Hiking is an incredible way to enjoy nature, get some exercise, and clear your mind.
But, with so many options for clothing and gear, it can be tough to know what to wear hiking.
I personally love to find a balance between cute and practical hiking outfits. While I love to look stylish and feel confident in what I’m wearing, I also recognize the importance of wearing clothes that have specific features to provide comfort, protection, and functionality when I’m on the trail.
This guide explores how to strike a balance between cute and practical hiking outfits, so you can have the best time possible on the trail!
I’ve been hiking for years, and thanks to my job as an outdoorsy content creator, I’ve been able to test out a lot of different hiking clothes and gear! I pride myself in wearing practical and cute hiking clothes because I believe that when you look good, you feel good!
While you don’t *need* anything other than your gym clothes and tennis shoes for your first couple of easy hikes, there are some pieces of hiking gear can help you be more comfortable while spending time in nature!
Keep scrolling to learn:
- What to look for when shopping for hiking clothes
- The best hiking clothes for women
- Essential hiking accessories and
- Cute hiking outfit ideas!
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Table of Contents
What To Wear Hiking As A Woman
I have been hiking for 10+ years, including multi-day treks, day hikes in National Parks, hundreds of hot weather hikes in my home state of Arizona, and so much more. I’ve learned a lot about choosing the best hiking gear for women, and I’m excited to share my knowledge with you!
There is much more to hiking than outfits, so I recommend checking out my post on how to start hiking alone as a woman for tips on safety, essential gear, and more! But if you’re looking for cute and practical hiking outfits for women, keep scrolling!
Tips For Choosing The Best Hiking Clothes For Women
No matter your hiking experience or skill level, picking out a comfortable, functional, and cute hiking outfit doesn’t have to be overly complicated.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when picking out hiking clothes:
- Ditch the cotton. Once cotton is wet, it doesn’t dry! In cold climates, this could lead to hypothermia. It’s best to avoid cotton and opt for moisture-wicking and quick-drying fabrics like polyester, merino wool, and nylon.
- Layering is key. Wear (and pack) lightweight, breathable layers that can be easily added or removed to adjust to changing weather conditions.
- Comfort is important. If you’re wearing pants that are too tight or restrictive, it will definatleey dampen your mood on the hike. Uncomfortable clothing can also hinder your movement on the trail so opt for hiking clothes that are flexible and allow for a full range of motion.
- Protect yourself from the sun. As someone who primarily hikes in the desert, sun shirts are my best friend. I opt to wear long sleeves and pants that are made from lightweight, breathable materials when I hike in the sun. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are also essential!
- Keep the weather in mind. If you are hiking in cold weather, make sure to bring warm layers like a fleece or down jacket. For hot-weather hiking, choose lightweight, breathable materials that will keep you cool.
Best Hiking Shirts for Women
Have you heard the saying “cotton kills”? It means that wearing cotton clothing can be dangerous and even life-threatening in outdoor activities because of it’s inability to keep you warm and dry. When cotton clothing becomes wet, it loses its insulating properties and can cause hypothermia in cold weather. In hot weather, wet cotton clothing can cause chafing and skin irritation.
When choosing a hiking shirt, I recommend going for moisture-wicking and quick-drying fabrics like merino wool or polyester. These materials will keep you dry and comfortable on the trail!
The REI Co-op Sahara T-Shirt is one of my favorite budget-friendly hiking shirts and my go-to when I want to wear short sleeves. I also love Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Graphic T-Shirts for women because they are lightweight, soft, and wash well!
If I need sun protection or want to keep the bugs away, I’ll opt for the REI Co-op Sahara Solid Long-Sleeve Shirt or the REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie.
For cold weather hikes, my favorite long sleeve hiking top is the REI Co-op Merino 185 Long-Sleeve Base Layer Top.
Middle layers are all about adding warmth! No matter the weather, you’ll likely want to bring a middle layer. Again, I suggest avoiding cotton and going for something synthetic or wool so it is breathable and moisture-wicking.
For colder-weather hikes, I’ll bring a thick hoodie with fleece lining (or two if I know it’s going to be extra cold!). On warm-weather camping trips, I like to bring a thinner, breathable sweater like this quarter-zip from REI.
Best Hiking Jackets for Women
If the weather is going to be cold or you’ll be hiking at higher elevations, you’ll want to bring an insulated jacket. Insulation traps heat inside the jacket, keeping you warm even in freezing temperatures. Additionally, insulated jackets protect you from the wind.
Insulated jackets come in different types of insulation: Down and synthetic. Synthetic insulation is generally better for damp or humid, where down insulation is more lightweight and compressible.
My favorite jacket to bring hiking is the REI Co-op Magma 850 Down Hoodie 2.0 because it’s lightweight and super packable! If rain is in the forecast, I’ll opt for the REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket to stay dry.
