Two people hiking in nature

Summer Hiking Clothing Essentials

Ready for your first hike this summer? Make sure you’re decked out with the right summer hiking essentials to guarantee an outing to remember. Whether you’re taking a lone 3-hour trip to your closest woodland destination or venturing to mountainous sights, find out what to look out for in your upcoming hike below.

Warmer days are just around the corner, and there’s no better time to get out and prep for a hiking trip than now. With the sheer number of options available, it’s difficult to decide where to start. This is why we’ve pulled together a list of our must-have summer hiking clothes in one comprehensive checklist to ensure you enjoy the great outdoors in style.

Hiking Clothing Technology

There is a lot of variety in the fabric and functionality of hiking clothing available, and depending on the intensity, frequency and length of your hike, you can opt-in and out of different features depending on what you need and what you can afford to leave out. Below you’ll find a few hiking clothing technologies that will come in especially handy during warmer hikes.

Moisture-wicking

Moisture-wicking summer hiking clothes mean the fabric does two jobs; it moves sweat from the fabric’s insides to the outer surface and allows it to dry and evaporate quickly. This means your sweat doesn’t saturate the fabric and cause you to get chilly, instead regulating your temperature to stay warm, dry and comfortable.

Your first layer of summer hiking clothes should usually offer moisture-wicking properties as the layer that will be in direct contact with your skin and best placed to manage your sweat.

Anti-odour

Anti-odour technology is unsurprisingly a summer-hiking essential, offering antimicrobial capabilities to fight naturally occurring odours to keep you clean and fresh. It works by capturing and blocking the odour-causing bacteria and neutralising it before it comes into touch with your sweat, which is the cause of the resulting odour.

Anti-odour technology is particularly useful for outings that last longer than a few hours or are high-intensity in nature and do a great job of keeping you dry. There are two types of antimicrobial fabrics; antimicrobial chemicals used to treat clothing and silver technology that are naturally antimicrobial and neutralises bacteria.

Man and woman hiking and looking at mountainous scenery

Hiking Clothing Technology

Merino Wool

Merino wool is surprisingly effective in summer hiking too, as the wool is able to regulate your body temperature and wicks moisture effectively, meaning it can keep you cool during the summer too. While merino wool is a pricey alternative, the flexibility is a worthwhile investment and offers incredible softness while working well in the harshest conditions - hot or cold.

Another plus? Merino wool also fights odour! So you can wear hiking clothes featuring merino wool more than once between washes while staying fresh, and it counts as one of the best hiking gear to wear all-year-rounder.

Synthetic Fabric

You can also opt for synthetic fabric, which is moisture-wicking and water-resistant, offering protection from sweat created by your body as well as moisture coming from your environment. Fabric such as polyester or nylon stays light and breathable and, most importantly, dries fast, which will help you go harder for longer and ensures comfort throughout.

Hiking Clothes for Hot Weather

Different layers of hiking clothes are dedicated to different functions when hiking in hot weather. Whether it’s to stay warm, dry, breathable or protected from the sun, we recommend hiking clothes to kit you out with all the essentials.

Woman hiking in mountains, using nordic walking sticks

Hiking Shirts

When choosing your first layer, which might also be your only layer, a hiking shirt is a must. This choice depends on the temperatures you'll encounter during your hike, as well as potential weather changes. If you expect uncertain or cooler conditions, consider opting for a long-sleeved shirt or baselayer to provide extra coverage and warmth when necessary. Ensure that your hiking shirt is quick-drying, comfortable, and unlikely to cause chafing – so it's best to choose synthetic materials over cotton

Hiking Jacket

While it may be summer, our hiking clothing recommendations wouldn't be complete without a reliable insulated hiking jacket. Whether you're experiencing cooler temperatures in the evening or exploring mountainous terrain, you might find it getting a bit chilly if you rely solely on basic baselayers. Since it's summer, you can opt for a lightweight synthetic or down jacket that remains compact and convenient, taking up minimal space in your hiking backpack.

The best hiking jackets prioritise performance, providing protection without adding excessive weight. Regardless of the season, all hiking jackets should meet the basic requirements of being weatherproof against wind and rain. Look for additional features like hoods, materials, and extra pockets for added functionality.

Extra Layer

Consider carrying an additional layer for warmth, like a sweater or hoodie, as a substitute for the hiking jacket when rain is unlikely. An insulated, lightweight layer such as fleece is suitable for this purpose. If you're hiking at higher altitudes, it's essential to have a windproof jacket, possibly supplemented by an extra layer for added safety.

