Before we head out on our hikes, there are factors we must look into – weather forecasts, the length of our hikes, the types and conditions of our trails, and the proper hiking apparel we will need. We can have all the necessary gear and accessories, but if we are not wearing the proper attire, we are off to a very bad start! Nothing can ruin a perfectly-planned day in The Great Outdoors faster than being totally miserable and uncomfortable in clothing that does not breathe and move with us! In this article, we will learn together exactly what constitutes proper hiking apparel, and why we REALLY DO need it!
THE PROPER MATERIAL The best hiking attire is made from synthetic material, such as polyester, and also merino wool. Polyester fabrics will allow your body to breathe more freely, and will help release any pent-up heat, which will keep you nice and dry. Clothing made of TECHWICK materials are a great choice, as well as merino wool, which not only wicks away moisture, but has the added benefit of driving away any odors.
The top fabrics we will have to stay away from in our search for proper hiking apparel are cotton and denim – these fabrics will hold in and trap any moisture on your body, and will definitely restrict our ability to move freely. I know exactly how you feel – I just bought an adorable cotton t-shirt that has my website’s name on it – “lets take a hike” – and now I find out I cannot even wear it hiking!! Oh well, I will just have to save my new shirt for AFTER my hike . . . As I said before, we are learning this together, so now let’s get into the actual clothing we will need, from the inside out!
BASE LAYERS are one of the most important layers of our proper hiking apparel because they provide a layer of warm air directly against our bodies and manage moisture.
Underwear and sports bras need to be very comfortable, but not too tight. There are many styles to choose from in the proper hiking apparel materials, so we should have no problem finding our favorites. Tank tops are perfect to add warmth to our core, and are also perfect to sleep in.
Base layer tops and bottoms will help protect our bodies from the elements, and keep us warm. These are also great for sleeping.
Hiking socks should probably be a little thicker than regular socks, and have lots of cushioning. The best hiking socks are made of merino wool and/or a blend of synthetic material. We could also try a liner sock worn between our feet and our hiking socks. Many hikers say that liner socks are a great defense against blisters, and also help wick even more moisture away from our feet, keeping them warmer and dryer.
SHIRTS AND PANTS Our personal preferences will ultimately decide which apparel we choose, and there are so many to pick from! To cover our lower extremities, there are tights, leggings, long pants, convertible long pants, capris, skirts, skorts, and shorts. For our upper extremities, there are tank tops, short sleeve, long sleeve, lightweight, medium-weight, and heavy-weight shirts to choose from.
As long as we stick to the correct proper hiking apparel materials, we really cannot go wrong. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when wearing shorts and short sleeve tops – we will be much more exposed to our environment, and we will be more vulnerable to insects (although we could purchase insect-repellant clothing!), sticks and thorns, and sun damage.
Our outer layers – coats/jackets/vests – are what keeps us warm, and protects us from the weather. We may opt for fleece, which comes in lightweight, medium weight, and heavyweight options, and you may also want to consider fleece pants on colder days.
Puffer insulated outerwear are often filled with down, which can lose its warmth-retaining ability if they get wet. It would be wise to invest in puffer outerwear made with synthetic fibers, a water-resistant down, or, even better, a hybrid, which offers a synthetic fill along with water-resistant down.
Even after checking our weather forecasts, we never know when a stray shower or storm just may be upon us! We should never leave out on our hikes without being prepared for rain, so we should always carry a waterproof, breathable rain jacket and pants in our backpacks. When searching for proper hiking apparel in Rain Wear, clothing made with Weathertite, and also Gore-Tex technology, which makes their clothing extremely waterproof, is great to keep in mind!
We also need to be aware of the differences in water-resistant and waterproof rain wear. Water-resistant material will protect us in light rain for a short time, whereas waterproof/breathable materials are able to protect us from heavy downpours. This rain wear keeps the rain from reaching your skin, as well as moving any body moisture back through to the outside of the clothing. Any outerwear that is water-resistant and/or waterproof will also be wind-resistant and/or windproof. There is rain wear that offers 3-in-1 protection, consisting of a rain jacket with a fleece jacket and an inner shell which zips into the rain jacket. This is a very versatile and convenient option, so we don’t have to carry 2 or 3 different types of jackets in our backpacks!
We definitely cannot forget to protect our head! The best hats for proper hiking apparel should have a wide brim to protect our eyes from the sun and rain, and they should also be very breathable. A hat will also protect your head and face from getting sunburned.