Urban Hike of NYC: What to Bring

A Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack in New York City.

NYC Urban Hiking Gear List

Treeline Review co-founder Liz Thomas just completed a 220+-mile, 9-day urban hike of New York City. This city walking route covered Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Her urban hiking route connected on-foot 100-parks and playgrounds created by the Trust for Public Land by de-asphalting and re-greening schoolyards. An urban hike requires different gear than a typical hiking or backpacking trip. For those curious about urban exploration and city walking, check out Liz’s video of urban hiking Seattle or read the coverage about her hike here.

If you’re looking for general backpacking or thru-hiking gear, check out our Best Backpacking Backpack guide, Best Backpacking Tents guide, and Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads stories.


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Aftershokz Trekz Air

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Darn Tough Quarter Hiker

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Smartwool 150 Merino

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Nike Pro Rival Sports Bra

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Patagonia Active Brief

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Nidra Dreams Sleep Mask

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HydraPak Shape-Shift Hydration Reservoir 2 L

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Hydro Flask 24 oz Water Bottle

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Stanley Adventure Switchback Mug

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Six Moon Designs Silver Shadow Mini

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Snow Peak Titanium Spork-Colored

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Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Hand Spray

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PackTowl Personal Quick Dry

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Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Tech Compression Cube Set

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Liz Thomas holding her Gossamer Gear Vagabond in New York City.
 

Backpack: Gossamer Gear Vagabond


The Gossamer Gear Vagabond pack is the best urban hiking pack I’ve tried. It rides the line between daypack and commuter pack--the perfect combo for urban adventures. There aren’t many daypacks that fit our criteria for good backpack designs , and even fewer that cross over into stylish-enough for urban settings. The Vagabond does both.


The Vagabond has all our favorite aspects of a backpacking pack design, but in a more manageable day hiking volume pack (23L). We also considered the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit pack (which one of my urban hiking partners used), but prefer the Vagabond’s convenient mesh front pocket over that on the Hyperlite. We also like the Vagabond's water bottle pockets and built-in phone holders on the pack straps (the Summit pack has phone holders, but they're sold separately).


The Vagabond has a small zip pocket on the outside to access sunscreen and sunglasses and a small zip pocket on the inside to store keys and a wallet.

 
Liz Thomas on the John T Brush Stairway in New York City.

The Vagabond also has some commuter design features that make it perfectly suited to a commuter/city-life pack. It has a convenient zip top, zip pockets, handles, and a not-overbuilt laptop and/or water bladder sleeve. The urban aspects of the pack work on the principle that in the city, you’ll likely want to get into your pack to grab your wallet more often than you would on a backcountry hike. The zip-top allows for easier access than a buckle or roll-top found on day-hiking style packs. A convenient handle makes it easier to carry around on a train or cafe than a backcountry daypack.


Word of warning: We like the Vagabond as an urban hiking pack because of its smaller volume capacity (23L vs a backpacking backpack’s 50+L). I’ve discovered that you don’t need a full-volume backpacking backpack for urban thru-hikes. Urban thru-hikes--even multi-week trips--don’t require the same volume backpacking backpack as a wilderness trip. Why? You don’t have to carry the same food volume or a tent or sleeping bag. That’s a lesson that took me about 10 urban hikes of 100+ miles or more to learn. I used to carry a tent, sleeping bag, and backpacking backpack on all my urban trips. But for almost every night of those trips, I’ve found myself sleeping in a bed and my sleeping bag untouched. Now, I’ve decided to go as light as possible by reducing the capacity of my pack (helping me resist the temptation to pick up things I find along the way---like free books).


The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Backpack on the streets of New York City.
 

The Vagabond isn’t waterproof, so I supplement it using the Gossamer Gear pack liner . I’ve used opaque trash compactor bags in the past, but prefer a clear pack liner because it is transparent so I can see my stuff. While I would love if this pack were waterproof like the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit pack (which one of my urban hiking partners used), the Vagabond won me over because it has more convenient features (like zip pockets) that make it easier to stay organized on a city hike.

If you’re looking for more information about backpacking backpacks, check out our Best Backpacking Backpacks guide.

