What To Wear Hiking for Men: A Head-to-Toe Handbook

Do you hear the call of the wild? Are you ready to embark on an open-air adventure but not sure what to wear while hiking? Safety and comfort are top priorities for any nature excursion, and the good news is you can still look good while doing it. With the rise of gorpcore, which stands for “good ol’ raisins and peanuts” (yes, that’s a thing), function meets fashion. Many are eager to embrace utility in their wardrobe without physical exercise. Simply looking to take on an outdoorsy aesthetic? Or, maybe you’re serious about hitting the trails. Either way, we’re here to help you master the look. 

Hiking can take you places you can’t get to by plane, train or car. You want to be prepared for anything. Suiting up with appropriate apparel for a hike can vary depending on the time of year and locale. While you need little skill to go hiking, wearing the proper clothes will improve your overall experience. Let’s be real: These tips are not here to help you prepare for your next summit of Everest. If that’s in the cards for you, you are a brave soul and we wish you well. Wondering what we are sharing? Hiking basics. Don’t get caught in an unexpected rainstorm while on a first hiking date. Prevent an ankle-biting bug attack while celebrity-stalking on Runyon Canyon. Catch our drift?

What To Wear Hiking: Must-Have Considerations

When crafting the ultimate ‘what to wear hiking checklist for men, there are a few key factors to keep in mind. From base layer to outwear, take an outfit from average to excellent with properly fitting garments. What constitutes the right fit, you ask? Clothes that fit close to the body (fitted, not tight) will prevent excess fabric. By limiting the amount of billowy material, you’ll avoid unnecessary chafing or getting caught on underbrush. As a bonus, a tailored look will help you rank higher on the style scale. 

Next, it’s crucial to find the right length on top and bottom. Pants that are too long can drag in the mud or snow and become heavy, and therefore, weigh you down. On the flip side, shirts that are too short make your core susceptible to cold air. Now let’s get into each component of an outdoorsy outfit and what you should keep an eye out for.

What Shirts To Wear Hiking

Curious what is arguably the most important step for men  (or anyone) when deciding what to wear hiking? Without a doubt, choose proper materials for your base layer since they’ll be laying right on your skin. Cotton is often a sought-after textile, but not in this case. Do your best to avoid it at all costs—it holds onto moisture, so you’ll feel chilly when temperatures drop. Instead, opt for a shirt with quick-drying and sweat-wicking properties. Find these performance features in polyester blends and the pricier, yet worth it, merino wool. Don’t worry, merino wool is not like the scratchy scarf your sweet grams made for you that one Christmas. It’s much lighter and softer than traditional wool and is suitable for both summer and winter. Amazingly, merino wool has the natural ability to regulate body temperature to keep you warm or cool when needed. 

Expert Style Tip: Polyester blends and merino wool are ideal materials for anything that will touch your skin—not just shirts. What else should you consider? Head, shoulders, knees, toes and everything in between. All items that make up your base layer outfit, such as briefs, long underwear and socks. Merino for the win.

Choosing the Right Outer Layers for Hiking

Windbreakers, rain jackets and vests—oh, my. The weather conditions and how rigorous of a trail you’re tackling are determining factors for your outerwear. Will you be in constant rain or snowfall? Weatherproofing is a must. Do you plan to keep a jacket in your backpack just in case? Look into lightweight, ultra-packable options.

If wind is in your forecast, a puffer jacket could be the right option for you. Many are made with special coatings to protect against rain and wind. For a crisp day hike, vests are great to keep warm, but not too warm. You’ll feel less burdened throughout your arms, and the breeze will flow in all the right spots. You’ve got a lot of outerwear options available to you when narrowing down your list of what to wear hiking. We’re confident you’ll find one that’s best-suited for your specific adventure. 

What Pants To Wear Hiking

When researching what pants to wear hiking, keep these four things in mind—flexibility, durability, breathability and versatility. Reserve your thick sweatpants for fireside chats with friends and seek out less bulky bottoms. Lucky for you, men’s jogger sets are trending. Today’s styles are made from performance materials with a sleek design that are great alternatives for mild, low-impact hikes. The less restrictive, the better, and compact pants promote better ease of movement. No one wants to feel like a waddling toddler. Instead, stay nimble in joggers with stretch that are made with sturdy material. For more moderate and strenuous hikes, this will help to avoid snags and rips while bouldering or pushing past branches.      

When wondering what to wear hiking on a trek with potential shifts in weather, convertible pants are a superb option. Their zip-off legs allow you to go from pants to shorts in no time. Before you convert to shorts, keep your surroundings in mind. Traipsing through foliage? Long pants protect your legs and ankles against ticks, mosquitoes, poison oak and ivy, especially when tucked into socks.

What Shoes To Wear Hiking

If the great outdoors is calling your name, add finding the right shoes for your backcountry exploration to your list. Deciphering what shoes to wear hiking all depends on the terrain. It’s essential that your shoes provide support for your foot and ankle and maintain traction on wet and dry surfaces. Trail runners are a popular choice among avid outdoors people. They differ from road-running shoes because they have a stiffer midsole for added support on uneven ground. No slipping and sliding on our watch. 

Trail runners aren’t your only option. Hiking boots and water sandals are also great for varying climates, expeditions and weather. We’ve got the answers to your hiking shoe questions. Read on to find the right footwear for you. 

How To Wear Hiking Boots

Hiking boots pack a punch when it comes to practicality, but are nevertheless a stylish choice. Looking for a guide on wearing boots, or more specifically, how to wear hiking boots? We’ve got you covered. First and foremost, you’ll want to break them in. Have a big hike on the books? Prevent blisters by wearing your boots around the house for a week or so. Actually, let’s backtrack a bit. Before you even purchase your boots, try them on with the socks you plan to wear with them. This will ensure a good fit. 

