You will probably agree with us when we say that every nature-goer and lover must have appropriate clothes for the best experience. It is important to have clothes specifically made for outdoor activities, since they offer the best comfort and protection. But, how do we know what makes the best hiking clothes?
The conventional hiker will most likely hike in jeans and a flannel shirt, but these are not appropriate hiking clothes. They are made of cotton, a fabric that isn’t hiking-friendly, and they might not be comfortable. Therefore, the ideal hiking clothes are made of wicking fabric, such as nylon or spandex. Such fabrics are lightweight, durable, comfortable, and offer flexibility for different climates.
The choice of hiking clothes on the market is huge, and not everyone can make the best purchasing decision for oneself. We completely understand you. Today, we are going to teach you how to choose high performing hiking clothes. We will achieve this by introducing you to the best features to consider and our top picks for your selection.
Our Top Picks
|prAna Zion||Pants||17.6 oz.||Nylon and spandex||Check price on Amazon|
|Keen Targhee||Boots||17.4 oz.||Leather and textile||Check price on Amazon|
|Smartwool Mid Crew||Socks||9.3 oz.||Merino wool, nylon, and elastane||Check price on Amazon|
|Montane Minimus||Jacket||8.8 oz.||Nylon||Check price on Amazon|
|Outdoor Research Aspire||Jacket||15 oz.||Polyester||Check price on Amazon|
|Arcteryx Arc||Beanie||2.2 oz.||Wool/acrylic blend||Check price on Amazon|
|Arcteryx Agilis||Gloves||6.5 oz.||Nylon, elastane, and leather||Check price on Amazon|
|Arcteryx Bernal||Shirt||9 oz.||Cotton and polyester||Check price on Amazon|
Things to Consider Before Buying
As you need to apply different principles when you choose each item, we have summarized the key criteria for putting together a great working wardrobe containing a few of the best hiking clothing items that will cover a whole range of possible conditions.
Rugged and Versatile Pants
Rugged and versatile pants are called for when you go hiking or backpacking. Activities can range from standard hiking across even terrain to climbing angles, stepping across boulders and taking an unexpected dunk while crossing a stream.
You need a good, comfortable fit with plenty of room in the crotch. Great hiking pants should be soft and stretchy, water-resistant and should dry out fast after splashing through a stream. Excellent moisture wicking is essential to keep you comfortable during strenuous hiking.
Although, you don’t expect serious protection from the cold from an all-rounder, the fabric should be thick enough for a cold early morning or evening, plus keep you fresh during a long day of vigorous hiking. You should also look out for a good number of pockets that are easily accessible from sitting and standing positions, and that can be opened one-handed using prominent pulls on durable zippers.
Durable Hiking Boots
Selecting the right hiking boots can be a problem as there are so many factors to consider. Options range from ultra-light trail running shoes to heavy waterproof hikers. The expected terrain will profoundly influence your choice, as will other factors, such as personal fitness.
If you can only manage an escape to a trail twice a year carrying a heavy pack, it is likely that you will need more ankle support than someone who hikes across even terrain every weekend with only a light daypack.
You can choose from four broad categories of outdoor footwear, with varying support, waterproofing, and protection from the cold and ankle support. Trail Runners are super light with soft soles and prominent lugs and are ideal for smooth terrains, such as gravel roads.
Hiking shoes are very light and a stiffer sole offers better foot protection, but there is no ankle support and hiking shoes that are best used for a smoother day hiking with a minimum load.
Hiking boots are best for general use to prevent ankle injuries and provide support on rough trails, and you can choose between light, medium and heavyweight hiker boots. The fourth category is mountaineering boots for climbing and freezing conditions.
Great Moisture Wicking Socks
If you get a good pair of breathable shoes, don’t prevent the shoe from doing its work by wearing cheap fashion socks. 100% cotton is also not recommended for hiking as it absorbs sweat, dries very slowly and can promote the formation of blisters.
Colder conditions call for mid-to-heavyweight socks, but you need great moisture-wicking in any sock, or you will end up with soggy conditions where you least need it. Lightweight outdoor socks form an essential part of your collection of best hiking clothing.
Ultra Lightweight Hiking Jacket
You are unlikely to be wearing your waterproof jacket during the entire trip, and it will be carried around in your backpack, so – the lighter, the better. However, getting caught in freezing rain or continuous downpours can quickly spoil your outing, so it’s better to be well prepared.
A ladies’ rain shell should be a little longer than men’s jacket and should also be well cut to prevent the exaggerated hem lift when you raise your arms. Vents under the arms are critical, as are the quality of the zippers and the seam finishes.
High Quality Toque/Beanie
A top quality winter hat can literally be a lifesaver when you encounter unexpectedly cold weather out-of-doors. Look out for a lightweight, snug fit that is warm, soft and won’t irritate your skin.
