Choosing clothes for hiking doesn’t have to be complicated or pricy, but there are a few do’s and don'ts that will ensure you stay comfy out on the trail.
If you’re ready to learn about the importance of layers, why you may not need full-on hiking boots, and more, keep reading!
This might be an unpopular opinion, but we’ll share it anyway: You don’t need special hiking boots to enjoy hiking. Unless you’re covering long distances or tackling technical terrain, sneakers or trail running shoes often do the trick. Just make sure the tread isn’t worn down and that you have some grip on rocks and other slick surfaces.
Trail runners and sneakers also dry faster, which is great for hikers who can’t stand how hot their feet get in waterproof GoreTex hiking shoes.
However, if you know you need some more stability for your ankles, taller boots with ankle support are often a good call. Many brands have lightweight models that don’t feel too clunky or heavy, but don’t let a lack of boots keep you off the trail.
Standard athletic socks can be a good option, but merino wool socks are even better. They don’t hold onto smells, they dry quickly, and they can help prevent painful blisters. Some hikers also wear two sets of socks: a thin cotton pair followed by longer wool socks that cover past their ankles.
Many of the same types of clothing you’d wear to the gym are more than enough for day hikes. The key difference in dressing for a hike is that you’ll want to layer up, especially if you’re hiking in places with unpredictable weather, like the mountains of Colorado or the coast of Washington.
Depending on the temperatures, here’s what you’ll need:
A moisture-wicking base layer or t-shirt in a material like polyester.
A basic long-sleeved shirt that will act as your next layer of warmth (similar to socks, merino wool is an excellent fabric choice).
A lightweight, insulated jacket that packs up small. Some hikers like jackets with down material, but Primaloft is a synthetic option that offers warmth even in wet conditions.
A rain jacket comes in handy as well. If you’re like many hikers, it will never rain when you actually remember to bring the jacket, and it will always downpour when you forget.
Pants or shorts will round out your hiking outfit. You can always wear shorts under your pants to account for AM to PM temperature changes, and while zip-off convertible pants are a fashion no-go in the “real” world, they sure can come in handy while hiking.
And that’s it! Once you have your clothes, all you have to do is toss some sun protection, snacks, first aid supplies, navigation tools, and water in your day pack, and you’ll be ready to hit the trails.
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