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What Gear to Wear Hiking: A Guide

What Gear to Wear Hiking: A Guide

Are you one of those people (like us at Stio), who is already planning your next hike as soon as you get back to the trailhead? Before you hit the trails, it's important to make sure you have the right clothing to keep you comfortable during your adventure. In this guide, we'll walk you through the different types of clothing and gear you'll need for a day hike or overnight trip. From base layers to specialized hiking gear, practical accessories to tips for choosing the right clothing, we've got you covered.

The Essentials: Clothing You Need for Hiking

If you want to make the most out of your hiking experience, you should consider investing in some hiking clothes. Here's a look at some of the essentials you'll need.

Base Layers and Undergarments

Base layers serve as the foundation of your hiking outfit, keeping you warm, dry, and comfortable. These pieces of clothing are typically made from moisture-wicking materials, such as merino wool or synthetic fabrics, and provide insulation while wicking away sweat. Base layers should be lightweight, comfortable, and quick-drying, as well as close-fitting but not restrictive.

When selecting base layer undergarments, opt for moisture-wicking materials and avoid cotton, as it traps moisture and can cause chafing. Choose undergarments with good support, ventilation, and seamless designs to prevent irritation.

Tip: Remember to pack extra base layers for longer hikes or multi-day adventures, as they can be washed and air-dried quickly to maintain freshness.

Hiking Pants or Shorts

Choosing the right hiking pants or shorts is important for your overall comfort and mobility on the trail. Look for pants made from breathable, moisture-wicking materials that offer durability, protection, and freedom of movement. Hiking pants should have reinforced stitching, especially in areas prone to wear and tear, to ensure they last longer.

Pants with zip-off legs can be turned into shorts for added versatility, while shorts with built-in liners can offer increased comfort on hot days. It's important to consider the weather and terrain of your hike when selecting your pants or shorts. Colder weather may call for insulated pants, while loose-fitting shorts are more appropriate for hotter climates and summer hiking adventures.

Hiking Shirts and Tops

When choosing a hiking shirt or top, comfort, moisture management, and sun protection are key things to consider. Hiking shirts should be made from quick-drying, moisture-wicking materials, such as polyester, nylon, or merino wool, and provide ample ventilation to keep you cool and dry.

Long-sleeve shirts offer better sun protection and can prevent scratches and bug bites, while short-sleeve shirts provide more breathability in hot environments. Look for shirts with flat seams, as this can reduce the risk of chafing from movement or backpacks. For added versatility, consider convertible shirts that feature roll-up sleeves or zip-off collars.

Specialized Hiking Gear Clothing

Depending on the climate, terrain, and duration of your hike, you may need to invest in specialized hiking gear to stay comfortable and protected throughout your journey. The following pieces of clothing can help improve your hiking experience:

Waterproof and Insulated Jackets

Waterproof jackets are important for protecting you against rain, wind, and snow during your hike. Look for jackets with breathable materials, such as Gore-Tex or eVent, to prevent overheating while keeping you dry. An insulated jacket, on the other hand, can provide added warmth in colder climates. Insulated jackets typically come in two types: down, which offers better packability and warmth-to-weight ratio, and synthetic, which maintains its insulating properties even when wet.

Tip: Layering your outerwear with your base and mid-layers can help you adapt to changing weather conditions on your hike.

Hiking Shoes and Boots

The right shoes or boots can make a big difference in your comfort and safety on the trail. For casual day hikes with well-established trails, low-cut hiking shoes may provide ample support and flexibility. However, for more challenging terrain and multi-day adventures, mid or high-cut boots can offer better ankle support, stability, and protection.

When shopping for hiking shoes or boots, look for models with waterproof membranes, such as Gore-Tex, and durable materials, like leather or nylon, to ensure lasting protection. Look for shoes with good traction and grippy soles to help navigate slippery surfaces.

Before you hit the trail for a long adventure, make sure you test out your hiking boots or hiking shoes. You want to put several miles in your new footwear to make sure they fit correctly and don't cause any hot spots on your next hike.

Hiking Socks

Last but not least, quality hiking socks can go a long way in preventing blisters and maintaining foot comfort. Look for socks made from moisture-wicking, quick-drying materials to help keep your feet dry. Avoid cotton socks that can trap moisture and lead to blisters. The best choice for hiking socks is to look for a natural fiber, like merino wool, or polyester or nylon. These materials keep your feet warm when wet, and work to pull moisture away from feet, helping to keep you dry and comfortable on your hike.

