What to Wear Hiking: Curated Tips and Outfits for Chic, Outdoorsy Women

What to Wear Hiking: Curated Tips and Outfits for Chic, Outdoorsy Women

Credit: @carlybroome
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If you know us at all, you know we’re not the biggest fans of granola girl style. We believe women deserve more style options than one ambiguous archetype made popular long before we had a say. Lucky for us, the landscape is changing. Brands made for women, by women are popping up everywhere (We’re looking at you Halfdays, Seniq, and Hikerkind) and legacy brands are shifting their design strategies to actually meet our needs. We still have a long way to go in carving out equal space for women explorers, but hey! That’s why we’re here. 

We’re kind of like your big sister in the outdoors. We’ll keep droning on about what women want (you don’t have to) and we’ll never gatekeep our finds, because you deserve the best, sis! So, let’s get down to it: cute hiking outfits. Figuring out what to wear on the trail isn’t always easy, especially given the aforementioned granola dilemma.  We’ve compiled a few fast and easy tips for building a hiking style system along with a few curated outfit ideas to recreate on your next adventure. You can thank us later!

What to Wear Hiking: Tips for Finding Your ‘Fit

Know your climate and terrain.

Before you even think about getting dressed, you’ll need to know what type of climate and terrain you’ll be hiking. Obviously, an outfit recipe built for a hot and humid trek won’t also work for a fall morning hike in the mountains. There’s no if and or butts about it! So in the name of comfort and function, first check the weather report of the day. Pay attention to what temperature it will be when you start your hike and finish your hike, because those temps can sneak up on ya quick, no matter where you’re hiking. 

Layer up!

Per our previous point, the weather while hiking can shift on a dime, so you’ll want to stay prepared by having all types of layers in your closet (more on this later). For cooler temps, we love adding a cozy fleece jacket or fleece vest to our ‘fit. And I think it goes without saying that when the forecast calls for rain, we pack a rain jacket, le duh. 

Don’t be afraid of color

This might (literally) be the pot calling the kettle black as gals who have a drawer filled with more pairs of black leggings than we care to count. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to incorporate some colorful pieces into your hiking outfit! Take it from our founder, Madeleine Eiting (me.) All of the colorful pieces from my closet, like these Salomon trail running shoes, are always my favorite to style. 


What to Wear Hiking: A Fool Proof Style Recipe

You can’t go wrong buying these staple pieces to build your ‘fit, give or take a few pieces depending on the climate. From the novice to the expert, these clothing items will take you from the starting point to the summit without a problem.

Baselayer

As the name suggests, this is the layer closest to your skin. For your top, this could be a long sleeve, a tank top or even an exercise dress, depending on the weather. For bottoms, leggings or biker shorts work just fine. We also really love zip off pants for flexibility as temperatures change. 

Mid Layer 

This is your next layer, typically a warmer jacket, vest or sweatshirt to, uh, top things off. When hiking at higher elevations or in densely wooded areas, the climate can cool off dramatically, even if the temperature at the base of the mountain is hot. I can’t count the number of hikes I went on without a mid layer and deeply regretted it, claiming “I thought it was going to be hot today.” Now, I always check the weather on the AllTrails+ app before going and err on the side of caution when it comes to my layers.

Shell or Outer Layer 

You should really only need this final layer if you’re hiking in the snow, in the rain, or temperatures where it’s uncomfortably cold. We hate to point out the obvious, but if it’s raining, bring a rain jacket, and if it’s snowing, bring a water resistant snow jacket to round out your look. If you’re a fair-weather hiker, keep scrolling!

Shoes

Thanks to the culture shift around outdoor recreation, hiking shoes are a whole heck of a lot cuter than they used to be. Unlike the other categories on this list, hiking shoes are fairly universal, meaning you can wear most shoes in any climate. We really just recommend finding something that feels comfortable on your foot. Pro tip: you can even wear trail running shoes if you don’t require as much ankle stability as a high top boot offers. We’ve included a few examples of these in the outfit options below.

Bag 

The most important factor in choosing a bag is making sure it can fit some sort of water bottle or bladder to keep you hydrated—yes, even if it’s just for a short hike. For lighter hikes, I typically just bring a fanny pack or crossbody bag that fits a small water bottle, my phone, and keys. For more intense hikes, I opt for a large backpack that can fit multiple water bottles and all of my snacks. If you don’t like the idea of a fanny pack or backpack, a running vest is a great compromise, at least for shorter hikes. It’s light enough that you forget it’s there, but spacious enough to fit the necessities. 

Sunglasses 

This one seems so obvious, but is so easy to forget, especially on a gloomy day. You don’t want to reach an incredible view only to be squinting through the sun's beaming rays to see it. Sport sunglasses are great because they are designed with activity in mind, but really any pair with proper UV protection will do. See some of our favorites below!

Hat

A hat is optional depending on the weather, but not optional if you want to be fully accessorized. For cooler temps, we recommend adding a merino wool beanie and for warmer temps, a nylon cap. Both of these will do a good job of regulating the ol’noggin while you’re working up a sweat. 

From Trail to Town: 7 Hiking Outfit Ideas for Women 

1. Hiking outfit for: A hot and dry climate, like Joshua Tree or Palm Springs.

2. Hiking outfit for: A crisp fall day somewhere where the leaves are turning, like in Aspen or in The Berkshires. 

3. Hiking outfit for: A long hike on a cold, but sunny day, filled with lots of snack breaks of course. 

4. Hiking outfit for: When you don’t know how long you want to be out there, but you know you want to look chic.

5. Hiking outfit for: A day that takes you from the trail to lunch and shopping in town.

6. Hiking outfit for: A speedy hike that turns into a mini trail run.

7. Hiking outfit for: An unpredictable rainy day when you’re determined to get out there.

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