A double brim lining will help to protect your ears from the elements. And a simple, tapered construction works best outdoors.
High Quality Gloves
The importance of good gloves can easily be overlooked, but a pleasant day can turn into harsh conditions unexpectedly and let you face low temperatures, the wind, rain or even snow. Therefore, you need a good pair of hiking gloves. Weather protection and sound insulation are your main requirements to keep your hands warm and fully functional. Numb fingers can be dangerous while traversing tricky ground, and in extreme cases, frostbite can be a real threat.
The layering structure is crucial to making good gloves. The outer layer is usually waterproof. The palm and finger areas must provide proper grip for holding on to tools, gear or when doing light climbing.
The insulation layer consists of synthetic, natural or a mix of the two fibers. Like a rain shell, you may not need your gloves on every day of your hike so that the weight can be a considerable factor. Fleece gloves will stay warm even when wet and they dry fast. The fleece will wick away moisture under normal hiking conditions, and as they are thin, you can still grip your camera, GPS or zipper pulls.
High Performing Hiking Shirt
Another important clothing to consider is a hiking shirt. We advise you to look for fabrics that trap air to maintain body heat, but also capable of wicking moisture to keep you dry. In light of this, you should consider nylon and spandex over cotton.
Apart from the material, you should consider other qualities, such as comfort stretch, Omni-shade sun protection, Omni-wick advanced operation, and chest pockets. Also, choose between a short-sleeve, long-sleeve, or a convertible.
Best Products on Today’s Market
Now that you have learned the basics of hiking clothing, it is time we introduce you to eight of our top picks from today’s market. These products are not only affordable, but also durable and they come highly recommended by most users.
Price: $70 – $100
Weight: 17.6 oz.
Material: Nylon and spandex
Specific features: All-weather finish, quick dry fabric, and treated with durable water repellent.
Best use: Any outdoor or general use, although very cold conditions may require an additional layer or different pants
Description: The prAna Zion Convertible Pants are rugged, tough, durable, and convertible. You can easily convert them into all-purpose shorts for summer hiking. The nylon and spandex blend is soft, flexible, water-wicking, and very comfortable.
The design allows a generous crotch without being too baggy or hindering your knee movement and the 3% Spandex provides extra give for exaggerated movements. A small belt adjustment lets you tighten the waist for perfect fit.
The pants come with eight pockets, including four deep side pockets in a two-by-two arrangement on both sides of the upper legs for easy storage of a GPS, fire lighter, or knife. The rubberized pulls are reliable and easy to use with one hand.
When temperatures soar, simply zip off the legs to give you a comfortable and stylish pair of cargo shorts. Perhaps the best feature is the ventilated gusset, which provides all-day comfort in high temperatures. These are the pants you need for multi-day hiking adventure.
- Water repellent stretch fabric
- Snug and comfortable fit
- Quick dry
- Zip-off legs
- Inbuilt soft belt
- One of the trousers may be longer than the other by an inch
Related: The pants will offer you a complete outfit with the prAna Yearby Slim Shirt. Made of 55% organic cotton/45% polyester, the shirt is yarn-dye with dobby checks for a distinct look.
Price: $130 – $150
Weight: 17.4 oz.
Material: Leather and textile
Specific features: Contoured heel lock, lugged outsole, breathable leather lining, padded tongue & collar, easy-on heel pull, low-profile upper, and rubber sole
Best use: Light to medium difficulty trails under most conditions
Description: The Keen Targhee II Hiking Boot is a high-quality leather and textile boot for hiking. For all-round performance, it would be hard to beat a lightweight hiking boot with a high cut collar around the ankle for protection from bruises and sticks while stabilizing the ankle.
The boot comes in seven colors and makes a handsome addition to your all-season best hiking clothing collection for both experienced and novice hikers. It is manufactured with a combination of resilient textile and waterproof leather.
It has a rubber sole and a removable dual-density compression-molded EVA midsole, which will protect the soles of your feet from bruising. The waterproof and breathable membranes increase warmth in colder weather, but they will still keep you comfortable on a 10-hour hike.
The manufacturer recommends that you order a ½ size larger than your regular shoe size as the style runs about a 1/2 size small. Generally, if you are unsure, choose a larger size, rather than a smaller one.
- For extreme conditions
- Durable and comfortable
- Superior gripping on a variety of terrains
- Torsional stability
- Ankle support
- The insoles are thin; so, you may need a replacement
Related: Consider buying the Keen Utility K-20 Cushion Insoles along with the boots. You will need the insoles to replace the factory-made ones for comfort over long distances or when climbing rocky terrain.
Price: Approx. $20
Weight: 9.3 oz.