 

Buy the Gossamer Gear Vagabond

 

Liz Thomas wearing the Altra Paradigm on a painted sidewalk in New York City.
 

Urban Hiking shoes: Altra Paradigm


On some of the 12 other urban thru-hikes I’ve done, hiking on asphalt has given me plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon pain. Through some trial and error, I found the Altra Paradigm (men’s and women’s) shoes and haven’t done an urban hike without them since. Designed for the type of crazy people who run ultramarathons on pavement, I’ve found the Paradigm has the right amount of cushioning to protect against pavement pounding.


The Paradigm also has Altra’s wide toe box, which many thru-hikers, including myself, enjoy for long hikes. By spreading my toes out within the toe box, I’ve never gotten an in-between-the-toes blister. The new Paradigm (men’s and women’s) also has a stretchy mesh fabric upper that looks more fashionable for city walking than my old go-to urban hiking shoe, the well-padded trail shoe, the Altra Olympus (men’s and women’s). However, the Olympus is a better choice for traction if your urban hike will take you to many muddy trails vs. pavement (like you may find in a city like Seattle).


For more on hiking shoes or hiking boots, check out our Best Hiking Shoes guide or our Best Hiking Boots guide.

 

Buy the Altra Paradigm Hiking Shoes

 

Liz Thomas wearing the Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS watch.
 

GPS Watch: Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS Watch


The Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS Watch provides real-time distance, elevation gain, and time, and also maps my route over the course of each day. While, yes, my phone can do a lot of those features, over 12 urban thru-hikes I’ve learned that real-time tracking my route drains my phone’s battery. On a hike where I’m using my phone to navigate, take photos, post social media, answer work emails, and find the closest restroom, it’s far more convenient to have mapping data stored elsewhere. I like wearing a watch to keep track of time anyway, so I appreciate the power of the affordable Ambit3 Peak to capture detailed GPS mapping data. The Ambit3 Peak rides a fine line of being less expensive than an Apple watch while providing more detailed and accurate information than a FitBit.


I’ve found that on urban hikes, the mileage that Google Maps may predict for me is conservative compared to the mileage that I actually end up walking. Between detours for construction or re-routing myself into a park, it’s far more accurate to use a real-time tracker like the Ambit3 Peak compared to Google’s measurement of route distances. With the Ambit3 Peak tracking my route and distance, I discovered that the NYC Urban Hike that I had expected would cover 175-miles over 9 days actually covered more than 220 miles.


Lastly, now that I’ve finished the NYC Urban Hike, I want to share my route as I hiked it. My as-walked route is fairly different than my as-mapped route. As I hiked, I decided to add on more parks and trails. On other urban hikes, as I changed my route, I’ve tried to take notes on a paper map or go back and edit my Google Maps route electronically. The process is a pain and time consuming. With the Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS Watch, that data is spit out automatically so it’s much easier to see and share what I actually walked.


To read our comparison of the most popular four models of GPS watches, read our Guide to the Best Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass and GPS Watch Guide.

 

The Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS Watch

 

The Anker PowerCore 10000 Redux.
 

External Battery: Anker PowerCore 10000 Redux


Aside from your iPhone (see our Best iPhone for Outdoors People Story), the most important piece of gear for an urban hike is your external battery pack. I use the Anker PowerCore 10000 Redux, the top pick in our upcoming power pack guide. On urban hikes, I map my route at home via Google Maps and then navigate using the mapping phone app on my smartphone. But this process uses significant phone battery--especially if I’m sharing photos and trying to organize my dinner or hotel plans on the go.


For urban hikes, I’ve printed and carried paper maps plenty of times. But I’ve found that navigating city streets requires such a level of mapping detail that it’d easily equal 20 printed pages per day. While I’d consider it irresponsible to hike without paper maps in the backcountry, on an urban hike, it’s not as necessary. If you get lost in a city, it’s a lot easier to get help. My recommendation for urban hikers is to bring a big overview paper map (to self rescue) but to map and follow your route by navigating via phone (see our Best iPhone for Outdoors People Story for more on phone battery life).


