One of the best things about taking up hiking as a hobby is how easy it is to get into the activity. Unlike other pastimes, you won’t need a lot of equipment at the beginning. All you need to get started is a good pair of walking shoes, a bottle of water, and a healthy amount of enthusiasm.
However, once you start advancing to more challenging kinds of terrain, you’ll want to switch to clothing and gear that can keep you safer and more comfortable. That way, you can fully enjoy everything that the great outdoors has to offer. In this guide, I’ll talk about how to put together the perfect hiking outfit, covering topics such as which fabrics to avoid and how to choose the right boot socks:
Wear Breathable Tops That Wick Away Sweat and Moisture
Experienced hikers all agree that cotton is the worst fabric to wear for the activity. While it is lightweight and breathable, cotton absorbs and holds on to water. This can not only make you feel sweaty in hot and humid areas, but it can also increase your risk for hypothermia if worn in cold and wet conditions. Instead, look to fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and merino wool. Merino wool is especially popular among those who love to hike as it can regulate your body temperature according to how hot or cold the weather is.
Learn How to Layer
Layering is important because it allows you to adapt to changing conditions. You don’t want to end up shivering in case the weather takes a turn for the worse. It’s also not a good idea to be huffing and puffing in thick clothes should temperatures rise in the middle of your hike. A warm, long-sleeved, mid-weight base layer is a must for any lady hiker. Look for something versatile that you can wear in any kind of weather, and keep your eyes peeled for useful features such as moisture-wicking and sun protection.
Take the Season and the Terrain into Consideration
Should you wear pants, shorts, or a skirt if you plan on hiking? The answer is that you can choose any of them, as long as you can freely move in them. Look for bottoms that are made of quick-drying fabrics such as elastane, nylon, polyester, or spandex. These materials don’t stay wet for too long even if you get caught in a sudden downpour or have to cross a stream.
If you’re hiking in the winter, go for leggings made of a spandex and polyester blend. This will help keep your lower body warm and dry without sacrificing freedom of movement. In the summer, you can swap them out for spandex hiking shorts. If you’re worried about insect bites or need to hike through rugged terrain, choose hiking or trekking pants. Either option offers adequate coverage and won’t pill or snag on rocks or tall grass.
Choose the Right Socks and Underwear
The layers that you wear closest to your body will have the most impact on your comfort levels. Again, cotton simply won’t cut it. You’ll want to wear breathable undergarments made with moisture-wicking, quick-drying synthetic blends such as nylon and Lycra. You can also find undies made with soft, itch-free merino wool that can keep you cool by pulling moisture away from the surface of your skin. Merino wool is also resistant to odor-causing bacteria, which means you’ll stay fresher for longer while wearing them.
Your choice of socks matters, too. Donning a pair of cotton socks for a hike is a surefire recipe for disaster. This is because they absorb sweat and will stay damp against your feet, exacerbating the formation of painful blisters. Instead, choose light wool or wool blend socks. Make sure that they’re snug to keep your feet from rubbing against your shoes. They should also be longer than your boot or shoe to protect your ankles and legs from any abrasions.
Protect Yourself from the Sun
Even if the skies are grey and the forecast calls for rain, it’s still important to protect yourself from the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun during your hike. Never leave home without generously applying sunscreen on your skin. Additionally, you’ll want to shield your face from the sun by bringing a hat with a wide brim and a pair of sunglasses.
Invest in Decent Hiking Shoes
If you’re a beginner and are only doing short hikes over easy terrain, you can start with athletic shoes or trainers. If you’re planning on going a step further with the hobby, though, you might want to invest in shoes specifically designed for it. Hiking shoes are available in a wide variety of styles, from low runners to lace-up boots. Lightweight but sturdy low-ankle hiking shoes are best for easy-breezy hikes, while high-ankle boots can offer more cushioning and support for more technical hikes.
While this is by no means a comprehensive guide on what to wear while hiking, I hope that it gives you a basic idea of what to look for. Keep these tips in mind while shopping for the right clothes and accessories and I’m sure you’ll stay safe and comfy during your next outdoor adventure. Hike safely!
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