How to Dress for Hiking

How to Dress for Hiking

Do you usually have a headache when preparing clothing for a trip? You have various types of clothes but do not know what to wear? After hours get stuck with that mess, you finally decide to pack as much clothing as possible because of your fear of missing out.

You can do so if you are going on a flight or car trip to a resort to relax and want to have significant photos. But if you are going to have a hiking trip, you have to pick and choose clothes designed appropriate for long outdoor walks and protect you from the impact of weather and the environment of hiking areas.

In this article, I will share with you how to dress for hiking appropriately.

Why Suitable Dressing for Hiking Important

Why Suitable Dressing for Hiking Important

I believe that clothing is always one thing that wastes your time and money most on every trip. But do you know that dressing for hiking is different? You need to prepare neither fashionable clothes nor trendy concepts for each scenery. That’s all redundant. The appropriateness is the only and first thing you should care about before other factors.

You all know that hiking is an outdoor activity that may take you at least 6 hours extensively working out. There is no plane, no car or boat for you to move among places but your feet. It is an energy-burning activity that requires you exercise continuously with different postures. Therefore, your body needs to be free and unrestricted to move.

Imagine how you feel if you dress for hiking with a short skirt and a snug cut-out top? Will you feel confident and comfortable with that outfit? Do you think that it will help you to draw the attention of other hikers?

No and Yes. No, since I am sure that no one can complete the hiking trails comfortably with that type of dressing. And yes, other hikers would put their eyes on you. The reason is that you look crazy, ridiculous, and unprofessional.

Therefore, suitable dressing for hiking is essential. It gives you a professional look, supports your hike, and protects your body from external impacts such as insects, weather, or other obstacles on hiking trails.



Weather is a factor that has the most impact on what you choose to wear on your hike. Whether you hike in summer or winter, the temperature is high or low; I recommend you wear long-sleeve clothes which cover your body as much as possible to reduce the exposure to other factors in the hiking area.

When hiking in winter and cold weather, of course, long-sleeve clothing will keep your body warm, lessen the phenomenon of body temperature loss, and lower the risk of getting your body numb with cold.

In contrast, when hiking in summer with high temperatures and scorching sun, long-sleeve clothes will be sun protection and minimize the risk of water loss.

You may have to hike under the rain or through wet terrains like streams, so waterproof clothes and footwear are essential and valuable.


Hiking usually takes place in forests, wild parks, or mountains, which are the living environment of various insects. They might bite you. That is sometimes not dangerous but maybe a nuisance during your long hike.

Therefore, an appropriate hiking dress prevents those insects from biting you, making you continue your hike more confident, straightforward, and comfortable.



Rocks, trees, broken branches, or even tree roots may become obstacles in your hiking journey, which could hurt you whenever you are slack or lack concentration. They can unintentionally cut your legs and arms, make you bleed, or feel hurt.

Hence, proper hiking clothing can help to protect your body from being cut or pierced by those obstacles. You may think that they are just small and harmless, but many a little makes a mickle. I believe that no one wants to hike with many scratches on their skin because that is annoying and uncomfortable.

How To Dress for Hiking

So, what type of clothing should you wear when hiking? It largely depends on the weather and trail conditions you hike. In summer, when the temperature is high, you may need less coverage hiking clothes; meanwhile, in cool and cold weather, thick and densely made-up clothes with high coverage is the best choice.

There are four factors you should pay attention to when dressing for hiking:

#1 – Clothing material

Choosing appropriate material is essential since that has a significant impact on your feeling during your hike. In general, I suggest you avoid cotton, which holds onto moisture to leave you feeling really sweaty in hot conditions. And then if the weather conditions change and it gets colder, that can leave you feeling very cold and wet.

Instead of cotton, look for clothing made out of polyester, nylon, or merino wool. All of those materials are going to be a lot more moisture-wicking. That’s a term you will probably see in many clothing descriptions.

#2 – Base layers

Base layers are the clothing that is in direct contact with your skin. Again, you really want these layers to be moisture-wicking to remove that sweat off the skin and help it dry faster so that you don’t stay wet and sweaty.

Hiking bottoms

For hiking bottoms, you have tons of options between shorts and pants. For example, people live in mainly dry and desert climates like Utah; they hike in the desert a lot and usually wear shorts most of the time in the summer.

However, if you are in an area where ticks are very prevalent, you might want to wear pants year-round to protect yourself from that. Wearing pants also saves you a lot of cosmetics like sunscreen and mosquito repellent cream.

On the other hand, shorts are usually much cheaper and easier to choose from than pants. You can simply wear a short which you wear in your daily life, provided that you feel comfortable and free to move with that. Or you can pay for sports shorts made of more durable material, which are great for hiking.

When it comes to pants, this is the area that many people have the most trouble finding something that works. All hikers want to wear pants that are going to be breathable and make you feel comfortable when stretching and moving. Thin and lightweight pants are highly recommended.

You might be asking yourself that can I wear yoga pants or athletic tights hiking. The answer is a total Yes. They are so comfortable, pleasant, and stretchy. However, the downside to yoga pants is that they are not going to be durable. If you rub up against a branch or a boulder, those types of pants are just going to rip a lot easier.

To sum up, no matter what type of hiking bottoms you choose, there are three features they should have: moisture-wicking, well stretchy, and durable.

