What to Wear Hiking

Everybody has different needs on the trail, and there is no hard or fast rule when it comes to hiking clothes. The perfect hiking outfit is determined by so many things – weather conditions, time of year, budget, sizing options and personal preference.

However, getting the basics of what to wear on a hike can be the difference between enjoying the trail and not. The best hiking outfit will become a combination of trial and error from your time outdoors. At This Expansive Adventure, we’ve all put a lot of time into our outdoor passions and over time have learnt a thing or two about what makes a good hiking outfit, and what doesn’t.

In this article, we’ve put together our in-depth knowledge to help you feel better prepared when it comes to hiking attire. We’ve sectioned off for different seasonal considerations and understanding fabric choices too.

Where relevant, we’ve also linked out to other guides we’ve prepared for you that make great additional reading to help you get fully set up and feeling confident in your adventures. So read on to find out how best to dress for hiking.

hiking clothes

What to Wear Hiking

Whilst we’ve gone into a lot of detail in this article on certain areas that you’ll really want to consider when looking at the best hiking clothes for your needs, this can also be narrowed down into a bite sized basics list too. These are:

Good hiking pants or trousers: Go for something that wicks moisture where possible and is flexible enough for the kind of hiking you do. If you’re doing a lot of climbing for example, something with gusseted knees and back of knees for added stretch is handy. You may also want to consider hiking leggings, or a softshell variant. This should be determined based on season – for example waterproof rain pants for winter.

what to wear on a hike
A good pair of soft shell trousers is ideal for varied use outdoors

Mid layer or jacket: This could be a puffy or similar, a thin layer or jacket makes a good option here. You could also go for a fleece – generally something that doubles up and can fit within a layering system that is easy to take on and off and store in your backpack if needed. This does not need to be waterproof.

Whilst we've moved onto much more heavy duty and technical mid layers over time, some of the more entry level products like this Wedze mid layer are still standing the test of time

Waterproof coat or jacket: This should be a layer that can either be worn on top of your base layer or top or over your mid layer or jacket, depending on the temperature. A lightweight packable rain jacket that can go in your backpack when not needed is the best option.

A good lightweight waterproof jacket like the Rab Downpour Light is a versatile option that can be stowed away easily when not needed

Backpack/daypack: The best daypacks for hiking should be around 21-30ish liters, depending on what you need to carry. This should have room for your removable layers, water, food, and any other daypack essentials.

A good backpack should feel comfortable to wear with no rub points

Good hiking shoes or boots: Your footwear needs will depend on where you hike and personal choice. You may prefer a pair of sturdier hiking boots, something lightweight and alpine or a pair of universally good hiking shoes. You may also want to consider waterproof hiking shoes depending on your terrain.

hiking boots all rounder
A versatile hiking boot, like the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex is the perfect contender for a lot of hikers

Sports top or moisture wicking base layer: This one will be dependent on the weather, and you will likely want a different one at different times of year. In winter, a merino or similar base layer is a good call. In summer, a sports top made of sports fabric that wicks moisture will be perfect for your needs.

sports top
A good base layer, whether wool or synthetic will wick moisture and keep your temperature regulated

Warmth or protection from the sun: In winter, you will want a hat that covers your head and keeps your ears protected from cold blasts. In summer, a hat with a peak or that covers the back of your neck to protect from the sun is your best friend.

beanie hat
A winter hat should cover your ears and provide adequate warmth for the top of your head

What to Wear When Hiking in Summer

Summer, whilst an amazing time to go hiking for those longer days and the possibility of trails that were inaccessible in winter, can present its own challenges. As you’re exercising in the heat, you’re likely to feel hot more quickly and if you’re not wearing the right gear, you can start to feel uncomfortable, really quickly.

The best clothes for hiking in summer hold similar characteristics to the rest of the year, but with a few key adjustments to help keep you protected and as cool as possible. Here are the main summer hiking outfit considerations you’ll want to keep in mind:

Breathable clothes: Make use of tech fabrics such as nylon and polyester where possible, and make sure they’re a bit looser. This will help keep you cool and will also allow your body temperature to regulate as you hike.

Layers to cover up your skin: Whilst topping up that tan is appealing; you also want to make sure your trekking clothes offer you the option to cover your body too should the sun become too extreme. This helps protect from UV exposure – loose shirts, neck buffs or similar help here.

