Hiking is not only for the young but also for the old. Although hiking seems rather challenging for older hikers than for their young counterparts, it offers many benefits that can make older hikers feel stronger, healthier, and happier. For the best hiking experience, all hikers, regardless of age, should have the right gear.
The best hiking gear for older hikers includes hiking attire like convertible pants or travel socks and accessories like backpacks. All hiking gear should also be able to fit into their backpacks.
This guide will help older hikers like you decide the best hiking gear to carry. We will also explore the benefits of hiking for older hikers and what hiking gear older hikers should look for before heading out into nature. You’ll learn:
- Benefits of hiking for older hikers
- What kind of hiking gear to buy
- Best hiking gear for older hikers
How Older Hikers Can Benefit From Hiking
Hiking is for everyone — even kids. You can hike as long as you are in good health and physically capable of walking and climbing. A single hike could easily take hours.
Taking regular hikes gives many proven health benefits, especially for seniors. The benefits include better circulation, stronger body muscles, less joint and knee pain, better cognitive function, and stronger bones. Hiking also gives seniors endorphins from hiking and dopamine when they overcome the challenge. Also, hiking is fun and free!
How Older Hikers Can Prepare for Hikes
Most older hikers have plenty of hiking experience, so they will know what to do when hiking, what gear to take with them, and how long each journey will take. But not all older hikers are frequent travelers — so this guide will be extra helpful to them. Older hikers may have a lot of hiking experience, but they still need to research hiking gear that’ll suit them.
Hiking gears are always changing, and thanks to today’s technology, you can find hiking gears that’ll add more value to your travel experience. Older hikers, considering their age, may need different equipment than younger hikers.
Overall, both young and old hikers use similar hiking gear, except older hikers might want to carry extra equipment with them for extra hiking comfort. If you’re an older hiker, you know that your body isn’t as strong and agile as it used to be. So you’ll want hiking gear that is not just useful but also strong and sturdy.
It would help if you always were well-ready before hiking because a lack of preparation could spoil the fun. Here are some tips for older hikers:
- Always bring enough water with you. Some people drink more water than others, so if you drink a lot, take a big water bottle with you. Research has shown that as people age, they need more water.
- Choose a good backpack. A strong and sturdy backpack is every hiker’s travel buddy, so you’ll want a comfortable bag that suits your body frame and has excellent features, like organizational compartments or strong, adjustable hip straps. It also must be big enough to carry all of your essentials.
- Carry a hiking stick. When older hikers use walking sticks, they use muscles that support and elongate their spine. Hiking sticks are also useful for self-defense because you never know who or what you’ll encounter along the way.
- Put on the right footwear. You don’t want cold or hot feet, do you? The right pair of shoes or boots will keep your feet happy for hours.
- Master the art of layering. Layering is what every frequent traveler repeats in their head. The weather can change anytime, so you’ll want to make sure that you always have your raincoat, scarf, hat (even an umbrella — yes, people use that) ready.
- Protect your eyes, face, and body. The sun can be dangerously intense at times, so you have to wear proper sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, as well as protective clothing. It would be best if you also packed a sunscreen of SPF 15+ to protect your skin.
- Bring an emergency kit. Accidents can happen anytime, anyplace. Keep a first aid kit in your bag, as well as food. You should also carry some survival kits, just in case something wrong happens during hiking.
- Always inform someone about your trip. It doesn’t matter if a hiker decides to hike alone or in a group; they must always tell others (like friends and family) before departing on their journey. Older hikers are at higher risks for injuries, like a knee injury, because going downhill does pose some risks.
- Evaluate your health. Older hikers should check their health first before embarking on any hiking trip. Hiking difficulty levels may vary, so if you’re an older hiker, you’ll want to make sure you’re fit enough to walk up rough or high terrain.
- Bring reliable gadgets. Whether it’s your phone or a compass, you might not want to leave useful gadgets at home. Your mobile phone, for example, might come in handy, especially during an emergency.
We have researched the best hiking gear for older hikers, from bags to hiking sticks, so you don’t have to. Let’s take a look at every one of them.
Best Hiking Backpacks
For the best backpacks, the Osprey Talon is an excellent choice for male hikers looking for an all-around day pack. The Osprey Talon 33 comes in four different colors. It has:
- Two zippered hip belt pockets where you can securely keep money or a map
- An external hydration sleeve for protecting pack content from spills
- A large front panel pocket for keeping things on the go
- Carry straps on the sides of the backpack
- An Airscape back panel to keep you cooler on warm days
- A Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment system for attaching and carrying hiking sticks
- A fixed top-lid with a zippered stash pocket for keeping smaller items
While there are many suitable backpacks around, the Talon 33 stands out among the rest because it is functional and big enough for long day hikes. You can even go camping with the Talon 33. For older hikers, the Talon 33 is excellent as it is lightweight.
