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Under $20 Women's Outdoor Gear Guide

Updated on August 19, 2016

Nuun Tablets

We've all been there. A mile from the summit, two days into your overnight trek, or settling in for a quick lunch at the trail head with the family, sometimes water just isn't going to cut it. If you're anything like me, you'd WAY rather be sipping from a glass full of Pina Colada or Margarita than a Nalgene full of lukewarm water. Lucky for us girls gone outdoor wild Nuun Tablets are a creative, easy way to flavor your water and provide much needed electrolytes.

Neutrogena Wet Skin Lotion Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF

Girls - like all humans - sweat. This stuff works even when you're sweaty, which is why I consider it an essential. The sun is strong at high altitudes, and if you're skiing or snowboarding the snow is an intense UV reflector. That's 360 degrees of sunburn. Having a sunscreen that is strong enough to stay on despite sweat and snow but sensitive enough not to irritate the skin is game changing. I prefer the spray on cans, its super lightweight and hold up in my pack without leaking.

SOL Survival Medic kit

There will be bad weather, bad days, flat tires, and freaked-out nights. Gear will break, storms will soak firewood, snow will fall in August. But we've all heard the quote "smooth sailing never made a skillful sailor." Cliche? Yes. True? Also yes. Being prepared is vital on the trail, so whether I'm in the back country or out for a day hike I am never without my survival kit. The SOL Survival Medic kit goes for under $20 and has items that can keep you warm and dry in any situation.


  • SOL emergency blanket reflects body heat when the temperature drops
  • Button compass helps you navigate
  • 100dB whistle has a 1 mile range
  • Fire Lite fire starter lasts for 5,000 sparks
  • Tinder-Quick fire starter enables you to start a fire when wet
  • Mini duct tape roll is good for quick repairs
  • Triple antibiotic ointment helps prevent infection
  • Bandages allow you to dress wounds and stop bleeding

Head Lamp

A comfortable, light weight headlamp means you're able to keep your hands free for trekking poles, meal prep, or whatever else you might need. I'm something of a destroyer of headlamps, so while they're all inexpensive and functional I've found the Petzl -TIKKINA to be the most durable. I primarily use my headlamp when I'm photographing the stars at night where I find myself crouching, crawling, worming, and wiggling around to find the best angle, and my headlamp has taken countless tumbles from my head to the ground. I mean it when I say this thing is DURABLE. The plastic housing around the light protects it from scratching or shattering on impact, and the battery-life is long lasting and trustworthy. It has a flexible adjustable hinge so you can angle the light downward so you're not that jerk shining the beam right into your friends' eyes while you're setting up camp at night. The band has great grip, I've worn mine while running at night and even then the lamp had no problem staying in place. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the unique color options and sleek design look great in person.

CamelBak Water Bottle

CamelBak rules. I've had a CamelBak water bladder for years and that bad boy has seen a lot of mileage. The bladder is particularly useful for long treks, bike rides, snowboarding, and any activity where stopping to fish a water bottle out of your bag isn't always feasible. For shorter hikes or an additional water container I recommend the CamelBak Eddy. It is inexpensive, spill proof, dishwasher safe, insulated, and has an integrated handle you can carry in the crook of your finger or clip to the outside of your pack with a carabiner for easy access. What more could you want? They also come with a lifetime guarantee, and the various colors available make it easy to customize your gear.

TIP: Although these bottles are spill proof, quick changes in altitude will make them leak a little as the pressure on the bottle changes and forces the water to rise through the mouth piece. A quick solution to this is to bite the mouth piece of the bottle after taking a drink so the water is not so close to the surface and will not leak!

Sports Bra

I'm all for free the nipple. But as much as I like going bra-less, I'll be the first to admit that it isn't always the most practical course of action when you're on the trail. That's precisely why I have made it my personal mission to find the world's most comfortable sports bras. Lucky for us penny-pinchers, one of those bras is currently available for under $20.00 on the REI Website. I bought the Oakley Strappy Strength Sports Bra when it was full price, and it was worth every cent.The multiple straps are not only bad ass and begging to be shown off, they also offer distributed support so you don't exhaust your shoulders or neck. It has removable cups so you can tailor it to your own preferences, and the Hydrolix fabric wicks moisture away for faster evaporation.


I live at high altitude. My house sits at 9,388 feet above sea level. In a place where the air is so thin and dry, even taking the dog for the walk requires a tube of chap stick to protect my lips. On the trail, wind, sun, altitude, and dehydration are all conspiring against you to turn your lips into a painful mess. I can't iterate enough how helpful having a tube of chap stick in your pack is. When your lips reach the point where they crack and bleed, eating, drinking, and even breathing become difficult tasks which creates a dangerous situation in the outdoors. A 50 cent tube goes a long way in ensuring your comfortable and safe to enjoy your adventures.

She Is Free in Her Wildness, She Is a Wanderess

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© 2016 Brooke Bartleson


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