What to Wear Hiking: The Do’s and Dont’s for Hitting the Trail in Style

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Last Updated: May 6, 2021

Global pandemic making you go a little stir-crazy? If you’re sick of pacing around your apartment or looking for a change of scenery from your neighborhood walks, there’s no better way to get some socially-distanced, safe exercise than a hike!

We’ve got you covered on what to wear hiking with general tips and a few outfit ideas to keep you comfortable in clothes that’ll move with you and have heads turning.

Hiking Clothes to Avoid:

First things first, it’s important to know what clothing items to avoid when you’re getting dressed for your hike. We’ll start with the basics of what to avoid:

  • Impractical shoes – no heels or sandals!
  • Skirts and dresses – best to leave them at home
  • Jeans – anything denim should stay in the drawer, it doesn’t hold up under exercise and it’ll never dry if you get wet
  • Bulky/heavy coats
  • Any clothes you’d hate to get dirty

Most of the above probably sound pretty self-explanatory. But there’s a couple more things to avoid in your hiking outfit, at the recommendation of hikers who have learned the hard way.

  • Cotton – Do your best to avoid, or at least limit the amount of cotton in your hiking clothes. It absorbs water, meaning it won’t keep you dry if need be.
  • No show socks – While these are great for sneakers you wear to brunch, they’ll be sliding around and giving you blisters if worn on a hike.

What to Wear Hiking:

 Now, onto what you should wear.

  • Athletic top in a dry fit material (this is dependent on weather – you can do a tank top, t-shirt, or long-sleeve shirt)
  • Secondary top layer (either a light quarter zip or a looser fitting long sleeve shirt)
  • Leggings or Yoga pants
  • Athletic shorts
  • Hat (either a winter hat or brimmed hat for summer)
  • Sunglasses
  • Wool socks (experienced hikers highly recommend wool socks to keep your feet dry and comfortable – if you’d rather wear cotton socks, make sure they have a blister-preventing tab like these from Bombas). 
  • Workout sneakers OR hiking boots

Layer Up in the Cold

Especially in the winter months, layers will be your best friend when heading out for a hike. Even the best planning might not account for a windy day or a light drizzle, so it’s always a good idea to have some lightweight layers that you can easily take on or off.

The following hiking clothes are great for layering:

  • A fleece jacket
  • A light puffy coat
  • A vest
  • A light rain coat/waterproof jacket

Hiking Outfit Ideas

Matching Workout Set

If you want to look extra cute and stylish (while also staying comfy) on your hike, a matching workout set is perfect!

Nearly any popular activewear store will sell sets of their top prints and patterns – some of our favorites are Fabletics and Lululemon

You can find sets to fit your climate as well! Whether you want leggings and a long-sleeve shirt or biker shorts paired with a matching sports bra, you should be able to find the perfect set.

Shorts + T-Shirt

For those of you lucky enough to live somewhere warm, first of all, I’m jealous! 

But second, a shorts and a t-shirt combo is a classic option. Make sure to wear sunscreen and bug repellant!

Leggings + T-Shirt

Another great option is leggings and a t-shirt or tank top. 

Leggings will keep your legs protected from any bugs and branches along the way, but your t-shirt (or tank top) will keep you cool. 

Plus, you can find high-quality leggings that are breezy and lightweight to stay cool during the summer. 

Leggings + Long Sleeve + Vest

Here’s a great example of layering! 

You can wear leggings and a long sleeve shirt, and add a lightweight vest over top to add a little warmth. 

Bonus: it breaks up a basic outfit and adds a little style!

Leggings + Jacket

If you can’t imagine waiting for the weather to cooperate, don’t worry. With some reliable layers, you can still look stylish and stay warm.

Just wear some leggings, wool socks, a winter hat, and a couple top layers (including a good jacket) and you’ll be good to go. 

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, any seasoned hiker will tell you that practicality should be a priority over fashion. You don’t have to sacrifice your style when hitting the trail, but be smart about what will keep you warm or cool depending on your climate, as well as dry and comfortable.

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