Tomorrow I’m heading to one of my favorite places in the US: Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine. This will be the third year in a row that my girlfriend and I have taken a fall trip there, and I’m feeling like a seasoned pro at this point—I think I have a pretty strong handle on what it takes to thrive both in the park and when tooling around the tiny, lovely town of Bar Harbor, where we stay.
I want to be clear: I am not an Outdoors Person. I’m not looking to camp and I prefer a sensible walk in nature to a hardcore hike, and I don’t think anyone, by any stretch of the imagination, would describe me as “crunchy.” That said, a few years ago I realized that being outside regularly is extremely good for my mental health, and this—coupled with the work of Ken Burns—is how visiting a national park ended up on my bucket list. Acadia is within driving distance of New York City, and I had heard from a friend that it was “bougie” (perhaps because it was financed, in part, by a literal Rockefeller!!!), so it was an easy sell. Now? I’m a full-on Acadia stan.
If you, too, are planning a fall jaunt to Acadia (or any other park or outdoor destination in the Northern US) and are wondering what to bring with you, allow me to share a few highlights from my annual packing list. These are the items I return to every year, and that have served me well both in Maine and as a casual nature-appreciator at home in Brooklyn.
1. Carhartt Rugged Flex Loose Fit Canvas Bib Overalls
While I have yet to master the art of packing light, I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out “trail to town” looks for this trip—which means I end up packing a bit less than I would if I were bringing wildly different outfits for going to the park and tooling around town. My Carhartt overalls form the basis of this approach, and are a wardrobe staple when I’m in Maine. (While the exact pair I have is mostly sold out now, the newer version above is very, very similar.) Overalls are incredibly comfy and low-fuss—I really like not having to worry about my pants slipping around when I’m out and about.
By the way, these come in a few other colors, including black, brown, and a rusty red, but don’t be afraid of the cream! I’ve gotten mine very wet and muddy, and have had no problem getting them clean again via a normal laundry cycle.
2. Columbia Hikebound Rain Jacket
Before our first Acadia trip, I put all my anxious energy into finding the perfect rain jacket: Something that wouldn’t be too heavy or too light, because I wasn’t sure how cold it would be; that was roomy enough to layer over a sweatshirt; that had a hood to protect my hair; and that could be folded down and stuffed into my backpack if I didn’t need it in a given moment. I also wanted to avoid anything that was cut the way most women’s outerwear is right now—you know, very nipped-in at the waist, but with voluptuous “feminine” hips? After approximately 10,000 hours of research, I finally found what I was looking for in a men’s jacket from Columbia. (Mine is the now-discontinued Cabot Trail jacket, but the Hikebound is identical and has all the same features.) I love this jacket; the hood is big enough to keep my (rather sizable!) dome dry, and the small is perfectly oversized on me. It’s unlined but surprisingly cozy, and I can layer it over the thickest sweater or wear it with a T-shirt on warmer days.
I have actually gotten tons of use out of this jacket in the three years since I bought it. It also happens to be great for running errands or taking my dog out when it’s raining, and I wore it to work today because it was dumping buckets in NYC.
3. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped
I wasn’t sure if I really needed hiking boots for my first trip—so often, good sneakers work just fine for spending time outside—but I’m really glad I went ahead and got these boots. They are comfortable, supportive, and waterproof in a way that most sneakers are not, which I’ve been thankful for every time we’ve encountered rain during our trips. (At least once per visit, if not more.)