What Should You Wear on Your First Dayhike?

Views: 222     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-10-17      Origin: Site


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What Should You Wear on Your First Dayhike?

Looking through the closet but not sure what to choose? We've got your back from head to toe. Here's what to dress while hiking in each season.

lady hiking on a rocky outcropping above Lake Moraine near Banff

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For the first time on the trail? It's time for a fit check. While hiking, fashion may not be as crucial, but what you wear can mean the difference between having a good day and having a bad time. That doesn't mean you have to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe for your first trek; in fact, you might already have the perfect attire ready to go. With these ideas, you can dress appropriately.

Examine the Weather

It's self-evident: You can't dress for the conditions until you know what they are. Remember that the weather at the trailhead or in a neighboring town may not be the same as the weather at your hiking destination. High heights and summits are typically colder and windier than lower elevations, and storms are more probable. Prepare for the worst possible weather—it's better to be overprepared than underprepared.

Hiking-specific clothing is excellent, but for your first hike, you probably already have all you need in your closet. Moisture-wicking sportswear, such as what you'd wear to the gym or on a run, is also appropriate for most walks. Choose clothing that is comfortable and flexible, and that protects you from the elements, spiky or poisonous plants, and insects.

Depending on the hiking circumstances, you should replace your hiking boots every 350 to 500 kilometers. (Photo by Maria Fuchs/Getty Images)

What Hiking Shoes Should You Wear?

A unpleasant time on the trail is caused by sore feet. Wear any durable, closed-toe athletic shoes you have for your first few hikes. (Select a pair that you don't mind getting soiled.) Sneakers are good for most simple to moderate terrain, but for steep walks, you may prefer shoes with more traction and support. Are you ready to purchase a pair of hiking shoes? You have some possibilities.

Hiking Boots and Trail Runners

Don't be fooled by the name: trail running shoes aren't just for speed. These overboots are popular among hikers since they are light and nimble while still providing grip and support. (They also reduce tiredness by lowering the amount of weight your legs lift with each step.) Trail runners are an excellent choice for dayhiking or backpacking with light to moderate loads. Try these if you don't need more ankle support and prefer not to be bothered by cumbersome footwear, or if you enjoy moving quickly.

A low-top hiking shoe with a stiffer feel and greater support than a typical trail runner is ideal for dayhikes and treks with a light or medium-weight rucksack. They frequently include burlier uppers that can withstand abrasion from sharp or abrasive pebbles.


Walking Boots

Choose an ankle-supporting boot if you are prone to ankle injuries or will be carrying a big pack. The majority of hikers prefer mid-cut boots that rise to just over the ankle bone. These are excellent for extended treks, but they are frequently overkill for short day walks. One item you should probably avoid is high-rise, combat-boot-style footwear, which is often hefty and can cause blisters if not properly fitted and laced.


When choosing hiking shoes, keep waterproofing and breathability in mind. Waterproof footwear are recommended if you plan to spend a lot of time crossing shallow streams or trudging through snow or mud. Remember that these boots are significantly less breathable than their non-waterproof equivalents. That means sweat accumulates, and if you overtop the boots in a deeper stream or puddle, they will take longer to dry. Many hikers prefer breathable, synthetic shoes (such as those with mesh panels) for summer trekking since they dry quickly if they become wet.

Consider the outsole, which is what keeps you on the trail in addition to the upper material. Different soles are designed for different surface types; if you frequently hike in muddy terrain, you may want larger, well-spaced lugs. Look for sticky rubber and flatter soles that enhance surface contact with the ground if you plan on doing a lot of rock scrambling.

With so many models available, it's a good idea to try on different pairs in the store and get a sense of what works best for you. Your choices may vary as you hike more. Just make sure you pick a shoe or boot that fits properly and is supportive enough for the terrain you intend to trek in. A sales person at your local business can assist you in determining fit. Make careful to allow for a break-in period for rugged hiking boots and leather footwear before bringing your sparkling new boots out on the path.