Ventilation: You may have noticed on some hiking apparel that there are strategically placed vents, sometimes using zips. These can usually be opened up to help air circulation on particularly hot days.

Lighter colors help keep you cool: Whilst many fashionable hiking clothes focus on darker colors, going for lighter tones makes all the difference. Generally sand, white and lighter browns do a great job of keeping you cooler.

Cotton can keep you cooler: When cotton gets wet and it’s warm, this can provide a good level of comfort against the skin, for some hikers this is welcomed whereas others don’t like it. So, see what you prefer – but always make sure you have another layer when the temperatures drop in the evening. Do not do this in winter though!

Some hiking clothing does come with UPF ratings: Whatever you wear, your hiking clothes will protect you from UV in some regard, but it is also possible to buy some outdoor attire with UPF protection. This is generally either 15, 30 or 50+ and just lets you know you’re covered from harsh exposure. Be sure to buy from specialists who are focused on trekking clothing and that it’s breathable enough for your needs.

summer hiking

What to Wear When Hiking in Winter

Hiking in winter can be a really fun activity – it allows you to see some incredible sights and means that your hiking isn’t just reserved for fairer weather. What to wear when hiking does change in winter and it’s important to make sure that you have the proper hiking attire with you to keep you protected from colder temperatures.

This can be the difference between enjoying your hike and feeling completely uncomfortable, so is essential. Not only is it important for enjoyment, getting the right hiking wear sorted is critical for your health and safety – as spending too long being cold can lead to cold weather associated illnesses. Choose right and apply properly and you’ll never need to worry. Here are some of the essentials you’ll want to consider:

An adequate layering system: You’ll want to make use of a good, three part system that keeps moisture away from your skin where possible. To start, you’ll want a good base layer, such as a merino wool top or synthetic variant that’ll keep you dry and warm.

A good mid layer is there to help protect you from the cold and keep you well insulated. Your top layer in winter and cold weather should be a shell – this is likely either a hard shell or a waterproof rain jacket, depending on where you hike.

The reason you’re best going with layers rather than thick, heavier clothing, is because you can remove or add layers as the temperature changes to allow you to regulate how you feel, and your comfort on the trail.

It is much better to be able to remove and add layers rather than changing as you go, as this prevents you having exposed skin or getting wet which can lead to things like hypothermia.

Keep skin covered up where you can: You should aim to keep as much of your skin covered as possible, and this also applies to areas such as your ears, fingers, toes and also your face and cheeks. You can use hats, neck buffs and similar to help here. Hats are particularly important to keep heat in.

Wear gloves that are waterproof where possible: You can also look to wear liner gloves underneath a mitten or similar that allows you to take this off and have better dexterity when needed (perhaps to go in your pack, have a snack or take a photo).

Good socks: We advise synthetic or merino wool socks as your best bet in winter. Do not go for chunky wool as these kinds of socks don’t generally have great moisture wicking capabilities and can lead to your feet sweating, which in turn leads to cold feet. Carry an extra pair too, in case the worst happens.

Always go for boots with better insulation than thicker socks – certain hiking boots intended for higher altitudes make use of liners or inner boots that help here. You can read more on this in our how to choose the right hiking boots guide.

Looser hiking fits: If your clothes are rubbing on you, glove cuffs are tight and wristbands dig in, you can experience circulation problems that can lead to frostbite. So always make sure that your clothes for hiking fit properly.

Wear gaiters: If you experience snow or very wet weather where you might get splash backs that could make your pants wet, gaiters are great at providing a layer of insulation and also keeping your clothes dry. Waterproof ones are best, and we love the Rab Kangri GTX gaiters for their fit and comfort.

Leave cotton at home: Cotton can easily get wet when you start to sweat, and it is not a quick drying fabric. Feeling damp isn’t just uncomfortable, in winter, this can be a serious problem. So, wearing moisture wicking and warming fabrics like merino or a synthetic alternative are your best bets.

hiking in winter

What Not to Wear Hiking

When thinking about how to dress for a hike, there are plenty of items that equally shouldn’t make it onto your list of hiking clothes. We love to advocate for the idea that hiking fashion shouldn’t be complicated. Expensive gear can form barriers for people who neither have the budget or want to have separate wardrobes for daily and outdoor wear.

