There's no better time than fall to get out there and explore. (Hello changing leaves—and the subsequent Instagram post to follow.) If you find yourself daydreaming about long hikes, winding trails, and the quality time that only an afternoon spent with nature can give, enter Women Who Hike to save the day.
The unique community was founded by Nicole Brown and Savanah Coble to inspire other women to get outdoors, explore, and feel empowered by hiking and nature. Now a country-wide community that brings together women who want to experience the outdoors and use hiking as a "path to discovery, independence, growth and resilience," Women Who Hike is a go-to for all things nature, adventure, and female empowerment.
To help plan our next fall adventure, we turned to Nicole Brown, co-founder of Women Who Hike, Merrell ambassador, hiking enthusiast, and outdoors woman, shared with us her exact go-to products for a perfect nature break.
You're always on the move exploring. What does a typical weekend look like for you ladies?
"Most of my adventures actually happen on weekdays, which I prefer because the trails and parks are far less crowded and highlights more accessible. But, when I do venture out, I lay out all my supplies the night before. This includes gear, snacks, as well as filling up my hydration pack which comes along with me in one of my Deuter packs. I plan all my hikes in advance, knowing what clothes are suitable and mostly try and wear layers so I need less and bring less. Minimalism is key when your adventuring to the great outdoors."
How do you prepare for a big adventure such as the Tough Mudder we just did or a long hike?
"I always start a packing list before a trip. This is something I have been doing for a couple of years now. I usually start the list during my downtime far before I leave for the trip and add as well as delete and edit leading up to the packing day. I rarely bring any piece of clothing I don’t wear, which serves me well while on the trip as well as after when unpacking. I also use self-sealing space bags, which have been a godsend. Not only does it save space, but I also love them for organization purposes: One bag has workout/hiking clothes, one has casual tees/blouses, one has coats, jeans etc. They make unpacking and storing while on the trip a breeze."
How do you fuel up for the big day?
"I am a pretty loyal Kind Bar eater. I rarely pack a proper lunch for a hike, unless there happens to be leftovers in my fridge. For long treks, energy gels are a must because trying to chew a bar with a dry mouth and while tired from huffing and puffing is a challenge all on its own. While I am not a fan of energy gels, there are a few I actually like and definitely help to put that pep in your step when you need a pick me up. Depending on the hike, I will half-freeze a beer or wine for the peak. There really is nothing like a summit cheers!"
What products do you always make sure to have with you in your pack before an adventure?
"I always have a pair of Merrell All Out Crush with me. I actually have three pairs. There are a hybrid trail runner/low hiker, which also are a capable shoe for some light bouldering. A hydroflask, and I bring multiple pairs of Ray Bans, I am a classic aviator girl as well as my Canon EOS M3 along with shutter button because I take my own photos. And I always bring my Merrell Trailmist Windbreaker in black while on the go."
What are your go-to beauty products for the day of your adventure, as well as for cleaning up post event?
"I wear Ulta Clear Sunscreen mixed with a little Benefit Dew The Hoola for color and light reflection. I have severe melasma from being in the outdoors too much, so these two pull double duty for me by protecting me from the sun as well as some light reflection from my not too attractive hyperpigmentation. Honest Beauty also makes two products I am addicted to, which are perfect for the outdoors: the Hydration Face Mist and Powder Cleanser. The powder cleanser is a REAL game changer, especially when backpacking. I have especially sensitive skin and breakout often and these come in tiny single use packets and with added with just a few drops of water really do the job of taking off the day!"
For any of our readers who are looking to plan their own adventure this weekend, what are the top five must-pack products every beginner must have?
"The right shoes. I see far too many ladies attempting far and difficult hikes in the wrong shoes. Running shoes and trainers are just not going to help you the way a hiking shoe will on the trail. We really do nothing BUT use our feet so investing in the right shoes from the start is a no brainer. I have been wearing Merrells my whole life, long before partnering with them at Women Who Hike, so when I recommend and brag about the product, it is because I am a user. The lineup of shoes is vast and there is something for everyone."
Also on Nicole's list:
* paper or digital map(s)
* emergency whistle
* daypack with hydration pack
* bite/sting kit
Last question, your Instagrams are BEAUTIFUL! Any tips for documenting your adventure?
"I constantly get asked, who takes your pictures? I take 99 percent of all my own images. I carry a lightweight tripod, Canon EOS M3, and shutter button. Because I hike mostly solo and in remote areas, there will likely be no one to take my picture for me and now I far prefer doing it myself. If you’re trying to build a cohesive gallery, invest in a real camera. But, above all else, nature is for our enjoyment and the photos taken should really be a secondary part of the journey. So, first and foremost, enjoy the journey and document it second!"
We couldn't agree more, Nicole!
What adventures do you have planned this fall? What products are you packing? Share with us!