What To Wear When Hiking In Summer

Gear and Equipment

Are you planning on going hiking this summer? Wondering what you should wear to stay comfortable and protected on the trails? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll discuss what to wear when hiking in the summer, so you can enjoy your outdoor adventures to the fullest.

When it comes to hiking in the summer, it’s important to dress for both comfort and functionality. The key is to wear lightweight and breathable clothing that allows for ease of movement. Opt for moisture-wicking materials such as nylon or polyester, as they will help keep you dry by drawing sweat away from your body. Don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and applying sunscreen. In addition, make sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots that provide good traction to prevent slips and falls. These are just a few tips to get you started, but keep reading to learn more about what to wear when hiking in the summer.

What To Wear When Hiking In Summer

Table of Contents

What To Wear When Hiking In Summer

Importance of Dressing Appropriately

When embarking on a summer hiking adventure, one of the most crucial factors to consider is your choice of clothing. Dressing appropriately not only ensures comfort but also plays a vital role in your safety and overall hiking experience. As you start preparing for your summer hikes, keep in mind these considerations for selecting the right attire.

Considerations for Temperature and Weather

The soaring temperatures during summer hikes necessitate clothes that help regulate your body temperature. Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics that allow air circulation and sweat evaporation, keeping you cool and comfortable. While the weather may be sunny and clear, it is essential to be prepared for unexpected changes. Carry a lightweight rain jacket in case of sudden showers or chilly evenings to ensure you stay dry and warm throughout your hike.

Choosing Moisture-Wicking Fabrics

Moisture-wicking fabrics are a hiker’s best friend during the summer months. These fabrics, often made of synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon, are designed to pull moisture away from your skin, allowing it to evaporate quickly. By effectively managing sweat, moisture-wicking clothing prevents discomfort, chafing, and the accumulation of bacteria that can lead to unpleasant odors. Look for shirts, shorts, and pants made from these materials to keep you dry and fresh during your summer hike.

Opting for Lightweight and Breathable Clothing

When selecting your hiking attire, prioritize lightweight and breathable clothing options. These garments offer excellent ventilation, allowing air to flow freely and heat to dissipate, keeping you cool and preventing overheating. Additionally, choose clothing with loose or adjustable fits to enable unrestricted movement and enhance ventilation further. Breathable materials like mesh panels, vented designs, or open-knit fabrics can make a significant difference in your comfort level during a summer hike.

Protecting Yourself from the Sun

Enjoying the great outdoors also means being exposed to the sun’s harmful rays. Protecting your skin from sunburn and reducing the risk of long-term damage should be a top priority. Wearing a hat or cap with a wide brim helps shield your face, neck, and ears from direct sunlight. Choose hats made from lightweight and breathable materials, such as nylon or polyester, to enhance comfort and ventilation.

In addition to headwear, sunglasses with UV protection are essential for safeguarding your eyes against harmful UV rays. Look for sunglasses labeled with a UV 400 rating, which blocks 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays. Consider investing in a neck gaiter or buff as well, which can provide extra protection for your neck and can be versatile enough to be worn in different ways to suit changing conditions.

Footwear for Hiking in Summer

Selecting Proper Hiking Shoes or Boots

Arguably one of the most critical gear choices for any hiker is selecting proper footwear, and summer hikes are no exception. When hiking in warmer months, opt for hiking shoes or boots that offer good ankle support, sturdy soles, and durable construction. They should fit well and provide ample protection from potential hazards on the trail. Consider boots with breathable materials and mesh panels to promote ventilation.

Benefits of Breathable Footwear

Hiking in the summer often means dealing with sweaty feet. To combat this issue, choose hiking shoes or boots with breathable features. Look for models that have breathable mesh uppers or perforated panels to enhance airflow and prevent moisture buildup. This feature not only keeps your feet dry and comfortable but also reduces the chances of blisters and foot-related discomfort.