However, your choices within this can make a huge difference to your enjoyment and safety when it comes to good hiking clothes, or items that would be better left at home. Here are some of the items we advise you to avoid:

Heavy, slow drying fabrics: Whilst cotton can be a good fabric for some summer hikes, it isn’t best for most for the year. We’ve outlined more on this above. The same goes for denim, like jeans, which if wet, do not dry quickly.

A heavier backpack than you need: Take too much with you for a day hike and you will likely not want to complete the trail. A pack that doesn’t fit right can also rub in all the wrong places, so make sure this sits right and is cushioned correctly for you.

The wrong footwear: Your feet are an important aspect of any hike – what you wear on them can be the difference between enjoying the trail and wanting to turn around. At certain times of year this can even be a serious issue (for example, if they get wet in very cold weather). Look for a pair that is suited to the hiking you do – hiking boots that are waterproof for cold and wet conditions and good fitting hiking shoes with ventilation for summer heat are good starts.

Your favorite clothing and expensive items: Don’t take anything you aren’t prepared to get dirty, wet or potentially get holes in and ruin. The same goes for jewelry, which can cause hazards, but also can get lost.

what to wear hiking

What to Consider When Choosing Hiking Clothes

There are plenty of things that you should think about when deciding what to wear while hiking. Simply put, it can make a real difference to how much you enjoy hiking the trail you have set out to do.

We’ve found over time at This Expansive Adventure that our outdoor pursuits and experience has allowed us to carve out a list of definitive things to consider for each trail you’re about to head out on.

This allows us to pack our backpacks and select our clothes easily and effectively so we can focus on the trail rather than feeling uncomfortable, and even worse, unsafe for the circumstances. Here are some of the most important things to consider when looking for appropriate hiking clothes:

Comfort level: Your comfort is so individual to you – and we all have our own take on what makes something comfortable or not. That’s why in all our gear buying guides there are various options on different ends of the scale. Over time you’ll learn what works for you and what doesn’t. This will come through trial and error – so try out different hiking outfits to see where your comfort level is.

comfort level

Weight and packability ratio: Does the jacket you have or mid layer you’re thinking of buying fit into your backpack easily with your other gear? This is an important consideration – and especially if you plan to go backpacking, you need to consider the weight ratio of whatever you bring. It’s also important to get that level right through the year and remember, you always warm up when you set out on the trail.


Safety: As we’ve outlined above, the weather should have an impact on what to wear for hiking and this is usually decided by materials. Are the shoes you’ve got fit for purpose? Do your boots give enough protection? Do you have a rain jacket and pants? These are all important considerations that have an impact on both your comfort and safety.

Clothing Strategies

Your clothing strategies can be adopted at all different times of year when deciding what to wear to go hiking. Play it smart and the investments you make (or using things you already have) will last you a long time.

Understanding these core basics and strategies can make all the difference and have you pushing further because you’re not worrying about your comfort and feel confident that you have everything you need.

clothing strategies

Function vs Fashion

We get it, we all want stylish hiking clothes, however, what you wear for hiking really does need to be fit for purpose. We advise to always go for function over fashion.

Luckily, many brands are making big strides (particularly in boots and shoes) to provide options that are technical and performance led whilst also looking cool. Just make sure, especially if buying into your hiking look from sports first brands (gym wear), that any materials used mimic those of technical fabrics, windproof layers and waterproofing.


Layers are one of the holy grail areas in deciding what to wear when going hiking. This is a technique that has been used for years and for good reason. The idea is that you can make use of thinner layers that work together in a system. As you become hotter you can remove layers and likewise add them when you become cold.

A solid layering system, such as the Adidas Terrex Multi T-shirt, the Rab Xenair Alpine Light jacket and the Rab Downpour Light jacket will set you up for most occasions

Fabric and Materials

Fabric and materials are some of the most important considerations to make when deciding what to wear for a hike. The best materials to wear are polyester, nylon for clothing and merino or synthetic for base layers.

Merino or similar base layers help to wick moisture from the skin, whilst keeping you warm. Synthetics, such as sports or technical t-shirts help to wick moisture and keep your temperature regulated, especially in warmer temperatures.

Materials like polyester and nylon are often used in technical fabrics for jackets and trousers. These can offer breathability, and with a waterproof membrane, a hardy protection from the elements.

