This article will look at 15 Everyday Clothing Items That Are Good for Hiking and what makes them so good.
If you are a first-time hiker or hiking on a budget then your wardrobe could be full of ideal hiking clothing!
When looking online or in shops for hiking gear you may be convinced that you need expensive, hi-tech equipment but that’s not the case!
Hiking has to be one of the cheapest activities in the world. After you are just walking, something we do every day in our regular clothing without any issues.
Experienced hikers may spend money on clothing for better comfort, safety, weight, packability, breathability, or waterproofing. For those who are just starting out or not looking to venture far from home, there are plenty of everyday clothing items that are perfectly suitable.
The great thing about the hiking community is that we are a very inclusive bunch who seldom judge other hikers on what they are wearing. Please don’t worry about not looking like a pro. Many hikers start out with everyday items. They build their hiking wardrobe once they find issues with what they currently own. Improvements such as better shoes or weather-specific clothing.
So what is a good clothing item to hike in? Let’s dive in!
Hiking in dungarees or overalls
Work with your hands or live with someone who does? If the answer is yes, there is a good chance you will have a pair of dungarees or overalls lying around.
These robust and useful pants built the railroads, skyscrapers, and roads of the US. They are more than capable of handling the rigors of hiking.
It is not uncommon for hikers and ski tourers to wear a good set of dungarees when out in the mountains. They have many features that make them very useful for such adventures. Let´s dive into the pros and cons of wearing dungarees when hiking.
Pros Of Hiking In Dungarees
- Tons of helpful pockets
- No waistband giving lots of comfort and mobility
- very adjustable
- Works well with jackets and allows no rain or snow to pour down your butt when bending over
- Tough material, very durable
Cons Of Hiking In Dungarees
- Usually made from denim or other heavy material
- Material can be heavy and chafe when wet
- Going to the toilet can be a nightmare
- Shoulder straps can rub on long hikes
Hiking In Gym Or Yoga pants
Gym or yoga pants can be ideal for hiking and are an item you likely have in your closet. If you don’t own a pair then they can be found for a reasonable price at your local sports store.
Sporting pants are designed to be flexible, and strong through a wide range of movements. They are also light, breathable, and don’t hold onto sweat. They dry fast and pack into a very small size. These Features make them very good for hiking.
Many hikers even use yoga pants as a base layer in the cold winter months, wearing some waterproof, wind-stopping pants on top.
Here are our pros and cons of hiking in Yoga pants:
Pros Of Hiking In Yoga Or Gym Pants
- Flexible, with strong stitching
- Fast drying
- Low cost
- Can be packed up small
- Very popular choice
Cons of Hiking in Yoga Or Gym Pants
- Material can be easily ripped or worn
- Not many pockets
- Very little wind protection
- No water resistance
- No air vents or zip-offs for shorts
Hiking In A Hoodie
On a cold but clear day, a hoodie can be ideal for hiking! It has pockets to keep your hands warm, lots of insulation, and a hood to protect you from the elements. When worn with a waterproof shell jacket it can act as a warm base layer too.
The hood is great for keeping out the cold but it is also perfect for stopping insects, ambient noise, UV, or light rain. We love pulling up our hoods for a good night´s sleep whilst camping.
On the downside, hoodies can be fairly heavy. They are difficult to pack into a backpack, not particularly breathable, and also take a long time to dry. For these reasons they are not ideal for longer hikes over multiple days or when space or weight is an issue.
If you are venturing out for a day hike and the weather is fair then a hoodie will do the job!
Hiking in a Dress
On a warm summer’s day, a dress can be perfect for hiking but don’t pull that prom dress out of your cupboard yet!
A short, loose-fitting dress can be fantastic for summer hikes. It gives lots of ventilation and freedom of movement. When paired with a bikini is also ideal for whipping off for lake or river swims or for a relaxing sunbathing session. A light dress will easily pack into a backpack and look nice when at the restaurant or bar after a day in the mountains.
Whilst ideal for movement and ventilation it will show a lot more skin than regular hiking attire, making you vulnerable to sunburn, insect bites, and abrasions. You may also find that backpack straps may rub on your shoulders on long hikes.
If you are heading out for a fairly short summer hike then a light dress will be absolutely fine
Hiking in a flannel Shirt
In popular hiking spots and outdoor stores, you will see many people in flannel shirts, and for good reason!
This soft but durable item of clothing is perfect for hiking as it can be:
- Buttoned up to provide warmth
- Un-buttoned to let the cool air in
- Worn on top or underneath other pieces of clothing
- Taken off and wrapped around your waist
The fabric dries quickly, washes easily and for some reason, flannel shirts never seem to go out of fashion.
If you don’t have one in your wardrobe then maybe it’s time you did!
Hiking In Jeans
If you are going for a short hike in mild weather, it would be ok to wear a pair of jeans, for longer walks, it is not recommended.
Jean pants are woven to be tough and hard-wearing. They are ideal for everything from cattle ranching to catwalks but for hiking, they are not that great.
