Hiking as well as other outdoor activities are meant to be fun and hopefully educational as well. Being in the outdoors is something that everyone can enjoy, but everyone should also realize that hiking in the great outdoors means that you have to be prepared. Being miles away from civilization requires that you take extra precautions in order to ensure that you have a safe, fun and generally enjoyable time. We are putting together a list of different hiking clothes which should help keep you warm, safe and comfortable on your outdoor adventures.
Yes, the socks! You must absolutely have comfortable and hopefully cushioned socks. If you do not, you may get blisters after a few miles of hiking, which will make the rest of your hike less enjoyable and make you feel more fatigued as the hike goes on. Developing blisters on your feet is the beginning of having a healthy outdoor experience become miserable, unhealthy and even damaging.
When you develop blisters, you begin to walk unevenly to put less pressure on your foot which has the blister. By walking unevenly, you redistribute the weight on your body to all your joints in an uneven manner. Since hikes usually go on for many miles, you can begin to irritate different joints and in some cases inflammation can occur, which can lead to further injury. Having the right kind of hiking socks can help prevent all of this from happening and keep your feet feeling comfortable and healthy. Socks are probably the cheapest part of all hiking gear and can help reduce the risk of injury and increase your level of enjoyment from the experience. Take a closer look at hiking socks and why they are such an important part of your outdoor wardrobe.
Just as important as hiking socks can be, the hiking boots can also make or break your overall outdoor experience. The things to look for in your hiking footwear is durability, comfort, weight of the shoe, level of protection that it gives you, and at times how much protection from moisture does it provide for your foot. Many people also care about the stylishness of the shoe. There are generally 3 types of footwear worn during hikes: 1) Heavy hiking boots 2) Light hiking boots 3) Sneakers or tennis shoes.
Light Hiking Boots
Light hiking boots give you the best of both worlds. They are light enough to feel like sneakers, but since these shoes are made particularly for wearing in the outdoors, they usually have very good traction so that you do not slip or slide on muddy or uneven terrain. Light hiking boots usually give your feet a little more protection than sneakers, and yet these types of shoes are usually still light enough for you to walk many miles in them and not have them wear you down.
Heavy Hiking Boots
Heavy hiking boots are great for giving your feet insulation and protection in moist environments. Heavy hiking boots often come with ankle protection or "high tops" that protect your foot, help stabilize your ankles, and help protect your shins. The problem with heavy hiking boots is that they usually weigh more than regular hiking shoes and will wear you down during long treks. Additionally, people with back or other join problems may find that heavy boots put more strain on their joints and cause irritation or inflammation to the joints from overuse.
Hiking in Sneakers
Hiking in sneakers is probably the most care-free way to go. It doesn't require you to buy any additional and sometimes costly gear, and can often be just fine and suitable for most terrains. Additionally, sneakers and running shoes tend to be light-weight and comfortable and do not weigh you down during the hike. The downside of sneakers is that they usually have poor traction when compared to shoes designed specifically for hiking. They usually also offer less protection for your feet than most hiking shoes would.
It is nice to wear shorts when hiking or spending time in the outdoors. Many people also enjoy a nice new tan on their legs. There are a few things to be careful about. You definitely want to make sure you are wearing sun screen and that you are protected from getting burned by the sun. You also want to protect your legs from getting scratched up in case you will be hiking through dense shrubbery or even poison oak. For more ideas on getting the right shorts for your hikes, take a look at out page devoted to hiking shorts.
Wearing pants instead of shorts during your hikes will help protect you from the sun, from cold weather conditions, and in dense terrain where you can have your legs scratched up by dense shrubbery or branches. Pants will also help protect you from injury in case you slip and fall during your hike. All things considered, it is probably more prudent to wear pants rather than shorts during your hikes, although obviously each hike and hiker are different so use your best judgment and discretion.