Even though the Talon 33 doesn’t have a frame, it has a vented and padded back that gives it an excellent shape. Many people have complimented the backpack’s water bottle pockets and the ample space that it offers. For something smaller, the Osprey Talon 22 is a great choice, too.
For female hikers, the Osprey Sirrus 36 is an excellent choice. It comes in different colors: black, grey, purple, and blue. It features:
- A Stow-On-The-Go trekking pole attachment
- Zippered hip belt pockets
- An internal hydration sleeve for easy access to a water reservoir
- An adjustable airspeed suspension to suit your torso length
- A side panel for easy access to the bag’s main compartment
- A sleeping bag compartment for overnight trips
- A removable rain cover for protecting your backpack from dirt, mud, or rain
The Osprey Sirrus 36 is so versatile that you can carry it to day trips or lightweight overnights in the backcountry. It fits nicely on the body and has enough room for water and food supplies, emergency kits, hiking sticks, clothing, a sleeping bag, and other essentials. And the backpack is lightweight — it only weighs 2.65 pounds (1.2 kg).
Best Hiking Clothing
When choosing hiking clothing, keep weather, climate, functionality, durability, and weight in mind. You don’t want anything that holds you down. Hiking clothing that has multiple purposes would be a plus.
The Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge convertible pants are excellent hiking gear. It is 100% nylon, which also means it’s lightweight — perfect for older male hikers. And the pants don’t take long to dry.
The Silver Ridge convertible pants have a button closure, one zip-closure security pocket, side pockets with hook and loop closure, and mesh pocket bags for convenience and extra security. The pants use UPF50 fabric, which means they protect hikers from harmful UVA and UVA rays. Older hikers shouldn’t skip UV protection.
The Silver Ridge is all climate-friendly. That’s because the pants use wicking fabric that keeps you cool and dry — which also means they’re breathable. The older you get, the more sensitive you become towards changing temperatures. So you’ll want a pair of pants that aren’t just comfortable but also practical.
Unique Features: The pants have particle elastic waist and zip-off legs. All of the Silver Ridge’s features make the pants great for both day and overnight hiking.
Alternatively, the KUHL Renegade Convertible Pants are just as good.
For older female hikers, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Women’s Pants would be ideal. They’re lightweight, so you can easily move quickly in them, even in the mountains. They are moisture-wicking, so you can comfortably wear them for hours. If you want to wash them, you can rest assured that they will dry in no time.
The Research Ferrosi pants use UPF 50 fabric that will protect you from the sun. It also protects you from sharp twig ends, thanks to its ripstop nylon. It’s so light it only weighs 0.70 pounds.
The pants have a cinch closure at the cuff, so you can always pull the cinch whenever the temperature gets more chilly. You can also store small essentials inside the pants’ cargo pocket for safe, easy access. The Research Ferrosi pants look versatile, so they’ll look perfect however old you are.
The REI Co-op Sahara Women’s Convertible Pants are also a good alternative.
If there’s one thing you should never forget when hiking, it’s a good jacket. The Patagonia Nano Puff jacket has been around for a while now, but it hasn’t lost its charm. Both urban and city dwellers love the jacket for its versatility.
The Patagonia Nano Puff jacket is available for both men and women. The jacket isn’t cheap in pricing, but the price tag is justifiable, considering the product quality and customer support it offers and Patagonia’s mission towards sustainability. Most importantly, the Nano Puff keeps hikers warm even when it’s wet — this is vital to older hikers who are less tolerant of cold temperatures.
The Nano Puff’s synthetic fibers offer an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, so even when rain or snow showers upon the jacket, it will still maintain 98% of its thermal properties.
Unique Feature: The jacket can be tucked into its chest pocket when not in use. Because the jacket is so lightweight, it compresses down easily. Just keep it in your backpack when you don’t need it.
The Nano Puff is an all-year-round jacket, which means you can also wear it in summer. The coat is not going to overheat you, thanks to its excellent insulation. Any older hiker would want a good jacket that’s windproof, lightweight, water-resistant, and adaptable like the Nano Puff.
There’s nothing worse than getting soaked in the rain when hiking. That’s why you’ll want a reliable raincoat like the REI Co-op DryPoint GTX jacket. The jacket is going to keep you dry thanks to its GORE-TEX® Active fabric.
The DryPoint GTX is breathable, which means you’ll never have to be soaked in sweat, either. The DryPoint GTX waterproof shell is lightweight, so it’s not going to add much weight to your backpack or back. The jacket only weighs 0.65 pounds.