Importance of Good Traction and Grip

When hiking during the summer, trails can be dry and dusty or even wet and slippery, depending on the terrain and weather conditions. To ensure your safety, invest in footwear with excellent traction and grip. Look for hiking shoes or boots with deep lugs on the outsole that provide traction on various surfaces. This will help you maintain stability, especially when traversing steep inclines, loose gravel, or wet rocks.

Avoiding Open-Toed Shoes

While the warm weather may tempt you to opt for sandals or open-toed shoes, these types of footwear should be avoided for hiking. They do not provide the necessary support, protection, or grip required when traversing challenging terrain. Closed-toe hiking shoes or boots offer better protection against potential injuries such as stubbed toes, insect bites, or scratches from vegetation.

What To Wear When Hiking In Summer

Headwear and Eyewear

Wearing a Hat or Cap

Protecting your head from the sun is crucial when hiking in summer. Wearing a hat or cap with a wide brim not only shields your face and neck but also helps regulate your body temperature. The shade provided by the brim minimizes direct exposure to the sun, reducing the risk of sunburn and overheating. Choose a hat that fits comfortably and is made of lightweight and breathable materials, allowing airflow to keep your head cool.

Importance of Sun Protection for the Head

Sunburn on the scalp is not only painful but can also be a source of long-term damage. Especially for hikers with thinning hair or a shaved head, sun protection for the scalp is essential. To avoid sunburn, consider wearing a hat with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating. This rating indicates the level of UV protection the hat provides, with higher numbers indicating better protection.

Choosing Sunglasses with UV Protection

Protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays is vital during summer hikes. Look for sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection by blocking both UVA and UVB rays. Choose sunglasses with polarized lenses to reduce glare and enhance visibility on bright, sunny days. Additionally, ensure a comfortable fit, as ill-fitting sunglasses can be a distraction and cause discomfort during your hike.

Considering a Neck Gaiter or Buff

A neck gaiter or buff is a versatile accessory that can be incredibly useful during summer hikes. It can provide protection for your neck from the sun’s rays, offer insulation during cooler mornings or evenings, and help keep bugs at bay. Choose a gaiter or buff made from lightweight and breathable materials that wick away moisture, ensuring your comfort throughout the hike.

Layering for Changing Conditions

Benefits of Layering

Layering your clothing allows you to adapt to changing weather conditions and varying activity levels during your hike. By adding or removing layers, you can regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable throughout the day. Layering also helps trap heat close to your body in cooler conditions and allows moisture to escape during strenuous activities, preventing overheating.

Choosing Moisture-Wicking Base Layers

When layering for summer hikes, start with a moisture-wicking base layer. These are typically thin, lightweight shirts and pants designed to pull sweat away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable. Moisture-wicking base layers are crucial for preventing sweat from accumulating and causing chafing or discomfort during your hike. Look for base layers made from synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon, as they are excellent at managing moisture.

Adding Insulating Layers if Needed

Although summer hikes are often associated with warm temperatures, it is essential to be prepared for sudden weather changes, especially in mountainous or unpredictable regions. Pack a lightweight insulating layer, such as a fleece jacket or a lightweight down vest, which can provide warmth in cooler conditions or at higher elevations. These layers can be easily added or removed as needed throughout your hike.

Carrying a Lightweight Rain Jacket

Even during the summer months, rain showers can occur unexpectedly. Carrying a lightweight and packable rain jacket is essential for staying dry and comfortable in wet conditions. Look for jackets made from waterproof or water-resistant materials such as Gore-Tex or nylon with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating. A rain jacket with pit zips or other ventilation features helps prevent overheating and allows airflow to keep you comfortable.

What To Wear When Hiking In Summer

Protection for Arms and Legs

Selecting Long-Sleeve Shirts for Sun Protection

It might seem counterintuitive to wear long-sleeve shirts in hot weather, but they are highly effective at protecting your arms from the sun’s harmful rays. Look for lightweight shirts made from breathable materials that offer UPF protection. These UV-blocking shirts prevent sunburn and reduce the risk of long-term skin damage, while still allowing airflow to keep you cool.

