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Our Favorite Women's Hiking Gear for Spring

By: Leah Gallant - March 01, 2013

I spent the weekend hiking around beautiful El Malpais, New Mexico, which turned out to be the perfect place to test out some new spring outdoor gear. Check out some of my top picks for hiking, trail running, camping, or just plain exploring.

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Ibex Nomad Full Zip Hoody

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The Ibex Nomad Hoody was one of my top picks for lightweight insulation thanks to its 100% New Zealand merino wool makeup and thoughtful detailing such as thumb loops, asymmetrical zipper, fitted hood, zip hand pockets and flattering fit. The functional merino makes the Nomad great for cool weather activities, and absolutely perfect next to a campfire. The fit is close, so this would be great as an under-layer in cold weather. Ibex always delivers on top-quality active wear, and this sweet Hoody is a shining example. The Nomad is available in new colors this spring (deep coral and black) for $170. shop.ibex.com

Keen Haven CNX

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Minimalism lovers, meet your new favorite multi-sport shoe. The 8.2 oz. Keen Haven feels like a glove for your foot. The soft and incredibly lightweight upper wraps and hugs the top of the foot like a slipper while the rubber outsole and PU midsole add some muscle for trails. The shoe is super breathable - it's almost entirely mesh with synthetic overlays for protection and structure. I found that these shoes perform best on flat, mellow trails where speed, not distance, is the goal. The Haven is new for spring and retails for $110. keenfootwear.com

Ibex Ciara Shirt

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One of my criteria for top picks this spring was versatility, and Ibex’s Ciara shirt excelled in that regard. Made form 100% merino wool, the Ciara shirt is incredibly lightweight which makes it a great choice for travel or backpacking. It’s as stylish as casual-wear, but as functional as technical active-wear with its natural sweat-wicking, odor-resisting qualities. This would be the first thing in my suitcase on an adventure travel vacation because of its ability to move seamlessly between town and trail. An extra bonus for travelers: it can go days without a washing. $110. shop.ibex.com

Icebreaker City320 Lily Pant 

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Although Icebreaker’s Lily Pant is not a new style for Spring 2013, I had to include them as one of the most functional, beautiful pieces for the multi-sport enthusiast. These pants are the most versatile in my arsenal: they’re light enough and comfortable enough for yoga, insulating enough as a base layer in winter, sweat- and odor-resistant enough for spring and summer hiking/running, and flattering enough for everyday wear. Also a perfect travel pant that will be as much at home at a dinner table as it was on the trail. icebreaker.com

Isis Aurora Rain Shell 

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There are a lot of waterproof jackets out there, but what we love the most about the Isis Aurora rain shell is its flattering, feminine fit. Although it looks dainty, the nylon ripstop fabric is waterproof, breathable, and tough as nails. Functional details also caught my eye: the adjustable brimmed hood is helmet-compatible for bikers, pit zips regulate temperature, and a mesh interior panel in the lower back prevents excessive moisture build-up. The Aurora Rain Shell is new for spring, and retails for $129. isisforwomen.com

 Helly Hansen Korktrekker 5 Low HTXP

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I absolutely adore the Helly Hansen Korktrekker 5 Low ($100). It was the most versatile of the low cut day hikers I tested, the best fit for my narrow foot, and the most affordable. It features a proprietary waterproof, breathable membrane, to-the-toe lacing, and an EVA midsole for lightweight comfort and protection. The grippy rubber outsole performed quite well on some (still snowy and very muddy) slick trails, but their true niche is really speedy day hikes on mellow trails. hellyhansen.com

 Energear Apparel

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Scholler's Energear fabric wins the prize for the most ambitious product assertion of the season (it was actually developed in 2010). Scholler claims it uses ancient mineral knowledge to create a fabric that reflects Far Infared Rays (FIRs) back to your body, increasing concentration, promoting blood circulation, preventing fatigue, and increasing the intake of air. (That's so Teslan! I love it.) Whether or not this turns out to actually be a miracle fabric, I can confirm that it is a fantastic hiking shirt.

Adidas Outdoor Terrex Windstopper 

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The windproof, breathable Terrex Windstopper from Adidas Outdoor was a favorite on my El Malpais adventure due to the need for both windproofing and breathability (long hikes can get hot and sweaty, even in cool temps). I loved the fit and mobility of the jacket – as a smaller woman, jackets that fit are usually a bit restrictive but the Windstopper provided a full range of motion. Pit zips control body climate and a chest pocket provides a convenient stash for cash, credit cards or keys if you’re going packless. The Terrex Windstopper is new for spring with an MSRP of $265. adidas.com/us/outdoor

