Every hike presents a different set of challenges and rewards so it is important to be prepared for anything. A hike in peak summer will be different from the same route in the chilly but this is just one of many considerations. To help you get the most enjoyment of your time on the trail, and to keep you safe, we have created the following in-depth guide.
Without the right gear you could find yourself turning back sooner than you would like or in a worse situation so keep the following in mind before you set out for the day.
What To Consider When It Comes To Hiking Clothing
Above all else, your safety is paramount. Of course, the conditions will be a major factor here so if you are off for a hike in cold conditions, an insulated jacket with adequate rain protection will keep you comfortable throughout. During the summer months, Lymes disease could be a concern which is where you should consider covering up, especially if there is a known hot spot for these pests in the area you are covering.
Along with the right clothing, insect repellant can be your friend here. Check the weather and decide whether you need a wind repellant outfit, or something a little more comfortable.
Buying hiking clothing can become expensive fast so if you are investing in a quality protective jacket, you can save money on other items. Versatile pants include the kind that can unzip to become shorts to save you money purchasing both.
Although no one wants to be left short-changed from their hiking gear purchase, there is great value to be found. Try not to be swayed by unnecessary benefits that certain items offer and stick to the features you need.
Basic Hiking Clothing
A lot of people get away with wearing their regular underwear but the serious hiker will have other ideas. For women, sports bras are a better option than something you would wear day in day out. When it comes to underwear, moisture repelling materials can help you stay comfortable even after hours of hiking and if you want to stay dry, your regular choice of material is unlikely to be much use.
This is why a lot of people opt for polyester, nylon to stop chaffing from ruining a good hike.
Much like your underwear, moisture is going to be something you are battling against here. That is why a lot of hiking clothing is moisture-wicking. Merino wool is a popular choice and will help to keep you dry no matter what your use of the t-shirt or baselayer. For the summer months, find a product that also offers UPF protection for that added layer of security on the trail.
Part of this will be down to personal preference and also some of your decision will be dictated by the conditions. Hiking pants, or whatever you feel most comfortable in should share similar characteristics. The best hiking pants are those that dry fast, feel good, and are not too long so they become a tripping hazard.
Depending on the terrain you are moving through, you might also want a tough material that can withstand a few prickles yet still give you plenty of movement. Denim won’t do here as they’ll up the temperature, even more, when things get hot.
The best hiking shorts are lightweight as you will most likely be wearing them in the warmer months which means they also need to be breathable. The right length is important but they should also be flexible for you to move with ease. Water-resistance is a useful characteristic, as are plenty of zipped pockets for easy access to a warning whistle or snack bar on the go.
Even in the warmer months, some hiking boots are comfortable enough to wear no matter what the conditions. You’ll need plenty of tread and grip, breathable materials, and moisture-wicking throughout. Consider the terrain. An easy, flat trail might be fine for your sneakers on a nice day.
When the temperature is soaring and you are facing a long hike, boots just aren’t the only option. This is why a lot of hikers wear hiking sandals. They should be hard-wearing, have a good amount of support, and a quality sole that is both grippy for walking over uneven terrain and thick enough to protect you from small rocks on the trail.
We consider hiking poles an essential part of hiking clothing as it can help you move in comfort. If you are over 6ft then look for a pole that has a minimum height of 51 inches but no matter how tall you are, make sure it has an adjustable height. A comfortable handle and a strong body are also important.
No matter what footwear you are wearing, hiking socks are an underrated part of finding the most comfortable hiking clothes. Merino wool is going to play a big role again as it should be the prominent material. This will make them breathable, super comfortable and when combined with the likes of lycra or spandex, they stretch well and give you lots of support where you need it.
A proper hiking jacket is important as it will have certain tactical benefits that a regular jacket cannot offer. A versatile product will be waterproof, wind-resistant, and breathable so you can throw it over the top of your outfit no matter what the weather.
Hiking Clothing Characteristics
Each of these will be more appropriate in different conditions so make sure you match your clothing to what mother earth is saying for the day ahead.
To stay warm on a cold day, find a jacket or mid-layer that is insulated so you keep the heat where you need it.
The weather can turn at any minute and one element that catches a lot of people out is the wind. A windproof jacket can go a long way to stop you from suffering if a cold chill fills the air.
As obvious as it sounds, some products are better at this than others. Some are water-resistant so fine for light rain but to stay dry, waterproof hiking clothing is essential.
Important no matter what the conditions, breathable gear will make sure you aren’t walking in your own sweat and can help dry out wicking materials faster.
Even on a chilly day, the sun’s rays can be strong. This is why a lot of hiking clothing offers sun protection. Around SPF 50 and above is always going to help give your skin a layer of much-needed protection.