The Bay Area is back in lockdown mode as of this week, which means more Sheltering-In-Place (yes, of the official variety) until at least January 2021. Fortunately, we’ve been staving off the stir-crazies all year long with lots of local exploration, and that hasn’t changed even though the temps have dropped a bit.
As much we love some of the more epic, hilly hikes around the coast, we knew the trails would probably be packed with folks escaping the city one last time (who can blame them?), so this past weekend we bundled up and headed out on foot for a little adventuring right in our own backyard.
What We’re Wearing To Get Outside
This cypress tree tunnel is one of our favorite local treks. It’s equal parts whimsical and eerie, chock full o’ twisty climbing trees, spooky side trails (“the witch woods,” my photographer called them, only too perfectly) and the occasional rogue tree fort — and it ends at most spectacular view of Half Moon Bay’s signature rocky coastline. The day we took these photos, the weather was what I’ll call Ideal California Winter. Not uncomfortably cool by any means, but cold enough to warrant a couple of genuinely cozy layers, like my crazy soft teddy bear jacket (I love the modern fit — think trucker jacket goes cozy) and Fjallraven beanie, which I am calling the Unicorn Beanie because the fit is easy and flattering without any fuss. Truly the perfect, universally-flattering, maintenance-free hat. We even packed extra layers for all of us into our faithful Kanken pack, but once we started climbing trees, it was clear we wouldn’t need them. (I’ll provide info on them in the Outfit Details, below, because they really are some of our most-worn pieces.)
And yes, those are coffee cups you spy, which is a testament to just how local this spot is for us. By the time we had trekked to our destination, our lattes were still hot. Of course, that could also be a testament to the Hydro Flask Mugs. In fact, 15 minutes after we left home, Chris went to take his first sip and let out a small expletive, so, yeah, they’re effective at retaining heat.
Hiking Essentials: Gift Ideas For Outdoorsy Types
Oh, and speaking of Chris. The guy is, quite possibly, the hardest person to shop for. It’s a combo of wanting not only verrrrry specific things, but then pulling the trigger on said things himself as soon as he determines they’re what he wants. He’s also extremely anti-stuff — and not at all into the clever gadgets that are so often an ace-in-the-hole for brainy engineer types. So, in the hopes of providing help should you have someone of similar persuasion in your life, I asked him to provide some notes on the pieces he’s wearing and why, in particular, he loves them. And then we went ahead and rounded up a few more gift-worthy Backcountry buys that are Ultra Picky Person Approved.
Chris’ Hiking Outfit
Chris wanted me to note he’s 6’2″ with long arms (ha, I married a monkey), and he’s usually on the cusp between regular and tall sizing (and typically a Large either way). He’s wearing a Regular Large in all of the tops mentioned, and they are all adequately long in the body and the arms.
Jacket: Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hooded Down Jacket (TTS) // Arc’teryx pieces can be a bit of an investment, but they’re super-technically designed and the fit is front of mind. (Plus, this one is 30% off!) Chris says it’s always the right temperature — never too hot, but plenty warm when it needs to be, so it’s easy to grab without overthinking things too much. And he noted that Arc’teryx collars and hoods are perfectly proportioned so they look “cool and not dorky” zipped up. Cozy 850-fill goose down, and yet it’s still compressible and packs into its own pocket. Lots of colors, too.
Plaid Shirt: Fjallraven Fjallglim Flannel Shirt (TTS) // This is the perfect weekday-to-weekend shirt. It says it’s a flannel, but it’s thinner and sleeker than most, so it easily passes for a work shirt, especially with the neat tailoring. Chris noted it’s warmer than you’d expect from a flannel that’s on the thinner side.
Henley (Similar) // Chris’ fall and winter baselayer of choice. He’s got one in just about every neutral color.
Shoes: Vans Sk8 Hi MTE Boot (TTS) // This guy has loads of Vans. (OK, we all do.) These are the classic Sk8 Hi sneaks, but with a bit more of a winterized, on-trail edge. They’re lined, with a more insulative layer on the insole, weather-proofing and a grippier sole. Easily his most-worn shoe in the winter. He’s even been using them for après ski for years, so he can confirm they hold up in true cold weather conditions.
Shirt Jacket (in backpack, not pictured): Taylor Stitch The Shop Shirt (TTS) // The dapper gent pictured wearing this shirt on the website definitely does it justice — it looks exactly as pictured and is one of the most versatile shirts Chris owns. He buttons it over a henley for Zoom, and it’s the perfect midlayer piece under a puffer or shell. Taylor Stitch has been having a bit of a moment for the past couple of years (so…more than a moment?), but Chris likes that their pieces are classically styled with a little bit of a rugged vibe and there’s no obnoxious branding. He noted that they wash and wear really well, too.
My Hiking Outfit
Teddy Bear Jacket: Marmot Sonora Jacket (TTS) // I love the look and feel of my denim trucker jacket, but I’ve said before that, even though it’s soft and broken in, I wish it were cozier. Well, friends. This Sonora jacket is more or less that. A modern, straight, not-too-cropped fit. Extremely cozy and comfy. The nubby exterior is baby blanket soft, and the plush interior slips over shirts without clinging. I sized up because I wanted room to wear sweatshirts underneath, but if I wasn’t trying to get away with that, my true size would have been fine. Unlike a trucker jacket, the handwarmer pockets on this are generously sized, so they do actually warm your hands — or they’re big enough for stashing a phone or keys, etc.
