Trailspotting Gear Suggestions



Hiking Gear & Tips
Bikes & Biking Gear
Photo Gear & Tips

Hiking Gear

One of the joys of hiking is that anyone can start at any time with what they already own. However, purpose-made gear will reward you with comfort, reliability and safety, so we've linked some of our favourite hiking gear below. This is an incomplete selection of gear that works well for us. We try and keep it updated. Trailspotting earns a small commission if you purchase from an Amazon link on this page.

Outdoor Research Pocket Cap | Our favourite hat could only be better if we could find a way to get the 'Trailspotting' logo emblazoned on it. The folding plastic peak makes it very pockatable and easy to rinse off.

USB Headlamp | If there's even chance you might run out of daylight before the end of your hike. Get one with an internal battery that can be charged with USB and carry a USB battery & cables as backup for your headlamp and phone.

Nalgene 10oz flask | Hydration for short hikes. Ditch the outer container and unnecessary black cap, this bottle is shaped well for a back pocket.

Hydration Belt | Great for less strenuous hikes up to 6-8 miles and saves us from carrying a backpack. Includes two 10 oz bottles and has a central pouch that will stretch to hold an 18oz Power/Gatorate bottle and a granola bar. Maintains a low center of gravity. The belt also has another couple of small elastic loops - we use them to hold sunscreen and picaridin in repurposed small hand sanitizer bottles, and now it's a utilty belt!

AllTrails Smartphone App | AllTrails provides a wealth of trail opportunities and recent reviews, which makes it compelling for me. The app requires a Pro subscription for offline maps but I find it well worth it. Crowdsourced maps aren't always the best, which is why we provide Trailspotting brand AllTrails Maps that you can use with confidence.

Permethrin Insect Repellant (Needed in New England) | For clothes, not skin. A big bottle of permethrin will last you a few years. Spray it on your clothes in spring, and depending on how much you use and wash them you might not need to spray again until next year. Protects against ticks, mosquitos and more. Not safe around cats - see instructions.

Picaridin Insect Repellant (Needed in New England) | Applied to the skin. Provides 4-5 hours of protection from ticks, mosquitos and other insects. DEET based insect repellants are another option, but be aware that a DEET and sunscreen combination can have drawbacks.

All of the above is in addition to your usual day hiking considerations including water, food, first aid essentials, emergency whistle, sunscreen and paper maps.

Trailspotting skinned Lectric XP2.0 with homemade 2nd battery holder.

Bikes & Biking Gear

Our Bikes | We often receive questions on the trail about the bikes that we ride. Our compact folding bikes fit in the trunk of our cars without having to worry about theft, or the cost of equipping both our vehicles with hitches and a bike rack. Further, keeping at least one in the car helps for emergencies and for the convenience of pulling it out and exploring a city or some trails on a whim. The principal disadvantage is that folding bikes with 20" wheels are slightly less comfortable than a full-size ride and require a little more effort. On hardpack trails, I usually limit my rides to around 40-45 miles. Trailspotting earns a small commission if you purchase from an Amazon link on this page.
Zizzo Via | US-based Zizzo are a reliable brand for budget bikes built well. The Zizzo Via suits us with fenders and hybrid tires as standard, and it handles unpaved trails and rugged terrain well. This 6'2 and 220lb lump of human has been riding a stock Zizzo for a few hundred miles now. They're also great for kids around 10 and up since they're readily adjustable.
Lectric XP2.0 | Popular ebike on cheaper end of the scale with a 500W rear wheel motor. Heavy at around 61lbs but removing the cargo rack and fenders helps. Battery lasts 25-30 miles on trails with pedal assist, but a second battery in a DIY battery holder extends my range. The XP2.0 is an older and discounted model now, but I prefer it to the new version with a non-removable cargo rack.
Accessories | Here are a few items that we've been buying and using for our cycling explorations. Note that we don't recommend a handlebar phone mounts as vibrations are known to damage smartphone cameras. Also, to avoid scratches and other damage when transporting folding bikes we recommend plastic water bottle cages and a low-profile bicycle bell.
• Bike helmet  • Bike lights  • High-visibility jacket  • Pump or CO2 Inflator  • Repair kit & tire levers, spare tube  • Multi-tool  • Low-profile bicycle bell  • Water bottles & cages  • FlatOut tire sealant & valve core tool  • Seat post bag  • Handlebar mirrors 

Zizzo Via on the East Boston Greenway Rail Trail, shot with iPhone.

Photo Gear & Tips

iPhone Tips | Using only an iPhone to snap our trail images lets us travel light. The 48 megapixel sensor introduced with iPhone 14 Pro was a huge step-up in iPhone image quality and hopefully you're noticing it in our articles. Sure, it's a tradeoff of but we got tired of bulky DSLRs and never having the right lens attached when needed.

Our photos are processed with Adobe Lightroom 3.2 (2010) and Photoshop CS2 (2005). Software so old that you could still buy it without having to pay a monthly subscription, which is something that we refuse to do. These products still provide excellent results, and still easier to use than the modern open source alternatives we try from time to time.

Accessories | Our most important accessory is a wrist lanyard that can be tied to our phone case, combined with a rectractable badge holder that attaches to a belt loop. We pull our phone out so often to take photos on hikes that this has stopped us from dropping our devices multiple times. There again, maybe we're just clumsy.

Tripods | Our new favorite gadget is this combined selfie stick and tripod. On solo hikes its sometimes the only way frame a person in the image. Clipped to our belt with this tool holster it takes literally 5 seconds to set up or strip down. Its only downfall is being unstable in windy conditions, like on top of a mountain. Previously we carried a cheap lightweight traditional and more bulky tripod but we often didn't use it because of the setup time involved.


• Trailspotting earns a small commission if you purchase from an Amazon link on this page.
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

Trailspotting Rail Trail Map
Every rail trail in MA, NH & VT, with links to our reviews, photos & detailed route maps.

Join our Facebook Group
Receive new articles around once a week with trail reviews, maps and photos.
More Trailspotting:
Hiking · Rail Trails · All · Fire Towers · Covered Bridges | California · Hawaii · New Hampshire · Massachusetts · Southwest · Vermont | About · Bike Route Maps · Hiking & Biking Gear · YouTube Channel |  Subscribe 

Presented free of advertising. Share trails safely and respect posted signs. Information here is provided without warranty and users are responsible for their own actions and for validating all information. All content copyright © 2005-2023 Stuart Green. All rights reserved. More by this author at Library of