Day Hiking Essentials: A Guide for Beginners - Attire
When planning for what to wear, it’s important to consider the initial weather forecast, as well as the likelihood of the weather in your area changing during your hike. Be sure to dress for the weather now, the weather later, and for the “just in case” scenarios that could occur during your hike.
Moisture wicking clothing is the best way to keep sweat off your body and keep your apparel dry. Cotton clothing retains moisture and takes a long time to dry out once it becomes wet, leading to a loss of body heat (especially during colder months of the year). If you cannot yet afford moisture wicking clothing, don’t let that keep you from hiking; invest in what you can, when you can.
It is helpful to dress in layers so you can add or remove items as needed. Always bring a jacket in case it gets chilly or rains; jackets that don’t take up much room in your pack or add much weight are ideal. I absolutely love my The North Face Venture 2 Jacket. It’s a super lightweight, waterproof, windbreaker style jacket. I also pack my The North Face Apex Jacket, which is soft and slightly thicker than the Venture. I usually keep a hoodie in the car so, upon my return, I can snuggle up in something that’s completely dry, warm, and cozy for the ride home.
Now that we’ve considered options for what to wear up top, let’s discuss pants. Some people hike in pants, and others hike in shorts. I hike in pants in order to keep my legs completely covered while walking through brush to avoid scrapes and tick bites. Sometimes I wear my running tights and bring hiking pants in case I need another layer, and sometimes I just wear the hiking pants. I think Columbia Saturday Trail Pants are extremely comfortable, and they come in long sizes for those of us with long legs. In addition to repelling water, they also provide UV protection from the sun.
If you head out for the day wearing the wrong footwear, you will be miserable. There are some easy ways to ensure your feet feel good so you can enjoy your day. First, wear wool socks to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters, and always bring a second pair in case the pair you are wearing gets wet. I wear crew length socks to keep my ankles covered and protected.
Next, determine which type of shoe best fits your needs - trail shoes or hiking boots; either type of shoe will give you the additional support and grip you’ll need on the trail. This is a very personal preference, so do your research on the pros and cons of each and go try some on in the store to get a feel for which you prefer. Whichever you choose, make certain you wear them around the house several times before heading outside so you can be sure they feel right on your feet before hitting the trail.
Your hiking shoes or boots should be bigger than your normal shoes, because your feet are going to swell a little during your hike. Additionally, if your toes touch the tip of your shoe while descending slopes, you need to size up. For day hikes, I wear a mid-rise, waterproof hiking boot. On longer hikes, or hikes in the mountains where I encounter lots of ascending and descending, I will bring an extra pair of shoes in case the shoes I began my hike with start to hurt my feet for any reason.
Finish it off with hats and gloves! I always wear my baseball cap to keep the sun off my face and to protect my head from any low-hanging branches. I always bring my beanie in case it gets chilly, especially after dark. I just use cheap little gloves and carry two pairs of them in case one gets wet. I have not yet had to hike in frigid temperatures; if I ever do, I will invest in a wool beanie and warmer gloves. Hats and gloves can make a big impact on your hike if it gets cold and your head and hands aren’t properly covered, so be sure to include them in your pack!
Next, head over to Backpacks to gain some basic knowledge about what matters in a pack!
Day Hiking Essentials: A Guide for Beginners – Attire