7 Cheap(ish) Things to Bring Leaf Peeping

Halloween candy lines supermarket shelves, Starbucks brought back the Pumpkin Spice Latte, and Disney dropped the trailer for Hocus Pocus 2—it’s officially fall, y’all. And that means it’s time to step into your boots, pull on your flannels, and head outdoors to admire the changing colors. Whether you’re planning to take in the foliage on a long, scenic drive, a rigorous hike, or just a casual stroll, the right gear ensures that your outing isn’t spoiled by bugs, fluctuating temperatures, or a phone that’s running on empty. Here are seven not-too-expensive things that’ll make your leaf-peeping experience one to remember.

1. Mud-proof boots

A pair of mens and womens Crocs rainboots.
Photo: Michael Hession

Even if you don’t plan to venture deep into the woods, you may come across muddy patches of earth and trails slick with fallen leaves. A pair of waterproof rain boots with good traction keeps you upright and dry while you crunch your way along the forest floor—and they also clean off easily once you’re home. For a more strenuous hike, swap the rain boots for a pair of affordable, waterproof hiking boots like the Merrell Moab 2.

Crocs Men’s All Cast Rain Boot

Made of a single piece of waterproof EVA foam, these affordable boots are easy to put on and have good traction. Available in both men’s and women’s sizing, the Crocs rain boots are also among the lightest we’ve tested, making them easy to walk in.

Crocs Women’s Jaunt Shorty Boot

Also made of waterproof EVA foam and the lightest boot we tested, these are dead simple to get on and off and feel invisible on your feet.

2. A thermos for warm drinks

A Stanley Classic Legendary Bottle.
Photo: Rozette Rago

Warm apple cider, hot chocolate, pumpkin-flavored coffee—whichever delightfully cozy drink you sip on while tromping through the leaves, a thermos can keep it warm for hours. The Stanley Classic Legendary Bottle is the best of the best for beverage insulation; not only does this thermos keep hot drinks hot, but it also includes a convenient cap that doubles as a cup, and its handle folds and lays flat to save space when not in use.

3. Bug repellent to keep the critters away

A bottle of Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent.
Photo: Michael Murtaugh

Few things are as spine-tingling as finding a tick burrowed in your skin after a walk in the woods. To avoid bites (and the damper they can put on an otherwise good day), spray on a layer of reliable bug repellent before heading out. Sawyer Products insect repellent, made with a 20% picaridin formula, is effective against mosquitoes and ticks for up to 12 hours. And unlike traditional DEET-based repellents, Sawyer Products’s picaridin has minimal odor and doesn’t leave behind an oily, sticky sheen.

4. Portable power

Two TravelCard Chargers.
Photo: Rozette Rago

If you plan to take plenty of photos and videos during your excursion—or if you just want to make sure Google Maps is always at the ready—a dying phone battery on the trail is a hard no. The slim, affordable TravelCard Charger might not be the fastest portable power bank on the market, but it’s super-convenient: It’s thin enough to tuck away into a wallet, and it comes with built-in charging cables, too.

TravelCard Charger

This ultra-slim power bank fits in a wallet or pocket and can provide a quick boost of power to a dying device.

5. and 6. Camp chairs and a snuggly blanket

A camp chair next to a tent and a cooler.
Photo: Caleigh Waldman

If you plan to spend time simply sitting and admiring the autumnal views, a portable camp chair and a puffy blanket to drape across your lap only enhance the experience. The Coleman camping chair is wide and comfortable, and its carrying case makes it easy to schlep around. Pair it with the lightweight Kelty Bestie Blanket and a warm mug of your favorite fall beverage to achieve cozy nirvana.

Coleman Cooler Quad Chair

This durable camping chair will last for years, and it’s one of the most comfortable chairs our panelists tested.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $40.

Kelty Bestie Blanket

The lightweight Kelty puffy blanket, stuffed with taffeta, keeps you warm on a chilly day, and if you’re caught in the rain, it dries incredibly quickly.

7. A place to stash road-trip trash

The Hotor car trash can in a car.
Photo: Elissa Sanci

For many folks, appreciating the seasonal colors first means driving to the nearest leaf-peeping hot spot. Spending long stints in the car, especially with kids, can be a messy endeavor littered with crumpled tissues, crushed Cheerios, and candy bar wrappers. A car garbage can helps keep trash contained and your floors clear of road-trip debris.

Hotor Car Trash Can 138

Not only is this spacious 2-gallon garbage can easy to install, but its leakproof lining, lidded top, and rubber flaps keep unsightly, smelly garbage squirreled away.

This article was edited by Rose Maura Lorre and Annemarie Conte.