How To Look Like A Pro Hiker (Easy Tips From Experienced Hikers)

Many people never start a hobby or sport purely due to the anxiety of looking inexperienced. Luckily hiking is one of the most inclusive activities in the world. With over 118 million active hikers, all with different styles, budgets, shapes, sizes, and requirements.

Because of this fact, there is not an agreed image of what a “pro hiker” should look like, more an idea that everyone is welcome on trails, provided they behave themselves. Following simple rules and acting with common sense.

That said, the style-conscious among us want to look good wherever we are, whether that be at a party or hiking in the mountains. The confidence of looking great and feeling prepared can spur many to get out there and enjoy the outdoors even more, pushing themselves and their equipment to the limits.

Looking like a pro hiker is not just about appearance, It´s also about preparedness and confidence.

If you are new to hiking and want to look and feel like a pro, this article is for you! Let’s dive in!

girl hiking in sunglasses - Should I Wear Sunglasses For Hiking?

1. Wear and Bring Appropriate Equipment

Pro hikers pride themselves on choosing the best equipment for the conditions they will be hiking, and being prepared for those conditions changing. They prioritize clothing that offers the perfect blend of comfort, functionality, and protection from the elements.

Looking at weather conditions, researching your route, and dressing appropriately is one of the best ways to look like a pro hiker.

By the appropriate equipment, we mean:

Correct footwear

Every pro hiker values their feet more than anything else! They will walk in solid hiking footwear that they know fits their feet well and has the functionality for their chosen conditions. Many hikers have several pairs of shoes/boots for different types of hikes.

Although we do recommend investing in a good pair of hiking boots. If you are just starting out, you do not need to go crazy on some high-tech and expensive footwear. Some sturdy shoes with lots of traction in the sole will go a long way to helping you look pro.

Click here to find out if you need a pair of hiking boots

Moisture-Wicking Base Layers

If you see pro hikers out on the trail, they seldom look soaked in sweat, this is due to choosing the right layers for the weather conditions.

Typically pro hikers bring 3 layers of clothing with them.

  •  A moisture-wicking base layer that draws sweat away from the skin, keeping them dry and comfortable. These base layers are typically made from synthetic materials like polyester or merino wool, which offer excellent moisture management properties.
  • An Insulating Mid-Layer: On cooler days or at higher altitudes, pro hikers wear insulating mid-layers to retain body heat. Fleece jackets or synthetic insulated jackets are common choices because they provide warmth without adding too much bulk or weight to their pack.
  • A Weather-Resistant Outer Layer: A waterproof and breathable outer layer, such as a rain jacket or shell, is essential for staying dry in wet conditions or from protecting from cold winds.

Hiking Socks

Quality hiking socks are crucial for preventing blisters and providing comfort on long hikes. Pro hikers choose socks made from merino wool or synthetic blends that offer cushioning, moisture-wicking, and blister-prevention features. We are huge fans of Silverlight hiking socks, who produce the best socks in the market (in our opinion)

Sun Protection

Sun protection is essential for prolonged exposure to the sun. Pro hikers wear wide-brimmed hats or caps to shield their face and neck from the sun, as well as sunglasses with UV protection to protect their eyes. To look like a pro hiker choose more sport-type sunglasses that wrap around your face.

Bright red sunburn from a long day of sun exposure is not a cool look! Pros choose good sunscreen that does not run off when sweating and doesn’t sting the eyes. Palm Pine Skincare and its mineral sunscreens are a top choice for us and the pro hikers in our network.

Gloves and Headwear

In colder conditions, pro hikers wear lightweight gloves to keep their hands warm and protect them from wind and cold. They also use buffs, beanies, or headbands to retain heat and cover their ears.

All of the mentioned are usually made of moisture-wicking and light materials that dry quickly.

Hiking Pants/ Shorts

Many pro hikers choose convertible pants with zip-off legs for versatility, allowing them to switch between pants and shorts as needed.

These pants are typically made from quick-drying and durable materials like nylon or polyester.

In warm weather or for less challenging hikes, pros may opt for lightweight hiking shorts designed for mobility and breathability, often made with stretch fabric and moisture-wicking properties.

A Good Backpack

Pro hikers almost always carry a backpack containing essential gear such as a map, compass, first-aid kit, water bottle, snacks, multi-tool, and a headlamp.

Having trekking poles, either in hand or attached to your backpack can also add to your pro look.

Use a hiking backpack that fits properly and is adjusted to your body, the pack shouldn’t swing around whilst walking. It should comfortably carry everything you want to bring along without looking overstuffed.

2. Be Confident, Friendly and Respectful 

Walk with purpose and confidence. Keep your head up, maintain good posture and stride, exuding an air of preparedness.

Say hello or nod to other hikers if it feels appropriate and allow others to pass on trails. Pro hikers don’t barge past on trails and are respectful to others. Being a pro hiker is not about being fast, it is about understanding your pace and sticking to it.

Don’t play music from a speaker. This is very non-pro! 

For tips on good hiking posture, check out this clip:

3. Be Knowledgeable

Pro hikers study their hike before going out.

Being knowledgeable about the trail you’re hiking is crucial for safety, preparation, and portraying yourself as a capable hiker. This allows you to take appropriate safety precautions, mentally and physically prepare for the hike, navigate confidently, and respond effectively to emergencies.

This knowledge can also be passed on to others on the trail.

Overall, trail knowledge enhances your outdoor experience and fosters a positive hiking culture.

To find out more about routes from real experiences, check out the App Alltrails which has lots of helpful info

Califonian mountain

4. Be Safe

Pro hikers act safely and avoid situations for which they are not prepared. Most hikers who have been injured or have to be rescued have not been prepared for the hike.

Practice proper safety measures such as telling someone your hiking plans, staying on marked trails, and being aware of wildlife and weather conditions.

5. Stay Hydrated And Well Fed

Running out of energy on the trail, commonly known as “bonking” is not a good look and can be dangerous. Complete the pro hiker look by hitting the shops before the trail and ensuring you have enough water and food for your hike.

Stay hydrated and nourished throughout your hike. Bring plenty of water and energy-rich snacks such as energy bars, trail mix, and protein bars to fuel your adventure.

coffee in the wild

6. Leave No Trace

Leaving trash on the trails, creating rock piles, leaving padlocks at beauty spots or damaging nature is a big no-no for pro hikers.

Avoid looking like a novice by following the Leave No Trace principles, Minimizing your impact on the environment, and allowing others to enjoy it as you have.

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