Susan Sommer shares some of the hiking gear she takes with her when exploring Alaska trails.

Before she was knee-high to a moose, Susan Sommer (Alaska magazine’s chief editor) was traipsing across tundra and bushwhacking up mountainsides with her parents and older brother. She had to take twice as many steps as they did to keep up. Today, her favorite hikes include a variety of terrain and frequent pauses for taking photos, picking wild berries, or just breathing in the fresh alpine air. The older she gets, the more she appreciates quality outdoor gear that keeps her comfortable. And after too many times leaving an item behind that she wished she’d brought, or having to shed and carry an unneeded layer in her hands, her latest adventuring rule is to always bring the day pack with water and snacks on an unfamiliar trail. 

Product descriptions by Susan Sommer

Outdoor Research Women’s Ferrosi Grid Hooded Jacket   

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Jacket

Supple and cut just right, with a grid fleece that feels nice even on bare arms, this soft shell jacket is super comfy. I wear it berry picking, hiking, and around town for errands. It sheds both rain and pet hair. 


Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

Petzel Actik Core headlamp.

I finally got tired of disposable batteries and switched to a USB-rechargeable headlamp, although this one can take three AAAs. The brightest setting bathes my book with enough lumens to give me a tan, and the red light preserves night vision, which is great for those 11 p.m. forays outside to check for northern lights. 


Dirty Girl Gaiters

Dirty Girl Gaiters on feet while hiking

Make sure you include the word “gaiters” in your online search for these Dirty Girls (shown at right) or you’ll end up washing your eyes out with soap! I had a hard time choosing which pattern to buy from the oodles of options on their website—there are animal prints and abstracts, camo and skulls, tropical and Americana. Now, each time I pull on my paisley print, I feel pretty (oh so pretty), and I avoid leaves, twigs, rocks, etc. infiltrating my shoes. 


Woolx Women’s Remi Long Sleeve T-Shirt Lightweight 

Woolx shirt

This is not your grandmother’s wool. Its blend of ethically sourced merino, nylon, and Spandex is soft, never itchy, and super lightweight. I run cold, so wearing wool layers is my new ewe-topia. I toss this top in the washer and dryer without a second thought, and it doesn’t shrink or pill. 



Bjorn Dihle is Alaska magazine's gear editor and a lifelong resident of southeast Alaska. You can follow him at instagram.com/bjorndihle or facebook.com/BjornDihleauthor.

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