Gear Advice for A Teen Summer Hiking Trip, Part One

You’ve signed up for an Overland teen summer hiking trip, and you’re gearing up to embark on an adventure—good for you!

With four decades of experience in the outdoors, the Overland team came together to offer advice on the gear you absolutely need, what you can skip, and where you should splurge. 

Read on to get our best gear advice!


Overland has over 30 unique summer hiking trips for kids and teens, and we provide specific packing lists each trip. Having the right gear is a critical part of making the most of each Overland experience, but carrying items you don’t need can cause as much trouble as not having something you do need! We’ve honed our packing lists to include all the essentials, and nothing more.

While each hiking destination our Overland groups explore is unique, the six core groups of equipment needed to stay comfortable while hiking remain the same:

HIKING GEAR BASICS #1: Footwear. Properly fitting (and well broken-in) hiking boots provide traction and comfort, as well as support and stability, while carrying a large backpack. 

HIKING GEAR BASICS #2: Backpack. A well-balanced internal frame backpack will hold all your equipment, and distribute the weight evenly across your body.

HIKING GEAR BASICS #3: Sleeping Bag & Pad. Get a good synthetic bag that’s the right temperature rating for your trip, and pick a good sleeping pad.

HIKING GEAR BASICS #4: Outer Layers. No matter the forecast, when you’re outside on a summer hiking trip for teens it’s essential to always be prepared for rain and chilly temperatures. 

HIKING GEAR BASICS #5: Light and Mid-Layers. Layering properly with non-cotton clothing is key to staying warm and dry in any environment. HIKING GEAR BASICS #6: General Gear. Important items, such as a bright headlamp (with extra batteries) and adjustable trekking poles will make all the difference. 


Dave McCahill has led Overland groups in ten countries, from the Matterhorn to the Grand Teton, and through those experiences on-trail he’s seen what gear will cut it, and what won’t. Here’s a breakdown of his strategy for gearing up for an Overland trip.


Step 1: Know the Expected Weather Conditions for Your Destination

Before you start to assemble your gear, be sure to look at expected nighttime and day-time temperatures, typical precipitation, and terrain. In addition, the longer and more remote your trip, the more equipment you’ll need: a 3-day backpacking trip exploring New Hampshire’s White Mountains will require slightly different gear than you’ll need if you’re heading out on a 6-day thru-hike along Iceland’s Laugavegur route. 

Step 2: Get Recommendations from Friends and Trusted Sources

From the helpful staff at the local outdoor retailer to friends who spend more time on the trail then they do at home, recommendations from trusted sources are the perfect way to stay up on the latest gear technology and get personalized advice.

Step 3: Start with a Packing List

Before heading to the store, take the time to write down or print out your packing list– you’ll want to make sure you have every item on your list, and nothing more. Forgetting an essential item like a headlamp or sleeping pad can seem insignificant at home, but can turn into a real problem in the backcountry. Checking items off a list will also ensure you don’t bring too much gear, all of which you’ll need to carry!

Step 4: Shop Locally

We recommend purchasing the items from a local retailer. While it’s always tempting to shop online for the best prices, it’s essential that your gear fit well and meet the demands of your trip. A visit to a nearby outdoor retailer will pay dividends in comfort: shops such as REI generally have dozens of models and sizes in stock to ensure a perfect fit, and offer helpful in-store advice (along with a great guarantee).


Careful planning and a well-thought out packing list make all the difference when preparing for a teen summer hiking trip. Having the right gear, and the right amount of gear, goes a long way toward making your trip comfortable and fun!


It’s the first in a three-part series.

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    Tom Costley

    When Tom Costley founded Overland in 1984, he sought to create experiences for young people that were fun, where new friendships could grow, where natural beauty was embraced, where there were real and varied challenges, and where Overland’s students would achieve something of importance to them. Overland’s focus on small groups, carefully crafted trips, and superlative leadership has made it a leader in the summer camp world. Overland’s commitment to excellence in everything it does has led to its success: over the past four decades, Overland has served 40,000 students and 5,000 trip leaders. Tom writes about the outdoors and travel from Williamstown, Massachusetts.

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