On an urban hike, I usually need to recharge my smartphone once during the day. At night, I’m able to recharge my phone at an outlet. For a lighter-weight external battery than the Anker PowerCore 10000 Redux, I sometimes use the Jackery Bolt 6000 mAh. The main advantage of the Jackery is that the charging cords come pre-built into the system. This means that I don’t have to remember to bring a charging cord on an urban hike. If I accidentally forget a charging cord at an AirBnB one night, I’ll still be able to charge from my Jackery Bolt.


The Jackery 6000mAh can’t charge as many times as the Anker PowerCore 10000 Redux, but it’s smaller and more convenient for cities--including urban and commuting situations (note: Jackery has also recently released a 10050 mAH version that has the equivalent abilities as the Anker 10000. It looks promising, though I haven’t tried it yet).


For more on phone battery life, waterproofness, drop-proofness, see our Best iPhone for Outdoors People Story.


Buy the Anker Powercore 10000 Redux

Buy the Jackery Bolt

 

The Aftershokz Trekz Air wireless headphones on a tester.
 

Headphones: Aftershokz Trekz Air


One of the first things I noticed in NYC is that everyone walking on the street is wearing headphones. I hadn’t planned on using headphones on this hike. But in an attempt to look as un-touristy and inconspicuous as possible, I dug out the stock headphones that came with my phone. If I were to do another NYC urban hike, I’d use the Situational Awareness Pick in our Best Wireless Earbuds guide, the Aftershokz Trekz Air.


On an urban hike, the importance of having situationally aware headphones cannot be overstated. Being able to hear cars, bikes, and other pedestrians is an essential part of safety on an urban hike. It was dumb and dangerous of me to wear wired traditional earbuds on the NYC urban hike. I barely listened to the headphones I wore and constantly was turning off the sound to better pay attention to my surroundings. I lost my spot in my audio book so many times, I gave up listening to it. I think if I’d had the Aftershokz Trekz Air, this wouldn’t have been a problem because it would have allowed me to listen to traffic and the book at the same time.


The Aftershokz Trekz Air earbuds work by wrapping around the base of your head just below your ears. They allow your ear canal to stay unimpeded, so you can still hear all the sounds around you. The soundwaves vibrate just below your ear so you can hear music or podcasts through mechanisms other than your ear canal.


Read our comparison of the 8 most popular wireless earbuds in our Best Wireless Earbuds story.

 

Buy the Aftershokz Trekz Air

 

Liz Thomas wearing the Darn Tough No Show Light Cushion socks.

Clothing

Socks: Darn Tough No Show Light Cushion

I carried four pairs of Darn Tough Hiker No Show Light Cushion socks (men’s and women’s). These socks provide the most cushion for the least weight per sock--which helps reduce the impact of pounding pavement day-after-day. While four pairs of socks may sound excessive, I didn’t have access to laundry much on the NYC Urban Thru-hike. On an urban hike, having springy, fresh socks really does make a difference. When covering many miles of asphalt, I can feel the difference between cushy socks and not-as-padded socks. As a back-up, I carried a pair of the Darn Tough Dot Quarter Ultralight (men’s and women’s)--my favorite sock for hiking, backpacking, and most outdoor pursuits. But I discovered that even a clean pair of the ultralight isn’t cushy enough after Mile 20 on cement.

 

 

Buy the Darn Tough No Show Light Cushion Socks

 

Liz Thomas wearing the Smartwool Merino 150 top standing next to C3PO and R2D2 in a park in New York City.
 

Hiking Shirt: Smartwool Merino 150

On an urban hike, my clothing leans towards travel wear instead of hiking clothes. I prioritize clothes that dry quickly (for overnight bathtub hand-washed laundry) and that don’t wrinkle when stuffed in a backpack. In NYC, I quickly learned that although I was sleeping indoors every night, most apartments don’t have washers and dryers. This was the first urban thru-hike where doing laundry every other day couldn’t happen. For NYC hiking, I had to be more strategic about what clothes I wore that wouldn’t stink after a few days of use and would still look fresh enough to wear in the city.


Smartwool Merino 150

The Smartwool Merino 150 ( men’s and women’s) is my favorite shirt for urban hiking because of its versatility. It rides the fine line of providing warmth on cooler days and sun protection on hotter days. It is lightweight and dries quickly. Merino wool has antibacterial properties, which kept odor down. Most importantly, the Merino 150 is comfortable, wicking moisture and not feeling scratchy.