Designed to be tough and durable, jeans are fairly stiff and do not give hikers good mobility. The fabric itself is not very breathable and holds onto water like a sponge so if it rains or you step in a river you will be wet for a while.
We recommend going for a lighter fabric like some gym pants or chinos.
Hiking in a sweatshirt
Too cold for a hike? It´s time to break out that old college sweater!
Sweatshirts are good for hiking because they are warm, flexible, and durable. They can be easily tied around your waist or packed into a backpack when it gets too warm or worn under a waterproof jacket in bad weather.
Usually, sweatshirts do not have any vents and are made of thick cotton or polyester material. They are not very breathable and do not dry quickly when wet. These features are not ideal for multi-day hiking trips but can be good for day hiking.
Hiking in underwear
Underwear whilst hiking is important as it can stop the chafing from other materials whilst moving.
Specific hiking underwear is available. Made with materials such as merino wool and synthetic materials it wicks away sweat, provides lots of mobility, and dries quickly. This of course comes at a higher price than regular underwear.
However, most hikers wear regular underwear or sports underwear that they know works for them.
It is generally accepted that a lighter, more flexible, and tighter-fitting underwear style is best. Sports underwear (including bras) is our choice for all types of hiking.
Hiking in sweatpants
For shorter adventures in mild weather, sweatpants are a good option for hikers. They provide lots of warmth and flexibility but are not great for longer hikes or multi-day treks.
Traditional sweatpants or joggers are made from heavy thick material. This is great for lazing around on the couch but will get very heavy and wet when it rains. They provide almost no breathability or ventilation when your legs begin to get warm. For this reason, they are ideal if you are going out hiking for a few hours on a clear day with minimal chance of rain.
Hiking In Tights
Tights can be fragile and rip very easily which is not great for hiking. However, they make a good baselayer under a good pair of pants and provide warmth and some protection from chafing.
Leggings are a much better option than a pair of tights as they are more durable and warm but still very flexible.
Hiking in trainers or skate shoes
For those who have not invested in a pair of hiking boots, an old pair of sneakers or some skate shoes should be acceptable for short local hikes over fairly easy terrain in good weather.
Skate shoes (such as Vans) generally have thicker soles and some ankle support. This can be better for hiking than normal sports trainers but do not have much grip on the sole so can easily slide in mud or on wet rocks. If you plan to go out hiking in your local area for under 6 miles then you can get away with either type of sneaker. Just make sure they are laced up well and wear some good socks.
Hiking With Gloves
There is nothing worse than numb fingers so gloves are an important addition to a hiker’s backpack, especially as Winter starts to close in.
Gloves are very and can be very useful! Not only for keeping warm but also for clambering over rough ground or through stinging/ sharp undergrowth.
Usually, hiking gloves are light, windproof, and Waterproof. If you do not have these in your house a pair of cotton gloves, some cycling gloves, or some light skiing gloves will be absolutely fine.
Hiking with sunglasses
Sunglasses are very useful for hiking all year round. They not only protect your eyes from the sun but also from low-hanging branches and other trail debris.
Hiking sunglasses tend to make you look like a futuristic robot human and come in some pretty garish colors. If you don´t like the look, or don’t have a pair to hand, a regular pair of sunnies will be more than adequate.
When choosing which sunglasses to take with you on a trip, we recommend choosing some with high UV protection (look for UV 400). If possible choose polarized lenses which reduce glare from surfaces such as snow and sand. If the weather is changeable your sunglasses may also be in and out of your bag. Either take a case with you or bring a pair that you don’t mind getting a little scuffed up… Maybe leave the Guccis at home.
Hiking With Sports Socks
Hiking is very hard on the feet so it´s no surprise that finding the perfect socks is a hiker’s dream!
If you are planning a hike but do not have a pair of expensive hiking socks do not worry! A trusty pair of sports socks will be perfectly fine.
Hiking socks are generally made of moisture-wicking materials such as merino wool. They have been reinforced in areas such as your heel and the ball of your foot, and have tighter areas around the foot for added comfort. But a pair of sports/running socks share many of these features and are used regularly by even experienced hikers.
We recommend picking a pair of higher-cut sports socks, that fit your feel well, are dry, and have no rips or holes
Also, remember to trim your toenails before your hike! Long nails chew through socks in no time and can cause discomfort or blisters.
If you would like to know a bit more about sock choice click here
Hiking In A Sports Jersey
Hiking, especially in mountains can be tough! Your body can be put your body through similar efforts as you would when playing sports. The big difference is that a change of clothes is not on the sideline or in the changing rooms. You must carry it with you on your person or in your backpack for hours at a time.
While hiking You want to stay dry and cool whilst also protecting yourself from UV rays. When picking clothes for hiking, it is important to look for a t-shirt or jersey that is light, breathable, moisture-wicking, and packs well into a backpack.
Jerseys and t-shirts from such sports as football, soccer, cycling, basketball, golf, and ice hockey can be very good for hiking. They are made from the same material as most hiking clothing. If you are headed out hiking and don’t have a specific top for the adventure, a sports top is a better choice than a heavy cotton t-shirt.
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