May is a kind of transitional time for hikers: It’s spring’s last gasp, when the tepid temperatures of that season give way to summer’s unabashed heat. The mud’s starting to dry, snow-covered trails in the high country are starting to open up, but dedicated backcountry skiers can still find stashes to practice their craft.
Last month we got into a variety of adventures, from trail running in Vermont to sea kayaking the Florida coast. These three products helped us do it in style.
I’ve been traveling more in the past month than I have since the beginning of the pandemic. With all that packing and unpacking, staying organized has been a challenge, which is why I’ve appreciated Hillsound’s handy Packstacks so much. These are packing cubes but done for the outdoors, with a curved form factor that lets them slip perfectly into multiday packs and a handle that makes toting them a breeze. My favorite feature, though, is their water resistance: The waterproof version comes complete with sealed seams and a waterproof zipper. I might not trust them for full immersion, but I’ve strapped them to the bows of kayaks in Wisconsin’s backwoods and in Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and so far it’s kept my electronics bone-dry and functioning through pouring rain and whitecapped waves. Don’t believe me? It won an Editors’ Choice Award in our summer gift guide. —Adam Roy, Senior Digital Editor
It’s been unseasonably warm in New England this year, with spring temps reaching the 90s and humidity topping out at a smother 80 percent. As a result, my usual assembly of lightweight polyester shirts has been struggling to keep pace, feeling sticky (and smelling stinky) on day hikes and trail runs. Icebreaker’s Sphere II t-shirt, made with a “Cool-Lite” merino wool-lyocell blend, has been my go-to top. Thanks to the cellulosic lyocell fiber, it cools when sweat-soaked, wicks moisture, and breathes on stuffy days. It’s also one of the softest t-shirts I’ve ever worn: I’ve experienced zero chafing on my long trail runs. I’m excited to test out its durability on longer backpacking trips this summer. —Benjamin Tepler, Assistant Gear Editor
It might be warming up around the country, but where I live in Southern California, I spent most of this month with May gray. (At one point, the temps dropped to a bone-chilling 55 degrees. Wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.) Because the sun’s been a little shy lately, I’ve still been reaching for my layers like my Outdoor Trainer Shell. It wicked sweat and kept me warm as I powered the hills and flats on a breezy, cloudy hike overlooking the Pacific. The material’s sturdy, too: This shell stayed strong when my impromptu mid-hike bouldering attempt accidentally turned into a slide. As an added bonus, Vuori claims to offset 100% of its carbon footprint and provide safe, healthy working conditions for its factory staff. —Emma Veidt, Assistant Skills Editor