3 people and a dog hiking in mountains

Hiking Shorts

Hiking shorts can be a valuable addition to your kit, providing improved ventilation, comfort, and freedom of movement. However, it's crucial to wear them on low-intensity hikes where full trousers' coverage and protection aren't necessary, such as when walking through vegetation or rocky terrain. If you anticipate encountering such conditions but prioritise mobility, choose hiking shorts that are both durable and quick-drying, especially if you'll be traversing wet or rainy areas.

Hiking Footwear

The best hiking footwear will depend on how strenuous and long your hike will be. If you are hiking less than 6km, a regular pair of running shoes will do the trick, especially if they’re designed for trail running to keep up with uneven, muddy and even slippery surfaces. But for the regular hiking enthusiast, specialised hiking footwear is worth the investment.

Hiking shoes offer greater traction and stability and tend to be more comfortable than regular running shoes. These will also do a better job at keeping you dry and offer more cushioning so sharp rocks underfoot aren’t likely to leave a dent in your sole or injure you. Are you thinking of venturing to rough terrain instead? It’s a good idea to opt for the extra support provided by hiking boots, which accommodate all-day tracks or backpacking trips while carrying heavy loads.

Hiking boots are the most functional footwear in the world of hiking, maximising waterproofing, comfort, stability and grip for use across various surfaces and conditions. While hiking boots take longer to break in, if you’re a regular hiker, it’s well worth the effort and will prevent painful blisters long term.

Hiking Socks

A normal pair of lightweight socks is enough during the summer to keep things cool and minimise perspiration. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a little extra specialism in your gear, hiking socks offer extra cushioning in the heel and ball of your foot for added comfort. For the high-end range, hiking socks will fit snugly around the curves of your foot and withstand hours of hiking.

In terms of length, crew-length socks are usually the go-to for hiking to prevent friction against your ankle. However, if you’re going for regular running shoes, you can prioritise comfort by opting for socks that reach just above the cuff, as these will help keep your feet cooler – just make sure they fit; light socks may take up less room, but you don’t want your foot sliding in your shoe. So try out a heavier pair, regardless of the heat, to stay protected from blisters.

Man skipping during hike, wearing backpack and holding walking poles

Hiking Hat

When it comes to headwear for hiking, you'll find several options, including a regular cap, hiking hat, or beanie.

The most critical factors to consider when selecting sun protection headwear are the level of protection (preferably UPF 50+), comfort, and breathability. If you're a frequent hiker, durability is also important. Hiking hats typically feature moisture-wicking properties and provide coverage for areas like the face, head, and sometimes the neck, as these areas are most vulnerable to harmful UV rays.

A quality sun hat can also reduce the amount of UV rays that reach your eyes, but it's still advisable to wear sunglasses for extra protection. If the weather appears uncertain, you might want to consider a waterproof hiking hat with insulation to keep you warm in case of a temperature drop.

Hiking Clothes Recommendations

While hiking in the summer doesn’t have to get complicated, there are some fool-proof tips and tricks to adhere to, to help you have a comfortable and risk-free trip.

Stay away from denim and cotton: Both denim and cotton are two of the worst fabrics to wear when hiking in warm conditions due to the lack of breathability and moisture-wicking. Instead, cotton absorbs sweat, sticks to the skin and weighs you down. This can get uncomfortable as it causes your temperature to drop when conditions outside are already cool and don’t readily dry.

Layer up: Hiking is all about layers, no matter the season. This gives you the flexibility to adjust to the ever-changing weather conditions and allows you to react quickly. You can also juggle different fabric technology while prioritising comfort.

Think long-term: When it comes to hiking, you’ll want to invest in hiking clothing that can take a beating and last you for longer – especially if you’ll be on your feet for a while! While clothing with high-end functionality like merino wool can seem a little steep, it's a worthy investment.

Comfort: Comfort should be a key consideration when browsing for your perfect hiking kit. Whether it’s the additional ankle support provided by your hiking boots or hiking clothes that offer maximum freedom of movement without sacrificing performance,  don’t be weighed down by the wrong pick.

Tight-fitting clothes make it hard for your skin to breathe, so ensure you get enough airflow between your skin and your clothes to keep you cooler and drier in warm weather.

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