SUNRISE TO SUNSET
I visited Rehobeth, New Mexico - a small town about 45 minutes outside of Albuquerque - on a mission trip my freshmen year of college. My group and I went to help the homeless, but also went on the most incredible (and challenging) hikes that I have ever been on. I found so much unexpected beauty in the desert landscape as we hiked through the varied terrain each day. However, if you are from the western part of the US or have visited, you would know that the temperature completely varies throughout the day and can change very quickly. When planning a hiking adventure out west there are several essentials that you'll need to experience these wide open spaces to the best of your ability.
Comfortable + Versatile Gear
I would say that the most important aspects of your clothing to consider when packing for a western terrain are that they are comfortable and versatile. Obviously, you want to be comfortable for long hikes, so I recommend leggings or athletic shorts for the bottom half of your outfit. For the top half, I wore t-shirts and often had a sweatshirt tied around my waist in case the temperature dropped suddenly, which can happen depending on the altitude you are hiking to. I visited Rehobeth in the spring, which offered moderate to cooler temperatures, but maybe just pack shorts and tank tops if you're going in the heat of summer. I also wore several baseball caps to protect my head and face from the sun. Overall, if you're going to be doing some hikes, versatile gear (like bringing a sweatshirt or being able to roll up your leggings) is key because the temperature and wind speed can change depending on whether you're hiking up a mountain or down into a canyon.
In terms of the absolute essentials for a hiking adventure in rugged terrain, you need some good quality hiking shoes and a small pack that's easy to carry. Even if you aren't doing super challenging hikes, hiking shoes with a good grip will prevent you from slipping on loose rocks or gravel. Good hiking shoes are especially essential for western terrain, like in New Mexico, because the ground can change so quickly from grass to sandstone to gravel. You may think that your everyday trainers will suffice, but it is definitely worth it to invest in a pair that is comfortable and will keep you safe. My hiking shoes are Merrel, which is a quality brand.
They were a bit of an investment, but these shoes truly helped me to conquer some difficult ground (like one hike that involved scooting along a gorge in the rocks, our backs up against one side of the ravine and feet up against the other shimmying to get to the other side). Merrel also goes on sale quite a bit, and you can definitely find a pair for a discounted price.
Another hiking essential is a small backpack or fanny pack that is easy to carry and has enough room for water and sunscreen. I found a small cross body style to work the best for me because once my bag was on, I didn't have to worry about it falling off or hindering my mobility in any way. In my bag, I kept water, sunscreen, lip balm, and tissues which all help to combat the dry western air as you're hiking.
Colder Weather Attire
The last essentials to pack are some jackets and gear for colder weather. Again, this will depend on what time of the year you go out west, but the weather in the spring can go from high to low within a few hours. For colder days, I recommend bringing a few jackets that you can layer over each other, and make sure one is able to withstand rain or even snow. The day the picture on the left was taken, we went on a hike up a mountain where it started out sunny, then started raining, then started hailing, then started snowing on our increase in altitude (the weather can change that quickly!). You may not experience super crazy weather changes, but definitely be prepared. I also recommend bringing a small pair of gloves and some way to cover your head like a hat or fleece-lined headband just to make sure you can be as warm as possible if need be. Overall, these challenging hikes in Rehobeth definitely gave me some lasting memories and alerted me to a strength I didn't know I had to conquer some rough terrain. I hope this packing guide helped to prepare you for your next hiking adventure!