Best Hiking Shorts
If you are hiking in hot weather or prefer to wear less fabric on your legs, hiking shorts are a great choice. You will typically find me hiking in shorts because I live in Phoenix, Arizona!
You might already have some workout shorts in your closet that would be great for a hike, but if you want some recommendations, my favorite hiking shorts are REI Co-op Active Pursuits 4.5″ Shorts. If I want something with more pockets and a belt, I opt for the alder Take A Hike Shorts.
Best Hiking Pants
I have difficulty recommending the best hiking pants for women because everyone’s body is different! I highly recommend searching for hiking pants in-person because the sizes vary from style to style.
However, I can suggest looking for hiking pants that are comfortable and made from durable, quick-drying and moisture-wicking fabric. Nylon and polyester are common choices for hiking pants, as they are lightweight and breathable.
The alder Open Air Pants are extremely comfortable, versatile, and perfectly high-waisted! If I want something lighter, I’ll opt for my REI Co-op Beyonder Ankle Pants. The REI Co-op Sahara Guide Convertible Pants are my go-to’s for days with unpredictable weather and hikes that involve water crossings.
If you’re looking for the best hiking leggings, I love the REI Co-op Take Your Time 7/8 Leggings!
Best Hiking Bras
As I mentioned, I primarily hike in Phoenix, Arizona, so I’m all about finding the best hiking clothes for hot weather. No matter the time of year, I’m almost always hiking in just a bra!
If I’m going for maximum support, I’ll opt for the Dylan Bra from Girlfriend Collective. The Beyond Yoga Spacedye Slim Racerback Cropped Tank Top is my favorite for low-impact hikes (and to wear off-trail). My favorite budget-friendly hiking bra is OFFLINE By Aerie The Hugger Longline Racerback Sports Bra.
I haven’t tried specific underwear for hiking yet – stay tuned for a review on my Instagram!
Plus Size Hiking Clothes for Women
There is room for everybody in the outdoors. However, I know it can be to find hiking clothes for every body. While I can share some plus-size hiking clothes, the outdoor industry still has a lot of work to do to be inclusive to all nature lovers.
Here are links to plus size hiking clothes I mentioned in this guide:
- REI Co-op Sahara T-Shirt
- REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie
- REI Co-op Trailsmith Fleece Jacket
- Dylan Bra from Girlfriend Collective
- Beyond Yoga Spacedye Slim Racerback Cropped Tank Top
- alder Open Air Pants
- REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket
Want more plus-size hiking content? Check out Jenny Bruso, Fat Girls Hiking, and @andyfilmsthings!
Best Hiking Hats
The most important piece of a hiking outfit is a hat! No matter the weather, I always wear a hat hiking! Hats give you sun protection, heat regulation, rain protection, and they are super cute.
The best hiking hat I own (and always recommend) is the Islander Hat from Sunday Afternoons. If I want something more casual, I opt for the Patagonia P-6 Label Trad Cap.
Best Hiking Socks
The socks you wear can make or break your hike! To avoid blisters and pain, opt for moisture-wicking, quick-drying materials like wool.
Wool socks are the best choice for hiking because they are super durable, moisture-wicking, extra padded, and odor resistant! There are different types of wool but merino wool is the most popular choice for outdoor gear due to its softness, warmth, and moisture-wicking properties.
The best hiking socks are the Micro Crew Socks from Darn Tough! Not only do these socks come in a bunch of cute patterns, but they are also made in the USA and have a lifetime warranty!
Best Hiking Shoes
There are a couple of things to consider when shopping for hiking boots. In addition to being comfortable right out of the box, a good pair of hiking boots should have arch support, good traction, be waterproof, be breathable, and be lightweight.
Thanks to my job as an outdoorsy content creator, I’ve been able to try a lot of different hiking boots! The best hiking boots I’ve tried are the Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots from Merrell. If I want something more casual, I’ll opt for the HOKA Mafate Speed 4 Trail-Running Shoes or the Altra Timp 4 Trail-Running Shoes.
Best Hiking Day Packs
Over the years, I’ve learned that your day pack can mean the difference between a mediocre hiking trip and an amazing one. When choosing a day pack for hiking, you’ll want to consider capacity, comfort, durability, and weather resistance.
My favorite day packs for women are from Gregory Packs! If I’m going on a shorter day hike, I’ll opt for the Gregory Nano 18 H2O Hydration Pack. If I’m going on a longer hike and want to pack a lunch and my camera gear, I’ll pack my Gregory Juno 30.
Want more? Read my recent post on the best day packs for women in 2023!
Final thoughts on the best hiking outfits for women
At the end of the day, the best hiking clothes for women are the pieces that help you feel more comfortable while spending time in nature! Chances are, you already have some hiking clothes in your closet!
Let me know if you have any questions about what to wear while hiking – I’m always happy to help!