 
Liz Thomas wearing the Lululemon Swiftly Tech long sleeve shirt standing next to a waterfall in New York City.
 

Lululemon Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve


I brought the Lululemon Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve because it’s a shirt I see frequently on the street in hip areas of cities. It’s fashionable while being functional. It’s also quite flattering on most body types. In a quest to not look too “hiker-y,” the Swiftly Tech shirt is quick-drying athletic shirt that worked well on my urban thru-hike. It also dries more quickly than the other shirts I brought, which made it easy to launder on the fly.

 
Liz Thomas wearing the Arc’Teryx Zip Satoro shirt standing in front of a graffiti wall in New York City.
 

Arc’teryx Zip Satoro


The Arc’teryx Zip Satoro (men’s and women’s) is not only one of my favorite hiking shirts, but is one of my favorite shirts in general. I wear it at least once a week at home, so it was natural to want to bring it on the urban hike. The Satoro’s soft and pliable fabric moves with the body during physical activity. The Satoro was also the only zip neck shirt that I carried, which proved useful on warmer days when I wanted extra ventilation. It’s made of naturally anti-bacterial merino wool and I can’t say that I’ve ever detected an odor on it, even after heavy usage. When temps got up towards 90 degrees, the Satoro was a bit warm. But on windy and rainy days, the Arc’teryx Zip Satoro (men’s and women’s) performed as well on urban hikes as it does for traditional backcountry trips.

 
Liz Thomas wearing the Merrell Paradox short sleeve tech t-shirt in Queens.
 

Merrell Paradox Short-Sleeve Tech T-shirt


I brought three base layers and a Merrell Paradox Short-Sleeve Tech T-shirt. This short-sleeve T-shirt is quick drying and one of my favorites, but I got sunburnt wearing it all day. Next time, I’d opt for a longer sleeve version.

 

Buy Merrell Paradox Tech TEE

 

Liz Thomas wearing the Montbell Torrent Flier in a rainstorm in New York City.
 

Rain Jacket: Montbell Torrent Flier


The Montbell Torrent Flier rain jacket is a lightweight three-layer Gore-Tex rain jacket that is the perfect layer for spring or fall days or cooler temperatures on a rainy hike. I used this jacket in lieu of a puffy layer and found it warm enough for city hiking in downpours.


What I like about the Torrent Flier is that it is lightweight and compact enough to fit into a cell-phone sized stuff sack, but provides a lot of rain coverage relative to its size and weight. At one point, I was joined by a hiker who didn’t bring a rain jacket. I gave him my umbrella and used just the Torrent Flier for a mile of heavy rain until we could duck in a coffee shop. While it may seem like overkill bringing a rain jacket this robust on an urban hike, with the dumping rain patterns that I experienced in NYC, I wouldn’t consider bringing another rain jacket.


Montbell Torrent Flier

 

The Patagonia Houdini worn by a tester.
 

Windshirt: Patagonia Houdini


Just like in the mountains, a windshirt is one of the lightest weight, least bulky layers to help you warm up. On an urban hike, a windshirt can often substitute for a puffy jacket during warmer months (afterall, if it gets really cold and rainy, you can always duck into a cafe). The Patagonia Houdini (men’s and women’s) takes the edge off wind tunnels created by tall buildings or a gust off the bay.


Buy the Patagonia Houdini Windshirt

 
 

Liz Thomas wearing the Lululemon Wunder Under tights standing in front of the library in New York City.
 

Hiking Tights: Lululemon Wunder Under Tights and Speed Up Tight

 

The Lululemon Wunder Under Tights can function as hiking pants or layering pants with or without a skirt over the top. I chose to wear these tights rather than a more traditional baselayer bottom for the versatility and more “city-friendly” look. I often see people wearing the Wunder Under tights in hip areas of cities and knew that they would function well for hiking without looking conspicuously like hiking clothes.

 

Because laundry was few and far between on the NYC Urban hike, I’m really glad I carried two pairs of tights. The Speed Up Tight has similar benefits as the Wunder Under tights: versatile, wicking, comfortable, with a city-friendly look. What I like about the Speed Up Tight is that it has pockets and some additional reflectivity. The Speed Up Tight is designed for running so isn’t quite as inconspicuous as the Wunder Under tights, but still looks a lot less backcountry than traditional hiking base layer bottoms.

 

Lululemon Wunder Under Tights

Lululemon Speed Up Tight

 

Liz Thomas wearing the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt in a playground in New York City.
 

Hiking Skirt: Purple Rain Adventure Skirts


I wore, carried, and rotated between three Purple Rain Adventure Skirts for the NYC Urban Hike. Then, I continued to wear them for the few tourist-y days I had in NYC after the hike was over. What makes the Purple Rain Adventure Skirts the unbeatable option for urban hiking is that it has four pockets. On any given minute of the hike, these pockets held my phone, wallet, headphones, lip balm, and external battery pack. On an urban hike, these are the items that I constantly need. I don’t want to have to stop, remove my pack, and fiddle around to find these items every few minutes.


The Purple Rain Adventure Skirts also look stylish--important for walking in the city. As temperatures change, it’s easy to remove or put on a pair of tights underneath--much easier than it would be if I were wearing pants or even zip-off pants.


 

Buy Purple Rain Skirts

 

Liz Thomas wearing a reflective safety vest.
 

Reflective Safety Vest


A fluorescent reflective safety vest is something I carry on all urban hikes. They are among the least expensive gear I carry, but it can save a life. If I am urban hiking on a busy street, in the dark, or on a cloudy day, having the extra visibility can help drivers become more aware of pedestrians. I also find that in neighborhoods where crime rates may be higher, I feel safer wearing a safety vest, perhaps because it makes my business in that area seem more official instead of looking like a lost tourist.


Buy a Reflective Safety Vest

 

The Black Diamond Storm headlamp on a log.
 

Headlamp: Black Diamond Storm


To increase visibility at night I always carry a headlamp on urban adventures. Luckily, I only needed to hike during daylight hours on the NYC urban hike. However, on most of my urban hikes, I find myself hiking into the late hours. Check out our Best Headlamps guide for more suggestions on the best headlamp for your adventure. For this hike, I had our Upgrade Pick, the Black Diamond Storm, which I thought would work well for visibility because it has a broad and wide light.


For more on headlamps, check out our full Best Headlamps guide.

 

Black Diamond Storm Headlamp


The Nike Pro Rival sports bra in black.

Sports Bras: Nike Pro Rival


I brought two sports bras on the NYC Urban Hike and rotated them throughout the trip. I’d recommend the Nike Pro Rival, which has been my go-to sports bra for the last few hiking seasons. It always stays in place and doesn’t stretch with movement or require constant readjusting like other sports bras. While the model has been changed, you can still get the old design (and in my opinion, much better design) in some sizes.


Nike Pro Rival Sports Bra


The Patagonia Hipster Active underwear in pink.
 

Underwear: Patagonia Hipster Active


I carried five pairs of underwear on the NYC Urban Thru-hike: Patagonia Hipster Active and Smartwool Merino Seamless Bikini. I’ve tested dozens of pairs of underwear side-by-side for other gear review sites and over the years, have come to the conclusion that the Patagonia Active Hipster and the Smartwool Merino Seamless Bikini to perform the best on long travel and exercisehese underwear stay in place without forming wedgies.


In the city, clean underwear was a must but in NYC, laundry was a rare find. I needed underwear that was lightweight and quick drying so that I could hand wash them when needed.. The Patagonia Active Hipster underwear dries very quickly and the Smartwool has merino’s anti-bacterial, anti-odor addition. Both of these features were important in travel where I’d have a few days of toting around my dirty laundry before I had the space to handwash some items. After all, not all AirBnB hosts are stoked on drying laundry in their home, either.


Smartwool Merino Seamless Bikini

Patagonia Active Hipster

 

The Nidra Dreams Eye Mask in black.

Sleep Mask: Nidra Sleep Mask


I originally brought the Nidra Dreams Eye Mask for better sleep on a redeye flight. But it took only one night in NYC to realize that darkness is a luxury in this city. I used the Nidra Eye Mask to sleep almost every night in the city. From Manhattan to Queens to Brooklyn, no matter where I slept, the only way I could sleep is with the darkness of the sleep mask. It turns out another major difference between urban hiking and backcountry hiking is that the night skies of NYC are far from dark.


