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Summer hiking tips: A Guide to the Most Important Clothes for Hiking

If you’re unsure what to wear hiking in summer, I’ve compiled a list of the best clothes for hiking and backpacking. If you want to know further, please read our guide on what to pack in a backpack and the essential things you need when going hiking.

Hot weather hiking tips

First, what you shouldn’t wear hiking

Especially when you’re hiking, clothing can be a very personal choice. A friend was an experienced hiker but always showed up in jeans. When he walked to Everest Base Camp, he wore jeans. Thousands of other climbers with the best lightweight clothes told him what to do and gave him the stink eye.

Did he freeze? Would you like the clothes he chose? He didn’t care because he thought his clothes and shoes were the same as the Sherpas’ gear. Even though they didn’t have the best, it still worked! People have been hiking for thousands of years without spandex and nylon, but rarely in cotton.

Because of the risk of hypothermia and chafing, you should not wear jeans or anything made of cotton. Here’s why:

Cotton is the worst material to wear on a hike. It absorbs much water—up to 2700% of its weight—and has a soft texture. For a general idea of how this compares to other materials, consider that polyester can absorb up to 0.4% of its weight in water, while silk absorbs 30% and Merino wool absorbs 33%.

Denim: Denim is a prevalent type of casual clothing, but it is the worst thing to wear on a hike. If your jeans are wet, they can rub and cause blisters, infections, and even hypothermia. In addition, they are heavy and take a long time to dry.

Fashion sneakers: I’ve seen people in Central Asia hike up a mountain in fashion sneakers. They may be used to it, but most people should avoid fashion sneakers unless they want to slip and fall.

All hikers must wear clothes that keep them dry and do not soak up water. Here’s how to choose the best hiking clothes.

How to Choose Clothes for Hiking

No matter the season, it’s essential to consider what to wear when hiking.

No matter the season, knowing what to wear when walking is necessary.

Don’t worry about your appearance if you’re going on long hikes. Nature won’t judge you! Most hiking gear is technical and light, focusing on function rather than style. Fit is essential, but not because of how it looks.

Here are some ways to choose the best clothes for hiking:

Putting on layers is the key to good hiking clothes. Each layer of clothing serves a different purpose, and you can always take off or add layers based on the weather.

Function over style: As was already said, your thick jeans may look good at first, but as the weather changes, they will look worse and worse. Refrain from doing anything stiff.

Prepare for the weather. Weather predictions can change in a minute, so be ready to change your plans if it snows, rains, or gets colder than expected.

Change your tastes. When you buy gear, try to find a good balance between comfort, weight, and price. Please give it a grade based on what’s most important to you. If you need more time to spend money, go for fit and comfort instead of ultralight.

It’s all about good hiking boots and trail shoes. When hiking for the first time or for a long trip, this is a big decision. Find shoes that are good for that kind of ground.


How to Use Fabric

Merino Wool: When I think of wool, I think of thick, itchy clothes from the past. But times have changed, and now there is a particular type of wool called Merino wool that makes soft, fine fibers that wick away moisture and don’t stink the best choice for hiking.

Polyester and nylon are synthetics. They are cheaper than merino wool and do a great job of wicking sweat. The only bad thing about them is that sometimes they smell. As a base layer, they work well.

Even though fleece is made of polyester, it is an excellent insulator and the best layer to wear before a down jacket.

Down: They could be better for the west but are light and great for cold weather. When this happens, a hard-shell nylon jacket made of synthetic materials can add an extra layer of protection from wind and rain.

How to Dress for Hiking: Based on the Season,

What to wear hiking in the summer, winter, fall, or spring?


Different seasons have different temperatures, so you’ll need to know how to plan for what to wear while hiking. In the summer, your hiking clothes should be breathable, wick away sweat, and be light. In the winter, you should choose waterproof, durable materials and add many more layers to your hiking clothes.

What to Wear on a Summer Hike

Summers in the tropics can be sweltering and humid, so you shouldn’t pack much other than clothes made of breathable and light fabrics. Try to choose lighter-colored materials because they reflect heat, and remember to bring sun hats when you travel.

  • Polyester and nylon are the best fabrics for the summer heat. You can wear cotton on a moderate hike, but it’s not recommended. Here’s what to put on.
  • Underwear/bra
  • T-shirts that “wick.”
  • Shorts
  • Socks
  • Rain jacket

What to Wear on a Spring Hike

Hiking in the spring can be challenging because the weather can change quickly from rain to mud. You have to be ready for this. When walking in the spring, layers are essential, but you can make a list shorter than you would for a winter hike.

