What to Wear Hiking: The Complete Guide for Women
Ah, the great outdoors. The mountains, the trees, and the views. But in order to get to the best landscapes hiking is the best way to do it. This guide for women on what to wear while hiking will cover all the basics of what you must have and the hiking essentials you’ll use again and again.
They say there’s no bad weather, just unprepared hikers. I personally don’t do extreme hiking (as in, I haven’t climbed Mount Everest), but I’ve done my fair share of climbing in the Alps, Rockies, and casual hikes around National and state parks. Hiking is an enjoyable and rewarding experience, especially when you have the right gear it just puts you in the right mindset.
Don’t let the word hiking gear fool you, you don’t need tons of fancy equipment in order to hike. But there are a few things I highly recommend for anyone who wants to casually hike or even traverse mountains. In this guide I’ll share with you the best shoes, clothing, accessories, and more for what to wear on hikes as a woman.
Before we get started I want to let you know that absolutely no part of this article is in any way sponsored or comped. Everything I will share I’ve purchased myself and owned for years. I think this gives me the ability to be critical on what works and what doesn’t. I’ve certainly had my fair share of useless hiking poles and terrible shoes, so I’m happy to share what really stands the test of time.
Some of the items I list will be personal preference. I will try and give multiple options so you can see what works best for you. Having a good hike does not mean you need to spend tons of money. What I share is super affordable, stylish, and durable.
Hiking Gear at a Glance
- Hiking Shoes
- Hiking Poles
- Sweat wicking clothing
- A good rain jacket
Best Shoes For Hiking
I'm going to start off with the most important thing you need while hiking: your shoes! I prefer a sturdy shoe with good ankle support (especially since I have broken my ankle it really lends itself to helping me on the trail). I'm sharing three options that I've had for years and recommend.
Do hiking shoes really matter? The answer is hell yes. You need a good shoe that will withstand the elements (snow, rain) and also help you climb over rocks, boulders, and scale up steep terrain.
Columbia Newton Ridge Hiking Shoes for Women – These are my current hiking boots and are super comfortable. They are affordable and, I’m going to admit it, cute. These hiking shoes are lightweight and durable and make it easy for me transition from hiking to walking into town- they are so comfortable I wear them all day. Also the price is great!
Hi-Tec Women’s Altitude Waterproof Hiking Boot – I owned a pair of these for SEVEN years. That’s a long, long time to own a pair of shoes that go hiking often. The price range is great, they are very waterproof and durable, and have great ankle support. I’ve walked hundreds of miles in these shoes and they stand up over time.
Kamik Women’s Alborg Snow Boot – These are not necessary to have, but are great if you want a stylish, tall boot. I find these comfortable and nice to have when it’s super snowy. I tend to wear these in thick, heavy snow.
I remember when I first started hiking and didn’t have poles. I can’t believe I ever hiked without them. I’m also shocked when people don’t! It makes me feel so much safer and more stable as I’m hiking. Especially if I’m climbing over rocks, or it’s a steeper hike, these make all the difference. They have absolutely saved me from a fall or even a bone break.
These Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking Poles are exactly what both my husband and I use for our hikes. They are lightweight, made of aluminum, easily adjustable and come with different feet for different conditions. They also have a cork grip, so they are comfortable to hold.
Clothing for Hiking
Of course, the clothing you wear will depend on the weather. But some material really is better than others. Polyester or nylon for sweat wicking and keeping you cool and dry, along with wool to keep you warm. These materials are important when it comes to picking clothing. The best bet is to layer your clothing. That way you can take things off that you don’t need or as the temperature changes.
Leggings – I prefer to hike in leggings because I feel like I can move around a bit more and I find them lightweight and easy to pack. I wear leggings almost daily, and I have a lot of thoughts when it comes to the best leggings for hiking. I’m going to offer two options that I think are the best. First up are the Zella 7/8 Live in Leggings – these are a great all-around pair that last forever and have pockets (an essential for me!). I’ve raved about these for years and just think these are the best. I'm wearing these in the picture above.