The Nidra Eye Mask is a lot more comfortable than other methods I’ve used to block light from my eyes such as wearing a Buff or bandana around my eyes. On an urban hike, I’m willing to carry the extra weight of the Nidra Eye Mask for a good night of sleep, just like on a backcountry trail, I may be willing to carry a more comfortable sleeping pad.


Nidra Dreams Sleep Mask

 

Liz Thomas using the Montbell UL Trekking umbrella during a rainstorm in New York City.

Umbrella: Montbell UL trekking umbrella


I carried the Montbell UL trekking umbrella. It’s lightweight and compact, fitting into my water bottle pocket alongside my Stanley Mountain Vacuum Mug . In a humid environment like NYC, an umbrella is the most breathable piece of rain gear. It’s also easier to access and deploy than a rain jacket. It rained several times during my urban hike--including several inconveniently timed downpours that happened when I was rushing to meet someone and couldn’t take a break to sit out the storm. If you’re having trouble tracking down the Montbell, the Six Moon Designs Silver Shadow Mini is a foldable umbrella with a similar design that is less expensive but weighs about an ounce more.


Montbell UL Trekking Umbrella

Six Moon Designs Silver Shadow Mini

 

The Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Tech Compression Cube Set in blue.

Packing Cubes: Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Tech Compression Cube Set and Six Moon Designs Pack Pods


On an urban hike, you have the luxury of carrying multiple changes of clothing. That means when you walk into a cafe, you get to look and smell like a normal person, not a hiker. Because I met with NYC friends and otherwise wanted to look fancier than I would on a wilderness hike, I wanted to keep my clothes wrinkle-free, made possible with the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Tech Compression Cube Set.


While I used to let my urban hiking clothes hang loose or in a stuff sack as I do on backpacking trips, I’ve found having a few zippered packing cubes on hand makes separating and accessing everything easier. The Eagle Creek Specter packing cubes are designed to reduce wrinkles and are among the lightest packing cubes I’ve found. I neatly fold the clothing in the cubes before my trip and pull them out looking fresh and pressed. But even if I wadded them in there, it’d be difficult to find a lighter zippered packing cube.


For my laundry bag and for clothing that doesn’t require a firm, crisp back to reinforce a fold, I use the Six Moon Designs Pack Pods. They’re about half the price of the Eagle Creek, but are also made of a lightweight material and zipper weighing about 1 ounce per pod. On an urban hike, I’ve found it’s rather uncouth to sit in a park pulling single socks out of my backpack when looking for an item at the bottom of my pack (although no one would bat an eye in the backcountry). Both the Eagle Creek Specter Cubes and the Six Moon Designs Pack Pods help keep my pack more organized.


Eagle Creek Pack it Specter Tech Compression Cube Set

Six Moon Designs Pack Pods

 

The HydraPak Shape-Shift Hydration Reservoir 2 liter.

 

Hydration Bladder and Hose: HydraPak Shape-Shift Hydration Reservoir 2 L

 

I carried a HydraPak Shape-Shift Hydration Reservoir 2 L with a hose throughout the trip. It fits into the Vagabond backpack’s sleeve, perfectly held up with a mini carabiner. Because it has a wide top, the Hydrapak is easy to fill under low sink faucets and drinking fountains. The HydraPak’s hose ensures that I’ll stay hydrated while walking--easy to forget to do in the city, especially on a cooler day. Sure, the hose looks a little too hiker-y to be inconspicuous, but I’d rather be hydrated and look like a tourist than be dehydrated and feel ill.

 

Hydrapak Shape-Shift Hydration Reservoir 2 L

 

The Stanley Mountain Insulated Vacuum Mug in stainless steel.

Insulated Mug: Stanley Mountain Vacuum Mug

 

I’ve previously reviewed dozens of insulated mugs side-by-side and found that the mouthpiece makes the difference between a good mug and a bag mug. When I say the< Stanley Mountain Vacuum Mug doesn’t leak, this is actually a huge congratulations.