Plaid Shirt: Patagonia Fjord Long-Sleeve Flannel // You know I have a thing for flannel, and this is what I would call rugged flannel. Thick, warm, definitely with an outdoorsy vibe, and with a surprisingly flattering trim fit. (I’m wearing an XS since I’m wearing it as a midlayer, but size up if you’re busty or if you want more of a borrowed feel.) The best part: Patagonia’s plaid patterns are stellar. Super classic with a retro thing going on. In love.
Beanie: Fjallraven Byron Hat (Graphite) // This is quite possibly the most universally flattering beanie I’ve owned — it’s not too short, not too long, just enough structure, and thick without being stifling. Just easy, low-maintenance, cute. Which possibly explains why it keeps coming in and out of stock. (I swear it was in stock and in loads of colors when I started writing this, friends — I just can’t keep up.) Also seriously in love with this one, which is the same shape and style but with both a tasteful stripe and pom; this reversible Pendleton number (great price, too); and the pom and salt-and-pepper colorway on this one is classically cute.
Socks: Smartwool Popcorn Socks (TTS, but if you’re on the cusp, I could see sizing down) // I’ve been wearing these socks for years, and the whole team loves them, too. Just enough texture to make them look like an intentional fashion choice with boots or booties and the perfect, slightly-warmer-than-everyday weight. They’re available in a few different colors and heights — shop them all here.
Boots: Sorel Tivoli IV Boot (TTS; maybe size down if between) // Lotsa TME love for Sorel boots, and I’ve been wearing them since I was a kid. These have plush, faux shearling lining around the ankle and tongue, so they’re super-cushy, and warm insulation throughout. Genuinely waterproof, and I love the minimal lacing that makes them quick to get on and off. They don’t scream SNOW BOOT (even less so in some of the other colorways) — yet they could totally hold their own in Tahoe, too. (Just look at that sole!) New après ski shoe, for sure, when that’s back on the table. Size-wise, these feel ever-so-short — not enough that I would size up from my usual 8, but if you’re between (and planning to wear thick socks), size up a half.
Vest (in backpack, not pictured): Mountain Hardwear Super/DS Hybrid Vest (TTS) // I have the jacket version of this vest, so I knew this would be a winner, too. It’s super-light and yet crazy-warm and even offers insulation from the wind. A trim but not-too-trim fit, and the hood is generously sized, too.
Jacket: Marmot Hailey Down Jacket (TTS) // Super cozy, plush, and just a bit oversized (we sized up so she can get at least two seasons out of it — FWIW, she’s a hair taller than average for a 5-year-old and we bought the Small). Even our jacket-averse, “I’m never cold, mommmm” kiddo asks to wear this one. The handwarmer pockets are toasty — and best of all, the hood is removable, which makes it a little less bulky in the carseat — though she does like the Nordic Ice Princess vibe of the faux fur. Adequately warm for trips to the snow, too.
Shoes: Vans Sk8-Mid Reissue // Remember when I said we’re kinda all into Vans? Yeah. My kiddo doesn’t usually love wearing “real shoes,” but she’ll gladly strap on some Vans. They are the best for climbing just about anything (trees, playground slides, the river rock facade on our friends’ house — thanks sticky skate soles!) and they hold up REALLY well. Plus, I hardly mind shelling out $40 a year for a pair of shoes she’ll wear literally every day.
More Outdoor Essentials
Backpack: Fjallraven Kanken 16L Pack // Can’t speak highly enough of this pack. It’s been through the wringer over the past few years, and we turn to it time and again for hikes, day trips — it was even my diaper bag when Lana was wee. I’ve machine washed and dried it (just cinch the straps tight, and if you have a center agitator, be sure nothing is wrapped around it) and it holds up great. I love the simple look and range of colors. (We also have the mint green.) Bonus that Chris is always game to carry it if we’re out as a family, too.
Insulated Mugs: Hydro Flask 12oz Coffee Mugs // We’ve gotten our money’s worth out of these, and then some, this year. We use them for local treks, outside by the fire, beach walks, sipping morning coffee at the playground, and even for toting hot toddies over to our Bubble Friends’ place for family night. Great buy.
Shop Outdoorsy Gifts At Backcountry
(For The Man Who’s Hard To Buy For)
Everything Chris is wearing here, plus some favorites he already owns and loves, and a couple of tightly curated things I know he’d approve of. Be sure to read the captions for full details on what makes each item special enough for this particularly picky person to whom I am married.
Shop My Own Personal Backcountry Wish List
I like to think I’m easier to shop for, but to some degree, I am pretty discriminating. Below, everything featured in this post, plus a few hand-picked items I’m not-so-secretly hoping will arrive under the tree later this month.
Oh, and don’t forget — you can save 15% on full-priced Backcountry items with code THEMOMEDIT (case-sensitive). 😉
Here’s to getting outside, beating round two of these Cooped-Up Blues, and staying cozy and cute all the while. And here’s to finding the perfect holiday gift for those darn hard-to-shop-for folks. They sure make things challenging, but when you nail the perfect gift — totally worth the effort.
Thank you so much to Backcountry for sponsoring this post. I grew up in the mountains and at the lake, and geeking out over having the right adventure gear was definitely a family pastime, so working with Backcountry to outfit my own little family has been so fun. And thank you, readers, for spending time with us and supporting the brands that keep us going. We appreciate it so much!
Guys! Follow me on Instagram for more peeks into our life on the Northern California coast. And if you feel so inclined, pop over to my personal food + lifestyle blog, The Pig & Quill, where I share salty scribblings from my kitchen and home life. Byeeeeee!
Photos by Carolyn Stockman.