Gear Kits

The Best Women’s Gear for Seattle Peak Bagging

Must-have gear for tackling local mountains in shoulder season

Curated by Rachel Davidson

Most people know that Seattle is one of the greatest cities in the world for outdoor enthusiasts (opinion). Yet while some may assume summer is ripe for adventure, spring and fall actually offer hikers, scramblers, and mountain runners the best conditions to explore Seattle’s local peaks (fact). A reasonable layer of crunchy snow can turn an arduous scree slog into a pleasant, surefooted hike - as long as you have the right traction devices. Similarly, the more moderate temps of shoulder season will offer you respite from dangerously hot, sun-drenched days - as long as you’re prepared for the Pacific North Wet’s predictably unpredictable rain spells.

Whether headed up the I-90 corridor or venturing further out to Mountain Loop Highway, the Olympics, or even up Mt. St. Helens, this is the must-have gear list that you’ll need to have a safe and fun adventure.

Ladies: You might already have heard that cotton kills, but what you may not know is that polyester, spandex, and other synthetic materials can still trap sweat and plunge body temperature to dangerously low numbers. Choose a wool bra for cold-weather hikes to breathe, wick sweat, and adjust to keep your core at a stable temp.

You’ll be happy with any sock you pick out on Darn Tough’s website. Known for their everlasting, super-tough construction, Darn Tough believes in the durability of their socks so much, they’ll send you a free pair if you send them a sock with a hole rubbed through. ‘Nuff said.

Your footwear choice will entirely depend on trail conditions, weather, and your planned activity - but the Quest Prime GTX from Salomon are a good inbetweener for just about everything. Comfortable, lightweight, and built with a GORE-TEX membrane and mid-height for solid ankle protection, these hiking boots will stand up to most of your peakbagging needs.

You don’t need gaiters that look like you’re tackling Everest, but for most Seattle hikes you’ll want some type of mid-level protection to keep rocks and snow out of your boots. The Flex-Tex II Gaiters from OR have a nice balance of water-resistant protection, adjustable sizing for different footwear choices, and a secure instep strap that keeps things snug no matter the terrain.

Traction devices are a necessity when it comes to safe snow travel, but they can be a pain to pack if you’re lugging around a pair of heavy, bulky crampons. Lucky for us, Hillsound has mastered the balance between durability and lightweightness in their Trail Crampon. An elastic design lets you flex these on over trail runners, hiking shoes, or even mountaineering boots, and an over-shoe strap ensures they’ll stay put no matter how hard you step-kick your way up to the summit.

This is my go-everywhere, do-anything layer for freezing cold runs to moderate hikes to spring skiing. It’s like a fleece, but smarter - Active Insulation technology traps in heat when you’re stopped or moving slowly, yet releases sweat before it builds up enough to get too cold. Plus, it’s just about the most comfortable thing in my closet.

The Echo Hoody is one of the only ultralight base layers I’ve tried that packs in performance without compromising on functionality. It’s the perfect piece to layer under a fleece, yet can be worn on its own if things start to heat up. You should always look for a solid UPF rating in your base layer selections, especially on snow where the sun’s harmful rays will be reflected back up to you. I like the Echo because of its lightweight hood that I can tuck under a ball cap to keep the sun off my neck and ears.

Even if the forecast calls for sunny skies, you’ll want a backup plan. The Helium packs down so small, and weighs practically nothing, so you won’t even notice it at the bottom of your pack until you need it most.

Much like your upper layers, you’ll be looking for three important qualities in your cold weather hiking pants: (1) Stretch for total freedom of movement, (2) breathability for when you’re working hard uphill, and (3) a weather-resistant material that sheds relative precipitation. The Voodoo Pants check all three boxes.

Built like their 100% waterproof jacket counterpart, the Helium Pants weigh and compress to such a nominal amount that it’d be foolish not to throw in your pack for flash thunderstorms and unexpected downpours.

