Day hikes are a great way to get some fresh air while taking in stunning views, and you can even bring along friends for a chat as you wander. And let’s not forget one of the main benefits of going on a long day hike: you will sleep like a log afterwards.
It’s important to wear the right clothing head to toe when embarking on a hike. Weather conditions can change quickly, so be prepared for the mood swings of Mother Nature.
This guide will cover all of the essential apparel you’ll need for a day hike—and be sure to customize, ensuring your hiking wardrobe is suited to any temperature, climate or weather condition.
Here’s how to dress for a day hike:
The way you dress will depend on the weather, but you should always dress in layers. In cold weather, lots of layers will help hold your body heat and will also protect your body from the wind and rain if you wear a top layer that is windproof and waterproof. If you are hiking somewhere very cold you should wear at least one insulating layer.
Even if you are hiking in warm weather you should still wear a few layers—just make sure to wear loose clothes that ventilate using zippers. You may initially think that layers will make you warmer, but in reality a few thin, light-colored layers will help regulate your body heat. The layers will also help protect you from sunburn.
Choose The Right Fabric
Hiking specific clothes are made in a variety of different fabrics, typically synthetics, and each fabric is designed to do a different job. You should definitely invest in a good raincoat made from waterproof-breathable material. And if you live in a hot or humid area, buy hiking clothes that help to move moisture away from your skin. Look for apparel that feature wicking and anti-microbial properties. And don’t be afraid of wool, even for warm weather activities, modern Merino is packed with performance benefits.
HatHats are critical for both sun and rain. Most people don’t wear hats on hikes at night time in summer as the sun isn’t out so it can’t burn them, but during the day time you will need to wear a hat so that you don’t burn. A wide-brimmed hat is recommended as this will protect your head, shoulders and neck. Hats also keep sweat from running down into your face!
If it is likely that it will rain during your hike, pack a waterproof hat and a jacket with a hood. You can even buy hiking hats specifically designed to repel water so that the rain doesn’t run down your face in a storm.
A jacket is an essential piece of hiking gear, pretty much year round. Even in the desert, temps can drop, morning air is crisp, and the wind can howl. If you are hiking somewhere warm you should pack a lightweight jacket that is windproof and that has UPF protection. When hiking somewhere cold, layering becomes even more important, and you should invest in a jacket or coat with a removable fleece lining to keep you warm, or a shell that you can layer down or synthetic fleece underneath.
One of the big debates among hikers is the best choice of footwear. Some hikers will only wear hiking boots, while others prefer hiking shoes or trail running shoes. Boots are heavier, more durable, have better ankle support, and are more often waterproof. Better traction means they are well-suited to wet, rocky or slippy trails. However, they add weight, so many people prefer to wear low top hikers or hiking shoes instead. Boots are also preferred when hiking with a pack. Equip yourself with breathable wool and synthetic socks to help prevent blisters and increase comfort when hiking.
You should always pack water, snacks, sunscreen/lipbalm, a map, compass and a headlamp. Refer to the “Ten Essentials” and customize this list to your own situation.