What to Wear When Hiking? (Hiking Clothes)

A properly prepared hike relaxes, frees the mind, and gives you new energy. But what to wear for hiking, so the hike will be pleasant?

The most important things are waterproof and breathable hiking boots, hiking socks, long pants, and quick-drying fleece tops for a hike. When hiking in winter, you should use the onion principle and wear thick clothing and a hat to minimize heat loss.

When hiking, you must be dressed appropriately. This article will show you what clothes are suitable for different seasons and what to look for.

What you need for every hike

Basic equipment is also available for hiking and should always be used if possible, so the hike is fun and does not end as a disaster.

The following equipment is recommended for your next hike.

  • Hiking boots: Good footwear is important for every hike to have a good grip and not to put unnecessary strain on your own feet. An ideal hiking boot should be waterproof and durable. Still, if temperatures allow, you can also get some lightweight hiking shoes.
  • Hiking socks: Choosing the right socks is especially important when hiking in the spring and fall to avoid getting cold feet. The socks should be made of cotton and breathable.
  • Pants: With hiking pants or hiking shorts, you are well equipped to go out into nature in any weather. Depending on the season, you can choose long or short pants.
  • Rain jacket: A light rain jacket should be packed in your backpack at any time of the year. In case of need, the jacket will keep you dry, and if it gets colder, it will also keep you warm. The light rain jacket is also recommended in high summer at 1000 meters or more altitudes to protect your skin from sunburn.
  • Sunglasses: Sunglasses do not weigh much, are cool, and protect your eyes from the sun’s rays while hiking.
  • Fleece: For cool days, a light fleece sweater is ideal for keeping you warm and protecting you from wind and weather. On warm days, a simple t-shirt that is breathable will do.
  • Cap or hat: A real “must-have” item for your backpack in any weather. The cap protects the skin from the sun and cold winds. A cap is appropriate in winter and warms the face from the relentless wind.
  • Jacket: A warming jacket is always recommended in spring and late summer. Especially if the hike leads to a mountain with strong winds, you are lucky to have a windproof jacket.
  • Gloves: You only need gloves to keep your hands warm when it gets colder.

Tip: Leave a worn sock of yours in the car and a note with information about your arrival time and destination. This can be a lifesaver if you are tackling a difficult hike alone across the mountains in an emergency.

You now know approximately what you need for your hiking trip. Still, you should know that the equipment can vary depending on the place and destination.

In the following chapter, I will give you an example of what you should wear for a day hike.

What to wear for a day hike?

What to wear for a day hike is not easy to answer.

After all, what exactly is a day hike?

For me, it’s hiking that I can do in a day – so 10 to 15 km at the most. But even if you want to be on the road longer, I can give you my comments as a suggestion.

A day hike takes more than 6 hours, so you should really think about it and not just put anything in your backpack.

The right clothing depends on the season and is a good endurance training.

If you have the right equipment, you will enjoy hiking a lot.

Below I’ll give you my tips for your perfect hiking gear so that you not only have fun and get fit but also learn a lot:

  • Hiking shoes: A day hike puts a lot of stress on your feet, so I recommend proper hiking shoes that are light and comfortable to wear even after 10 hours.
  • Long hiking pants: It is recommended to wear decent pants. In case of rain and cold, you can wrap yourself in long pants that are not too thick. My tip is to get yourself a nice pair of long hiking pants that are breathable. It should be waterproof and comfortable to wear.
  • Rain jacket: It is the absolute basic equipment for you because it keeps you warm and dry. Whatever the weather, you should have a rain jacket with you. It is also advisable that it is breathable not to become too thick.
  • Fleece: I recommend you to have a fleece sweater with you. A light T-shirt or an airy cardigan will do if the temperatures are comfortable. Ideally, you should have a second one with you, so you don’t wander around in wet clothes.
  • Sunglasses: Sunglasses are important for me. There are many days when the sun disappears behind the mountains, which strains my eyes.
  • Cap: The cap is often not with me on simple hikes through the forest. But as soon as it goes to the mountains, I like to wear a cap to protect myself from the blazing sun.
  • Hiking poles: I like to have my carbon hiking poles with me on a day hike. These weigh hardly anything and help carry the weight from the backpack.

Depending on the season, you may not need to carry a thick jacket or leave the fleece sweater at home.

The best way to decide this is to check the weather app a day in advance.

Tip: Pack all the equipment in your car and check the weather again on site. You can take extra stuff with you or leave it in the car based on the situation.

You can read which outfit I recommend for a hike in the summer in my other blog article. Just follow the link.

How to stay warm and dry while hiking?

If you want to go outside even in bad weather to explore nature in all its glory, it’s important to stay warm and dry.

My motto is always: there are no bad days for hiking, only bad gear.

And since we don’t want to let the low temperatures stop us from enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature, I have a few tips on how to stay warm and dry while hiking.

Whether you’re exploring new trails this winter or sticking with your favorites, these tips will keep you comfortable during your hike.

A look at what I wear to hike in cold weather:

First, you’ll need a good pair of hiking boots.

If it’s really cold, snowing, or raining, you should also invest in waterproof boots. You may want to start with light hiking boots and then increase when you get serious about hiking.

But first, make sure your footwear is comfortable and supportive. If you’re hiking in cold weather, it’s even more important to have a good pair of hiking socks to keep your feet warm and dry.

Next, you’ll need a good pair of hiking pants. Some lightweight, quick-drying styles are good for warmer weather, but if you’re out on a colder day, it’s also good to have a thicker material to keep the wind out and your legs warm.

Last but not least, you’ll need a decent hat and gloves to keep your head and hands warm.

Many people forget this when it’s not particularly cold outside. But if you’re out and about in the winter months, be sure to pack some warm gloves to keep your hands from freezing.

Lightweight gloves are great for summer hiking, but I like to wear a thick hat and gloves when it’s really cold outside.

After you get dressed, you’ll want to pack a few extras in your backpack:

  • A good rain jacket: a good rain jacket is an absolute must if you’re out and about on a cold day, but now that summer is just around the corner, it’s not quite as important.
  • Fleece: I recommend bringing a fleece jacket. A light t-shirt or sweater will also do if the weather is nice.

How to choose the right hiking clothes for your body type?

When you go hiking, it’s important to choose the right clothes for your physique.

Some people have a strong build and therefore need different hiking clothes than slim people.

This chapter shows you what to look for when choosing hiking clothes. I also give extra tips for beginners and advanced hikers.

  • Pants: Hiking pants should be as comfortable as possible and keep you warm in low temperatures. In summer, airy pants that dry quickly are recommended. Shorts are also practical if you put on sunscreen.
  • Tops: I prefer tight-fitting tops when hiking because they dry quickly. But there are also light, airy shirts for hiking that you can wear in sunny weather. Don’t wear too thin clothes or forget to apply sunscreen to your neck.
  • Footwear: Shoes that fit properly and are neither too big nor too small are probably the most important. Especially on day trips, the shoe should be comfortable and lightly built.

You can hardly go wrong when choosing clothes for hiking if you make sure that you feel comfortable in them.

The differences are more noticeable in the material used, and therefore your focus should be on high-quality garments.

Have more questions about the right clothes for your next hike?

Contact me on Twitter. I’ll be happy to help you with your questions.

Have fun on your next hike!

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Hi, I'm Dave. I'm an avid outdoors and sports enthusiast who loves to share my passion with others. I publish the experiences I've gained over the years on Outdoormeta to give beginners helpful tips and bring people closer to the outdoors.

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