Considering Lightweight Pants or Convertible Pants

When it comes to selecting pants for summer hikes, lightweight and breathable options are paramount. Look for pants made from quick-drying materials such as nylon or polyester, as they not only keep you cool but also help wick away moisture. Consider convertible pants that can be zipped off into shorts, offering versatility for changing weather or when encountering various trail conditions.

Importance of Protecting from Scratches and Insects

Summertime hiking often means navigating through overgrown trails and encountering insects and potentially abrasive vegetation. Protect your legs with lightweight pants that cover your skin and prevent scratches or bites. Additionally, consider treating your pants with insect repellent or wearing insect-repellent clothing to help ward off mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs.

Choosing Breathable and Quick-Drying Materials

When selecting clothing for your arms and legs during summer hikes, prioritize breathable and quick-drying materials. Breathable fabrics promote air circulation and allow sweat to evaporate, keeping you comfortable and preventing excessive moisture buildup. Quick-drying materials help prevent discomfort from prolonged wetness, whether caused by sweat or unexpected water crossings.

Essential Accessories for Hiking in Summer

Bringing a Sunscreen with High SPF

Sun protection is not limited to clothing and headwear; it is crucial to apply sunscreen to exposed skin before embarking on your summer hike. Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or above and ensure it offers broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply sunscreen generously and reapply as needed throughout your hike to protect your skin from sunburn and potential long-term damage.

Carrying Sufficient Water and Hydration Pack

Staying hydrated during summer hikes is of utmost importance. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, and other complications that can affect your safety and enjoyment of the hike. Carry an adequate amount of water and consider using a hydration pack or a water bottle with a built-in filter to ensure a constant supply of clean water. Be mindful of refilling opportunities along the trail to avoid running out.

Using Insect Repellent

Insects can put a damper on your hiking experience, particularly during the summer months. Apply insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing to ward off mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and other pests. Look for repellents containing DEET or picaridin, as these are proven to be effective against a wide range of insects. Remember to follow the instructions on the product label and reapply as necessary.

Having a Lightweight Backpack

Carrying all your essentials comfortably requires a reliable backpack. Opt for a lightweight backpack with adequate compartments and storage capacity to accommodate your gear, water, snacks, and other essentials. Look for backpacks with breathable back panels and adjustable straps to ensure a comfortable fit and mitigate sweating on your back during hot summer hikes.

What To Wear When Hiking In Summer

Proper Socks and Undergarments

Choosing Moisture-Wicking and Cushioned Socks

Selecting the right socks can significantly impact your hiking comfort and prevent common foot problems such as blisters. Choose moisture-wicking socks made from synthetic materials or merino wool, as they help manage moisture and prevent your feet from becoming excessively sweaty or damp. Additionally, look for socks with cushioning and padding in critical areas such as the heel and ball of the foot to enhance comfort during long hikes.

Avoiding Cotton Socks

Cotton socks are notorious for retaining moisture and can lead to discomfort and blisters during a hike. Unlike moisture-wicking synthetic or wool socks, cotton socks absorb sweat, becoming heavy and abrasive against your skin. For optimal comfort and to reduce the risk of developing blisters, it is advisable to avoid cotton socks and opt for moisture-wicking alternatives.

Importance of Proper Undergarments

Wearing appropriate undergarments is just as essential as choosing the right clothing for your hike. Avoid cotton underwear, which can retain moisture and lead to discomfort or chafing. Opt for moisture-wicking underwear made from performance materials such as polyester or nylon to keep you dry and minimize friction. Properly fitting bras for women are also crucial for comfort and support during strenuous activities.

