What to Wear Hiking: Dress for Adventure!

Hitting the hiking trails is an amazing way to connect with nature, get some exercise, and clear your head. But before you set off, you must equip yourself with the right clothing. Not only will the right hiking outfit ensure your comfort and safety, but it can also elevate your enjoyment of the hike!

Must-Have Hiking Outfits

a woman standing in a hiking outfit

Whether planning a stroll through a scenic path or a hard climb through rugged terrain, your clothing choices should prioritize three key factors: comfort, breathability, and protection. Here are some ideas for different hiking scenarios:

Sunny Day Hike

outfit idea for sunny day hike
  • Base Layer: grab a lightweight merino wool or synthetic base that wicks away sweat. It keeps you dry and comfy and won’t stick to your skin. Whether you’re a crewneck or V-neck fan, pick a longer one for some extra sun coverage on your arms.
  • Top: get yourself a quick-drying, breezy hiking shirt. Choose short sleeves with UPF protection to shield your skin from the sun. Look for those cool mesh panels for extra airflow, especially on scorching days. Toss in a long-sleeved shirt for higher altitudes or when the sun decides to play peek-a-boo.
  • Bottoms: go for convertible hiking pants. Zip them off into shorts when the temperature decides to turn up. Opt for tough, quick-drying nylon or polyester pants with built-in sun protection. If you’re feeling lighter, go for moisture-wicking leggings or hiking shorts with liners.
  • Footwear: rock those sturdy hiking boots with ankle support and killer traction. They’re your go-to for handling tricky terrain and avoiding slips. If you’re expecting some wet conditions, waterproof boots are your best pals. And remember, the right fit is everything – try them on with your favorite hiking socks for the perfect combo.
  • Accessories: wide-brimmed sunhat (bonus points for UPF!), UV-protected sunglasses, sunscreen (slather it on and don’t forget to reapply!), and bug repellent. Throw everything in a snug backpack, and you’re all set for your hiking adventure!

Cool Weather Hike

cool weather look
  • Base Layer: Maintain the moisture-wicking base layer from the sunny day hike. This foundation is crucial for wicking away sweat and keeping you dry, even in cooler weather.
  • Top: Layer up for optimal warmth and adjustability. Start with a long-sleeved base layer from merino wool or a synthetic blend. Add a fleece or thermal jacket as your mid-layer, choosing a weight appropriate for the expected temperature. Pack a rain jacket with a breathable membrane for unexpected showers or windy conditions. Remember, you can always remove layers if you get too warm.
  • Bottoms: Opt for full-length hiking pants made from durable, water-resistant nylon or polyester. Look for features like articulated knees for freedom of movement and zippered pockets for storing essentials. If expecting colder temperatures or snow, consider insulated leggings for added warmth. Waterproof pants might be necessary for heavy rain or snow, especially if you’ll be encountering wet conditions for extended periods.
  • Footwear: Choose waterproof hiking boots for added protection from moisture and the elements. Ensure they have good traction for navigating potentially slippery or muddy terrain. Consider adding gaiters to keep snow and debris out of your boots.
  • Accessories: Don’t underestimate the power of accessories to keep you warm and comfortable: a warm hat to cover your head and ears, gloves to protect your hands, and a neck gaiter to shield your neck and face from wind and chill. Pack an extra pair of dry socks in case your feet get wet.

Challenging Hike

tough hike outfit
  • Base Layer: Invest in a performance-focused base layer with advanced moisture-wicking capabilities. These often use technical fabrics that dry even faster than standard base.
  • Top: Wear a quick-drying, breathable hiking shirt designed for high exertion. Look for features like mesh panels for maximum ventilation and a close-to-body fit that minimizes chafing. Consider carrying a lightweight windbreaker for exposed areas or sudden wind gusts.
  • Bottoms: Choose convertible hiking pants for versatility or lightweight, water-resistant hiking pants made from durable yet breathable materials. Features like articulated knees and strategically placed pockets enhance your mobility and convenience.
  • Footwear: Sturdy, mid- to high-ankle hiking boots with excellent traction are crucial for tackling challenging terrain. Look for features like aggressive treads, ankle support, and waterproof membranes for maximum protection. Consider gaiters if you’ll be encountering deep snow or loose scree.
  • Accessories: Pack all the essentials mentioned above for cool weather hikes, with added emphasis on performance and preparedness. Trekking poles can provide stability and reduce stress on your legs, especially on steep inclines or descents. Consider compression socks to improve circulation and reduce muscle fatigue. Pack a headlamp or flashlight if your hike extends into the evening hours.

Additional Considerations

  • Hiking socks: Invest in breathable, moisture-wicking socks to prevent blisters and discomfort.
  • Underwear: Opt for seamless, quick-drying underwear to avoid chafing.
  • Personalization: Remember, comfort is key! Adjust these suggestions based on your personal preferences and fitness level.

Beyond the Clothes

woman standing in a snow covered mountain
  • Weather: Check the forecast for temperature, precipitation, and wind before you go. Adjust your clothing accordingly.
  • Terrain: Steep inclines, rocky paths, or water crossings may require specific footwear and clothing adjustments.
  • Duration: Pack extra layers for longer hikes, especially if the weather might change.
  • Personal needs: Consider your comfort level with heat, cold, and exertion. Pack accordingly.

Now, let’s go and style for your next adventurous hiking like a pro!