Essential hiking clothes
You can wear almost anything out walking but having the correct clothes and shoes will keep you comfortable, warm and dry. Here's a checklist of essential hiking clothes to answer that all important question "what to wear out walking?"
Your clothing requirements will definitely vary depending on seasonal climate and location-specific weather. Research the area you plan to walk and prepare accordingly. Have a think about how warm it will be and whether you're likely to encounter any rain, wind, snow or insects like mosquitos!
Essential walking clothes
- Base layer – The ideal base layer will wick away sweat when your engaged in strenuous activity but will also keep you warm in windy or cold conditions. Merino wool is a great choice of material. In summer, it's best to stick with a moisture-wicking t-shirt.
- Mid-layer – Your mid layer’s breathability and thickness should be chosen based on the location and weather. It will help retain the heat that wasn’t captured by your base layer. Fleece is the most common material of choice.
- Outer layer – Your outer layer is your wind break or your waterproof layer (probably both). Your waterproof jacket and trousers should be light, breathable and have a waterproof and breathability rating of 10,000 and above.
- Trousers/shorts – Water-resistant hiking trousers are a useful item to own, especially those which zip off into shorts. In summer, many people stick with shorts.
- Footwear – You many be spending hours on the trail so it is important to have comfortable, supportive shoes which offer adequate protection. Hiking boots or trail runners are best.
- Gaiters – Gaiters are useful if the ground is going to be damp or muddy. They won’t make footwear waterproof but they will help you avoid splashes and rainfall running onto your socks plus they're great at keeping out debris.
- Hiking socks – Breathable hiking socks keep your feet ventilated as much as possible and provide some cushioning. A spare pair ensures that a little rain doesn’t dampen your spirits or, opt for waterproof socks instead.
- Sunglasses – If it’s sunny there’s a good chance you’ll be needing to protect your eyes, even in winter.
- Buff - a buff weighs next to nothing and can be incredibly handy at keeping you warm. Wear it around your head, your neck or over your face.
- Gloves and hat - a warm hat and gloves are essential in cooler weather. In warmer months you'll want to ditch the gloves and swap your beanie for a hat that will protect you from the sun.
If you're planning a multi-day hike, you'll need to pack additional clothes like spare underwear and clean clothes for when you're in your tent/accommodation or if you get a soaking.
You may also want to pack an insulated jacket which you can throw on if the temperature drops or you stop for a while. Insulated jackets, like those made from down, aren't great in the rain but they do an excellent job at instantly warming you up.