The next pair of leggings are the best if you're going to be in a warmer climate and need some leggings that are sweat wicking and breathable. These Aerie Offline Goals High Waisted Pocket Leggings are super comfortable but also hold you in. I also wear these for working out. What I also love is the range of sizing and the ability to get regular, short, or long length.
Hiking Pants – Sweat wicking pants are so great to wear while hiking, but what I love about these Columbia trail pants, is that I can wear them in the heat or cold. If it's really cold, I'll throw on leggings on underneath. You'll also see these pictured in the snow since they're water resistant.
Hiking Shirts – I prefer a long sleeve top to protect from the sun. I also like sweat wicking tops, no matter the temperature outside, since they are odor-resistant and durable. I like this option from Columbia, this option from Target is stylish but well made, and this thinner top from Kohls – also a great price!
Coat – I've had the same red coat for about 5 years now! And the best part? It's not super expensive. This coat is a puffer, comes in tons of different colors, and has a pretty, fur-lined hood. It's water resistant and windproof, I've worn it all over the wold and it always keeps me warm. Check out this fur-lined puffer on Amazon right here.
Pullover – I've had this Patagonia Re-tool fleece pullover for about 7 years. It still looks brand new! This is a great option for layering or for cooler hikes. This is one of the best investments you can make, it will last you for years.
Windbreaker/Rain Jacket – You're bound to get caught in the rain so don't be left unprepared! I like a lightweight rain coat that can also double as a rain coat. This Columbia Switchback Waterproof rain jacket is one of the best I've found.
Sports Bra – It's taken me a long time to find a sports bra that's comfortable, supportive, and affordable. I'm always on the lookout for these. I really like the brand Zella (I've mentioned them a few times) and their sports bras perform just as well as their leggings.
Socks – The Smartwool socks are the warmest I've come across. It's like there's magic in the wool to keep you warm and dry! I wear these when I'm hiking in cold temperatures, and especially in the snow. For everyday socks for hiking, I like these, also on amazon.
Some of these accessories you don’t need, but I wanted to share all the things I like to use over the years of going hiking.
Hat – The best protection from the sun has to be a hat. I like to have a few options for hats, one that is lightweight that works for warmer weather, and comfortable beanies for cooler weather. For a brimmed hat, I love this open weave hat. I've had it for years and packed it in suitcases and back packs and it still holds its shape.
As for a beanie, I like ones with a pom on the top (just makes my head not look so odd) and long enough to cover my ears.
Sunscreen – I put sunscreen on every.single.day. I think it’s so important to have on sunscreen, especially while hiking. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this tinted sunscreen by Elta MD. It’s doctor and dermatologist recommended, lasts all day, and protects your skin.
Sunglasses – Michael always does extensive research and the same can be said about my current sunglasses. I kept buying cheaper sunglasses from Walmart and Amazon and they kept getting scratched, or worse, the polarization came off! We went with these Rayban Wayfarers because they offer great protection from the sun, are made of glass — which makes them much less likely to scratch, and are well made. I can't believe I have lived without these.
Gaiters – I love these to help make sure you don't get snow in your boots. These slip over your shoes and help ensure snow doesn't wind up in your shoes. Also great for snow shoeing or skiing. I like these gaiters from Amazon and have owned mine for years.
Clothing to Avoid While Hiking
- Denim – super restrictive and doesn’t dry easily
- Anything too bulky/heavy
- Something fashionable that just doesn’t work – I’ll never forget buying a rain jacket from Forever 21 (Nothing against Forever 21, I like to shop there but not for good hiking gear!), and as soon as it started raining I was soaked.
Outfit ideas for hiking
Here are some outfit ideas for your next hike! I hope these hiking outfit ideas will give you an idea of what to wear or how best to beat the elements and have an enjoyable hike.
I also like to throw in a scarf in my hair – makes for great pictures!
Since this hike was a little easier and not as much elevation, I wore my Kamik boots. I also highly recommend this Joy Lap Sherpa from Target. Often, sherpa looks really matted after a few months of wear but this doesn't seem to be the case with this one.
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Whether you plan to trek through the snow, hike in the heat, or just take a walk in the wilderness I think it's grat to be prepared! I hope this guide has helped you! Pin the post below: