Did you know that hiking needs very little equipment and costs next to nothing? You can even find the hiking paths right outside your front door in some locations. However, for individuals who haven’t prepared for a hike—or are doing it for the first time—it can be difficult.
To start with, you might be unsure of what to wear. And feeling as if you’re wearing the wrong outfit can make you feel insecure and uninterested in your day in the woods. Not to mention, improper hiking gear can cause pain due to cold, heat, or moisture. And you certainly don’t want your walk in the woods to be unpleasant.
Don’t know what to wear while hiking? Don’t worry, we’ll show you what hiking gear and outfits you should have in your armory to be prepared for all seasons.
What You Should Wear When Hiking
Tops for Hiking
Keep in mind that layering is important. The options below are items that you should have in your hiking clothing collection, and you may pick and choose what to bring with you on any given day according to the trip you’re doing, the weather, and your preferred level of comfort.
The base layer totally depends on you. It can be a short sleeve t-shirt or a long sleeve shirt.
The latter will provide you with additional sun protection, which is an added benefit. Just make sure that whatever baselayer you choose, it’s not made of cotton.
The type of base layer you’ll require is primarily determined by the weather. A merino long sleeve top can be a nice alternative if you’re trekking in chilly weather. In the summer, though, a short-sleeved top made of a moisture-wicking fabric such as nylon or polyester would be preferable. The bottom part is the same way.
Find a light t-shirt that provides sun protection and is durable enough to last hundreds of miles on the path.
Layers for The winter
You’ll need another layer if the weather is particularly cold. Choose a thick, well-insulated jacket with a hood.
Many outdoor clothing companies now provide a pullover or zip-up made of fleece as an extra layer to keep you warm on chilly walks. These trekking layers wick moisture or keep you warm.
Shorts or Hiking pants
We prefer hiking trousers to shorts because they offer more coverage from abrasive path plants and boulders, and they may be folded up or down depending on the weather.
You’ll also require a pair of warm, lightweight, and comfortable pants with a good range of motion. Hiking pants are ideal since they are breathable and quick to dry. If the weather is unpredictable, choose one with the bottoms that zip off to form shorts.
Hiking shorts are made of wicking and protective fabric and are ideal for traveling fast through the bush.
A number of hiking pants are now available in a convertible style, allowing you to acquire two pants for the price of one. They can also be purchased based on weight, and some are even lined with fleece for added warmth.
In the end, it’s a matter of personal preference. Wear whatever you are comfortable in.
However, hiking trousers have a lot of characteristics, like plenty of pockets, a lot of freedom of movement, temperature-regulating fabric, and even a protective durable, water-resistant finish.
Whatever you choose, keep the following points in mind:
- Wear pants that are stretchy and allow you to move freely.
- Hiking pants with temperature regulation are great. This is dictated by the type of fabric used.
- Convertible hiking pants may be unzipped to become shorts, which is useful when the weather forecast is uncertain.
Nothing is more vital to a day hiker than having healthy, comfortable feet, so choosing the right pair of boots for the job is critical. Lightweight hiking gear, including shoes and trail runners, is the trend lately in hiking footwear, especially for day hikes.
Hiking with running shoes will not provide the stability your feet and ankles require on uneven terrain. Hiking boots also protect you against sharp objects on the trail, such as rocks. There are a lot of styles to pick from, so do your research to find the finest pair for the hikes you want to go on.
Characteristics of hiking boots:
- They have a collar that reaches above the ankle.
- In comparison to hiking shoes, these provide additional ankle support and stability.
- They are intended for use on day hikes with lighter weights.
Hiking shoes have become increasingly popular, particularly when weight is a consideration and ankle stability is not a problem. They’re also a better choice for shorter hikes where fatigue isn’t an issue.
For day hiking, these will provide the right level of protection and support, while trail runners will reduce extra weight so you can move faster and comfortably.
Characteristics of hiking shoes:
- They are low-top sneakers with a cut below the ankle.
- Trail runners may resemble them, but they are sturdier and more durable, having thicker soles.
- They are great for people who don’t have a lot of ankle sprains or twists.
Hiking socks are maybe the most underappreciated piece of hiking gear on this list, but they are just as crucial as the rest. Once you’ve decided on a pair of hiking shoes or trail runners, you’ll need to complete your outfit with a pair of hiking-specific socks.
We prefer wool socks over cotton or synthetic socks because wool has a remarkable ability to control temperature, remain warm even when wet, and dries considerably faster than cotton. Hiking socks of good quality provide support and safety against blisters, as well as wicking away moisture.
You can wear socks made of various materials, such as polyester, although wool socks are preferable.
They add a layer of padding to your hiking footwear while also regulating your foot temperature and absorbing moisture. They come in a variety of lengths, but we advise choosing ones that come up past your hiking boots to avoid chafing your feet against them.
With a few more gear, your hike can go from comfortable to luxurious. Here are some of our suggestions.
Sunglasses: In addition to a hat, sunglasses are required to protect your eyes; choose a lightweight and durable model.
Sporty eyewear straps: These will keep your shades from getting lost on the course. They are especially beneficial while traveling through icy terrain or on hot summer days. Protect your eyes and take in the scenery.
Sunhat: Sunhats keep the light out of your eyes and shield delicate parts like your ears, neck, and hairline from the sun’s rays.
A wide-brimmed sunhat shields your ears and neck just as well as a long-billed baseball cap protects your face. Note that a lighter hue will keep your head cooler than darker shades that absorb heat, such as black and dark navy.
Gaiters: Wear gaiters to keep dust, dirt, splinters, and sticks out of your shoes. They attach easily to hiking boots or shoes, and a Goretex version is available for damp and rainy weather.
Sunscreen: Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater and frequently reapply, particularly when you’re sweating.
Few Things to Keep in Mind
Avoid the following:
- Cotton absorbs sweat instead of wicking it away. It is a hydrophilic fabric, meaning it absorbs water, making it one of the most frequent fabrics to avoid while planning your hiking outfit.
This fabric is used to make our kitchen towels, which are used to clean up messes on a daily basis. Our sweatshirts are also made of cotton since it is warm and comfortable. However, the moment cotton collects moisture, it absorbs it and takes days to dry.
- Denim is made from thick cotton yarn by manufacturers. As a result, wearing denim in the wilderness or while trekking will pose the same issues as wearing any other cotton garment.
Denim absorbs moisture, becomes incredibly heavy, and is impossible to wring out. Chafing can occur when wet denim rubs against the skin.
- Low-cut socks can create blisters by creeping into your shoe or rubbing against the back of your heel.
- Any fashion backpack worn as a handbag is unsuitable for trekking, and huge leather backpacks are far too hefty to be useful.
- Because many hiking areas have spotty (or no) cell coverage, don’t rely on your phone as a map, GPS device, or hiking guide. It’s also risky to rely on the flashlight feature on your phone.
Overall, if you are a frequent hiker, we strongly advise you to invest in some good hiking gear. Once you’ve invested in some high-quality hiking clothing, we can almost guarantee that you’ll forget all about your cotton jackets, blue jeans, etc, at home on subsequent hikes.
Remember quality over quantity. Choose the products that meet your needs. The best part is that putting together a basic hiking kit will usually cost less than $200. And, unlike traditional clothing, your hiking gear will provide years of dependable and consistent service.