There are various cushioning options available in hiking socks, from lightweight to heavy, depending on your preferences and the type of environment you'll be hiking in. For added protection against abrasion, consider wearing a pair of liner socks under your hiking socks or pick crew or knee-high socks. You can also look for compression hiking socks that help aid in your recovery after a long day on the trail..

Remember, selecting the right hiking attire based on your specific needs and conditions will greatly enhance your overall experience on the trail. With the proper clothing choices, you can stay comfortable, protected, and focused as you navigate the great outdoors.

Practical Hiking Accessories

When planning a hike, it's essential to consider a variety of practical accessories that will significantly enhance your comfort and safety while navigating the great outdoors.

Hats and Sunglasses for UV Protection

A good hat and pair of sunglasses will help protect your face and eyes from harmful UV rays. Broad-brimmed hats are highly recommended as they offer maximum coverage, shielding your face and neck from the sun. Look for hats that are comfortable, breathable, and designed specifically for outdoor use.

Sunglasses are equally important for outdoor enthusiasts who hike under intense sunlight. They shield your eyes from dangerous UV rays and reduce the glare. Pick sunglasses with 100% UV protection, polarized lenses, and a comfortable, secure fit to ensure they stay in place during physical activity.

Gloves and Gaiters

Having a dependable pair of gloves can make all the difference when hiking in chilly or wet conditions. Opt for a pair that offers warmth, water resistance, and excellent grip. Some gloves even come with touchscreen-compatible fingertips for added convenience when using smartphones and GPS devices.

Gaiters, on the other hand, are essential for keeping your feet and lower legs dry and protected from debris. They attach to your boots, covering the tops of your shoes and extending up to your calves. This added layer of protection is highly beneficial when hiking in muddy or snowy conditions or on a trail that requires you to cross streams.

Moisture-Wicking Neck Gaiters and Bandanas

Neck gaiters and bandanas work as versatile accessories on the trail. Look for moisture-wicking materials like polyester or merino wool, which keep you dry and comfortable during physical exertion. In addition, these versatile pieces of gear can also serve as a makeshift hat, headband, or face covering, protecting you from the sun, wind, or dust.

Tips for Choosing Hiking Gear Clothing

Now that you know about essential hiking clothing and accessories, it's time to explore tips on choosing the best gear for your needs.

Material and Fabric Considerations

Selecting suitable fabrics and materials for your clothing and accessories is vital. Look for materials that are durable, lightweight, and easy to take care of. Synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon are a popular choice for moisture-wicking properties and durability.

Merino wool is another excellent material for hiking socks and base layers due to its moisture-wicking and temperature-regulating properties, while remaining soft and comfortable on the skin. Additionally, consider investing in waterproof and breathable fabrics, especially for your outer layers.

Fit and Comfort

Comfort plays a significant role in selecting hiking gear. To avoid discomfort or even injuries, make sure that your clothing and accessories fit correctly. When trying on clothes, move around, and perform various body movements to simulate the type of activities you'll be undertaking on the trail.

Ensure that your hiking footwear fits well, providing proper support and cushioning while accommodating your preferred type of hiking socks. And make sure you take your footwear out for many test walks, to make sure they fit correctly, provide the right support, and there aren't hot spots that will impact your hike. Hats, gloves, and gaiters should be snug but not overly tight to avoid restricting blood flow or causing discomfort.

Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance of your hiking gear are crucial to its longevity and performance. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for washing and drying your clothing and accessories. Hand washing your gear, especially the delicate items, can help maintain their integrity and reduce wear and tear.

When storing hiking gear, keep it in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, which can break down the fibers and compromise its functionality, especially items featuring UV protection. Regularly inspect your gear and repair or replace any damaged items to ensure optimal performance and avoid potential issues on the trail.

Whether you're a novice hiker or a seasoned adventurer, make sure to invest in the right gear, maintain it well, and above all, enjoy your time spent in nature.

About Stio

Stio connects you with the outdoors through quality products infused with a mountain soul. Proudly operating from Jackson Hole, WY, we take inspiration from our natural surroundings and put it into every piece of apparel we make. From technical performance to aesthetics, Stio outfits you with exceptional products for unforgettable outdoor experiences.