Ideally, you should be choosing clothes for hiking based on your circumstances. Of course, summer hiking gear will look relatively different to what to wear hiking in 50 degree weather, and even more so in really cold temperatures. 

fabrics and materials

Weather Conditions

You should always be prepared for things to change – weather reports can often be wrong, especially in mountainous regions. This can also change as you increase altitude.

This is why packing layers is so important when considering what to wear to hike. This is even more important when considering camping clothes and gear for backpacking.

With this in particular, you’ll want to make sure you have items that you can add when temperatures cool down in the evenings or first thing in the morning. Remember that weather can change quickly, and it’s better to be carrying slightly too much than not enough (though this does come with caution).

Trail Conditions

Thinking about where you’ll be hiking should be right at the top of your mind when choosing the best outfit for hiking at any given time. If there are plenty of trail obstructions like bracken, overgrown bushes or grass, then longer pants or tops can make all the difference.

If it’s particularly bug heavy, a net can help keep your skin clear of itchy bites. You can also look at clothing that makes use of built in insect repellency too. For alpine hiking, hardier boots make all the difference for taking on more technical and changing terrain, as do lightweight Gore-Tex layers.

If you’re hiking in more urbanized areas, trail runners, which are more tailored to harder ground, can make hiking much more comfortable. Desert hiking can call for lighter, looser, wicking layers with more UV and sun protection as well as sun shade in the form of hats and sunglasses.

trail conditions

Understanding Fabrics

In order to get a killer hiking set up, it’s important to understand how different fabrics work together in the various parts of a layering system. Here are some of the most important areas to consider, so you can understand their importance when putting together your key hiking outfit ideas.

Moisture Wicking

Your base layer is very important, and this will differ throughout the year. The layer that touches your skin needs to be able to wick moisture in order to keep your temperature regulated.

This means that sweat will move away from you to the outer surface of the garment more easily and can dry quicker. This is especially important for hikers as when you work up a sweat, you need to negate feeling too hot or too cold as quickly as possible.

The best options in this area are merino wool, which you’ll often find in winter focused base layers. You can also consider synthetic and polyester, which are generally used in hiking t-shirts or tops aimed more at warmer conditions.

moisture wicking top
A good merino layer wicks moisture efficiently

Waterproof & Windproof

This is a quality you’ll want to adopt for your outer layer or shell. However, there are some big differences in how waterproofing, water resistance and wind proofing work.

These are some pretty important areas, and still, the differences in these terms are used interchangeably, but they mean very different things. For example, a water resistant jacket is generally only intended for showers, whereas a full waterproof with a Gore-Tex or similar membrane is intended for full on downpours.

However, you will even find some manufacturers use the two terms in descriptions for one product. It can make it hard to know which to go for and what a safe bet is, especially as waterproof layers can come at a cost.

We’ve written a whole guide on the differences between these and what to look for, which you can read here: Water Resistant vs Waterproof vs Water Repellent – What is the Difference.

Whilst waterproofing is great, most offer windproofing too, which helps provide a shield against cold gusts


Fabrics don’t specifically create heat, but they can keep the heat that your body is naturally producing closer to your skin when out hiking. This allows you to stay warm, which is extremely important in cooler conditions. This is why a mid-layer is an important investment and it should have adequate padding or technical fabric application to keep the heat in, warm enough and keep you supple.

A good insulating mid layer like the Rab Xenair Alpine Light will keep you warm, even at the top of the mountain


Important all year round, but especially important when considering what to wear when hiking in summer, breathable fabrics do a number of jobs whilst you’re out on the trail. This is something you should look out for more so if you are prone to hiking in extremely warm areas.

For example, waterproof layers and footwear do make tradeoffs in terms of breathability, so weigh up your options. Likewise, your waterproof layers can leave you feeling soaked if they are not looked after correctly. You can read more on caring for your waterproof garments here.

breathable top
Breathable tech fabrics will help keep you cool, even on hot days with heavy packs

UV Protection

It is possible to get some hiking gear and fabrics now that integrate sun protection and keep your skin better shielded from harmful UV rays. This can be especially useful for mountain attire when UV exposure increases the higher the altitude you reach. However, we do not believe that the advent of these technologies should negate a proper structured use of sun cream or similar, and something you shouldn’t skip.

Types of Fabrics

Now that we’ve gone through the basic functions of different fabrics and why they’re good for certain applications in hiking clothing, let’s look at how different types of fabrics can be used to their best advantage.


