Gear Guide: 8 Hiking Essentials for Ousel Peak Trail
Dagmara Mach outlines the proper gear and must-haves for a hike near Glacier National Park. If nothing else, don't forget the bug spray!
A strenuous summit pursuit like that of Ousel Peak requires wit, tenacity, and some vital gear. Featuring an almost 4,000-foot elevation gain and located near ground zero grizzly bear country, this hike is wonderful but more than a walk in the park.
Known for the best view of Glacier National Park’s southern boundary from any mountain in the Great Bear Wilderness, the summit sights do not disappoint. Hikers should plan for high winds, the sun, and the possibility of bear encounters.
Here are some gear essentials you can count on to keep you safe and happy while hiking Ousel Peak, in western Montana.
- Jacket – After the first miles of wetter, thicker terrain the trail thins out and opens up into stunning mountain views. Even on a warm day, being blasted by high winds can take away from enjoying the scenery you’ve come to see. Packing along a lightweight but durably windproof layer can be the difference between making it to the summit and turning back. The Mammut Ridge Jacket with GORE-TEX fabric is a perfect choice. Highly breathable and featuring underarm vents, this jacket is a robust technical jacket offering reliable protection from the high winds at what feels like the top of the world.
- Hiking Pants – The trail hasn’t been groomed since nearly 2000. The Marmot Minimalist Pant is a great selection for navigating the rocks, growth, and fallen trees. Another lightweight item, these pants can be easily packed away when you don’t need them. They will also come in handy for blasting winds that will likely arise as you near the top of the peak.
- Hiking Hat – When choosing a hat for the Ousel Peak hike, choose something that has a secure strap that can withstand winds and a wide enough brim to shade your face and shoulders from strong summer sun. The Outdoor Research Raindance Sombrero is an excellent choice, with extreme breathability for comfort even when hiking on a warm day. Engineered to pull moisture away from your skin, this lightweight and low volume hat with GORE-TEX PACLITE® Product Technology will be your best friend against the wind and sun.
- Bear Deterrent – Ousel Peak is located within the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem of western Montana, believed to be home to the highest population of grizzlies in the lower 48. A hiker has no reason not to enjoy exploring these grizzly inhabited wildernesses if they actively practice bear safety. The best defense you can add to your kit is bear spray. With bear incidents every year in Montana, this is no place to cut corners. Go for a canister like the Counter Assault Deterrent that comes with a holster and has a far-reaching spray and lengthy spray time. Remember to make lots of noise, travel in groups of three or more when possible, and to avoid dead animals.
Learn more on the Glacier National park Bear safety page.
- Hiking Shoes – The aggressive incline and rough, rocky terrain of Ousel Peak calls for a technical shoe that can stand up to the nearly 8 miles of rugged trail. The Arc’teryx Acrux FL GTX Approach Shoe is the perfect choice to entrust for accomplishing the trek to the summit. Designed specifically for long and strenuous trail days, the waterproof GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Footwear is also extremely breathable. Featuring Adaptive Fit, an exclusive design that delivers best-fit adaptability using a separate internal liner, it is difficult to find a better shoe that will be more gratifying.
- Snacks – The journey to the summit can be quite draining. Bring along a treat that can give you a boost in spirits and energy as you make your pursuit. ChoNanga makes a yummy organic almond, blueberry and fair trade dark chocolate bark that gives you a boost without the sugar crash. The bee pollen supplies B-vitamins and minerals while the green tea gives you energy to help you press on with a happy tummy. A well-chosen snack for a well-deserved moment.
- Hydration Backpack – Carry a daypack with emergency supplies and a water bladder when embarking on this hike. Staying hydrated and organized will help you stay motivated to continue the climb. Something like the Rim Runner 22 by Camelbak is a good lightweight option that compartmentalizes your supplies and distributes your water well, to keep you mobile.
- Necktube – Neck gaiters that function as sweatbands can be an item of luxury on the trail. Use them to protect your face from the wind and to keep sweat out of your eyes when the sun is hot. Discrete Clothing carries an entire collection of breathable and fun options to give you some extra spunk on your happy trails.
Oh, and lots and lots of bug spray. Trust me.
So are you ready to start packing and preparing for your Ousel Peak adventure? Here are the key points to remember:
- Be informed and prepared when it comes to bear safety.
- Travel light.
- Pack extra water and food.
- Wear shoes you know you can rely on.
- Don’t forget the wind protection.
And don’t forget a camera to capture the moment when you’ve made it to the summit! Take a moment (or two!) to enjoy the incredible views that this peak has to offer.