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Fall is finally here and while you’ve probably already decked out your home in cozy seasonal items, one of the most spectacular parts of autumn is something that’s best experienced outside the comfort of your home. With a change of seasons comes a change in scenery and many areas in the country are treated to beautiful, firey foliage. Making a day out of watching the leaves is called “leaf peeping” and for many, it’s a quintessential fall activity.
Whether you’re a leaf-peeping aficionado or novice, it’s important to make sure you’re properly equipped for the occasion. From a handy camera to a cozy jacket, here are eight top-rated products we recommend for the ultimate leaf-peeping experience.
1. A good camera for snapping photos
While your phone might have a camera of its own—perhaps even a pretty good camera—it just doesn’t compare to the quality of a standalone camera, particularly if you’re using lenses. Capture the beauty from your trip and keep a nice memento of the occasion. Plus, you’ll have better pictures to post on your social media story
For beginners looking to get their hands on a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex camera), the Nikon D3500 is a great place to start. We ranked it our number one choice for a beginner camera because of its compact build makes it easy to carry anywhere and it boasts smart features like the ability to send copies of photos directly to your smartphone while you’re capturing shots.
2. A cooler for packing snacks
For the road trip ahead, you’ll want to keep meals and snacks like packed sandwiches, fruit or some tasty apple cider. Thankfully, we’ve tested plenty of coolers at Reviewed so you can pick one that’ll actually keep your treats and beverages chilled all day.
For a cooler that’ll stay in the car or for a casual daytime hike, the Yeti Hopper Two 30, as the best soft cooler, is well worth its price. Coming from the well-known (and well-loved) brand Yeti, the Hopper is just as durable as the rest of its products with a double-stitched design that ensures no ripping or tearing. As far as insulation goes, it keeps items cooler than other soft coolers we’ve tested. It also has a leakproof zipper that really keeps any melted ice from seeping out.
3. A cozy jacket for staying warm
Even if we’re not experiencing freezing temperatures yet, a cozy jacket is necessary for those who are leaf-peeping, especially if you live or are traveling up North.
A great jacket for layering is the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket, which feels like “wearing a blanket.” The jacket also has several useful pockets to keep your cell phone or wallet safe. What’s more, a purchase from Patagonia means that your money will go directly towards helping fight climate change.
4. A comfortable pair of hiking boots
Look, even if you’re just making a few pit stops to peek at the foliage, a quality pair of hiking boots that’ll prepare you for hiking should be packed in your bag.
The Timberland Mt. Maddsen boots are top-rated picks on REI. They’re durable, have a proper grip on the sole to ensure good footing and are designed for any weather. One tip, though: Try to break in your hiking boots before your leaf-peeping hike so you don’t feel uncomfortable during your trip.
5. A top-rated backpack to hold everything
Between your camera, snacks and everything in between, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a high-quality backpack to store it all in along your journey. A carry-on travel backpack can be useful and versatile, especially for those who love the great outdoors.
Our favorite that we’ve tested is the Osprey Ozone Duplex 65 for men—or the Osprey Ozone Duplex 60 counterpart made for women, with the biggest difference between them being the weight capacity. They both offer a perfect blend of durability, smart design and comfort. This carry-all can also be split in half into a smaller day bag and a cargo bag, making it ideal for a casual daytime hike or road trip to a more intensive backpacking trip or hiking endeavor.
6. Our favorite outdoor water bottle
The Yeti brand is responsible for the soft cooler we recommended, so it’s no surprise that they also have the best outdoor water bottle. Yeti’s stainless steel tumblers are one of its most-coveted products for its powerful insulation design, keeping drinks perfectly hot or cold for hours. If you purchase the Yeti bottle from its site, you can customize it to your heart’s content.
7. A tumbler to keep your drink hot
Yeti is at it again with another great product, the Rambler Tumbler, which is the perfect mug for sipping freshly brewed coffee, hot chocolate or tea as you leaf peep from the car or on a hiking trail. Besides keeping your drinks at that perfect temperature, the Yeti Rambler is durable, dishwasher safe and comes in many stylish colors.
8. Lightweight chairs to sit back and relax in
Whether you’re headed to a campsite or want to bask in the fall foliage at a lookout point, you’ll want to bring some comfortable, easy-to-carry chairs with you. On our list of products at REI with a cult following is the Flexlite Camp Chair, a lightweight and foldable essential to bring with you on your leaf-peeping trip. Reviewers rave about the Flexlite, saying it’s easy to set up and break down. One reviewer writes, “Nothing beats sitting down in one of these after a long day on the trail.”
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Leaf peeping 2022: Bring a map, backpack, camera, boots, more