Cotton isn’t well versed at wicking sweat and it isn’t quick to dry, so its use for hiking is fairly limited. The fact it stays wet can really chill you to the bone, however it does have its place when it comes to extreme heat circumstances.

Some hikers love wearing cotton in hotter temperatures when they want a cooling, wet layer against their skin. However, this is an acquired taste and not something we personally recommend.

Never wear cotton in winter, as this can seriously impact the risk of you getting hypothermia! Even when there’s a chance of wind, the wind chill you’ll experience is next level.



For modern day hiker clothes, wool is generally used in things like base layers, socks and insulating/winter underwear garments. Merino wool is usually the star of the show here – known for its excellent warmth and moisture wicking capabilities.

It’s also breathable and generally soft which feels nice next to the skin, it dries relatively quickly, and merino base layers can be worn for days without keeping hold of smell. This makes merino socks the perfect companion for backpacking trips!



Fleece layers are made using polyester, rather than animal based products, which can offer fantastic breathability. They’re generally very good at keeping heat trapped near the skin, whilst also wicking moisture away, helping your body to regulate temperature much more effectively.



Polyester is often used as an entirely synthetic replacement for merino, which can be great for hikers who are looking for plant based or vegan alternatives. Polyester and nylon are often seen on hiking t-shirts, but also extensively used in other garments such as jackets, trousers and more.

One caveat when worn next to the skin is that it can get smelly pretty quickly, and you won’t get the same length of wear before washing as you do with merino.

This can be counteracted when used with an antimicrobial treatment, which some brands are using for hiking specific technical wear to address this concern. Check that if this is the case, they’re using micro plastic free sprays.

The great thing about polyester and nylon is they can, and often do, make use of recycled materials, which is great as brands switch to more sustainable production methods.



There are some slightly more old school (maybe even outdated) garments on the market that make use of silk. Some of these are treated with a coating which can allow it to wick moisture more effectively, however we would not really advise adding silk garments to your hiking wear.

Understanding Layering

As mentioned above, layering is your best friend when it comes to answering the question ‘what do you wear hiking?’. Get your layering system right and you’ll feel comfortable and ready for anything.

It also doesn’t need to be complicated, and with a few additions or changes, you can have a system that works perfectly and can easily be adapted to the season. It’s a good idea to have a full understanding of how a layering system should work, so you can apply it soundly to your own circumstances on the trail.

layering system

Base Layer

A base layer is simply the layer that sits next to your skin, and you want this to have wicking properties to help regulate your temperature and comfort on the trail. Here are the areas to look at when it comes to base layers:

Underwear Choices

Whatever you go for, you’ll want to look at something that is supportive and comfortable. Many hikers forget that they’re exercising, so make sure there is enough space and they’re well fitting.

Chafing can be a big problem with ill fitting underwear. You also want to make sure that your underwear is breathable, especially on longer hikes. For colder weather (and backpacking where you want to take less), you can also look at merino underwear, which is excellent at negating smell.

Likewise, you can also look at longer merino (or similar) pants or t-shirts that can sit under your hard shell or waterproof trousers for another layer of insulation. A sports bra is also the best option for those who need it – you should make sure this is supportive (and restrictive) enough for the activity you have in mind.

T-shirts, Shirts, and Tops

For warmer weather, you will likely want to make use of a sports or technical top that wicks moisture from your skin and helps regulate your temperature.

You may also want to consider how any short-sleeved tops can create rub from a backpack or similar. This can become sore, and rub any sun cream off from your shoulders due to movement. Generally, go for a loose fitting layer that allows adequate ventilation and comfort.

Pants, Trousers, and Leggings

What pants to wear hiking will depend on the kind of conditions you’re going to experience. For most hiking, a pair of softshell pants or trousers are ideal. These are great for keeping your temperature regulated and offer breathability and flexibility.

For fair weather hiking, these do generally cut the muster, but for colder or wetter hiking waterproof rain pants are the best option. You may also want to wear leggings for hiking – we would recommend going for a pair specifically targeted for hiking, which many manufacturers are offering now.

Leggings can be a great option, but ones made out of cotton should be avoided for hiking as they lack moisture wicking capabilities. In winter, it’s best to add a waterproof layer to these.

Shorts (and zip off pants) are also popular too – but make sure you consider trail conditions first. You’re more susceptible to scrapes, bites and sunburn with exposed legs.

