’s really helpful because I like to avoid any trails where I might run into a mountain cat. — CD

OutdoorsClaudia Dawson
Clear vision underwater

If your eyes aren’t perfect and you wear corrective lenses, you can purchase inexpensive swim goggles with corrective lenses built in. They make a huge difference underwater. I use TYR Corrective Goggles, about $20. Select your prescription strength, between -2 and -8. — KK

OutdoorsClaudia Dawson
Better road ID

My husband wears a Road ID bracelet on long bike rides, but prefers a necklace so I chose to get him a Crashtag because they have a lot more designs to choose from. It looks cool and the tag doubles as a bottle opener. I had it printed with our new address and my phone number, but there is enough space to include medical information or multiple lines of text. — CD

OutdoorsClaudia Dawson