What to Wear When Hiking (Easy Guide for All Weather Types)

What to Wear When Hiking (Easy Guide for All Weather Types) - 375

Wearing the right hiking clothes can make or break your trip. Photo: Osman Parvez/flickr

It can be hard to enjoy a hike if you are not dressed appropriately for the weather.

And it can be challenging to know exactly what to wear for different temperatures.

But don’t worry.

This handy guide will walk you through what to wear when hiking throughout all four seasons.


Great, let’s get down to it!

What to Wear When Hiking – Season and Temperature Guide

– Updated 2/9/2020

Spring (50-69 degrees)

When hiking in moderate temperatures choose clothing that will keep you warm without overheating. Clothing that helps you stay dry is important; should the temperature decrease or if your body is not working as hard (when walking downhill for example), your sweat-filled shirt may lead to your feeling cold.

Choose a lightweight t-shirt made of synthetic fabric like polyester or polypropylene, as these materials will keep moisture from your body, so that you stay dry, Depending on the weather, you can add a light, insulated, water resistant jacket or a long-sleeved fleece. Pack the other in your backpack, just in case you need an additional layer.

Long pants are best in these temperatures; choose a pair that is made of materials that will dry quickly. Socks made of wool or a synthetic material that will wick moisture are a good choice. Learn more about how moisture-wicking materials work in the video below:

Summer (70-80 degrees and above)

Synthetic fabrics that will keep moisture away from your body will help keep you cool and help you avoid overheating. When temperatures are warm, you can choose shorts or pants; again, synthetic fabrics are best. Convertible hiking pants offer you the option to convert the pants to shorts as you warm up. Choose light wicking wool or synthetic socks.

What else you bring will depend on the hike and conditions. If you are summiting a peak, it will be cooler at the higher altitude so be prepared for temperature changes by packing a long-sleeved fleece and a water resistant jacket. Look for items that insulate and block wind and rain for high altitude activity.

Hot Weather Essentials

When camping in hot weather, the following items are imperative:

Fall (40-49 degrees)

What you wear for fall hiking will be similar to what you wear in the spring. Layers are key: start with a light t-shirt made of synthetic materials. Add a long sleeved fleece that zips at the front, preferably with a hood. A flannel shirt or wool sweater are options for additional layers.

Bring a water and wind resistant jacket along in your backpack in case of rain. In these temperatures, layering your socks may be a good idea; choose a pair of thin wool socks or those made of a synthetic material, as well as a thicker pair to go over them. Finish with a hat and gloves (wool, synthetic or hybrid).

Winter – and in the Rain (20-39 degrees)

Wearing the right clothes for hiking in cold weather - 375

Wear layers when hiking in the cold. Photo: ~Ranveig Marie~/flickr

In cold temperatures, start with a base layer of a wicking material like polyester or wool.

It should fit close to your skin, however not be so tight that you have a hard time moving. We recommend that you wear a base layer on your upper and lower body.

Next, add an insulating layer that is thicker than your base layer. Wicking fabrics are again our recommendation. This is the layer that you will take off when you warm up and then put back on when you stop moving and cool off.

Regardless of whether you add an insulating layer on your lower body, choose weather resistant pants made of a synthetic material. For your feet, a thin liner sock followed by a thicker sock is recommended.

A waterproof, windproof jacket will prepare you for any changes in weather and precipitation. Your body will cool off as you hike downhill and an outer layer will radiate heat by holding air close to your body. A down coat is excellent for warmth, though in wet conditions it will not insulate.

Gaiters are great for snowy and/or wet conditions. These will hook under your shoe, covering half of your shoe and your calf, keeping your calves and feet dry and warm.

Cold Weather Essentials

You don’t want to forget these items when hiking in the winter:

  • Gloves: if your hands are not warm it will be very hard for the rest of you to get and stay warm
  • A hat (wool, synthetic or a hybrid)
  • Sunglasses: when there is snow on the ground, the sunglasses are important for reducing glare
  • Sunscreen: no matter the temperature you can still get a sunburn

When planning for a hike, no matter the season and temperature, keep in mind that weather is not always predictable. Depending on the length and altitude of your hike, you will want to prepare for a range of temperatures.