What to Wear When Hiking in Summer: Essential Tips for Comfort and Safety

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hiking in summer

Hiking in the summer can be a truly enjoyable experience, but do you ever wonder what to wear when hiking in summer? It’s crucial to wear the right gear to ensure a comfortable and safe outing. As temperatures rise, the clothing you choose to don becomes even more critical to prevent overheating and ward off potential hazards. In this article, we will explore what to wear when hiking in the summer, offering tips and recommendations to help you tackle those sun-soaked trails with confidence.

What to Wear when Hiking in Summer

Choosing the proper attire for summer hiking involves a delicate balance between staying cool and staying protected from the elements. You’ll want to opt for breathable materials that wick away moisture, provide UV protection, and effectively manage perspiration. Considering both practicality and comfort, we’ll dive into how to select the best clothing, footwear, and accessories for your summer hikes.

In addition to addressing attire, we’ll also discuss how to pack the right gear, covering essential equipment to bring along for a successful and safe adventure. This will include hydration solutions, first aid kits, sun protection, and more. Last-minute tips and hiking best practices will ensure you’re well-prepared for your summer excursions no matter the trail.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose breathable, moisture-wicking clothing for summer hikes
  • Prioritize UV protection and comfort in your hiking attire
  • Equip yourself with essential gear for safe and enjoyable outings

Choosing the Right Clothing

what to wear when hiking in summer

Importance of Fabric Choice

The fabric of your hiking clothes plays a crucial role in keeping you comfortable during summer hikes. Go for moisture-wicking and quick-dry fabrics, such as polyester, nylon, and merino wool. These materials provide good breathability and pull sweat away from your skin, helping you stay cool and dry. Avoid cotton, as it retains moisture, dries slowly, and can cause skin irritation.

Top Recommendations

When choosing shirts for summer hiking, opt for lightweight, breathable materials with UPF protection. Some good options are:

  • Short-sleeve polyester or nylon shirts
  • Merino wool or synthetic-fabric long-sleeve shirts with UPF rating
  • Loose-fitting styles for added airflow

Do not forget to bring a hat and sunglasses for sun protection.

Bottoms Recommendations

For bottoms, consider the following lightweight and breathable options:

  • Shorts: Choose synthetic materials, such as nylon or polyester, with moisture-wicking properties
  • Pants: Go for convertible pants made from breathable fabric, which offer the flexibility to switch between pants and shorts
  • Leggings: Pick stretchable, quick-dry, and moisture-wicking leggings for comfort during hikes

Avoid wearing jeans or denim, as they are heavy and not breathable.

Hiking Shoes: An Essential Choice

Selecting the right footwear is vital. Consider the following options based on your needs:

  • Hiking shoes: Lightweight and more breathable than boots, suitable for well-groomed trails
  • Hiking boots: Provide ankle support and protection for rough terrain or carrying heavy loads
  • Trail running shoes: Offer good grip and flexibility for fast-paced hikes or trail running

Pair your footwear with moisture-wicking, quick-dry, synthetic, or merino wool hiking socks for comfort and blister prevention.

The Layering Principle and Weather Changes

Even in summer, weather conditions can change rapidly, so it’s wise to follow the layering principle—wear multiple lightweight layers you can easily remove or add as needed. Bring along a packable rain jacket made from breathable, waterproof material like Gore-Tex or nylon. Also, pack lightweight rain pants for unpredictable downpours.

Additional Protective Measures

To protect yourself from the sun and bugs, consider the following:

  • Wear UPF-rated clothing for sun protection
  • Apply sunscreen on exposed skin
  • Use bug protection, such as bug spray or permethrin-treated clothing
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat for extra sun protection and shade

What Not to Wear when Hiking in Summer

Avoid these items for a comfortable summer hiking experience:

  1. Cotton clothing: Retains moisture and dries slowly
  2. Jeans or denim: Heavy and not breathable
  3. Heavy and non-breathable jackets: Can cause overheating
  4. Improper footwear: Choose hiking-specific shoes or boots for better support and protection

Packing the Right Gear

When hiking in the summer, it’s crucial to pack the appropriate gear to ensure a comfortable, safe, and enjoyable experience. The right gear not only provides protection from the elements but also enhances your overall hiking experience. Here’s a breakdown of essential items to consider when preparing for a summer hike:


  • Breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics: Opt for lightweight, quick-drying materials to avoid excessive sweating and discomfort in hot climates.
  • Layered clothing: Even in hot weather, it’s essential to layer up as temperatures may vary during the day and drop considerably at night.
  • Hiking boots or trail shoes: Choose footwear with good traction and ankle support, appropriate for the type of terrain you’ll encounter on your hike.
  • Socks: Moisture-wicking socks are crucial to prevent blisters and keep your feet dry in hot climates.


  • Sun protection: A wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with a high SPF will keep you protected from the sun’s harmful rays.
  • Insect repellent: Keep mosquitoes and other bugs at bay with DEET or natural alternatives like lemon eucalyptus oil.
  • Rain gear: A lightweight, packable rain jacket is essential for unexpected rain showers during your summer hike.

Essential items:

  • Navigation tools: A map, compass, or GPS device should always be in your backpack, even if the trail is well marked.
  • Hydration: Bring enough water for the duration of your hike, or a water filter or purifying tablets if you plan to refill from natural sources.
  • First-aid kit: Ensure your basic first-aid kit includes essentials like band-aids, tweezers, pain relievers, and any required personal medications.
  • Emergency items: A whistle, a headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries, and a multi-tool should always be packed for unforeseen circumstances.

With the appropriate gear in your backpack, you’ll be well-prepared for an enjoyable summer hike. Remember to also research the specific trail and weather conditions to make any necessary adjustments. Happy trails!

Last-Minute Tips and Hiking Best Practices

Before you hit the summer trails, make sure you have considered these last-minute tips and best practices to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience.

  • Wear comfortable, lightweight clothing: Choose breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics such as polyester or wool. Avoid cotton, as it tends to retain moisture and could make you feel uncomfortable when you sweat. A sports bra is also recommended for women, as it provides better support.
  • Dress in layers: Even though it’s summer, temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day, especially in high altitudes. Opt for removable layers that you can easily adjust according to the weather conditions.
  • Protect your skin: Apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30, and wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and neck. Also, consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants to avoid sunburn and minimize the risk of scrapes from brushes with rocks and branches.
  • Footwear is crucial: Invest in a pair of sturdy and lightweight hiking shoes or boots that provide ample support and traction. Make sure to break them in before your hike to prevent blisters.
  • Stay hydrated: Carry at least two liters of water per person for a day hike. To be even more efficient, use a hydration pack that allows you to drink and access water easily on the go.
  • Bring hiking essentials: Don’t forget to pack your 10 essential items for hiking, which include a map, compass, flashlight, first aid kit, extra clothing, fire starter, matches, knife, shelter, and extra food. These are crucial for ensuring your safety and preparedness on the trail.

By following these tips, you’re well on your way to a successful and enjoyable summer hike. Remember to always put safety first, and respect the environment by practicing Leave No Trace principles. Happy hiking!

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Tyler Schnelli
Tyler grew up camping with his family every summer. From tent camping in the woods, to van camping across America, Tyler and his family loved spending time together in the outdoors. When he got older, Tyler spent time camping on his own and backpacking with friends around California. He is now entering a phase in life of introducing his kids to camping and loving every minute of it.

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