On a hike, it would still use a 3-layer system. Here is what to wear on a spring hike:

Wicking short-sleeve and long-sleeve t-shirts

A thin fleece jacket

Water-resistant jacket

Fluffy hat

Pants that don’t get wet


What to Wear on a Fall Hike

This could be the best time of year to go hiking! Most base layers can be made with underwear and clothes that dry quickly. Wear an insulated mid-layer hiking jacket and a rain jacket on top when it rains.

You can also wear pants that change from shorts to hiking pants and back again. I often wear hiking leggings when I go hiking in the fall. If you don’t like hiking pants, this could be a good alternative.

  • Short-sleeve hiking tee
  • Warm leggings that let air in
  • Layered coat
  • Zippered jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Gloves
  • Hoodie
  • Trail pants
  • Hiking pants that can be changed

What to Wear on a Winter Hike

Winter has its problems, and what to wear depends significantly on the temperature, the snow, and the forecast for the whole season. When hiking in the winter, you should wear a lot of synthetic and merino wool.

For winter hiking tips, you should also ensure that everything you wear, from your head to your toes, wicks away moisture. Start with the basics for your base layer, add insulation with a mid-layer, and finish with a protective coating.

  • Bottom Layer
  • Long-sleeved shirt/Merino wool base layer for women with long sleeves
  • Underpants (heat-tech garment) (heat-tech garment)
  • Skull cap
  • Mid-Layer
  • Pullovers, vests, and jackets with hoods made of fleece
  • Jackets with down insulation
  • Gloves that keep warm
  • Socks
  • Pants that don’t leak
  • Outer-layer
  • Water-resistant jacket
  • Fleece/ wool hats
  • Gaiters
  • Neck gaiter
  • Sunglasses (to avoid snow-blind) (to avoid snow-blind)

This should tell you everything you need to know about what to wear hiking. Read my other hiking posts for more information and guides:

How to Dress for Hiking in the Spring and Fall

We put these two seasons together because they are more alike than you might think. Both have weather that can be hard to predict. One day it might rain; the next, it might be 70 degrees and sunny, and then there might be chilly winds and gray skies. Wear or bring a wind-resistant anorak that is waterproof or water-resistant. They are usually very light and easy to pack into a corner of your backpack. If the weather starts to change, they are beneficial.

Depending on the weather, you can wear any combination of tank tops, T-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, windbreakers, fleece pullovers, shorts, or pants. Make sure the backpack you choose is big enough to hold your food, water, other necessities, and any layers you need to wear. It would be best if you also thought about hats with brims to protect your eyes and face from the sun and warm beanies and gloves for days when it’s colder.

What to Wear on a Summer Hike

When packing for a summer hike, there are two main things to remember: environmental risks (like ticks or poison ivy) and staying cool and dry. As was already said, pants are better for protecting your legs on the trail, but they might feel too heavy by midday. No matter how many layers you wear, always choose pieces made of sweat-wicking fabrics and choose looser fits in lighter colors over tighter fits in darker colors. Also, look for details with built-in UPF sun protection, and remember to bring extra sunscreen so you can reapply it every few hours. We also recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat that relaxes your face and neck. If you sweat a lot, you might even want to put a second dry T-shirt in your pack to change halfway through your hike to avoid chafing.

What to Wear on a Winter Hike

We recommend hiking in the winter only if you live in a warm place like Southern California, Tennessee, or Georgia. If you’re not an experienced hiker, snowy conditions can be dangerous (think avalanches, hidden crevasses, and sudden whiteouts). It would be best to be smart about what you wear, even in places without much snow or ice. Start with fitted base layers of sweat-wicking materials that let you move freely. Then, put on a fleece, puffer, or another warm pullover with insulation in the middle. Finally, put on a waterproof, weather-resistant outer layer on top of everything. Bring gloves, hats, gaiters for your neck, and extra warm socks to keep your hands and feet warm while you walk. And while sneakers might have gotten you through the trails the rest of the year, if you want to go outside between November and March, you should get some boots that can handle the weather. They’ll warm your feet and usually grip better on icy paths or hard, frozen ground. Last piece of advice: bring an extra headlamp or flashlight.



How to Dress for Hiking in Every Season

The best way to plan your outfit is to check the weather report for the day of your hike, the day before, and the 48 hours after. This will help you understand the weather on the day of your walk and figure out how it might change. You should also bring one more layer than you think you’ll need (just in case).

Spring/fall: Long-sleeved shirt or T-shirt, windbreaker, fleece pullover, shorts, or pants.

Tank top, base layer, windbreaker, shorts, or pants for the summer

Winter: Long-sleeved shirt or T-shirt, sweat-wicking base layer, fleece or puffer, waterproof shell, waterproof rain pants

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