Are you just starting out? Maybe you’re seeking tips to refine your gear. Whatever brings you here, we’re happy to help with this guide on hiking outfits for women.
What to Wear Hiking
Choosing the proper hiking clothes can be a daunting task with so many options available. Unfortunately, there’s not a one-size-fits-all suit that you can slip into and be prepared for every circumstance.
There are some crucial characteristics that your hiking outfit should have to get you through most situations.
Keep in mind that the best approach is layering your clothes to create a hiking outfit that
does all of the above while keeping your body at a comfortable temperature.
While you may not always have to wear it, having a reliable hiking jacket in your pack is part of being prepared for anything.
What Makes a Good Hiking Jacket
It’s best to choose a jacket that keeps you warm and protects you from the elements without impeding your mobility.
Hiking jackets should be windproof and waterproof. They should be easy to roll up and store in a pack, easy to care for, and durable enough to handle the terrain.
Lightweight Hiking Jacket
Lightweight hiking jackets, sometimes called hiking shells, aren’t necessarily waterproof. They may have water-resistant or water-repellent properties to stave off drizzles or mist.
Having a lightweight hiking jacket at your disposal means an extra layer when the weather is cool. As it warms up, you can shed that layer and store it without adding excessive weight to your pack.
Waterproof Hiking Jacket
If you know that you’re apt to encounter rain or snow, you need a waterproof outer layer to keep warm. Genuine waterproof hiking jackets should be somewhat heavier than a lightweight jacket or shell but not bulky.
There are a few key features to look for in a waterproof jacket.
- Fabric choices matter. Gore-Tex is popular for performance outerwear, but some brands have their own proprietary waterproof, windproof materials.
- Venting, especially around the armpits, makes it more breathable.
- Pockets should be zippered, and an interior pocket may be beneficial to keep items close and safe.
- Hoods come in several shapes and sizes, and you can even find some jackets that can accommodate helmets.
- Protected and premium zippers do the best job of keeping the rain out.
- Sealed seams provide added protection against rain and wind.
Though a waterproof hiking jacket should be substantial enough to withstand the elements, it shouldn’t impede your movement. Even with layers, you should be able to jump, climb, and scramble easily.
Hiking Jackets for Petite Women
Petite women know the challenge of finding the proper fit. Sleeves that are too long, a hem that falls halfway to your knee, and too much excess fabric make finding a hiking jacket difficult.
Thankfully, many companies included adjustable features to help some. Adjustable sleeves, hems, and hoods can reduce bagginess and get you a proper protective fit. Plus, some brands have fitted styles and shorter hems available.
Hiking Jackets for Plus Size Women
Finding stylish, extended sizes that don’t fit like potato sacks is equally challenging for women. Many popular hiking brands offer extended sizes, including Columbia, Patagonia, and The North Face.
Since you layer your hiking outfit, you may end up wearing a few tops that serve different purposes. Think about how you like clothing to fit as you experiment with combinations and styles.
Your base shirt should be breathable and moisture-wicking. Avoid cotton because it retains sweat, which feels gross and could cause problems in some conditions. Wool or synthetic materials tend to regulate moisture and temperature well.
A combination of a few shirts works well if you plan to experience temperature fluctuations, like going up a mountain. Additionally, you can find UPF sun shirts that protect against harmful UVB and UVA rays.
Fleece pullovers and zip-ups add warmth to any hiking outfit. If you expect chilly weather, pull on some fleece under your jacket to lock in body heat. Plus, fleece is soft and comfy with thick, synthetic fibers.
Try to avoid bulky fleece items, especially men’s styles. Look for something tapered that fits your body well but allows for layering. The best options are light to midweight fleece with some stretch.
Choosing proper hiking pants involves more than comfort because you have to consider all potential outcomes. Will you pass over or wade through water or marshlands? Could you encounter snakes, ticks, or poison ivy?
What Makes Good Hiking Pants
Good hiking pants are breathable, versatile, and flexible. They should be durable enough to handle rough terrain and pointy branches.
- Cargo pants are sturdy, offer plenty of protection, and provide storage, but they can get heavy.
- Convertible pants, also known as zip-off pants, allow you to adapt to various temperatures or wade in a creek without soaking your pant legs.
- Fitted styles with adjustable or elastic leg openings are the most versatile options.
- You can find UPF pants if you want protection from the sun’s rays.
Pay attention to the fabric because function matters. Look for blends that have some stretch, like spandex or elastane. Lightweight materials don’t hold you back, but some can be susceptible to tears.
Hiking Pants for Petite Women
Tops and jackets may be challenging for petite women, but they are nothing compared to finding pants. While you want hiking pants to cover your boots to protect your ankles, you don’t want to trip over them.
Thankfully, some companies developed pants with shorter inseams to accommodate petite ladies, like Columbia and REI that have inseams starting at 26 inches.
Hiking Pants for Plus Size Hikers
Speaking of challenges, try finding a pair of hiking pants to fit your curves, cover your boots, and allow you to move around comfortably. Given that pants prevent chafing and protect your legs on a hike, having the right pair is crucial.
