One of my proudest life accomplishments came in 2017, when I hiked the 17 miles and almost 5,000-foot elevation gain to the top of Yosemite's Half Dome. It's the kind of hike that makes you cry with joy at the top and with frustration along the way. These days, my trips outdoors are a little bit less strenuous (no tears involved), but as shelter in place orders begin to ease, I'm looking forward to the chance to go on some smaller excursions into nature and away from other people. What to wear hiking, along with what gear to carry with you is the first and most crucial step.
To prep for a hike my rule of thumb is its better to be over-prepared than under. Hiking isn't necessarily a dangerous past time in the way that free solo-ing or spear fishing might be (I've never attempted either, but I imagine they're not for the faint of heart), but even a short loop can pose problems. I've found myself racing down a hill to avoid a rain storm, limping the last 3 miles of a trail in new hiking shoes, and even down a wrong fork with no water left. But, with the right caution and preparation, hiking is the most grueling and rewarding hobby. The hills are hard, but the views are always worth it.
To help you begin your own excursioning, start by checking out local trails keeping in mind that some may be busy as everyone is itching to get outside. Then, gear up in ensembles that happen to be practical without being overly technical. I can attest from experience that zip-off pants and heavy-duty boots aren't necessary on most day hikes (though I appreciate their appeal). Below, I'm sharing some of my go-to ensembles for out on the trail.
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What To Wear Hiking: Casual Day Hike
For a day hike of a few miles, keeping things casual is totally fine. Leggings or bike shorts, a tee, and protective gear like a hat and sunglasses is a combo that is practical but also on trend.
What To Wear Hiking: A Strenuous Hike
When you're planning on logging more miles or adding some elevation, make sure you're prepared. Opt for sturdier shoes, technical clothes, and a pack with a lightweight jacket, water, and snacks to make sure you're prepared if you end up on the trail longer than expected. Personally, trail running shoes are my go-to, they're lighter than hiking boots but have sturdy tread for handling rocks or muddy areas.
What To Wear Hiking: Vista Walks
Not every hike has to be technical. Any excuse to get outside and stroll to a local vista or scenic spot in the sun is worth going for. For those times when your trek is more about the picnic at the end of it, choose clothing that's still comfortable, but can be more geared towards the fashion end of the spectrum. Venture for a dress if you feel comfortable comfortable, and if it isn't too rocky you can try sport sandals.
What To Wear Hiking: For Cooler Hikes
If you're on the coast or in the mountains, weather can quickly shift throughout the day making layers are key element of your look. Breathable fleece or a sweat-wicking jacket is easy enough to take on and off. Style with a pair of colored or printed leggings for an alternative to your usual sleek black.