Essential Gears to Wear When Hiking
Technically, you don’t really need any form of special clothing in order to go hiking. Besides, if you’re just starting out, going for short, simple trails would be the most recommended option. However, even if it’s a short trail, you still need to layer yourself so you can put on or take off clothing depending on the temperature changes.
It’s when you start taking on advanced and challenging terrains and conditions that you’ll need to think more about the hiking gears you wear. And if you’re on that level already, then here are the most essential hiking gears you want to consider:
- Hiking Footwear
If you’re asking what to wear hiking, then a pair of hiking footwear will no doubt be the very first answer. They not only provide protection to your feet, but they can also give your ankles the support they need, especially when you’re carrying a backpack with you.
When it comes to hiking footwear, you can choose from either hiking boots, shoes, sandals, and trail running shoes. Each of them has its own pros and cons. Let’s get to know what those are.
- Hiking Boots
Hiking boots provide excellent support on your ankles when going downhill. Aside from that, they also have a good grip on slippery terrains. They’re often ideal for hiking trips that last for several days since you’ll most likely have to go through several challenging conditions. Needless to say, hiking boots really shine when used in rocky terrains during cold weather. The problem, however, is that they’re quite bulky and heavy.
- Hiking Shoes
If you need a more lightweight alternative to hiking boots, then hiking shoes will suit you best. They come with flexible midsoles which make them perfect for day hiking. They’re also a perfect option if you bring an ultralight load with you.
- Hiking Sandals
Hiking sandals work best during warm weather and hiking on gentler trails, especially in tropical climates. They’re also a great alternative to heavy hiking boots during multi-day hiking trips when you just want your feet to breathe.
- Trail Running Shoes
Trail running shoes are becoming increasingly popular among ultralight hikers. In fact, some trail running shoes come with a hearty tread to make navigation quite easy, regardless of the terrain. However, since they don’t really offer a lot of support, they’re only recommended for ultralight backpackers. If you want to carry a heavy pack with you, then you’re better off with hiking shoes or boots.
- Wicking Shirts
Regardless if you prefer a base layer for a cold winter hike or a long-sleeved shirt in the summer, you have to make sure it has a moisture-wicking property to keep you dry and comfortable throughout the hiking session.
Ideally, you want to avoid wearing shirts that are made of cotton since it can absorb moisture, thereby making you wet and uncomfortable throughout your trip. That said, wearing a cotton shirt on a short hike won’t be that much of an inconvenience. However, if you want to go on a multi-day hiking trip, then avoid cotton at all costs and go for hiking shirts made of either merino or synthetic materials.
Your choice of a hiking glove will depend on the conditions of the hiking trail you’re going to encounter. During winter conditions, you’ll most likely need a pair of hiking gloves is the temperature is too low or if there’s a risk of frostbite. However, during warmer weathers, you don’t really need hiking gloves at all since they’ll only serve as an inconvenience.
You really need to wear sunglasses every time you go out hiking, regardless if the weather is hot or cold. After all, your eyes are so delicate that you wouldn’t want to expose them to external elements like UV exposure or foreign objects getting into your eyes.
For this, you don’t really need to invest in high-quality glasses. Even a $5 pair will do, and who knows? You might already have a pair sitting at your house.
Though normal underwear will make you comfortable throughout a short hiking trip, they won’t really do you any good if you plan to go on a multi-day hiking trip. Therefore, you want to consider wearing underwear designed specifically for outdoor adventures.
The key to selecting good hiking underwear is to make sure that it’s made of a material that has moisture-wicking properties. This means going for underwear that’s made of synthetic or wool instead of cotton. As mentioned earlier, cotton can absorb and trap moisture, so it will make you uncomfortable throughout your trip.
For women, investing in a good sports bra is better and more convenient than just wearing an everyday bra. The reason is simply because sports bras are made using quick-dry materials and are specifically designed to provide freedom of movement outdoors.
Gaiters are quite underrated, and a lot of hikes tend to overlook them. While they’re fairly cheap, the amount of protection they offer is really excellent. With gaiters, you can keep various elements such as mud, water, and stones from getting inside of your boots. Aside from that, they can also prevent your feet from getting wet during rainy conditions.
During summer, they can provide further protection from potential snake attacks as well as ticks getting inside your boots.
- Hiking Pants/Shorts
Just like pieces of hiking gear, you should also consider the type of hiking pants you want to wear depending on the weather. Most people prefer wearing shorts while some would rather wear pants to protect their legs. There are also those who prefer leggings. Let’s have a look at how each of them differs.
- Hiking Shorts
Hiking shorts are the perfect option if you want to go hiking during the summer season. They’re made of moisture-wicking fabric to keep you dry and comfortable while still providing that level of protection you need for your lower body.
- Hiking Pants
On the other hand, if you plan to go hiking during colder weather, then wearing hiking pants is recommended. The good news is, most hiking pants on the market are available in a convertible version, so you can get two for the price of one. You also have the option to buy hiking pants based on your weight, and some even come with pockets for stashing various stuff and fleece lining for added insulation.
Leggings are a great and comfortable option if you want to hike during warm weather. They essentially provide you with protection that a hiking pants offer and the ventilation that you can get from hiking shorts. However, if you are to travel through a bushy terrain, then leggings can be a really uncomfortable option.
Your choice of a hiking jacket will largely depend on the current weather and season. Ideally, you want to go for a packable jacket (so you can easily remove it along the way) that comes with both windproof and waterproof properties.
If you plan to hike during colder weather, fleece or soft-shell jacket is a good option. It can provide you with the right insulation you need to keep yourself warm. Aside from that, it’s also lightweight and breathable, not to mention it can dry a lot faster compared to wool.
You can find fleece jackets in lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight options. Lightweight fleece jackets work best during mild climates while their midweight counterparts work best during colder weather. Lastly, heavyweight jackets are perfect for very cold climates. However, fleece jackets only have a water-resistant shell. This means that you still want to bring with you a rain jacket just in case there’s a heavy downpour.
On the other hand, if you plan to hike in a cold and dry condition, then a goose down jacket might just suit you best. A down jacket can provide you with that excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. The problem is that you have to keep it dry to maintain its insulating ability. However, since down jackets are best worn around camp, you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping it dry.
Hats, especially those with a wide brim, can protect you from the scorching heat of the sun when planning to hike during the summer season. Ideally, you want a wide-brimmed hat that’s made of a breathable fabric to keep your head warm.
Wearing the right hiking gears can spell the difference between remaining comfortable throughout your journey and getting annoyed with all those sunburns and sweats you’ve got. As much as possible, you want to avoid experiencing the latter as it can only affect your entire hiking experience.
Since hiking is supposed to be a really fun and exciting adventure, you have to make sure that you’ll stay comfortable throughout the trip. Regardless if it’s just a short, one-day trip or a multi-day hiking adventure, wearing these essential hiking gears is highly recommended. Also, don’t forget to carry a backpack with you. While it’s technically not something you wear, it’s definitely something you want to bring with you so you can store other essential stuff like food and water.