Outdoors gear perfect for SoCal winter

The North Face's Flight Futurelight waterproof-breathable jacket.
(The North Face)

Winter in Southern California is a time when hikers can take advantage of cooler temperatures, which means longer hikes without risking heat stroke. But days are shorter and darker at this time of year, which means you need to carry more gear to be prepared. Here are some items designed to make the going easier.

Poles apart

Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock telescoping trekking poles.
(Kyle S. Ford)

Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock telescoping trekking poles, at a bargain price.

What we like: Hiking sticks are essential any time of year to reduce leg strain and turn hiking into an all-body workout. Cascade Mountain Tech’s Quick Lock poles are hard to pass up. Adjustable to any size user, their three-section legs of ultralight carbon fiber (usually found on far pricier models) lock in place with bicycle-type quick-release levers, extending to 54 inches and compressing to 26 inches for storage. Just 7.8 ounces per pole, they come with cork or foam handles, padded straps and a five-piece accessories kit with tips for street and snow use. And the price is about half that of poles with similar features.

Price: $47.99 to $59.99 for high-end 3K carbon model;

Hike-all-day hydration

Platypus Duthie A.M. 10.0 hydration pack.
(Earl Harper)

Platypus Duthie AM 10.0 hydration backpack for hiking and mountain biking.

What we like: This compact pack is loaded with smart features: an all-day 3-liter water bladder, zip pockets on the waist belt for full-stride access to snacks and a comfy mesh back panel fitted over a wire frame that allows for air flow and keeps the pack from pressing against your back. It also includes handy extras like a fleece-lined pocket for sunglasses, built-in rain cover and a key clip and tool pockets inside the main cargo compartment.

Price: $139 on Amazon;

Cooler heads prevail

Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure nylon sun hat with polyester mesh inserts
Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure nylon sun hat with polyester mesh inserts
(Sunday Afternoons)

Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure nylon sun hat, with polyester mesh inserts.

What we like: While the sun is less harsh in winter, you might be out in it more. This well-designed sun hat keeps your face and neck covered with a wide 3¾-inch brim and 6-inch neck cape, which does not bump up against the top of a backpack (as a full-brim hat does). It includes a sunglasses keeper, antiglare material under the brim, mesh inserts for ventilation and a wicking headband to absorb sweat.

Price: $42;

Wear anywhere light

 Nathan Luna Fire 250 RX chest/waist light.
(Nathan Sports)

Nathan Luna Fire 250 RX chest and/or waist light.

What we like: A light is a must in the short days of fall and winter. This 250-lumen model for hikers and runners can be clipped or strapped anywhere on your clothing. The beam can be angled up and down and adjusted from spotlight to strobe. A USB-rechargeable battery and adjustable strap are included.

Price: $39.99;

Rain-and-heat shedding jacket

The North Face Flight Futurelight waterproof-breathable jacket made of nylon and elastane.

What we like: This waterproof hooded jacket for hiking and running limits overheating by using Futurelight, a highly perforated fabric that lets air vent while keeping rain from coming in. It weighs 8 ounces, wads into a back stash pocket barely bigger than your hand and easily stows in a backpack or fanny pack. It’s not cheap, but North Face gear never is.

Price: $280;