A Complete Gear Guide for Your Fall Adventures


Fall colors in the mountains of Montana.

ONCE THE SEASON BEGINS TO CHANGE, YOU WILL WANT TO MAKE SURE YOUR GEAR HOLDS UP TO THE COLDER TEMPERATURES. BELOW IS OUR COMPREHENSIVE GEAR GUIDE TO ADVENTURING DURING THE FALL.

 



In our opinion, fall is one of the most magical times of the year. The changing of the season usually means chillier nights, crisp mornings, colorful foliage and lots of cozy clothing (and pumpkin pie). Plus, there is just something extraordinary about seeing a dense forest go from a deep shade of green to a blazing array of gold, red and orange.


Growing up in Colorado, fall also usually meant unpredictable weather that could quickly go from sunny days in the high 70°s to cloudy nights in the low 30°s. The swing in temperatures can be a bit jarring - especially if you aren't prepared. While we have spent many days outside adventuring in sub-par conditions (like trail running when it was so cold school got cancelled), thanks to our outdoor gear, we were usually able to keep exploring even when the weather took a turn for the worst.


Below are some of our recommended pieces of outdoor gear if you are also looking to explore and be outside during the fall. Keep this guide in mind the next time you are planning your own epic outdoor adventure.







Fall gear guide




FALL GEAR GUIDE | CAMPING AND MORE



4 SEASON TENT

While 4-season tents are known to be quite bulky - especially when compared to their 3-season counterparts, we believe the extra weight is worth it if it means you get a nice warm night's sleep. This tent by MSR is big enough for 2 people and is meant to be used for mountaineering (meaning it actually packs down quite tightly). | CHECK IT OUT




SLEEPING BAG

We believe this lightweight Mountain Hardware sleeping bag is the perfect option for your late season, fall adventures. The bag's compressible synthetic insulation helps trap all of your body heat, while the super comfortable mummy fit delivers both warmth and plenty of room to move around. | CHECK IT OUT




SLEEPING PAD

This ultralight insulated sleeping pad is great for those late season backpacking trips into the high mountains. The pad comes with a pump that makes it super easy to inflate, while the nylon construction is quite soft but also durable. | CHECK IT OUT




CAMPING PAD

While you will definitely want a super comfortable and warm sleeping pad for actual sleeping, you might also want to consider packing a lightweight pad for when you are cooking or just hanging out around the fire. This foldable pad by Exped is easy to pack and even easier to use. Plus, it will help keep your butt warm when making that morning cup of joe. Score. | CHECK IT OUT




HEADLAMP

Due to fall's extra amount of darkness - both in the morning and in the evening - you will want a strong headlamp that can guide your way along the trail or around camp. This Petzl Tactikka Core Pro headlamp can take either three AAA batteries or a rechargeable battery. Plus, its multiple-settings include a red light that is perfect for late evening adventures. | CHECK IT OUT


💬 INSIDER TIP: we also always try to pack at least one extra set of headlamp batteries with us, just in case the ones in the headlamp die.





Golden larches in the mountains of Montana.

CHECK IT OUT | REI'S GUIDE TO PACKING FOR YOUR FALL ADVENTURE






FOOD STUFF SACK

Another helpful item you will need with you when backpacking during the fall is a durable stuff sack that can easily hold all of your food and smelly stuff. The main point with this bag - this 15L one by Outdoor Research specifically - is to store everything that could attract a bear inside and then tie it up with rope (or paracord) and hang it from a designated bear hang, tree or bar. Because bears are still quite active in the fall, you will always want to stay bear-aware. | CHECK IT OUT




BACKPACK

What we love most about this Mountain Hardware 55 liter backpack is its focus on comfort. For example, the bag comes with dual-density foam on both hips and shoulders, a Dynamic Hoverbelt that can move with your body so it is more efficient to carry, and a comfortable back panel that is both supportive and breathable. Plus, its removable hydration sleeve can double as a daypack for those shorter trips. | CHECK IT OUT




JETBOIL

Nothing is more annoying when you are camping (especially when it is cold out) than having to wait forever for water to boil. Luckily, Jetboil stoves (like this one that can hold 2.5 cups of water) are super fast at boiling water - meaning you will be chowing down on that backpacking meal in no time. | CHECK IT OUT









