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Hiking 101: What Should I Wear for a Day Hike?

Heading out for a day trip? It’s hard to balance packing what you may need for varying weather conditions and carrying too much.

What to wear?

Wear comfortable clothes.


For shirts, avoid cotton. Cotton is absorbent and will retain all your sweat making you feel wet and uncomfortable. Look for quick drying fabric.


For pants, I don’t recommend wearing jeans or anything too baggy. You want to be comfortable for a variety of terrain, such as climbing up onto rocks. Also, baggy clothing is not great in general because it may get caught on tree branches and thorns when you’re in tight spots. I personally like to wear leggings.


For socks, avoid cotton. Having wet feet on a trail is not a good thing. With cotton socks, you may also notice that you’re getting blisters on your feet because of the friction. You’ll want to invest in a good pair of socks that keep your feet dry (typically wool socks, but there are lots of cruelty-free options available from Wrightsock and Balega). When I first started hiking, I wore cotton socks and would always end up with blisters.


For boots, a good pair of hiking boots is the best investment you can make. Don’t be shy to try on every single pair of boots at the store. It’s the same thing with regular shoes – if they don’t feel comfortable immediately, they never will. Your feet will thank you for your kindness. For great cruelty-free hiking boot options check out: Merrell and Columbia.


Dress in layers. If it’s warm outside, you can throw a sweater into your pack. If it’s cold, you can wear a thermal base layer underneath your shirt, then add a fleece sweater and vest, then a jacket on top. Don’t forget to wear your hat, scarf, gloves/mittens. I love wearing a vest because if I get too warm, I can remove my jacket and still retain the heat in my core. I love my Columbia Thermofoil jacket – it’s cruelty-free, warm and compact enough to squish into my backpack. If there’s rain in the forecast, throw a compact rain poncho into your pack.


For the trunk, I highly recommend keeping a full change of clothes in your trunk (including socks and extra shoes). Worst case, if you get wet on the trails, you can change before heading home. If you’re going on a longer hike, I suggest that you pack your extra clothes in a waterproof bag and put them inside your pack. Never know when you’ll need it along the way – muddy trails are awfully slippery.


Happy trails!

Monica's shadow on cedar
Monica Ng

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