Material: Merino wool, nylon, and elastane
Specific features: SW001068 style, mid-crew height, 6-inch in length, virtually seamless toe, and knit in USA
Best use: Hot weather hikes or anytime you need moisture control when wearing shoes or boots
Description: If you are planning on hiking with some serious boots during your next out-of-doors adventure, the Smartwool Mid-Crew Socks are the ideal choice. The manufacturer has targeted cushioning for durability and comfort during intense activity.
The toe seam is constructed with a flat knit design to be durable and very comfy. The sole and shin areas are lightly cushioned to improve impact absorption. The inevitable high wear areas on each sock feature the patented PhD ReliaWool technology.
This technology increases strength and improve dampening without adding bulk. These socks are great for multi-sport use and are available in the standard short and Mid Crew (6″) height. The available height ensures that you stay dry and warm in cold weather.
In spite of the merino wool design, these amazing Smartwool socks are integrated with high performing weaving throughout for temperature regulation and breathability. So, you can actually use the socks in the summer.
- Moisture wicking and breathable
- Increased durability on the high impact terrain
- Suitable for cold weather conditions
- PhD outdoor line provides a number of cushion options and height
- Comes with fewer color options for preference
Related: You can get the Fox River Outdoor Wick Liners along with the socks. You can wear the liners along with the socks to effectively provide warmth, comfort, and avert moisture buildup and blisters without additional weight.
Price: $140 – $240
Weight: 8.8 oz.
Specific features: Pertex shield, OS map sized, YKK zippered chest pocket, mesh ventilated, a full adjustable helmet and internal storm flap & rain drain
Best use: Rainy weather and moist conditions with humidity
Description: If you need a heavy-duty jacket for your hiking expedition, then the Montane Minimus Jacket should be your first choice. The hood is wire-peaked and three-point adjustable to enable a snug fit, making it motorcycle helmet compatible.
The hood can be folded away completely when not in use. You will admire the 360° reflectivity of the jacket. The jacket’s seams are micro-taped to keep the weather firmly out. The full-length front zip lets you slip into the shell, fast.
It has an excellent quality YKK AquaGuard zipper with a sizable pull to let you operate it quickly without fumbling. The internal storm flap combined with a rain-drain prevents accumulation of water. It can be disconcerting to lift your arms and receive a blast of cold water from the hem area. The Montane Minimus is designed with articulated arm inserts to let you move your arms without experiencing that nasty hem lift.
The cuffs are shaped to prevent heat loss and water trickle, and have loop tabs and adjustable hooks to let you use mitts or gloves. There is an adjustable hem to further prevent the elements from reaching you.
- Lightweight, packable, breathable, and highly durable
- Hood is helmet compatible
- Superior cooling surface area
- YKK AquaGuard front zip ensures zero penetration of water molecules
- YKK zipped chest pocket offers convenient storage
- Limited size and color options for preference
Related: Complete your hiking outfit by purchasing the jacket along with the Montane Minimus Pants. The pants are 2-inch high, 13-inch wide, and they feature 360 reflectivity, elastic hems, drawcord waist, Velcro calf tabs, and side ankle zippers.
Price: $200 – $250
Weight: 15 oz.
Specific features: Double sliding zippers, fully seam taped, Gore-Tex breathable and waterproof, fully adjustable hood, and left hand pocket
Best use: Hiking and walking in humid and rainy conditions at normal to cool temperatures
Description: The Outdoor Research Aspire Jacket is breathable and will allow moisture to evaporate to keep you dry and comfortable while you carry on along the trail or wait out the storm. It is the perfect choice for hiking ladies.
The arm vents are an outstanding feature of this garment. Outdoor Research added hem-to-bicep zippers on each side that allows free arm movement as well as superior individual ventilation and temperature control with two-way zippers.
The cuffs are shaped, and the hook-loop bands make it easy to close the cuffs or adjust them for mitt or glove use. You can roll up the hood and secure it with a neat little Velcro tab to keep it out of your way when you don’t need it.
Both the hood and hem have strong drawstrings to provide a tight fit around your face, and to prevent the jacket from riding up during activity. There are two zippered hand pockets, as well as two arm pockets. These provide plenty of storage.
- Flexible, strong, and wrinkle and shrink resistant
- Superior breathability and waterproofness
- Fully adjustable hood
- Fully taped seam
- TorsoFlo side zippers offer poncho-style ventilation during intense activity
- Only two color options for preference
- May not be very effective in extremely rainy conditions
Related: This jacket will match well with the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants. The pants are wind and water resistant, quick drying, and breathable.
Price: Approx. $40
Weight: 2.2 oz.
Material: Wool/acrylic blend
Specific features: Warm, versatile, reversible construction, six dart construction, and Arcteryx bird graphic
Best use: General hiking and outdoor work when you expect to be outdoors for long periods of time
Description: When you want to wear light and have extra warmth, then the Arcteryx Arc Mountain Toque Beanie is your best bet. It is a wool & acrylic blend with a clever use of thermal fleece in the unique under-banding design.
