The 5 Things I Can’t Explore Without

Here's the featured article I wrote for about the few things I never start an adventure without! Check out their page for more AWESOME articles, and hopefully these gear reviews help you find your next exploring accessory! (click on any of the bold letters to head straight to the product's site!)

Hi! My name is Lauren Brush, and I’m a regular person just like you, and I love the outdoors, probably just like you or you wouldn’t be reading this article in the first place. I wish I could spend all of my time outdoors and get to be one of those people who somehow get paid to travel, buuuut that’s not me. I wake up in the morning and go to work Monday through Friday and design trucks for a living. Yup, I’m not out exploring the world on a daily basis in faraway lands halfway across the world spending tons of money on incredible places, I’m an automotive engineer living in Portland, OR. As much as I absolutely love my job, I still live for the weekends and those days of vacation when I can go on an adventure to a place I’ve never been and work on my website and just explore.

So full disclosure, I’ve sat down at my computer six or seven different times to start writing this article… who do I think I am making suggestions to other women hiking? Why would my opinions about the outdoors want to be read without thousands of followers on social media, or a company that’s booming with awesome gear of my own? I think I offer a somewhat unique perspective because I’m a completely ordinary person doing ordinary things, but I CARE, and I have such a passion for what I do that I want to share it with as many people as possible.

Now it’s time for me to take a step down from my soap box and tell you guys a little more about what I was actually asked to write about :) When Alexandra from Howl Often messaged me about writing an article for the page, I was honestly blown away. That’s when I first asked myself all those questions, this is a site that I randomly found on the popular page of Instagram when I first started a page for my website, and I’ve looked up to the company and community ever since. But Alexandra wanted me to reach out and write an article for you guys about the 5 or 6 things that I think every woman should bring on her adventures. I’m not here to shove product on ya or anything like that, I’m here to tell you what I use and why I absolutely love them! If you’ve read this far, here we go!


So this backpack is my favorite for so many reasons! One, because it packs into the size of basically a lunch box, so it’s easy to bring with me anywhere I go, even fit it in another bag! It’s by far the lightest backpack I own, and still has pockets for water bottles or a bladder on the inside. It also has a few smaller zipper pockets on the inside which are my favorite! I bought this backpack at the Cabela’s store in Portland for around $40 on sale and I must say, I love it more than a lot of my more expensive backpacks! It comes in a few different colors, so if you aren’t in love with this traffic cone orange I would suggest the “light turquoise” option that I have! People won’t be able to find you as easily if you’re lost in the forest, but you also won’t blind the people hiking behind you…


I’m sure many of you have GoPros already, they really are the go-to for any person hiking or exploring on a normal basis. But when I started my website a few years ago, I was still in school with basically zero dollars because no engineering student has time for a full time job during school, but I wanted something waterproof that I could drop and not have it shatter immediately! So this tiny little amazing camera is called a CANANY Sports Camera and I got the camera waterproof case, and all of the attachments shown for only $60!!! If you’re like me and don’t want to spend hundreds on hundreds of dollars for a camera but still want those semi-awesome photos to post on Insta, then this is the camera for you!!


This may seem like a weird thing to have as one of my favorites. I live in Oregon so shouldn’t I be suggesting a snow jacket rather than a SUN shirt?! But this shirt has been my saving grace more than once! It’s lightweight and breathable, which makes it a great layer for over a tank top when I’m hiking in the spring or summer. I don’t burn easy, but when I do burn, it’s bad news for sure, so this SPF 30 fabric is a life saver! I usually don’t own much brand-name clothing and if I do it’s usually a great find from a Goodwill, but this shirt was a cheap (like $25) and an awesome suggestion from a friend of mine and I can’t thank her enough for talking me into buying one for myself! The buttoned pockets on the front and quick-drying material also make it perfect for fishing and kayaking if you’re into to that kinda thing like I am!


This headband comes in probably 20 different colors and styles, but all are reversible and all are awesome! $15 may seem like an expensive headband but if you sweat half as much as I do when you’re hiking, then this is definitely for you. I’ve always had trouble finding headbands that actually stayed in place when
I sweat, or didn’t hurt my ears because they were too tight, but this fabric is breathable and sticks to your hair while also being just loose enough not to give you a headache!


This is the most expensive piece of gear I put on this list for a few reasons. Yeah, having somewhat expensive and reliable hiking poles and backpacks are necessary, but having a multi-tool that you know won’t break when you need it the most is just as important. I’ve had my Leatherman for four or five years now and it never leaves my side, I bring it to work in case I need to fix something small on a truck, I keep it in my purse when I’m going out with friends (see the bottle opener?) and most importantly it goes on every hike I go on. All of Leatherman’s tools are reliable and affordable, but the JuiceS2 has some of the best reviews of any of their products and are made to last at least 20 years. It’s $70 and includes twelve tools including a knife, wire cutters, pliers, and multiple screwdrivers.

So if you’ve read up to this point, let me first say I so appreciate it and I hope that you’re now able to go out and buy your next adventure accessory! Hiking really doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby, and if you’re passionate about getting outdoors like I am, you can always find great alternatives to name-brands and resources to help you get where you want to go! While planning out your next adventure, check out my website to find amazing hiking spots throughout the Pacific Northwest including anything from beginner walks and short hikes, to multiple day excursions! You can also find great recipes for any type of adventure or even for snacks to have around the house, along with more gear reviews and suggestions. Please reach out if you have any questions or comments about the article or website :)

Happy Exploring! 



I'm sure everyone has heard of Airbnb, the universal bed and breakfast app that is literally taking over. It's a great opportunity for people who are traveling a lot (for hikes or not) who need a cheap place to stay for a night and don't need a super fancy hotel. It's basically an app that let's people open up their homes when they're away or even just rooms they aren't using. 



eat PALEO has been my go-to app ever since I started eating Paleo. It has recipes that are easy and quick if I don't have a lot of time to be creative or spend time cooking, but they also have recipes I have to redo a few times because they're so intricate. 

All Trails


This is by far my favorite hiking app available; it's free, easy to use, and can be accessed from basically anywhere in the world. All Trails pinpoints your location and gives you the top 25-or so hikes around you based on requirements you set including length of hike, difficulty, views available, and the type of terrain. You can also track each hike to see your elevation gain, average speed, and total steps taken. You can also views other users' recorded hikes and link to their maps to ensure you're at the correct starting point and stay on the right track.

My favorite part about this app though, is it's capability to link to Google Maps directly, so instead of having to type in some weird trailhead name and google freaking out on you, it drops exact coordinates to help you arrive at the correct destination! Lots of users also leave helpful hints after they've done the hike, most of which are extremely helpful to read before going on the adventure yourself!