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What to Wear Hiking: The Only Guide You Need to Read

caucasian male hiking in mountains

We all have that outdoorsy friend who spends weekends conquering mountains and camping next to cascading waterfalls.

She’s invited you to go hiking with her and you’re excited about getting out of your comfort zone. But you’re stumped: you’re not sure what to wear hiking.

Don’t worry! We’ve got your back. Here’s everything you need to bring on your hiking trip.

What to Consider When Choosing Hiking Clothes

When brainstorming what to wear for a hike, consider the following important points.

  1. Safety

This will depend on the environment you’re hiking, along with the weather. For example, if you’re hiking where there’s been a recent Lyme disease outbreak, it’s important your hiking clothes comprise long pants, long sleeves, and insect repellent.

Also, if it will rain, pack a windproof rain jacket to ensure you’re warm in the deluge.

  1. Your Comfort Level

Because we sweat when we exercise, ditch the cotton in your hiking attire. Cotton holds water and sweat, which will make your hike very uncomfortable.

Instead, choose materials that wick away sweat such as merino wool, polyester, and nylon.

  1. Fit

One of the most important considerations when choosing hiking clothes is that every item of clothing must fit. It’s tempting to buy clothes that enhance your body shape, but avoid falling into the trap.

Tight-fitted clothes mean you have a limited range of motion. Choose a roomier fit so you’re comfortable and more flexible when you’re hopping between rocks.

The Basics

Now that we’ve covered this, let’s move onto the basics you’ll need to pack. The hiking wear you should bring includes.

  1. Underwear

Make sure you pack underwear that moves moisture away from your body. This will prevent chafing and uncomfortable wetness. This is true for sports bras too, it’s important they are comfortable and remove sweat.

  1. Shirts

Ensure you have a long-sleeved UPF-protecting shirt in the summer and that it’s made from synthetic materials or merino wool. Long-sleeved shirts make a great base or mid-layer depending on how cold it is.

  1. Pants

Even if you want to wear shorts, you must pack long trousers because of the environmental hazards you’ll face in the wild.The type of pants you choose also matters. For example, wearing yoga pants when you’re dodging branches and climbing boulders is a good recipe for rips and tears.

Instead, find durable pants so you’re well protected during the hike.

  1. Jackets

Depending on the season and weather, you must come prepared. Choose a jacket that’s easy-to-carry, waterproof, and windproof. If it’s warm outside, choose a thin wind-breaker so you can hike without overheating.

Polyester fleeces are also handy, though if you’re going to a cooler climate, you’ll want to choose a puffy jacket with a water-resistant interior.

  1. Socks

Again, avoid cotton. Otherwise, your feet will stay sweaty during the hike. As a result, you’ll end up with stinging blisters that will definitely put a damper on the trip.

If you’re going on a strenuous hike in a colder climate, choose wool socks as they are comfortable and prevent blisters. Silk socks are great for warm climates and can also be worn under other types of socks too. They add warmth to your feet while wicking away moisture so you won’t have to worry about those blisters.

  1. Shoes

Out of all the hiking tips, choosing the right shoes is the most important. They fall into three categories, depending on your preference.

Hiking shoes are low-cut models that have flexible midsoles, perfect for day hiking. Hiking boots are mid- to high-cut models and are meant for day hikes too. They require little break-in time but aren’t as sturdy as backpacking boots.

Backpacking boots are designed to carry heavier loads for a longer period. Most have a high cut that wraps above the ankles for excellent support. They’re also very durable.

As backpacking boots have stiffer midsoles than lighter footwear, they’re suitable on most terrain.

  1. Hats

Whatever the weather, hats are a necessity!

They keep your head warm and dry in the winter and offer sun protection in the summer. Hats are as essential as shoes so it’s essential you come prepared. In fact, many hikers choose Boonie hats because they offer so much protection.

Dressing for the Season

As expected, your hiking gear will vary depending on the weather. Here are a few things to consider.

Spring and Fall

Pack a long-sleeved hiking shirt and a short-sleeved wicking one as the base layer. Add a zip-up fleece jacket for the evenings and ensure you have waterproof hiking boots due to the temperature fluctuations and muddy trails.

Summer

Summer hiking is the best as you don’t have to pack many layers and you can swim if there’s a river nearby. Be mindful of environmental hazards such as poisonous plants or snakes and terrain when packing.

Breathable wicking materials are essential for shirts, bottoms, and hiking socks to keep you comfortable. Pack lighter colors too as they absorb less heat and keep you cooler. And don’t forget to pack a wide-brimmed hat!

Winter

Layering is the key to a comfortable winter hike.

Choose a base layer with insulating properties like wool, a middle layer, and a waterproof and windproof outer layer. You must wear hiking boots, warm wicking socks, and a wool or synthetic beanie to keep you warm during the hike.

Also, pack waterproof gloves or mittens to keep your hands toasty.

And That’s What to Wear Hiking!

Before you start applying your new knowledge about what to wear hiking, know the weather conditions. It’ll give you a good indication of whether you’ll need to pack extra layers and accessories.

Regardless of the weather, wear durable pants to protect you from poisonous plants and so you can move freely. And always pack a hat to protect you from the elements. Happy hiking!

Did you find this article helpful? Check out more of our posts on Travel and Sports.

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