How to choose clothes for outdoor hiking?

Views: 273     Author: Lydia     Publish Time: 2023-10-17      Origin: Site

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How to choose clothes for outdoor hiking?

While trekking, a woman changes her cap.

Hiking clothing does not come in one size fits all. Temperature, terrain, distance, and duration of the trek, for example, can all modify your hiking outfit requirements. Finding the correct apparel and footwear for your trek, on the other hand, can be the difference between a pleasant and enjoyable hike and a completely awful one.  

With countless combined miles of trail behind us, the professionals at REI Co-op can help you learn what to wear on your trek, with recommendations on layering, textiles, trail conditions to consider, and more. Before you go hiking, review these hiking apparel guidelines so you can focus on what truly matters: having a fantastic time in the great outdoors.

What to Wear While Hiking?

Can't wait to get out on the trails? Here's a list of the most basic hiking clothing requirements to get you out there as soon as possible:

Comfortable and robust pants: Because trails feature twists and turns, you need to be able to move freely—bottoms made of moisture-wicking and flexible material are your best bet.  

A moisture-wicking top: Depending on the weather, a short-sleeve or long-sleeve shirt made of moisture-wicking material (e.g., merino, nylon, polyester) will assist keep you cool and dry.  

A warm jacket: Polyester fleece works well for this, but for colder weather, a puffy jacket with a polyester fill or water-resistant down inside is ideal.

A rain jacket: Choose a waterproof and breathable jacket that will keep rain and wind out while also allowing you to sweat without feeling like you're wearing a plastic bag. Pack rain pants as well if the weather is extremely wet.

A hat with a brim: Keeps your head dry and sheltered from the sun. Don't forget to bring your shades.

Heavy-duty or leather hiking boots are not required, but your hiking footwear should give support, protection from rocks and roots, and grip on wet and dry conditions.

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What Not to Wear While Hiking

Although there is no official dress requirement on the path, the following items should be avoided if you wish to maximize personal comfort:  

Cotton fabrics, including denim: Cotton—and denim, which is made of cotton fibers—absorbs moisture, so it may make you sweating in hot weather and cool you down in cold and damp weather. Look for additional natural or synthetic fibers with moisture-wicking characteristics whenever possible. However, cotton may be sufficient for you on shorter excursions and in ideal weather circumstances.

Clothes you don't want to spoil or get dirty: Dirt and perspiration are common on hiking routes, so if you don't want to get your clothes soiled or wet, leave them at home.  

Inappropriate footwear: The shoes you wear on a trip may be the most important decision you make in terms of comfort and safety, so choose strong, well-fitting shoes or hiking sandals that can take the job. You should avoid wearing brand-new shoes on longer hikes; instead, break them in slowly on shorter trails to avoid aching feet and blisters.

Jewelry: Think about your jewelry before wearing it on the path. Necklaces and bracelets can be harmful if they become entangled or twisted in trees, and rings or earrings can be misplaced, quickly converting hiking joy into sadness. In general, we recommend keeping anything valuable or important at home when trekking.  

Overloaded or ill-fitting packs: No hiker likes to be burdened by an overloaded or ill-fitting daypack or backpack. A load that is too heavy can make the walk difficult, and a pack that is too small might cause chafing and irritation. More information can be found at How to Choose a Daypack and How to Choose a Backpack.    

When putting together the perfect hiking clothing, keep the following tips in mind:


Accept layering: In this tried-and-true technique, each clothing layer has a specific purpose, and you can add or subtract layers to adjust to changing weather conditions. To be prepared for any trek, start with a moisture-wicking base layer that goes against your skin and, when needed, add an insulating mid layer and a waterproof outer shell, such as a rain jacket. To understand more, read Layering Fundamentals.

Base layers can be made of polyester, nylon, or merino wool: These moisture-wicking textiles, unlike cotton, transport sweat away from the skin and dry quickly, making them perfect for base layers such as undergarments, sports bras, short- and long-sleeve tees, and socks. Because of their ability to control moisture, these materials are also suitable for the rest of your apparel.  

Priority should be given to function (rather than fashion): Nobody looks good when they are unhappy. Thankfully, brands nowadays prioritize comfort and technical performance over appearance: Just make sure you select components that are up to the task.  

Prepare for weather conditions: dressing appropriately for the elements can have a direct impact on your comfort and safety. Weather forecasts can be inaccurate or evolving, and elevation changes can cause weather to alter, so be prepared if circumstances become cooler, wetter, snowier, or hotter than projected. Layers should be worn or packed accordingly. Similarly, you'll need different gear as the seasons change: For a winter trip, consider a warm wool hat and gloves, or a sun hat with a brim for a summer hike.

Understand the trail conditions: Consider long sleeves, pants, clothes with built-in insect repellant, or bug-net apparel if you'll be hiking through brushy forests, tall grasses, or forested regions to help keep ticks, mosquitoes, and other pests at bay. Taller hiking boots might provide further protection in the desert. Meanwhile, urban walks may necessitate greater versatility and flair in order to quickly transition from town to trail.


Consider the following fabric qualities as you layer your hiking clothes:


Wicking: A fabric's ability to take moisture (sweat) away from you and transport it to the outer surface of the fabric, where it can dry fast, is important in a base layer or any garment that touches you. This allows you to work up a sweat without being damp or chilly. Merino wool or synthetic fibers such as polyester or nylon are options.

Insulation: Clothing does not generate heat. Still, if it's good at insulating, it's good at retaining the heat that your body creates, which helps you keep warm. This is an important feature for your mid layer.

Waterproof and windproof: These features assist keep the elements from soaking your clothes in rain or chilling you when wind whisks away the heat your body generates. Water- and wind-resistant jackets do not completely prevent rain and wind, therefore they only provide modest weather protection. Furthermore, product descriptions for waterproof coats may not also specify that they are windproof, even though they frequently are.

Breathable: An vital attribute for all of your layers, this allows your wicking layer to dry faster. When your layers do not breathe collectively, you are not only more likely to sweat, but the perspiration that is then drained off your skin dries inefficiently, leaving you drenched.


Waterproof/breathable: Advanced shells provide this coverage combination, yet even the most advanced technology emphasize wind and rain protection. As a result, when humidity and effort levels are high, these shells may suffer with breathability. Coated nonbreathable shells are less expensive, but they can feel like you're wearing a trash bag in a sauna.

Clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating can help shield skin from the sun's harmful UV radiation. To learn why this is crucial for any hiker and any situation, read Sun Protection (UPF) Clothing: How to Choose.

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