Hiking is one of the best things to do with your friends – it’s usually free, you get a great workout, you get to be in nature, and you can often see some spectacular views. But, to make the most of your hiking experience, you need the right gear. The best women’s hiking clothes are stylish and functional, letting you look great while also getting the job done!
What To Wear Hiking For Women
Before diving into the best hiking clothes, you need to consider the types of hikes you will be completing. How strenuous will the hikes be? Will you be in the woods for days at a time, camping as you go, or will you do a morning hike on Saturday? What weather conditions will you face?
Asking yourself these questions will help you determine what you need. For example, if it’s going to be 90 degrees and sunny, you probably don’t need rain gear. On the other hand, if you’re going on a multi-day hike, you probably need some sleepwear and overnight gear.
For this post, we’re going to keep it simple and focus on the best hiking clothes for women going on a simple, short hike with friends that can be completed in a few hours.
What is the Best Clothing for Hiking?
The best clothing for hiking is clothing that is made specifically for hiking. This is important, because hiking clothes usually have features that you didn’t think of, which really come in handy while out in the wilderness. You need to consider four categories of women’s hiking clothing when deciding what to wear hiking: footwear, pants, shirts, and outerwear.
Some folks wear normal sneakers while out on a day hike, and in a pinch, those will usually do. But if you are serious about hiking, boots are a must. Boots designed for hiking generally have better traction to help you walk on uneven and sometimes slippery terrain, waterproof soles to keep your feet dry, and higher tops to provide ankle support.
Our favorite hiking boot is Cabela’s Rimrock Gore-Tex boot. These hiking boots are functional and stylish. They check all the boxes above and even have a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane. And as a bonus, they are also adorable! These will definitely help you hike in style. However, with a price tag of $120, they aren’t the most cost-effective option.
Denali’s offers the best hiking shoes for those on a budget. Available at Big Five, this brand offers a lot of the same functionality for a much lower price. They don’t use the best materials and, in my opinion, aren’t as stylish, but at about $25 a pair, the price can’t be beat.
The second thing to consider in regards to footwear is hiking socks. The right sock can really make the difference in how comfortable your feet are while hiking. Wool is the best hiking sock material, because it regulates your body temperature well and offers a decent amount of cushioning.
Now that your feet are covered, let’s talk about hiking pants. Many folks wear jeans while out on a hike, and if you are only going to go once per year, that’s probably a great option. However, when jeans get wet, they can get sticky and limit your mobility. Women’s jeans are also notoriously bad about having less-than-functional pockets, so if you plan on carrying anything, jeans might not cut it.
Instead, opt for cargo pants. Usually made out of a canvas or nylon material, hiking pants don’t absorb water the way jeans do and make it easier for you to keep moving while wet. They also have tons of pockets that are actually functional, which you can use for snacks, a pocket knife, or whatever else you might need.
One of the best pants to wear hiking are Cabela’s tactical pro pants. They offer comfort and moveability, and have a decent number of pockets, which can be difficult to find. The versatility of these pants is hard to beat, they can be worn hiking, fishing, or even just going to the store, which makes them a good choice for those who want hiking pants they can use for other things too.
For those on a budget, try Columbia’s Saturday Trail hiking pants. They are breathable and easy to move around in, and at about $30 a pair, the price is great for nearly any budget.
Pants vs. Shorts
Many people choose to wear shorts while on a hike, but in general we recommend it. Sure, they are cooler and more breathable, but they also expose your skin to various external dangers. Ticks, thorns, and even the sun are more likely to cause danger for those who wear shorts while hiking.
However, shorts can be a valid option if you are hiking in a desert region without ticks and thorns. Just be sure to wear and reapply your sunscreen, so you don’t get burned!
You have a lot more leeway in choosing a hiking shirt than you do in choosing other types of women’s hiking clothes. The only thing you really need to consider is how hot it will be and how much you think you will sweat.
If it is really hot out, you may want to consider an Under Armour moisture-wicking shirt. These shirts absorb moisture and help keep you cool in hotter conditions. Outside of this consideration, you will want to choose a shirt that is breathable and comfortable. T-shirts and workout tops are both good options.