 Icebreaker Tech Short Sleeve V Chrysanthemum

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I never knew I could love a tee shirt so much until I met the Icebreaker Chrysanthemum tee. It’s made of incredibly soft, lightweight merino that somehow manages to fit close to the body and be flattering all at the same time. I love that it’s UPF 30 and whisper thin, which makes it my go-to hiking shirt for warm, sunny weather. I found that it is also a great layering piece – there is zero bulk with a base layer underneath or a mid layer on top. Versatility is key for schizophrenic climates like New Mexico’s, so the Chrysanthemum’s adaptability made it an easy top pick. This tee is new for spring, with an MSRP of $74.99. icebreaker.com

Merrell Lauley Full Zip

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I adore the Lauley jacket so much I've worn it hiking, horseback riding, running, and to a casual dinner. The cut is extremely flattering and I loved how the super lightweight polyester/elastane fabric felt cool on hot, sweaty post-workout skin. Merrell's proprietary Opti-Wick fabric works to move moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry, and the 20 UPF protection shields skin from damaging rays. I did find that the fabric holds in odor, so multiple wears require a prompt washing. The Lauley Full Zip is brand new for Spring and retails at $89. merrell.com

Adidas Outdoor Terrex Multi Pant 

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If you’re dealing with adventures in blustery weather, the Terrex Multi Pant is a great choice. Like the Terrex Windstopper Jacket, the pants are both windproof and breathable, and have a loose fit which is key for activities that demand a wide range of motion. This is a sweet all-season choice for hikers, runners, or travelers. Also an excellent choice for lightweight backpacking trips. The Terrex Multi Pant is new for spring and retails for $95. adidas.com/us/outdoor

 Icebreaker Gust Jacket

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A great softshell is a must-have for those sweaty hikes or runs in cool weather… and let’s face it, there is no dearth of softshells on the market. I chose the Icebreaker Gust Jacket for its triple-layer protection: next to the skin is silky merino (wicks sweat, resists odor); the mid-layer is polyurethane to block the wind; and the outer layer is super soft water-repellant polyester. I loved the stretchy, body-hugging gusseted panels on the lower back and up the underside of the arms, and I appreciated small details, like the interior pocket with a cord hole for an iPod and a stash pocket on the chest. The Gust Jacket was built for cyclists and runners, so there is no compromise in mobility despite its great fitted shape. The Gust Jacket is new for spring, with an MSRP of $249.99. icebreaker.com

 Ahnu Montara II

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The Montara II ($135) is a lightweight low hiking shoe that's built for fast-paced hiking. The midsole is dual-density EVA (read: supportive yet lightweight) and the thermoplastic urethane shank adds torsional rigidity for uneven, rocky trails. The vibram outsole is surprisingly brawny for a low cut trail hiker. I found the Montara II to be extremely comfortable and stable enough to ward off fatigue after hours of walking, but it was a bit high volume for my narrower foot. This is a great shoe for on-trail day hikes, and cute enough to double as a town shoe. ahnu.com

 New Balance Tonic Top

2new balance top reviewNew Balance's popular Tonic Top has been revamped for spring with a looser, more flattering fit. The tank has a built in sports bra which is surprisingly supportive for low to medium impact activities (depending on your bust size). I loved the Tonic Top for its moisture-wicking acrylic fabric and its versatility (it doubles as a great base layer for cool hikes). newbalance.com

 Teva Tevasphere Trail eVent

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The Tevashpere Trail eVent is a super fun crossover shoe that can perform double duty as a trail running shoe and a (very) light hiker. The shoe has an eVent liner, which makes it completely waterproof, and the "pods" sit on each side of the arch which provides stabilization. I thought the pods took some getting used to, but because I have a high arch and overpronate, I appreciated the extra support on rough trails. The Tevasphere Trail eVent retails for $140. teva.com

Icebreaker Vista Shorts 

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I loved Icebreaker’s merino-cotton Vista shorts for their trifecta of durability, packability, and comfort. Although they’re tough enough to withstand some serious abuse (at first glance the material almost resembles denim), these shorts are incredibly light and crush down to a fist-sized ball if you’re packing light. I especially love that Icebreaker’s super high-quality merino pieces can go for days without a washing due to outstanding sweat-wicking capabilities and natural odor-resistance. The Vista Shorts are new for Spring 2013, and will run you $149.95. icebreaker.com

Merrell Skye Hoodie

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The Merrell Skye Hoodie is a versatile, cotton/polyester hoodie that's ultra-wicking and super soft to the touch. I loved it's drapey, relaxed fit and striking asymmetrical design. Although it looks like a casual, low-tech piece, you'll be ready for adventure at a moment's notice thanks to Merrell's proprietary Opti-Wick fabric. It's the ultimate post-run or post-swim cover-up. The Skye Hoodie is brand new for Spring and retails for $59. merrell.com

World's Best Hiking Companion 

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That's Khumbu. He's not for sale.

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