Leggings can be great for hiking if you opt for outdoors focused ones

Mid Layer

Your mid layer is the one you will call on to keep you warm around the upper body. This is one of your most important layers to get right. They are generally divided into a couple of areas, but usually consist of either a fleece layer or a puffy layer.

It’s good to consider if your mid layer will pack down well into your daypack, as you will likely take this on and off depending on the temperature. This is especially important when it comes to backpacking and camping clothes, as space (and weight) will be at a premium in your pack.

Fleece Jackets

Fleece jackets are usually fairly thin, but excellent at keeping warmth in. They also vary as to whether they’re lightweight, migweight or heavyweight, so you can choose based on the temperatures you experience. They’re fantastic as an all-rounder, and can be used alone when not raining.

Puffy Jacket

A puffy jacket can offer next level warmth and a more technical approach to your layering system for what to wear hiking. Some make use of down for their insulation, others make use of synthetics, but they are generally offered in different fills, which determines their hardiness against the cold.

You want to avoid getting this layer wet as it won’t offer much insulation in these circumstances, but when used correctly, you’ll get a lightweight layer that’s perfect for most cold weather or chilly expeditions.

Many puffy jackets will come with a stuff sack or similar that helps to keep the size down in your backpack. This is perfect for backpacking, where space is at a premium. In really cold circumstances, you may even want to look at puffy trousers that protect the legs with an expert, extra layer of insulation. However, it’s best to wear these with a hard shell outer layer.

red mid layer
A mid layer can work well as your top layer when you don't need protection from wind and rain, even in cold settings

Outer Layer

Your outer layer is an important consideration when it comes to your hiking clothes and layering system. You never know what the weather may bring and being prepared will make a big difference, even if it stays in your bag most of the time.

Shell or Rain Jacket

There are various areas you can look at here depending on the level of rain protection, breathability and insulation you need for your hikes. If you know you’re likely to be caught in heavy rain quite often, going for a burly rain jacket that’s up for the job is your best option. Something involving a Gore-Tex or similar waterproof membrane will make all the difference.

If you know you’re more likely to need the wind and insulation protection, a slightly more breathable soft shell may do the job. Likewise, for more technical, alpine ascents, a hard shell is likely to be a better choice. When it comes to rain jackets, we’d recommend checking out our guide to the best waterproof rain jackets for hiking. Alternatively, our guide on how to choose the right waterproof rain jacket for your hike can help you decide which is best for your needs.

Waterproof Rain Pants

Rain pants are a great addition if you know it’s likely to rain heavily where you’ll be hiking. The more flexible options allow you to add these over existing pants for added ease.

You’ll also find that a lot of rain pants have longer zips, which allow you to put them on whilst wearing hiking boots or shoes, meaning you only need to add them when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Our guide to the best waterproof rain pants for hiking goes into more detail on 9 great options. Likewise, our article on how to choose the right waterproof rain pants for your hike will help you make a decision on what pants to wear for hiking, covering everything you need to know in this area.

waterproof pants
Waterproof pants like the Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 will keep you safely dry

Hiking Footwear

What you wear on your feet whilst hiking is probably one of the biggest considerations you should be making. Whether you go for boots or shoes, you can use our various guides – how to choose the right hiking boots and how to choose the right hiking shoes to give you a more detailed view. As a brief rundown, here are some of your main options to look at:

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots offer a sturdier approach for hiking. They don’t have to be rigid and cumbersome and there are some excellent lightweight models on the market. You should consider when looking at hiking boots what level of ankle support you need, the level of waterproofing and the insulation. Our guide to the best hiking boots covers 20 top notch options for all budgets, tastes and applications.

hiking boots
The Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex hiking boots are a good all rounder for hardy mountain days

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes provide a more flexible approach than hiking boots, but they also offer much less by way of ankle protection. This should be a primary consideration depending on the kind of trails you intend to tackle.

Likewise, you should look at whether a trail runner, an alpine style shoe or a waterproof hiking shoe would be more suited to your needs. Generally, waterproofing comes with breathability concessions, so if you’re hiking somewhere hot and dry, waterproofing may perhaps not be your first thought!

Our guide to the best hiking shoes covers 28 of the best options out there for all budgets, styles and feels. You can also use our hiking shoe buying advice to help you find the perfect pair.