When choosing the right kind of pants for your trip, consider the weather, length of your trip, and the type of terrain through which you will be hiking. If the terrain is rugged, you will need your pants to offer you more protection in case you fall, to help protect you from sustaining injury. Additionally, wet weather conditions require moisture resistant materials so that your pants do not stick to your skin and cause skin irritation from the wetness. For an in depth look at the different kinds of hiking pants appropriate at different times, take a look at the article and tips for choosing the right hiking pants.
If you are hiking in bad weather, you probably need a jacket that is suitable for the outdoors. A good outdoor jacket should give you a snug fit so that there aren't any parts of it that are loose. If your jacket is loose, it will wear you down during a long trek and add to your fatigue level. A good jacket for the outdoors is also one that has a hood that can be tightened and won't flap around in the wind.
Berghaus is one great store to get hiking jackets and outdoor clothing. Here is a photo of one of their cold-weather jackets.
Hiking Shirts and T-Shirts
A shirt may seem like one of the simpler parts of your hiking wardrobe, but there is some thought that should be put into it. Light shirt colors will attract less sun, and dark shirt colors will attract more sun. That way you can control the temperature that you experience by a few degrees adjusted to your liking. Modern shirts that are made for the outdoors are often made of advanced synthetic materials that help in whisking away water and moisture from your body. That helps to not weigh you down and keep fatigue levels to a minimum. If you want to know more about the topic of shirts for the outdoors, please take a look at our hiking t-shirt page.
If you are hiking in sunny conditions, you should definitely bring along a pair of sun glasses. A good pair will help protect your eyes from the sun. When you are choosing a pair of sunglasses for the outdoors, look for the glasses to fit you comfortably. Another thing to look for in sunglasses is that it is made out of materials which are easy to clean. You don't want to be in the outdoors with sunglasses that have fogged up or have become dirty, and require special materials to be cleaned.
If you are hiking in an area which is known to have unpredictable weather conditions like for example the Bay Area, California, a common practice is to wear hiking clothes that can be added or subtracted to your hiking wardrobe during the hike. Hoodies are perfect for that as they can easily be wrapped around your waste and not take up too much extra space if it gets warm, and they can also easily be put back on in case it gets cold or windy.
In extreme conditions of cold or heat, you definitely want to bring along an appropriate hat. Cold conditions call for a warm hat that preferably covers your ears as well. In case of sunny weather it is a good idea to bring a hat that does not wobble as you walk, and gives you ample protection from the sun for your face, head, neck and shoulders. Take a look at our page about hiking hats for more information on the appropriate head gear to wear while in the outdoors.
Hiking Hats For Sun Protection
If you are hiking in warm and sunny weather it is a good idea to wear sun screen and wear a hat to protect you from the sun. You especially need a hat if you are hiking in terrain that does not have many trees which could have given you natural protection from sunlight. Hats with round visors tend to be good because they protect the back of your neck and shoulders as well as your face.
Hiking Hats For Cold Weather
Being in the outdoors during cold weather requires very different types of head wear. It is best to have hats that fit tightly around your head. Additionally, when looking for a hat to wear during cold weather, you might also want to look for a hat that will help keep your ears warm. The ears can get really cold in case of strong winds or cold weather so look for hats that protect more than just your head.
In almost every item of your clothing, you should be aware of the type of material it is made of, and the ability of that particular material to withstand the outdoors. One of the cheapest and most common materials that most clothing is made out of is cotton. It is a comfortable and affordable material, but it is problematic for hiking. It absorbs moisture and dries slowly. So if you get soaked by rain, or step in a puddle, your clothing would not be likely to dry up and you'd have to endure the rest of your trip wet. The same is true for simply sweating. Cotton materials will absorb the sweat and the moisture will weigh you down along the way, adding to your fatigue levels.
There are many new kinds of materials that are described as "moisture wicking." These materials absorb much less moisture. They tend to be a little bit more expensive because of the engineering that goes into making them, and the fact that they are sold in much smaller wholesale quantities than the common cotton clothing.