The DryPoint GTX is available in women’s size, too.
They say good shoes take you to good places. That said, you can’t hike without a pair of good, durable hiking boots. The Salon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX would make a reliable travel friend on your next trip.
The Salomon X is so versatile that you can wear them for backcountry trips or walking around the city. The boots have a Contagrip rubber sole that provides a firm grip through all kinds of surfaces and conditions. The shoes also have a Gore-Tex-lined synthetic upper that secures your feet from sharp objects, hot sun, rain, or snow.
Salomon X’s mid-height cuff offers older hikers enough ankle support and stability, which is excellent for short hikes. For longer hikes, we suggest boots with more extended cuffs for better support. Salomon X also comes in women’s sizes.
Nobody likes cold feet — older hikers know that all too well. You’ll need good socks. Good socks are socks that don’t trap moisture.
The Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Men’s socks are great hiking socks for men who want to keep their feet toasty in winter or cool in summer. The Darn Tough Hiker socks use merino wool to wick moisture off your feet. The socks are antimicrobial, so they repel bacteria and odor.
The socks will fit your feet properly, preventing slipping or blisters. The Darn Tough Hiker Socks also come in women’s sizes.
Unique Feature: The socks have a mid-level cushion density at the bottom of the socks.
Best Hiking Accessories
Older hikers will find trekking poles handy as they provide support, especially during challenging hikes. The Trail Buddy Trekking Poles are ideal because they’re lightweight, durable, and affordable. They’re available in many colors, too.
The Trail Buddy poles are made of a lightweight but sturdy aluminum shaft. The trekking poles feature a cork construction that will form to your hand in time, and they also have a height adjuster that enables you to adjust them from 25.5 to 54 inches (64.8 to 137.2 cm) easily. You can lock the trekking poles so that they stay in place.
Unique Feature: The Trail Buddy offers different tips to suit other trails, making the gear versatile enough for whatever condition.
The Matador Packable Hydration Reservoir will be a lifesaver, especially during the longest and toughest hiking trip yet. The reservoir is lightweight and conveniently packable. It won’t take much space in your backpack.
Instead of a bottle, why not use a BPA hydration reservoir that can hold up to two liters of water. Its collapsible design allows you to tuck it away when empty. The hydration reservoir is easy to clean, too.
Don’t worry about spills leaks — the reservoir has a lockable bite valve that prevents fluid from leaking easily.
It’s common for hikers to enter the wilderness without any serious emergency kit. Even experienced hikers would sometimes do that. But for older hikers, we think the SOL emergency blanket should always be in their packs.
Likewise, the older you get, the less tolerant you become toward cold or hot temperatures. Accidents can happen, like getting lost in the mountains. If that happens, older hikers are at high risks of catching flu, or worse, hypothermia.
The SOL emergency blanket reflects your body heat, up to 90%. The blanket traps warm air and prevents wind and water from penetrating it. Treat this gear like a good jacket, or water, because it can, like a good jacket or water would be a lifesaver.
Hiking is a fun outdoor activity that both young and older people should enjoy. Sure, the older you get, the lesser energy you have to cover long trails or overcome high, challenging terrain. But as long as you’re still capable of conquering the outdoors, why not? All you need is passion and good health. And with the right hiking gear, you can be prepared for what nature throws at you.
- WildWomenOnTop: What Happens to Your Hormones When You Go Hiking
- HearthStoneSeniorLiving: The Benefits of Hiking for Seniors
- Healthline: As You Get Older, You Need to Drink More Water. Here’s Why
- Keith Foskett: The Pros & Cons of Using an Umbrella for Hiking
- Harvard: The Health Benefits of Hiking Depend on Where You’re Headed
- Amazon: Osprey Talon 33
- Amazon: Osprey Sirrus 36
- Amazon: Osprey Talon 22
- Amazon: Deuter Unisex Speed Lite 20
- HyperLiteMountainGear: Daybreak Ultralight Daypack
- Amazon: Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants
- Rei: KUHL Renegade Convertible Pants
- Amazon: Outdoor Research Women’s Ferrosi Pants
- Rei: Co-op Sahara Women’s Convertible Pants
- Amazon: Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
- GearPatrol: Why You Need an Insulated Jacket in the Summer
- Amazon: Salomon Men’s X Ultra 3 Mid GTX
- Amazon: Salomon Women’s X Ultra 3 Mid GTX
- Amazon: Trail Buddy Trekking Poles
- Amazon: Matador Packable Hydration Reservoir
- Amazon: SOL Emergency Blanket
- Amazon: Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Men’s Socks
- Amazon: Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Women’s socks