 

What I like about the Stanley Mountain Vacuum Mug for urban hiking is that it comes with an extra cover over the mouthpiece. They advertise it as a grit guard, but I really like having a protector between where I put my mouth and where the random subway person may accidentally put their hand.

 

The advantage of the Vacuum Mug on an urban hike is that it allows me to more easily transport coffee I get throughout the day than a to-go cup from a cafe. It also allows me to make single packs of instant Starbucks Via coffee in the morning at my AirBnB and save some money (or get coffee at all when I’m walking through some of the more food desert-y sections of a city).

Stanley Adventure Switchback Travel Mug


The Hydro Flask 24 ounce insulated water bottle with the Trust for Public Land logo, getting filled at a water station in New York City.

Insulated Water Bottle: Hydro Flask 24 oz insulated water bottle


The Hydro Flask 24 oz insulated water bottle is the best insulated bottle and also the easiest to open water bottle I’ve tried. I’ve compared dozens of waterbottles side-by-side for other gear reviews projects an found the Hydro Flask to have a great grip, easy to use lid, and to keep beverages cool throughout the day.

 

On the NYC hike, temps got up towards the 90s and having water in my Hydro Flask that was cooler than what was in my HydraPak hydration bladder was a treat. I like carrying a water bottle in addition to a hydration pack because it allows me to create electrolyte drink mixes in the bottle (don’t do that in anything with a Hose--it leads to bacteria growth and odor). Almost every day I would use the Hydro Flask to cold soak a turmeric tea bag to have an herbal anti-inflammatory beverage throughout the day. The Hydroflask is also much easier to refill throughout the day than the HydraPak. Lastly, carrying a Hydro Flask water bottle in the city made me feel like less of a tourist in NYC. Everyone seemed to have one.

 

Hydro flask 24 oz Insuated Water Bottle


The Snow Peak Titanium Spork in stainless steel, blue, green, and purple.

Hand Sanitizer: Dr. Bronner’s lavender hand sanitizer


While NYC park restrooms were much cleaner than anticipated, they didn’t always have soap (or toilet paper). Just as I would on a backcountry hike, I carry hand sanitizer and extra toilet paper. Since urban hiking calls for eating a lot of street food, I would use the hand sanitizer before downing an ice cream or hot dog. Food carts don’t always have pizza. And in the city, you’ll be touching many things that others have also touched. My favorite hand sanitizer is the Dr. Bronner’s lavender hand sanitizer, which smells so good, that I’d spritz it in my hair before entering a restaurant to cover up my stink.


Spork: Snow Peak color titanium spork


On an urban hike, I’m destined to eat a bunch of street food. It often comes with disposable plastic forks. As an environmentally minded person, I’d rather avoid single-use plastic cutlery if I can. Plus, plastic forks never work as well as a metal titanium fork. For this hike, I used the Snow Peak color titanium spork in purple. Although it seems minor, the huge perk of these sporks are the bright colors. Compared to my usual grey camping sporks, these bright sporks are easier to find in my pack. More importantly, I’m less likely to forget this spork if I sat down at a picnic bench to eat something. I’m also less likely to toss this brightly colored spork out with my food trash because it won’t blend in.


Buy the Snow Peak Titanium Spork

Buy Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Hand Sanitizer


The PackTowl quick drying personal towel in various colors and patterns.

Medical Kit and Toiletries

Since shampoo and soap aren't givens at all AirBnBs, I brought small travel sized toiletries with me. I also carried a quick drying travel towel in case I ended up somewhere without a towel. For safety, I carried a whistle, though luckily never needed it. I included my usual round of First Aid meds including Tylenol and allergy antihistamines (in case I ended up at an AirBnB with a cat). I also carried a Diva Cup.

In case of chafing and for foot care, I carried Squeaky Cheeks powder. I also carried Leukotape sports tape wrapped around a dual-tipped Sharpie pen to cover blisters and a safety pin to pop blisters. Luckily, I never needed this kind of care. But I’ve found out the hard way that though I pass many drug stores on an urban hike, these specialized hiking items can be hard to find at typical pharmacies.

 

Buy the PackTowl Quick Drying Towel

Buy Leukotape Sports Tape