May 22, 2024 - Things to Do

Top outdoor gear for Portland's summers

Illustration of a Sasquatch wearing a backpack, a bucket hat, an exercise mat,  and holding a water bottle

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With summer quickly approaching, it's time to start thinking about the basics you may need to make the most of our warmer weather.

Why it matters: There's a lot of gear out there, so making choices can sometimes feel overwhelming for Portland newcomers, and even veterans who've been hibernating too long.

The latest: We spoke with a few local experts to get their thoughts on what essentials are needed for any outdoor adventure — no matter if you're chasing wildflowers in the Gorge or at the top of Mount St. Helens.

What to try: At the top of the list, Marcus Bingham recommends polarized sunglasses, a hat, a quality water bottle and sturdy, comfortable shoes. Bingham is the owner of Portland-based Terran Travels, which offers a host of full-day tours of places like Mount Hood and the Oregon coast.

Weather can turn on a dime in the Pacific Northwest, making water-resistant gear a necessity.

It's not a bad idea to have an extra layer along if the temperature drops — think wool-blend socks and a hoodie. Be sure to check trail conditions before you leave: It can be 20-plus degrees cooler on the coast or more at higher elevations.

  • Carry cash in case you have to pay a day-use fee or to park.

Yes, but: Always prepare if you're going further afield by packing the hiking essentials, including snacks, a first aid kit, a headlamp and a map, according to PCT Oregon.

Good news for novices: The Portland area has loads of places to rent camping and sporting gear. Borrowing from friends may also be an option.

  • Check out Next Adventure's "bargain basement" for deeply-discounted deadstock gear and REI's Re/Supply store at Clackamas Town Center for pre-loved, marked-down goods.
  • It's a cost-effective way to try different kinds of high-quality gear while figuring out how often you'll go and how much to spend.

The bottom line: "We can't guarantee good weather even in the summer," Bingham said. "Be in a headspace where if you're thrown a curveball it won't ruin your day."

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