COOKING POT

While we usually choose to use our Jetboil stove since it comes with a stove and pot, we understand that sometimes you still need an extra cooking pot when out adventuring. This one by GSI Outdoors is made of hard anodized aluminum that helps keep it super light and also really strong. This might just be the perfect pot for all types of outdoor adventurers - especially if you are heading out in the fall and need to boil water fast. | CHECK IT OUT




COOKING UTENSILS

While you can usually get away with just a simple bowl and spork (spoon and fork), if you are looking for a full backcountry camping utensil setup then consider investing in this set by Sea to Summit. It comes with a plate, bowl, a simple cup and all three major utensils. | CHECK IT OUT




THERMOS

Is there anything better than a hot cup of coffee on a cold morning in the backcountry? We don't think so. That is why we always try to pack at least one insulated thermos or tumbler - like this one by Camelbak - when we head out to camp during the fall. | CHECK IT OUT




WATER FILTER

We have become strong believers in just packing a water filter and a few water bottles when hiking and backpacking - at least when we know there is an ample amount of water available. We have been using this Katadyn water filter for years and are still loving it. | CHECK IT OUT




WATER BLADDER OR BOTTLE

We go back and forth on using a water bladder or not. During big days outside we like the efficiency of the bladder, but sometimes we also think a water bottle is handier since it is slightly easier to fill with our water filter. Plus, a hard-sided water bottle can also work well as a small sleeping bag heater when the temperature is really low (just fill the bottle with hot water and wait for your toes to warm up). | CHECK IT OUT




MEDICAL KIT

No fall adventure should occur without a handy medical kit. This ultralight and watertight one by Adventure Medical Kits comes with everything you could need in case something goes awry. | CHECK IT OUT




Some other nice to haves: depending on your location, you may also want to carry a can of bear spray. Likewise, you may also want a pair of trekking poles and some crampons (depending on if there is already snow or ice along your way).







Fall gear guide with outdoor clothing.




FALL GEAR GUIDE | CLOTHING




PUFFY JACKET

The down jacket by Cotapaxi is the perfect insulated jacket for all your fall adventures. Its ripstop fabric is hardy enough to handle all kinds of wear and tear - from on the trail to around town. Plus, even though it is very warm, due to its down insulation it is still lightweight enough to easily pack down into your bag when not needed. | CHECK IT OUT




WINDBREAKER OR RAIN JACKET

While a warm puffy jacket is a must during the fall, we also recommend packing a windbreaker or rain jacket as well. This light outer shell by The North Face has underarm vents that provide easy ventilation when on the go, while its self stowing zippered pocket makes it super easy to store away when you don't need it. | CHECK IT OUT




THERMAL SHIRT

Another top you will want to have with you once the season begins to change is this ultra-cozy thermal shirt from Simms. Its soft fleece interior lining provides that much needed warmth on colder mornings, while its higher collar and thumbholes help keep all of your body heat in when on the go. | CHECK IT OUT




LIGHT T-SHIRT

The final upper layer you are going to want for your fall adventures is this t-shirt from Girlfriend Collective. This cropped tank can also work as a comfortable sports bra, especially if worn under all of your other layers. Because fall weather can be unpredictable (high 70°s F one day and rainy and cold the next), we always pack at least one short-sleeved shirt just in case we get too hot. | CHECK IT OUT




THERMAL TIGHTS

Now for your bottom layers. These super warm and versatile tights from Smartwool are a great base layer when heading out on chillier fall adventures - especially ones in the mountains. The tight's slim fit is designed to follow the contours of your body, while the Merino wool helps regulate moisture (aka your sweat). | CHECK THEM OUT




HIKING PANTS

While thick thermal tights are a great base layer, during the fall you may also want a pair of pants that can help shield you from the oftentimes harsh elements (like wind and rain). This pair by Outdoor Research is made of a hybrid nylon and spandex fabric, making it super stretchy and comfortable even on longer days outside. | CHECK THEM OUT




KUHL SHORTS

We are definitely the type of people who once we find a piece of clothing we like we won't take it off until it is absolutely soiled from use (we know, gross). This pair of shorts by Kuhl quickly became our go-to bottoms of choice - even when it maybe wasn't even shorts weather (tights and shorts are still in right?). If you want an all-around pair of shorts that can handle long hikes, longer bike rides and even some trail runs, then this is the pair for you (plus they have pockets!). | CHECK THEM OUT