FAQs

What Kind of Clothing Should I Wear While Hiking?

Choosing the right clothing for hiking is important as it contributes to maintaining comfort and regulating body temperature. Your clothing should be breathable, moisture-wicking, and provide ample protection from the elements (sun, wind, rain, etc.). Layering is the key. Here are some general guidelines for selecting your hiking clothes:

  • Base layer: A moisture-wicking, quick-drying material like Merino wool or synthetic fabric is ideal, as it will keep you dry and comfortable during your hike.
  • Mid layer: A lightweight fleece or down jacket works well as an insulation layer to keep you warm on cooler days or when you are at higher altitudes.
  • Outer layer: Your outer layer should be a shell that is waterproof and breathable, like Gore-Tex, to protect you from rain and wind.

Avoid wearing cotton as it absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry, which can leave you feeling cold and damp during your hike.

What Kind of Shoes Should I Wear Hiking?

Footwear plays a major role in hiking and can make or break your experience. Picking the right footwear is based on factors like terrain, hike duration, and weather conditions. The three main categories of hiking footwear are:

  1. Hiking shoes: Low-cut with flexible midsoles, suitable for day hikes or light weekend trips on well-trodden trails.
  2. Hiking boots: Mid to high-cut providing good ankle support, ideal for longer hikes with a moderate load or for rougher terrain.
  3. Mountaineering boots: Stiff and durable with excellent support and protection for extreme terrain, weather conditions, or when carrying heavy loads.

When choosing your shoes, make sure they fit well and provide enough support and traction. Break them in before heading out on a hike, as this can help reduce the risk of blisters.

What Accessories are Essential for a Hiking Trip?

Accessories can greatly enhance your overall hiking experience by providing added protection, functionality, and convenience. Below is a list of essential hiking accessories that you should consider:

  • Backpack: Choose a comfortable, well-fitted backpack with adequate capacity to carry your belongings, such as food, water, a first-aid kit, and any extra gear you may need.
  • Hat: A wide-brimmed hat or a cap with a good visor will protect your face, ears, and neck from the sun.
  • Eyewear: Quality sunglasses with UV protection are essential not only for shielding your eyes from the sun's rays but also for protecting them from wind, dust, and bugs.
  • Gloves: Depending on weather conditions, you may choose lightweight gloves for sun protection and mild cold or heavyweight gloves for colder temperatures.
  • Trekking poles: These can help provide balance and support, reduce stress on your knees, and enhance overall comfort during a hike.

Adapting your gear and accessories to the specific requirements of your trip will enhance both safety and comfort during your hike.

How do I Dress According to the Weather Conditions?

Before every hike, check the weather forecast and prepare your clothing and gear accordingly. Some factors to consider when dressing for different weather conditions are:

  • Hot weather: Opt for lightweight, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying clothing. UPF-rated (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing and sun-blocking accessories like hats and sunglasses are beneficial in protecting yourself from the sun.
  • Cold weather: Utilize the layering technique to stay warm and dry. Choose a good-quality insulation layer to trap heat and a waterproof and breathable outer layer to protect against wind and rain or snow.
  • Wet weather: Waterproof boots and a waterproof, breathable outer layer like a rain jacket and pants are crucial for staying dry. Pack extra clothing in watertight bags to keep them dry for changing if needed.

Adapting your clothing choices to the weather is key for maintaining comfort and safety while enjoying your hike.

What are Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing Hiking Gear?

Selecting the right gear is essential, but mistakes are common. Some of the frequent hiking gear-related errors include:

  • Overpacking: Take only what you need, as carrying unnecessary weight can lead to fatigue and strain. List out your essentials and avoid carrying redundant items.
  • Wearing New Shoes on a Hike: Break in your footwear before your hike to avoid blisters and discomfort.
  • Ignoring the Layering Principle: Dressing in layers can help maintain body temperature and enable quick adaptation to changing weather conditions. Avoid wearing inappropriate materials like cotton, which can soak in moisture and lead to discomfort.
  • Not Dressing for the Weather: Check the weather forecasts for your hiking destination and plan your clothing and gear accordingly to stay safe and comfortable during your hike.

Taking the time to research and avoid common mistakes will better equip you for a successful hiking experience.

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