Hiking tops

Hiking tops are more straightforward to choose from than hiking bottoms since your legs are the most-used part during a hike. You don’t need to invest in expensive hiking shirts; just take full advantage of what you already have. It can be a tank top, a crop top tees or a very basic T-shirt, whatever you can find in your wardrobe.

Basically, it would be best if you had comfortable and quick-dry tops, that’s it. Again, my advice here is long sleeve shirts regardless of what season your hike takes place in.

You do not have to apply sunscreen to your shoulders and arms a million times throughout the day if you are wearing a long sleeve shirt in sunny weather. For cold days, choose a little bit thicker and warmer. Don’t worry since your body is going to warm up when you keep hiking continuously.

#3 – Mid layer

Some people may question why hikers need to dress in layers because they find it slovenly and unnecessary. But in fact, weather conditions in hiking areas sometimes change unpredictably, so layering is exceptionally essential, especially in cold weather.

After a few first hours, when your body warms up, you can remove some of the layers so that your skin can breathe and prevent overheating. And when you feel cold again, you can simply put those layers back on.

The mid-layer is the layer that really adds warmth to your body. Something like a puffy jacket with synthetic fill or a polyester fleece would be great clothing options for this layer. The general guide is to pack at least two mid-layers on a trip. But again, that should be adjusted for your particular hike depending on where you are at the time of year.

#4 – Shell layer

It is the outer layer that provides wind and rain protection. Keeping dry is the key to avoid hypothermia, so that’s where your rain jacket and rain pants come in. Always pack a rain jacket in your backpack even if the weather says it is supposed to be a beautiful sunny day since it is often unpredictable.

You might also want to bring along rain pants as well because staying dry is very important. Another great thing about rain jackets and rain pants is that they will also protect you from the wind. Wind can be very chilling, and even if it’s not raining, a rain jacket can help keep you warm and block some of that wind.

Related Article: How To Fit Hiking Boots

Besides water resistance, the shell layer you choose for hiking should be made out of material that will be somewhat breathable, so it does not trap in all of the sweat and moisture and then leaves you wet.

For more information , let’s watch a helpful video on:

A Day Hike – How To Dress for It

For a day hike, you will not need to bring too many extra clothes because they are unnecessary for a short walk. Put what you think is essential on and put a rain jacket and rain pants in your backpack. That’s enough. Always remember to choose moisture-wicking, stretchy and comfortable clothing.

Moreover, if it is a sunny day, sunglasses and sun hats are necessary to protect your eyes and your head from the impact of UV rays. It is recommended that hikers wear short sleeves and shorts in hot weather to prevent overheating, which can cause many health issues.

However, if you can find long sleeves and pants which are breathable, lightweight, and comfortable, I always suggest you wear them since they can help you to avoid insects and sun exposure.

What NOT To Wear When Hiking

You can freely choose clothing for your hike depending on your gout and the weather. But keep in my these following not-to-wear pieces of stuff:

  • Cotton clothing
  • Tight clothing
  • Denim and silk
  • Bras with clasps
  • Flimsy shoes

Clothing for Cold-weather Hiking

Hiking in cold weather, you don’t have to worry too much about overheating or discomforting and untidy feelings due to sweat. Instead, it would help if you care more about how to keep your body warm enough.

Dressing tips for hiking in cold weather

Tip #1: Wear layers

This dressing type helps keep the heat released from your body to stay among those layers instead of escaping to the environment. Because the temperature goes from the higher to the lower, warmth loss quickly happens if you do not dress appropriately.

Tip #2: Say no to cotton

This tip should be applied even in hot weather. Since wet cotton takes a long time to dry, you should choose synthetic polyester or nylon instead. I believe that you don’t want to endure the damp and cold feeling all the time throughout your hike.

Tip #3: Cover your skin

Besides clothes, take special care of your hands, feet, nose, ears, and neck because every inch of your skin exposed to freezing temperature and wind can be frostbitten. For those guys who go hiking in cold weather, try to seal in the heat around your neck and your head; it’s going to keep you so much warmer.

Tip #4: Fitting footwear

To protect your feet, provide enough warmth for them and make your hike become more straightforward, choosing footwear is important, especially in cold-weather. Hiking boots with sturdy soles not only have ankle support function but also keep your feet warm since they are made of waterproof material.

Of course, never wear hiking boots or hiking shoes without socks if you do not want your feet stink. Wool socks may be one of the best choices because they are moisture-wicking and breathable.

For more information , let’s watch a helpful video on:

What to Wear Backpacking and Hiking in the Winter


What to wear when hiking degrees Fahrenheit

Choosing moisture-wicking and stretchy clothing make you feel comfortable when hiking, but that’s not enough. The temperature is an essential factor that has a significant impact on how you dress. Follow my guides, change the way you dress as the weather and temperature change to protect yourself.

Is dressing for fall hiking different from dressing for spring hiking?

It depends on how the fall and spring climate is in the area you hike. Generally, in continental regions like the United States, the temperature in spring is lower than that of fall. So, it would help if you prepare thicker and warmer for the spring hike.

What to wear on a hike and still look cute?

Hiking clothing is not boring at all. There are many styles and colors for you to choose from. Wear what you like, but keep in mind the tips I share with you. You still look attractive and cute in hiking clothing provided that you are confident with that.

Are leggings suitable for hiking?

Leggings are perfect for hiking, running, working out and even yoga because it is well stretchy, form-fitting and breathable. Although they are not made of durable material, they are cheap, and all of you can afford them.