The Arcteryx Arc Mountain Toque will wick moisture, and it will retain warmth even if it gets wet. The tapered six-dart construction improves fit for more comfort and warmth. The snug, shorter fit provides protection without irrelevancies or hindrances.
The thermal fleece band on your forehead will provide hours of comfort. It was designed to provide a snug fit when you encounter a range of outdoor conditions, so one size will not fit all. If your head size is larger, consider trying a larger toque.
This particular model is available in the following color options: anaconda, bamboo, black, and anvil iron. Generally, the Arcteryx Arc Mountain Toque Beanie is a pronounced piece of head wear that will keep your head safe from the cold weather.
- Warm and versatile, secure and comfortable fit
- Reversible construction offers flexibility during use
- Natural moisture management ensures that your head is dry and cool
- The strong fabric is able to hold out regular washing without damage
- One size is not convenient for different head sizes
- Just a few colors are available
Related: We recommend you to buy a backup toque for your multi-day out-of-doors adventure, and we endorse the Arcteryx Bird Head Toque. This model is available in multiple color options for preference and comes highly recommended by users.
Price: Approx. $120
Weight: 6.5 oz.
Material: Nylon, elastane, and leather
Specific features: Gore-Tex XCR, prima-loft gold, prima-loft silver, five fingers, removable liner, adjustable, waterproof, leather reinforced fingers and palm, webbing loop, removable wrist leash, and Velcro cuff
Best use: Cold weather camping, hiking, skiing, and snowboarding
Description: The Arcteryx Agilis Gloves are the ideal choice for cold weather protection. The insulation layers differ to respond to separate conditions. The Arcteryx uses light-weight (60 g) PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco with Grip Control on fingers and palms.
The insulation is denser to prevent packing out over time to preserve your dexterity. The unique internal taping Grip Control technology reduces slipping between layers by binding palms and fingers to the outer shell.
A brushed liner runs from your fingertips to your wrist in a draft tube to transport moisture away from the fingers to the permeable Gore-Tex section. The design is anatomically shaped for an excellent fit.
The low profile on the short cuff is made possible with Velcro, adjustment strips and integrated elastic to let the gloves fit well under less roomy jackets and shell cuffs. The webbing loop at the tip is handy for clipping your Arcteryx mittens together.
- Breathable and waterproof, firm and non-slip grip
- Removable wrist leash ensures that you don’t drop the mitten
- Brushed interior offers comfort during long-term use
- Anatomical shaping allows for comfortable fit
- Not suitable for vigorous rock climbing
- Limited size and color options for preference and convenience
Related: If you are an enthusiast rock climber, then we also recommend you to buy the Arcteryx Alpha FL Gloves for rock climbing. They feature a grip enhancing construction that reduces shear.
Price: $110 – $130
Weight: 9 oz.
Material: Cotton and polyester
Specific features: Lightweight, casual comfort, classic front button-up closure, laminated chest pocket, and articulated patterning
Best use: General outdoor use, including camping and hiking
Description: The Arcteryx Bernal LS Shirt is a high performing top for men. It is made of a blend of cotton and polyester, which keeps you dry and warm after a long hike. You will be impressed by the high-quality features and functionality of this shirt.
The reason why we chose the Arcteryx is not only because of the quality of the fabric, but also because of its design. The design fits better because the cut is based on articulated patterning. It moves with you to provide excellent mobility.
The gusseted underarm design won’t restrict your movements in the outdoors. A stylish laminated chest pocket in a contrasting color stands out, and it bears the distinctive embroidered Arcteryx bird logo. The shirt is finished with the classic button-up front and cuffs.
The shirt is breathable, quick drying, and casual enough for a weekend out-of-doors, especially if hiking and camping is on your to-do list.
- Cotton and polyester blend keeps you dry and warm after hours of hiking
- Superior fit and excellent mobility, breathable and quick drying
- Non-restricted movement
- Laminated chest pocket offers additional storage
- Not a convenient choice for extreme cold weather conditions
- Only a few colors are available for preference
Related: To complete your hiking outfit, we recommend you to buy the shirt along with the Arcteryx Men’s Rampart Pants. The synthetic pants feature a refined style, excellent pocket configuration, mesh lined hand pockets, front fly with snap closure, and quick drying.
Having the ideal hiking wear during the most adverse conditions will make for memorable experiences. So, consider weight, material, and quality when buying clothes. We have covered the most important clothing that should not miss your list.
Tops and pants are not the only important clothing for a hiker. You need to be kind to your feet, since they are what you hike on. Therefore, choose the highest performing boots you can find. Also, go for base, insulating, and wind-rain layers.
Have we helped you create a very resourceful hiking clothes list for your upcoming adventure? Please share your experiences, thoughts, suggestions, and concerns with us in the comments section below. And we will do well to join you in the conversation.