Best clothes for summer hiking
With spring upon us and summer fast approaching, many people can’t wait to get outdoors and hit the hiking trail. As all experienced hikers know, proper preparation is key to safety and success. If you set off half-cocked and fail to take your clothing into account for the environment you’re hiking in or any potential emergencies that might occur, you could be putting yourself at risk along with any companions.
Read on to learn more about the best summer hiking clothes and how they can keep you protected in style as you trek.
Hiking clothes features
There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing hiking clothes, including material type and thickness, breathability and durability. Cotton and denim should be avoided due to their ability to retain water, which may cause discomfort over extended periods of physical activity.
Materials such as wool, nylon and polyester are preferred, as long as they’re sufficiently resistant to physical damage. In addition, these materials are renowned for their ability to reduce sweat and help disperse moisture (or breathability), making them suitable for a hiking excursion.
Given that hiking is a strenuous physical activity, single clothing items made of heavy materials that don’t breathe well are a recipe for disaster. As such, knowledgeable hikers make use of a strategy known as “layering,” which involves multiple light garments that can be worn or removed as needed. A typical layering outfit consists of well-constructed shoes or boots, socks, a jacket for warmth and rain, brimmed sun hat, pants and appropriate undergarments.
Best summer hiking clothes
Top hiking hats
Tilley Endurables LTM6 Airflo Hat: available at Amazon
As one of the premier sun hat manufacturers, Tilley Endurables LTM6 Airflo hat provides impressive UPF50 sun protection, a sweatband, discreet mesh inserts for ventilation and a hidden hook-and-loop pocket for your valuable items.
Sunday Afternoons Unisex Ultra Adventure Hat: available at Amazon
While it may not win you any fashion awards off the hiking trail, this hat is responsibly sourced and environmentally friendly. It offers superb sun protection via its 6-inch neck cape and 3-inch clamshell brim.
Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat: available at Amazon
If you always find yourself losing your hiking hat to wind and water, the Sombriolet Sun Hat offers foam lining to keep it afloat on water, has a low-profile chinstrap to keep it firmly on your head and comes with a darkened inner layer to reduce glare by absorbing light.
Top hiking shirts
Vapor Apparel Women’s Sun Protection Long-Sleeve Performance T-Shirt: available at Amazon
This polyester microfiber long-sleeve is a great option for those who prefer a slimmer look and natural fit.
Columbia PFG Men’s Zero Rules T-Shirt: available at Backcountry
Proprietary blue ring technology lowers this top’s temperature in response to sweat, keeping you cool at all times.
Under Armour Men's Tech 2.0 Short-Sleeve T-Shirt: available at Amazon
This ultrasoft 100% polyester shirt will keep you warm and dry on the trail.
Top hiking jackets
The North Face Women's Resolve 2 Waterproof Hooded Rain Jacket: available at Amazon
Completely waterproof and windproof, this jacket comes with a storm flap, sealed seams, hook-and-loop closures and a Durable Water Repellent finish, ensuring that you stay dry on your hike.
Marmot Men's Tempo Softshell Jacket: available at Amazon
This jacket provides excellent all-around protection with 100% ripstop nylon construction to let your skin breathe while letting you shrug off inclement weather with ease. Its zippered hand warmers and pockets allow you to stay warm and secure your belongings.
Top hiking pants
Columbia Women's Saturday Trail Stretch Pant: available at Amazon
Appropriate for both town and trail, these pants offer four pockets with hook-and-loop closures to keep your important items safe, and they repel both stains and water. Roll-up legs make transitioning to capris a snap and protect from UVA and UVB exposure.
Columbia Men's Silver Ridge Convertible Pants: available at Amazon
These convertible pants are made with a blend of 95% nylon and 5% spandex for maximum breathability. They offer Omni-Wick anti-sweat protection and UFP50 sun protection, and they convert from pants to shorts with a simple zip.
Arc'teryx Palisade Men’s Quick Dry Hiking Pant: available at Amazon
From the backcountry to the boardroom, these stylish pants provide superb all-terrain protection, while the breathable materials help keep you dry and the chamois-lined waistband and integrated belt offer comfort and convenience.
Top hiking shoes/boots
Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX Women’s Hiking Shoe: available at Backcountry
Made for those who prefer to get out into the wild when they go hiking, these well-rounded boots are designed like trail shoes but include features like a chassis designed for traction on all terrains, rubber soles, toe protection and waterproofing while remaining an ultra light weight.
Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe: available at Amazon
These stylish and fashionable boots are great for trail hikers and feature a completely waterproof lining, high-quality outsoles, venting for sweat and odor control and a protective rubber toe cap to help avoid accidental injuries.
Top hiking socks
Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Unisex Crew Socks: available at Amazon
These merino wool and nylon blend socks keep your feet warm and dry both on and off the trail with a Virtually Seamless toe and specially designed ankle flex zones to keep them in place while you hike.
Farm to Feet Unisex Max Patch 3/4 Crew Socks: available at Amazon
These 100% merino wool socks are made with products sourced entirely in the U.S. and feature knitting techniques to prevent blister formation and reduce unnecessary weight. They’re made with low-stress seams to reduce friction.
Daniel Martin is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.