Do you even PSL, bro? Seems like the minute Labor Day’s in the rear-view mirror, the entire country immediately comes down with a wicked case of Pumpkin Spice Fever—and honestly, we’re not mad at it.
But despite a national obsession with the eponymous nutmeg-sprinkled latte, we sincerely hope your fall season includes at least one trip far, far away from the sweet comforts of Starbucks. To help you prepare for such an excursion, we’ve rounded up three of our favorite stateside leaf-peeping places, our four best backcountry gear picks…and five goodies to help you keep your PSL on the DL.
3 Killer Backcountry Leaf-Peeps
Riprap Trail, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. This colorful Blue Ridge Mountain adventure can be scaled for any length or ability, as it has a 100-mile-long overlap with the Appalachian Trail. We like the 10-mile loop that begins at milepost 90 and meanders through the trees to the Calvary Rocks cliff area.
Ozark Highlands Trail, Arkansas. This lesser-known fall color trail runs 165 miles from Lake Fort Smith State Park to Woolum canoe launch. We’re not gonna lie, it’s difficult hiking—but you’ll be rewarded with well-maintained, virtually empty trails and be surrounded on all sides by ultra-vibrant foliage.
Long Trail System, Vermont. With 272 miles of footpath, 166 miles of side trails and 70 backcountry campsites, this storied system has something for everyone—rugged peaks, pristine ponds, alpine sedge, hardwood forest—and of course, more brilliant trees than you can shake your hiking stick at.
4 Great Backcountry Gear Recs
TN2 Tent. There’s a reason this Kelty mainstay has been showered with affection, from Backpacker Magazine’s Editors’ Choice and Outside Magazine’s Gear of the Year awards to the thousands of wonderful things our customers have said about it over the years. A few reasons, actually—including compactness, lightness, spaciousness, easy setup, a roll-up Stargazing Fly™ and many, many more.
Sine Sleeping Bags. With men’s and women’s versions that account for differences in body shape as well as temperature preferences, our cozy Sine sleeping bags deliver on both comfort and weight; our 800 water-resistant fill DriDown™ stays drier, lofts better and dries faster than traditional feathers.
Cosmic Mummy Sleeping Pad. This self-inflating ergonomically shaped sleeping pad strikes the ideal balance between carry weight/bulk and comfort. Inflates quickly and thickly, then packs down tight.
Upslope 2.0 Trekking Poles. Buy a pair of these adjustable trekking poles and share one with your wingman—or not! Light and compact, they’re about to become your favorite hiking companion.
5 Portable Pumpkin Spice Snacks
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Via Instant Coffee. OBVS. If you’re not already drinking your weight in Via on every camping trip, we’re not sure we can be friends. The Pumpkin Spice version isn’t quite up to barista snuff, but it’s damn good for something you can make over a fire, surrounded by fiery foliage. Win!
Trader Joe’s Pecan Pumpkin Instant Oatmeal. If you can’t start your day without a double dose of pumpkin, this seasonal hot breakfast from TJ’s will definitely help you get your gourd on. The package only gives microwave directions, but this isn’t your first roadie-o…cooks up nice with some hot water from the ‘ol Jetboil.
Smash Mallow Pumpkin Pie. If you’re like us, you’re constantly looking for ways to hack your pack, so some of your car-camping “luxuries” can come with you into the wilderness. Trust us on this one: you won’t miss those bulky s’mores ingredients if you bring a bag of these artisan marshmallows along.
Bobo’s Pumpkin Spice Oat Bar. OMG! When we heard that this trail-tested carb-fest was coming in our fave fall flave, we may or may not have purchased an entire case of these babies. They’re already a cross between a granola bar and cake, so the addition of pumpkin pie spices really took things up a notch.
Peanut Butter & Co Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter. What? It’s protein, people. For that rare and wonderful strength source you can eat with a spoon, try this sounds-weird, tastes-amazing treat. Good on its own, but truly amazing when scooped with apples or pretzels…or spread on your special friend.