4 Pieces of Essential New England Hiking Gear for Fall

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As a newcomer to New England, my first leaf season impressed me. For a former inhabitant of the Pacific Northwest, the colors are breathtaking, save for a few glorious stands of golden larches in washington state, there are precious little fall colors in the evergreen Pacific Northwest, where I have spent the past decade. But autumn in northern New England requires its own specialized kit to stay safe, dry, and stable on your journey to soak up all the sugar maples and aspens you can handle.

Keen NXIS EVO Mid WP (Photo: courtesy)

Waterproof boots

Mud is a spring staple in New England. What no one tells you is that fall is too mud season. Windy storms that change seasons mean smooth rocks and tree roots, deep mud and saturated ferns. My usual breathable trail runners fall short. The Keen NXIS EVO Mid WP, however, does a great job of keeping water from soaking my feet thanks to a waterproof-breathable membrane and an airy synthetic upper, while grippy 4mm lugs keep me from slipping and sliding. Bonus: it felt great right out of the box.

Kuiu Flexfit Delta Cap
Kuiu Flexfit Delta Cap (Photo: courtesy)

Blazing Orange Clothing

October and November are deer and turkey hunting season in Vermont, my new home state, as can be seen immediately from the constant sound of gunfire. Hunting is a major sport for Vermonters and most land in the state is open to it. The best way to stay safe? Wear fiery orange. Any old orange hat or beanie will do, but we like the Delta Flexfit Cap from Kuiu, which wicks sweat away from the forehead and produces light to moderate rainfall. If you’re really concerned about staying visible, the brand also offers this Precision Hunter Vestwhich has great elasticity and adjustable magnetic buckles.

Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoodie
Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoodie (Photo: courtesy)

A foldable windbreaker

Windy fall days are a given in places like Vermont. Even on sunny, mild days, I bring a backup layer. The Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoodie, which packs into its own chest pocket and weighs just 7.4 ounces, is one of the lightest and most breathable softshells I’ve ever worn. It still manages to hold up to bush and overgrown trails without scrapes or tears. Most importantly, it’s a surprisingly waterproof barrier in high winds and holds up well to unexpected downpours thanks to a PFC-free Ecorepel Bio finish.

Sawyer Aerosol
Sawyer permethrin spray (Photo: courtesy)

Permethrin vaporizer

Contrary to popular belief, deer ticks carrying Lyme disease do not die in cold weather; in fact, they remain active throughout the fall in New England. Besides wearing light-colored clothing and checking for ticks after hikes, the best line of defense is to spray your clothes with permethrin, an insecticide that kills biting critters on contact. Sawyer 24 oz. spray can saturate four sets of clothes and lasts 6 washes or 6 weeks before needing to be reprocessed.