Hiking Fashion:  What to Wear when Climbing the Hills

Here’s an expression that’s been considered a nonsensical oxymoron for quite some time: hiking fashion. How can you be fashionable on the trail, when hiking is all about endurance, testing your limits and connecting with Mother Nature? Well, times are a-changing and comfort is as much a necessity when hiking, so we’ll tell you all about the newest, coolest equipment to wear.

The two golden rules of hiking are:

  1. Dress in layers.
  2. Wear moisture-wicking clothes.

And not necessarily in that order. We’ll talk about each layer next, so you’ll know exactly what to pick.

Shoes

We recommend that you never wear sandals when hiking, even if you’re doing it on a level ground. That’s because sandals don’t offer sufficient stability, and they don’t protect your feet from injuries. They also have thinner soles, so you’ll be prone to all sorts of aches and pains, particularly if you hike for prolonged periods of time.

Snickers can sometimes do the trick, but sports shoes are definitely more appropriate. The reason is they have a special design and use appropriate materials that cushion your feet against injuries, offering support to your ankles.

Boots are also a good choice in regards to support, and they come in different sizes, ankle-high, mid-calf high or knee-high. However, these might be heavier and warmer, therefore more appropriate for the cooler season.

Whatever you might choose, don’t forget to wear specific rock climbing shoes if you’re going to sneak in some rock climbing along with your hiking. So your shoes have to be very purpose-oriented, seeing as they’re extremely important to preventing the most common hiking injuries.

Base layer

Here, you’ll get to wear a top and leggings, but these clothing items should be really fit to your body. An elastic, stretchy material is better, but you shouldn’t choose something that retains moisture like cotton.

The reason relates to losing heat, especially when your skin feels damp and cold. So you need a moisture-wicking material that lets your skin breathe and allows you to feel comfortable and dry. These fabrics are also odor-resistant because they have an antibacterial coating which kills the bacteria responsible for that nasty smell.

You can get something made from nylon or merino wool. This fabric isn’t just moisture-wicking, it’s also very cool and thin, but it’s rather expensive.

Even if the weather is warmer, you still need a base layer for sun protection, and this is when the merino wool comes in really handy. However, dress with style as this might be your only layer during the hot summer hikes.

Middle layer

Since conserving heat is obviously important during all hikes, you should consider insulating materials for the middle layer, like fleece. This fabric traps the air inside, keeping you all warm. Conversely, the moisture is ‘allowed’ out so you won’t feel damp.

You can also choose a synthetic material in the warmer months. This is a lighter fabric, but it’s on par with fleece when it comes to providing good insulation. You can have more than just one clothing item here, or you might skip it altogether.

We recommend the gilet, especially if you want your torso kept warm while leaving enough room for your arms to move freely.

Outer layer

Because you always need to stay safe from the weather, a third outer layer is essential. So this layer consists of a jacket and pants that have to be warm enough, but also waterproof and windproof. What’s more, you should choose garments that can dry up fast, especially when it comes to pants.

And that’s not just for comfort or for packing fewer clothes. But an outer layer that absorbs a lot of water can become a danger while hiking. So the best quick dry pants out there will protect you while offering the benefit of a light, moisture-wicking garment.

Same goes for the jacket. While you need to be protected from rain, snow, and the wind, a jacket that allows water to penetrate it will ruin the advantages of the other two layers. Make sure the jacket is breathable too, and the hood won’t fall over your eyes.

Accessories

Don’t forget to get the best protection for your head, hands, eyes, and skin too. That starts with getting the proper hat to keep you safe from water, wind, and sun. It’s important to choose something light, with large brims and a high UV protection factor if you’re hiking during the summer. Conversely, a warmer, heavier hat is best for those cold, winter hikes.

A pair of waterproof, windproof, and puncture-resistant gloves can prevent your fingers freezing in extreme weather. But you might also need good gloves when doing chores around the camp, like cutting brush or putting up a shelter.

More, you should get good sunglasses to protect your eyes from very bright sun rays. There are all sorts of retinal damage that can happen when you least expect it, like when you’re hiking in the winter, and the sun rays are reflected by the snow. So don’t neglect your sunglasses even in the colder seasons.

Lastly, wear your sunscreen. If you want to stay safe from the sun and avoid skin cancer, it’s always important to wear a protective layer of sun lotion. And even an overcast weather can’t prevent the dangerous UV rays from doing their thing, especially if you’re on higher ground and the wind is blowing.

Where can you get that?

There are various stores and websites where you can browse for the right equipment. Our advice, however, is to choose your clothes and accessories from reputable brands. That doesn’t mean paying a lot, but it ensures you’ll be getting qualitative products and reliable craftsmanship.

Even better is to do your research first, and read a couple of reviews before making your decision, particularly if you’ll be acquiring a pricier item. That said, what would you recommend others in terms of hiking wear? Leave us a comment below!