READ MORE | 6 SUPER HELPFUL TIPS FOR BEGINNER MOUNTAIN BIKERS






WOOL HIKING SOCKS

Nothing can hurt an outdoor adventure quicker than having cold feet. At least we think so. That is why we always pack (and wear) a pair of Merino wool socks when we are out adventuring. This cute pair by Darn Tough are naturally heat-regulating and odor-controlling, as well as rubber ribbed - meaning they stay nice and snug on your feet all day long. | CHECK THEM OUT




HIKING BOOTS

Vasque makes some solid hiking boots, and this updated version of the company's signature pair is still a great option for people looking to spend long days outside. The leather upper area is soft and durable and also waterproof (which is great for those fall rain showers). While the outsoles offer versatile tread that can handle many different terrains. | CHECK THEM OUT




GLOVES OR MITTENS

We are both usually mitten fans - especially on those cold, cold days when you just need your hands to warm up fast. This pair by Hestra are built for those rugged days outside thanks to their soft leather exterior and warm fleece interior lining. | CHECK THEM OUT




WINTER BEANIE

While we have said it before, we will say it again: fall weather can be unpredictable. That is why you should try to come prepared with all sorts of gear for almost every type of weather. This cute (and cozy) beanie by The North Face comes in lots of different colors and designs. It is also uber functional as its thick cuff makes sure it fits your head just right. | CHECK IT OUT




BUFF

The final piece of gear you should have with you on your fall adventures is this highly useful and multi-purposeful buff. Wear it as a headband or neck gaiter (or over your mouth) and know that it will help protect your skin from that harsh, cold wind. Plus, it helps wick away any moisture - making it a great addition to your hiking, running or biking adventures. | CHECK IT OUT




Clear blue mountain lake with fall foliage.

EXPLORE MORE | OUR IN-DEPTH GUIDE TO BACKPACKING IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK






\\ Extra Tips for Adventuring During the Fall


While we think the list of gear above should help you stay comfortable and cozy on all of your epic fall adventures, we also want to give you a few extra tips - many of which we learned the hard way during our own misadventures.



1 | Layers are going to be your best friend. Seriously. Due to the always changing temperatures - not to mention the change in your body temperature from resting at camp to exploring the great outdoors via your own two feet - you will want to make sure you have different layers for different situations. We usually start out with shorts or lighter tights as our base and then layer a thicker/warmer pair of pants on top (like sweatpants or hiking pants). Likewise, we usually go with a lightweight wicking short-sleeved shirt as our base up top, then add a thicker long sleeve and then a puffy or windbreaker/rain jacket as our final layer.


There have been many a time that we didn't layer properly (or at all) and we greatly regretted it once we either started to get too hot or too cold.



2 | Be prepared for colder mornings and nights, but warmer days - especially when it is sunny. In fact we are always amazed at the crazy temperature swings during the fall. Even if you are nice and hot during the middle of the day - especially if the sun is out - still be prepared for colder nights (especially at higher elevations).



3 | Fall weather can be fickle - therefore you should always make sure to pack plenty of warm clothes and proper rain/snow protection (just in case a rogue storm rolls in). This is especially true if you are heading up to higher elevations or to an area that is usually quite wet (like the Pacific Northwest or Alaska).


Likewise, if you think you are going to possibly hit some snow, then come prepared with proper snow gear like hats, gloves/mittens, waterproof pants and shoes and even some micro-spikes (like this pair from Black Diamond). There have been many times when we came across snow unprepared and either carried on and slightly regretted it (seriously, cold toes suck) or disappointedly turned around.







Fall might just be one of our favorite times to head out for an epic outdoor adventure. From backpacking in the mountains to bikepacking in the desert, the fall season is one of the best times to be outside - especially if you have the right gear.


We hope this gear guide inspires you to stock up and plan your own fall adventures - for there is something truly magical about the changing of the seasons.


Happy adventuring!




 

WANT TO SAVE THIS GEAR GUIDE FOR LATER? CONSIDER PINNING IT!


Pinterest pin on the top fall adventure gear.



 

EXPLORE MORE FALL ADVENTURES


BACKPACKING BOULDER PASS IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK | Our Ultimate Adventure Guide

5 PERFECT FALL HIKES IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

6 OFF THE BEATEN PATH COLORADO MOUNTAIN TOWNS FOR A FALL ADVENTURE

THE 8 BEST NATIONAL PARKS TO EXPLORE IN FALL | Add These Parks to Your Travel Itinerary