Organizing your backpacking gear is an excellent method to avoid forgetting anything. (Photo courtesy of Yagi Studio via Getty Images.))


Hiking Bases

Running shorts are appropriate in the summer, as long as you are not hiking through prickly plants or experiencing low temperatures or swarms of insects. Leggings or flexible, breathable pants provide more protection than shorts; nonetheless, leggings shred readily on sharp things. Look for pants that dry fast if they get wet (avoid cotton, see below) and are light enough to keep you cool. Choose tough fabrics over thin ones, especially if you'll be scrambling over rocks or strolling through low bush. You need a comfortable fit that allows you to move freely when high-stepping over fallen logs and navigating uneven terrain.

Hiking skirts or skorts are an excellent option for hikers who seek more freedom of movement and breathability (try it before you judge). It is advisable to wear them with built-in spandex shorts.

Athletic tops are superior to conventional T-shirts for hiking because they wick moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable. If you'll be carrying a hefty backpack, avoid wearing tank tops because the straps may chafe exposed shoulders.

Long-sleeved shirts may be preferred by certain hikers in cooler weather. Long-sleeved baselayers or synthetic T-shirts can help you control your temperature if you tend to run cold. Just bear in mind that trekking generates a lot of heat, especially on difficult uphills. You can always wear a short-sleeved shirt under a light long-sleeved shirt and modify as needed.

Hiking Underwear is a type of underwear that is used while hiking.

Wear whatever you feel comfortable in on your first hike. Have a favorite pair of workout boxers? You'll probably be happy in them on the path as well. Your choices may vary when you go on longer treks, overnights, and backpacking trips. Most hikers prefer synthetic or wool underwear over cotton (since you'll be sweating and no one likes to be damp). Just make sure you're wearing something comfy for long periods of movement—prominent seams that could cause chafing are a no-no.

Bras for Sports

Hiking with sports bras is often more comfortable than in conventional bras. If you're carrying a lot of weight, choose a bra with low-profile or wide straps; avoid bulky buckles or huge seams, which can cause chafing under backpack straps. Again, your favorite sports bra for other activities is likely to be suitable for hiking as well.


For the most part, any sporting attire will suffice. But if there's one place to splurge on hiking gear, it's on socks. A nice pair of socks can be the difference between a pleasant hike and one fraught with blisters and pruney toes.

Hiking socks are comprised of wool or quick-drying synthetic material, give some padding to keep your feet comfortable over long distances, and are frequently more effective than conventional socks at preventing blisters. Choose socks that are taller than the cuffs of your hiking boots to reduce chafing and improve comfort. Look for wool or synthetic socks in the proper weight for the season (lightweight in the summer, heavier in the winter). Choose the level of padding that feels comfortable for you—just make sure your socks fit properly, as bunching or slippage can cause irritation and, eventually, blisters.

If you're prone to blisters, use liner socks under your hiking socks to reduce friction on your skin. Compression socks, which enhance blood flow and speed recovery, are popular among trail runners and long-distance hikers.

Pack an extra pair of dry socks (or two) for overnight hikes, wet or cold hikes.

two women on a bridge while hiking in the woods

You don't have to get wet just because it's raining. An outer layer that is waterproof keeps you dry. (Photo by PamelaJoeMcFarlane/Getty Images))

Hiking Clothing Layering

It's all about having options on the route. As you trek, the weather may vary, and your body temperature may fluctuate between periods of exercise and relaxation. Wear light clothes against your skin (shorts, slacks, and a short-sleeved top in the summer, baselayers in the winter).

Unless you're hiking somewhere where the evening temperature is consistently above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, always wear or bring a midlayer, such as a fleece or wool sweatshirt. It may be hot in your car, but you never know when you'll get cold on your hike.

In colder weather, an insulating layer, such as a puffy jacket, is recommended. Keep it in your pack when hiking and pull it on to keep warm while snacking or admiring the scenery. Bring a warm cap, gloves, or mittens for cold walks. Pack two pairs of gloves: one light pair for while you're moving and one warmer pair for when you're stopped.