Lightweight, warm, and wicking gloves will go a long way - especially when you’re handling trekking poles or an ice axe. These feature touchscreen-compatible fingers so you can snap photos and zoom in on your GPS app without sacrificing your digits to the cold.

Trapping head heat is important on long, exposed hikes, especially if you don’t have a buff or a hood to protect your ears. The Shiftup is on the lightweight side and is an easy choice for temperate forecasts, but you’ll want a thicker, beefier option for more severe conditions.

I always wear a hat while hiking to keep sweat out of my eyes, hair out of my face, and sun off my skin. The mesh trucker-style back of OR’s Alpenglow Trucker Hat breathes really well, and the gorgeous alpine painting by local artist Drawn to High Places is too pretty not to get first pick.

One of the best reasons to tromp around Seattle’s peaks are the jaw-dropping views you’ll get at sunrise and sunset, which means you ought to come prepared with pre-dawn or after-hours illumination. The Storm from BD fulfills one important need for Seattleites: Fully sealed waterproof housing.

Calling all adventurous women: If you haven’t tried a ladies-specific backpack yet, you haven’t experienced true comfort in the outdoors. The Tempest series from Osprey hugs in all the right places, while allowing extra room for bust and hips, and is feature-packed with external water bottle holders, ice axe leashes, roomy brain for snacks and essentials, mesh outer pocket to dry wet gear or crampons, adjustable straps for an as-close-to-perfect-as-you-can-get fit, and ample storage space inside.

Call me lazy or a loyalist, but I’ve never strayed from Peppers when it comes to moderate hiking eyewear. Their polarized lenses protect from harsh sun reflections off snow, and their laid back style and modern fit make them easy to wear around town without looking like I just got off a glacier.

When combined with your Hillsound Trail Crampons, a pair of trekking poles can give you the confidence you need to safely maneuver sketchy terrain and stay balanced on steep slopes. BD’s Carbon Z are my favorite pair of poles for their light weight, easy packability, and durability.

Depending on your objective, you may need to swap out trekking poles for an ice axe to gain purchase on steeper slopes - and in order to be ready to catch a fall, should you slip. BD’s Raven Ice Axe is the best all-around beginner alpine axe, and perfect for moderate objectives on your Seattle-area peak bagging list.

Even if you’re only headed out on a day hike up Mailbox Peak or Mt. Si, you should seriously consider bringing a satellite messenger for emergency situations. While their proximity to the freeway make them easy objectives, their quick altitude and dicey weather patterns can pose serious problems for even the most experienced hikers. Unfortunately, people get lost, injured, and stranded on these peaks all too often - so be sure to add the SPOT Gen3 to your pack list, if not for yourself, for others on the trail who might be less prepared than you.

With the widespread availability of app-based GPS systems, there’s no excuse not to bring along some sort of navigation system into the backcountry if you’ve already got your smartphone in tow. Gaia is my favorite for its precision, accuracy, and ease of use. Plus, for a nominal annual fee you can download other’s tracks to follow along deep in the “out there.”

What started as a “splurge” item became my everyday wallet; Sea to Summit really nailed it with this super-slim, streamlined, and water-resistant card holder. There’s nothing worse than pulling up to the taco truck after a wet hike and ripping soggy dollar bills from your pack. Sure, a ziploc bag will do the trick - for a dozen uses or so - but it’s smarter to invest in a weather-shedding wallet that you can depend on for the long run.

I’m throwing in this pre-built kit out of obligation, but there is no substitution for the knowledge you’ll receive during a Wilderness First Aid course. Inspect your kit often, resupply after using components out in the field, and know how to use every item in your kit. Check out your local REI for upcoming Wilderness Medicine Classes and Events.

The final on every adventurer’s 10 Essentials List, emergency shelters should not be overlooked or left at home. And at a mere $17, weighing only 3.8 ounces, and accommodating room for two bodies at once, SOL’s Emergency Bivy is another must-have tool that you won’t appreciate until the moment in which you need it most.