Again, score one for Columbia and REI who carry extended sizes in women’s hiking pants. You can even find convertible pants in plus sizes, and Columbia offers longer inseams.
We get it; pants can be too hot for some adventures. Keeping cool and comfortable is vital, so hiking shorts may have a place in your wardrobe. Look for durable, stretchy fabrics and shorts with liners that can prevent chafing.
Tip: some hiking shorts can double as swim bottoms, which can come in handy if you hike near swim areas.
When it comes to hiking footwear, most people go with boots or shoes. Boots provide more stability and support, making them excellent for rough terrain, but they can feel heavy after a while. Shoes tend to be lighter and more breathable with decent traction, but they may not hold up as well or as long as boots.
We would caution you to avoid sports shoes for hiking unless you stick to flatter, dirt paths. Sports shoes may have some tread, but they don’t provide enough traction or support for mountain trails or backcountry hiking.
Hiking boots should have some type of leather uppers, though synthetic materials have come far and tend to dry faster. It’s best to choose some with waterproof lining and enough insulation to keep you warm.
For the sole, it helps to choose a pair with plenty of cushion inside to support your foot and a lug pattern (the bumps that provide traction) to give you traction. Heel brakes, a textured area around the bottom backside of your boots, help with steep descents.
Be cautious about the fit, and make sure you try boots on with any orthotics you want to wear. Break them in before hitting the trails!
Hiking shoes work better for lighter treks and longer distances. They weigh less and give you more flexibility than boots but offer more support and stability than athletic shoes.
Look for comfortable shoes that offer plenty of traction, toe and heel grips, and have waterproof or water-resistant membranes.
Cool, lightweight, and versatile hiking sandals gained popularity over the past several years. They handle water well, dry fast, and have comfortable, supportive soles.
While they may not be the best option for mountain treks, hiking sandals offer a cooler alternative for light and amphibious hikes. Look for sturdy lacing that won’t chafe your skin and outsoles with deep lugs to provide traction through slick spots.
Have you considered skipping shoes altogether? Barefoot hiking allows you to connect with the earth, feel the grass, dirt, and sand between your toes. You rely on your toes to provide traction, and it can be easier on your joints.
Your base layer could be the most critical part of your hiking outfit. While a lot of it comes down to personal preference, there are some garment-specific criteria to keep in mind.
Support, support, support! Like any other activity, picking a sports bra that fits well and provides sufficient support is crucial. For hiking, medium to high-support sports bras might be your best bet, no matter what size you wear.
The cut and color don’t matter much when it comes to underwear. Skip the cotton undies and steer toward the seamless, non-chafing styles. Some people leave out the panties and just go with long underwear bottoms.
Rain gear is necessary for many hikers. Even if you have a waterproof hiking jacket, it may not be the right choice for warm weather. Raincoats offer a thinner, lighter alternative that you can layer on top of everything else or use in lieu of a heavier jacket.
Rain ponchos are essentially giant rectangles with a hood. They cover your body and provide a one-size-fits-all solution to unexpected rain.
One of the best parts about ponchos is that they fold into small, flat squares for easy storage. You can tuck an emergency poncho almost anywhere, including a pocket.
Rain jackets fit your body more than the shapeless ponchos. They have hoods and zippers to keep your clothes dry, and some may have linings to provide some warmth.
Topping off your hiking outfit with proper accessories isn’t just about style. It’s about function. Hiking accessories provide additional protection and comfort to keep you moving.
Hiking gloves can do more than keep your hands warm. They protect against the elements and terrain. Choose insulated and waterproof gloves for winter, but keep in mind that mittens keep you warmer than gloves.
Like gloves, hiking hats do more than regulate your body temperature. Wool and synthetic blends offer more insulation and moisture-wicking properties to keep you warmer longer.
Summer hiking requires waterproof headgear for rain but should also offer protection from the sun. Wide-brimmed hats work best, but you can also use a cap with a bill and attach a sun cape.
There are three basic things to consider when choosing hiking socks. Finding the right combination may take some experimentation.
- Fabrics range from polyester to merino wool. Polyester and nylon socks work well enough, but wool is the best choice for most people. It’s moisture-wicking, antimicrobial, and more durable.
- Cushioned socks aren’t necessary, especially if it’s hot out, but they can add some comfort and support in the right places.
- Sock height varies, but for hiking, you might want crew or knee-high socks for more protection.
Keeping your feet dry is crucial. A moisture-wicking, quick-drying sock can do wonders for any adventure.
There’s something glorious about cresting a hill on a sunny morning to see the golden rays dancing across a valley. But, it’s tough to enjoy any of it through squinting eyes.
Scratch-resistant, polarized sunglasses with UV protection can protect your eyes from harmful rays and allow you to enjoy the scenery.
Have you ever seen people wearing things that look like outdoorsy legwarmers? They were probably gaiters, an accessory that fits over hiking boots to keep pests, rain, and debris away from your feet.
Carrying gear can extend your trip, which means finding the right pack to complete your hiking outfit. Consider how much you need to carry and the length of your torso to determine the size pack you need.
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