Protection from the sun

Avoiding sunburn is especially important at high heights (yes, even in winter). Wear a hat with a brim and sunglasses in addition to sunscreen. On exposed paths, light, long-sleeve clothing, such as sun hoodies, can be lifesavers.

Weather Protection

Pack a rain jacket if there's even a slight probability of precipitation in the forecast. For short day walks, any waterproof layer would suffice. Make sure you have a waterproof hardshell for long vacations or hikes in damp conditions. A poncho is an inexpensive alternative that will keep you dry in most conditions.

Rain pants aren't necessary for most dayhikes, but they're fantastic when remaining dry is a necessity, such as on rainy backpacking excursions, in torrential downpours, or when staying warm is extremely important. Rain kilts are a more breathable choice for keeping your legs dry in a deluge, but they won't keep out squalls from the side.

Hawaii hiker female

Wear synthetic textiles such as wool or polyester instead of cotton. (Photo by Rosanna U/Getty Images))

Hiking Clothing Supplies

When it comes to picking what to wear hiking, there are numerous fabric options available, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The following is a list of the most common materials used in hiking clothing.


Because of its excellent durability and wicking properties, this synthetic material is popular in hiking clothing. Because nylon retains some water, clothing made of it may dry more slowly than those made of other materials. While nylon is more resistant to scrapes and snags than most other textiles, it is heavier than polyester or polypropylene.


Because of its wicking and quick-drying properties, this synthetic is the preferred material. If you sweat a lot or want a clothing that will not get wet after crossing streams and rain showers, choose polyester, which is also sturdy robust. Remember that polyester garments tend to retain scents more than other textiles.


Wool feels nice on the skin and is an excellent insulator for cold-weather hiking. It breathes beautifully, keeping you warm without making you sweat excessively. Wool garments stretch, but they are less durable than synthetic textiles and take longer to dry. Furthermore, wool is more expensive than other fabrics.


This material, which was once widely used in hiking clothing, is now mostly found in blends. It is less breathable than polyester and nylon, yet it traps heat well.

A father and his daughter are starting a hike at the trailhead.

For different seasons or weather conditions, you'll require different gear. (Photo credit: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images)

Choosing Hiking Clothes for Each Season

Of course, what you wear hiking in each season is heavily influenced by your location. However, some simple changes can move your hiking clothing from season to season.

It's all about layering when the temperature drops. To protect yourself from the elements, choose baselayers, insulating layers, and water- and wind-proof outer layers. Not ready to spend the money on a winter hardshell? Your rain jacket can also be used in the snow if it fits over your warm apparel.

Gaiters and vapor barriers, combined with warm socks, can help your hiking boots survive in the snow.

This time of year, the weather can be unpredictable. Pack additional warm clothing in your backpack in case the weather changes during your trip, and be prepared for rain. Do you want to be prepared for anything? You may modify on the trail by wearing zip-off pants or shorts over leggings. Wear shoes or boots with wide-spaced lugs in the spring.


This is the easiest season to dress for. Consider sun protection, and bring an insulating layer if trekking at high altitude or after dark.

Autumn, like spring, will provide a variety of weather situations. Bring a windbreaker (your raincoat can function as a windbreaker), a hat, and gloves.

When your jeans get wet, they don't drain moisture away from your body; instead, they hold it and take long to dry. (Photo by dowell/Getty Images)

What Not to Wear While Hiking Cotton

Normal T-shirts, denim jeans, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and other cotton clothes may suffice for brief forays into the woods, but leave them at home for longer treks. Cotton absorbs moisture, making you clammy at best, and sucks heat away from you, leaving you hypothermic at worst. Instead, choose wicking materials such as wool or synthetic shirts and fleece layers. Hikes in extremely hot, dry conditions, where cotton's cooling characteristics might assist keep you cool, are an exception.

Clothing You Value

On the path, you'll get muddy, sweaty, and possibly a little roughed up. It's all part of the game. Wear clothing that you would be embarrassed to soil or rip on a trek.

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