The last, yet extremely important, piece of women’s hiking clothes you need is outerwear. When considering what outwear you need, you will need to think of the environmental conditions that will be present during your hike.
If you are hiking anywhere near the Appalachian trail, you should seriously consider getting tick gaiters. Ticks are everywhere in these areas, especially in the Northeast, and they often carry Lyme disease. Gaiters are not stylish, but they are a great way to prevent ticks. You should also be sure to carry and wear insect repellent to keep flying insects away and extra protection against ticks. It’s good to get in the habit of spraying your shoes and socks heavily with deep woods off before any expedition.
Next, consider the climate. For example, if you are hiking in Alpine conditions, consider a fleece overcoat to help keep you warm. North Face and Columbia are amazing brands with a wide variety of fleece jackets and other outwear specifically designed to keep you warm while outdoors.
Finally, you need to consider what the weather will be like. If it’s going to be bright and sunny all day, you may want to bring a hat to shield your eyes. You may want to bring rainwear in case a pop-up thunderstorm rolls in or a light sweater in case the temperature drops. These weather fluctuations can differ greatly depending on what season it is and where you live. If you are hiking for fall fun in the Northeast, you will definitely need a jacket, but you probably won’t if you are hiking in the middle of the summer in California. It’s important to research the weather before you go to make sure you have everything that you need.
One final thing that you may need, even on day hikes, is some hiking gear. Specifically, you should consider getting a backpack to carry extra clothing items, food, and water in. Also, consider bringing extra sunscreen and insect repellant.
A good hiking backpack will have comfortable straps and pads that won’t cause shoulder pain or irritation. If you are going to do long-term trekking, you should consider a pack with a waist strap to help distribute weight evenly throughout your body. In addition, the backpack should be water-resistant and lightweight so that the contents don’t get wet and it’s easy to carry.
What Colors Should You Not Wear Hiking?
When choosing women’s hiking clothes, you should pay attention to the colors. Camo is often the first choice, but it’s not actually the best choice unless you are hunting; and that brings us to why camo is bad – you don’t want to blend in while hiking. If hunters are around, you want them to be able to see you. Also, if you get lost in the woods and need to be rescued, you want to be as conspicuous as possible to rescue workers.
Be sure to take hunting season into account before deciding where to hike. Do not hike in areas where hunters are likely to be present. Even if you are hiking on marked hiking trails, it’s smart to wear a bright orange vest. This will ensure that you are noticed by any hunters who may be near the area.
Best Stores For Hiking Clothes
Now that you know what you need – the important question is where to get it! If you’re on a budget, you can probably find a decent pair of jeans and a shirt for hiking at a big box store like Target. However, if you have a tiny bit extra to spend and want the best, there are a few better options.
The best store for hiking clothes is Cabela’s. They have absolutely everything you need, whether you are a beginner looking for a decent hiking boot or a seasoned mountaineer looking to refresh your gear.
Cabela’s has a wide selection of clothing for any occasion. You can find hunting camos, warm weather hiking shirts, rain gear, cold weather gear, and everything else all under one roof. They also have all the peripheral equipment you will need, like camping gear, fishing gear, backpacks, and everything else that you could need for your outdoor adventure.
Outdoor World is also a great place to shop for hiking clothes for women. They have similar selections to Cabela’s, and both offer brands like The North Face, Columbia, and Under Armour.
Sporting Goods Stores
If you don’t have a Bass Pro Shop or Cabela’s in your area, you can get similar gear at a general sporting goods store, like Dick’s or Modell’s. However, as these stores also carry a lot of sports equipment, like workout gear, biking gear, and general sports supplies, their selections of outdoors stuff and hiking gear, including women’s hiking clothing, is limited. Nevertheless, you will still be able to find the biggest brands and a generic option at these stores, so you can grab your North Face fleece and generic hiking boot at any of these locations. These types of stores are a great option if you don’t have access to the huge stores dedicated specifically to the outdoors.
Get Out There & Get Hiking!
Being one with nature and enjoying more of what it has to offer is one of my FIRE goals, but hiking is an easy way to get some of that now. So grab your new clothes and have an outdoor adventure!
Author Bio: Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.