The robust yet light Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX hiking shoe performs well in varying terrain

Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Waterproof hiking shoes can be a fantastic option for hikes where rain is a problem and can protect the foot from water in lower level puddles or similar.These are a great option if you live or hike somewhere with changeable weather and can provide some insulation from the cold.

Paired up with a gaiter, they can stretch further into the year too, providing a great three season solution for some hikers. Our guide to the best waterproof hiking shoes covers 20 great options, and includes lots of buying advice for waterproof hiking shoes, too.

Waterproof hiking shoes make puddles and lightweight river crossings no sweat

Hiking Sandals

Hiking sandals, when used properly can be a good option. They’re excellent for water crossings or for dry and sandy terrain. The best hiking sandals are the ones that offer the same level of support as a hiking shoe, offer traction and hold onto the foot securely with well placed straps.

hiking sandals
The Adidas Terrex Hydroterra sandals are the perfect balance of breathability and support

Hiking Accessories

There are so many things you can add to your hiking outfit that will help you feel more comfortable and go further. Whilst there are so many bells and whistles items out there, there are a few simple basics that we’d recommend you consider adding to your rotation, depending on the trail and weather conditions.

Hiking Poles

Hiking poles can make a great mobility aid, but they can also steady you and help you feel supported when you take on more challenging terrain. They can also be excellent for steep descents, and you’ll really feel the difference in your legs and back the day after you use them.

Our guide to the best trekking poles covers everything you need to know in this area, and covers the basics between collapsible, foldable and telescopic poles.

hiking poles
The Leki Makalu FX Carbon AS Trekking Pole is a good foldable option that packs down small in your pack


Depending on the kind of hiking you’re doing, you’ll either want to make use of something intended as a day pack, or as a backpacking pack.

The main difference is the size, and this should be geared toward how long you’ll be traveling. Make sure it’s comfortable and fits your frame well, especially considering the kind of weight you’ll be carrying most of the time.

day pack
The Gregory Citro 24 is the perfect size for day adventures

Hiking Belt

A hiking belt can make a really big difference when it comes to keeping your pants sat snugly around your waist and stopping them falling down, even on steep ascents and descents.

A good hiking belt will usually be fairly simple and lightweight – our guide to the best hiking belts goes through 12 solid and affordable options.


Sunglasses are essential for lighter and bright conditions and should be carried most of the time as you never know when the sun might strike. They’re also very handy for white out conditions and brighter snow to protect you from snow blindness.

We generally prefer sunglasses that sit as a rap around to protect your eyes at the sides from debris. We’d also recommend a model that makes use of a neck band to keep them secure even when not wearing on your face to prevent losing them.

A pair like the Julbo Explorer 2.0 Sunglasses Glasses allow you to keep a safe hold on them, even when not wearing


Whether it’s a warm beanie for cooler temperatures or a peaked cap or brimmed hat for warmer, a hat can be an essential item. We generally keep both in our day pack, as sometimes summits can be cold, and further down can be sunny. So, this allows you to be able to regulate depending on changing circumstances.

peaked cap


As hikers, it is important to consider that everything you buy and use does have a footprint and by making better choices, you can minimize the impact that this has. Here are some of the main things you can consider when it comes to sustainability.

Use Your Current Gear and Repair

Usually, the best choice is to buy or renew the products you already have, and many brands are starting to offer repair services for some of their products. This is great because it means that pair of hiking boots suddenly gets an extra 4-5 years of wear.

However, this isn’t always possible and as technology develops, products do become obsolete over time. So, when this happens, choose wisely and look for backed up statements from brands about their processes.

Buy the Best You Can

Investing in good quality products can have a big impact on how often you need to buy new. Really research what you’re buying to see if this will be right for you before you take the leap.

Check For Recycled Products

Many brands are now making use of recycled materials in their products, but you should always check to see what this actually means. It may sound good on paper – it’s easy to say contains recycled materials, but this may just be a set of recycled shoe laces, which on a pair of boots is a small gesture!


Where appropriate you can also look at buying second hand, there are many options for used and like new out there now. This can be a great option for newer hikers to get kitted out for less too, and garments can often come with similar guarantees to new gear.

Disclaimer: This article contains Affiliate Links. You won’t pay any more for buying through these links, but we may receive a commission from any purchases made through them. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you choose to support us by buying through our links, we thank you as it helps us to continue providing the resources we do to help you enjoy the outdoors more!