Opting for Breathable and Quick-Drying Materials

Similar to other clothing choices for hiking, prioritize undergarments made from breathable and quick-drying materials. Breathable fabrics allow air circulation and prevent excessive sweating, helping you stay cool and comfortable. Quick-drying materials ensure that any moisture, whether from sweat or unexpected water encounters, evaporates quickly, reducing the risk of discomfort and chafing.

Packing Essentials for a Day Hike in Summer

Carrying a Map and Compass

Even if you are familiar with the trail, it is a good practice to carry a map and compass as a backup navigation tool. Trails can be challenging to navigate, and unexpected circumstances can arise. Familiarize yourself with the trail and carry a map that provides detailed information and landmarks. Additionally, learn how to use a compass properly and be confident in your ability to navigate back to safety if needed.

Bringing Adequate Food and Snacks

Fueling your body properly during a summer hike is crucial for maintaining energy levels and preventing fatigue. Pack sufficient snacks and meals that are lightweight, non-perishable, and provide a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Granola bars, trail mix, jerky, and dried fruits are excellent options to keep you sustained throughout your hike.

Including a First Aid Kit

Accidents and injuries can occur even on relatively easy trails. Having a well-stocked first aid kit is essential for addressing minor injuries and providing initial treatment until professional medical help can be sought. Ensure your first aid kit includes essential items such as adhesive bandages, gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, blister treatment, and any personal medications you may require.

Carrying a Portable Charger

In today’s digital age, our smartphones often serve multiple purposes during outdoor adventures. From navigation to capturing photos or calling for help in an emergency, it is important to keep your devices charged. A portable charger or power bank ensures that you have a backup power supply, enabling you to stay connected and utilize the functionalities of your phone when needed.

What To Wear When Hiking In Summer

Considerations for Hiking in Hot and Dry Climates

Hydration Precautions in Hot Environments

When hiking in hot and dry climates, staying properly hydrated becomes even more crucial. The combination of high temperatures and low humidity can accelerate the rate of water loss through sweating. Be proactive in hydrating yourself by drinking water consistently throughout your hike, even if you do not feel thirsty. Access to water sources in arid regions may be limited, so plan accordingly and carry a sufficient water supply.

Choosing Lightweight and Breathable Hats

When hiking in hot and dry climates, it is essential to protect your head from direct sunlight while allowing proper ventilation. Choose lightweight and breathable hats with a wide brim that provide shade to your face, neck, and ears. Additionally, consider hats with mesh panels or vents to facilitate airflow and promote cooling.

Protecting from Desert Heat and Sand

Hiking in desert environments poses unique challenges due to extreme heat and the presence of loose sand. Protect yourself by wearing loose-fitting, lightweight clothing that covers your skin, protecting it from direct sunlight and reducing the risk of sunburn. Consider wearing gaiters to guard your ankles and lower legs from sand, debris, and potential snake bites. It is also advisable to wear sunglasses to shield your eyes from the harsh desert sun and blowing sand.

Avoiding Midday Sun Exposure

The intensity of the sun’s rays is at its peak during the midday hours. To minimize the risk of heat-related illnesses and sunburn, avoid hiking during this period whenever possible. Schedule your hikes for early mornings or late afternoons, and plan for breaks or rest stops during the hottest parts of the day. If hiking during midday hours is unavoidable, seek shade whenever available and prioritize staying adequately hydrated.


In conclusion, when it comes to hiking in summer, dressing appropriately is essential for your comfort, safety, and enjoyment. Prioritize lightweight and breathable clothing made from moisture-wicking and quick-drying materials. Protect yourself from the sun with a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Invest in proper hiking footwear that offers support, good traction, and breathability. Layer your clothing to adapt to changing conditions and always carry essential accessories like water, a map, and a first aid kit.

By adapting your clothing choices to specific environments and considering the unique challenges of hiking in summer, you can ensure a more comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience. Remember to prioritize your comfort and safety, prepare for potential weather changes, and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the elements. With the right clothing and equipment in your backpack, you’ll be ready to embark on memorable summer hikes and explore the beauty of the great outdoors.

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