Are jeans your ride or die? If so, you might be looking for ideas on how to wear hiking boots with jeans. As we know, jeans are not a pragmatic choice for strenuous hiking, but definitely look stellar with hiking boots. For your next leisurely stroll through the wilderness, try a slim or straight-fit style. Slim-fit denim allows you to tuck your jeans into the boots for a sleek appearance. For a more trend-forward look, opt for a straight-fit style and cuff the hems right below the ankles. No one will dream of questioning your abilities to chop wood or throw an ax, we promise. 

When To Choose Hiking Sandals

For hikes with shallow river crossings, especially in tropical climates, you can’t go wrong with hiking sandals. It’s important to note that they provide less ankle support, so they’re ideal for flat, dirt trails. If you prefer something sturdier, you can keep water sandals in your pack for when you need them. Cooling off in the river after a long journey? Yes, please. Say goodbye to soggy socks and blisters with a pair of hiking sandals. These aren’t your ordinary summer sandals. Equipped with lug soles and arch support, traverse the creeks, rivers and ponds you encounter on a summer hike. 

Hiking Outfits for Different Seasons

Now that we’ve covered many of the technical elements of hiking apparel, let’s visualize complete outfits for each season. Different times of the year require a bit of adjusting when planning on what to wear hiking. We vote you can sprinkle a bit of style in there too, so stay tuned. 

What To Wear Hiking in Winter 

Hiking is quickly becoming a popular activity and is a major influence on men’s winter fashion for 2022. Prepping for a trip with freezing or extreme weather with your buddies? You’ll need to take extra precaution when figuring out what to wear hiking in winter. Start with a thermal base layer, including long underwear. A lightweight pair will suffice if you plan on doing a lot of physical activity. You can work up a sweat quicker than you think. Move on to your mid-layers next with fleeces, flannels, hoodies and softshell jackets. It’s truly trial and error to decipher how many layers you prefer.  

Don’t forget a beanie, gloves and wool socks to keep your noggin warm and hands and feet protected from frostbite. For your final top and bottom layers? Remember the three W’s—windproof, waterproof and weatherproof. You’ll need to protect yourself from the elements with functional outer layers that will keep you warm and dry. 

What To Wear Hiking in Fall and Spring 

Eager to admire the autumnal shades of changing leaves or the first blooms after winter? No need to stress about what to wear hiking in the fall and spring. During these shoulder seasons, layers will be your best friend. Chilly mornings can turn to balmy afternoons, so you’ll want the ability to shed a clothing item or two. If you prefer to wear shorts for most of the year, consider activewear leggings worn underneath. You can take them off or put them on when the weather calls for it. Otherwise, hiking pants will do the trick.

For these cool but not quite freezing days, a fleece mid-layer is the way to go. They come in lightweight styles that are breathable and insulate even when wet. For fall, complement your natural surroundings with a fleece quarter-zip in camouflage green or chestnut brown. Explore lighter hues in the spring, such as salmon or dove blue. It’s always a bright idea to pack a waterproof shell or rain jacket, but take it up a notch. Go for a color-blocking style to level up your look.    

What To Wear Hiking in Summer 

There’s nothing like feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, and a boost in Vitamin D. When figuring out what to wear hiking in the summer, sun protection is a priority. Broad-brimmed hats keep the sun out of your face, while trucker styles with mesh backing allow increased airflow. Partner your hat of choice with polarized sunglasses to protect your peepers and, of course, don’t forget sunscreen. 

Shorts are a no-brainer when it comes to dressing for hot weather. A pair of shorts with a built-in liner is perfect for a post-hike swim. Your shoulders are very likely to burn, so go for a short-sleeve T-shirt instead of a tank top. Many performance tees are made with UPF protection to help fight against harmful ultraviolet rays. Opt for a graphic print featuring a previously conquered hike or favorite band to add personal flair. Mixing bold hues with neutrals is a serious style move. Keep an eye out for a shirt in neon yellow, tangerine orange or lime green. Searching for a waterfall? Trails that come into contact with water are always refreshing during the hottest months of the year. Grab your water sandals and splash away.

What To Wear on a Hiking Date

The beauty about hiking is that you can do it solo or with company. Even better, it’s a fantastic way to spend a first date. Mother Nature is the ultimate chaperone and ensures no awkward silences. Bonus points if you’re on a budget, as hikes are essentially free. It’s a win-win all around. Want to know what to wear on a hiking date? We’ve got a few ideas up our sleeve. 

Clothing and Style Considerations 

When deciding what to wear hiking with a potential partner, choose clothes you’re comfortable in. Always give your outfit a test run and see how you feel in it—make adjustments where you see fit. This will ensure you put your best foot forward as you embark on your hiking date. 

A pair of five-pocket pants that have stretch in a relaxed-fit silhouette is a timeless option as your anchor piece. The give is important, especially if you plan to sit on a picnic blanket to enjoy an alfresco picnic together. Hint hint: definitely do this. Pair your pants with a soft flannel shirt in seasonal colors that is cozy enough to cuddle in. Lace up a pair of hiking boots for complete outdoor vibes. Really want to dazzle your date? Use a sunrise and sunset tracker and schedule your hike around these romantic hours. You’re welcome.

Expert Style Tip: No matter the season or forecast, always pack one or two disposable rain ponchos for unexpected showers. It pays to be prepared when thinking about what to wear hiking, and your date will thank you for it. It may not be the most fashionable move, but it’ll be a cute story to tell the grandkids. 

Now that you know what to wear hiking, are you eager to conquer all the peaks and valleys you can find? If so, take your style quiz, order a Fix and ask your stylist to send hike-worthy threads. Sit back and relax while it all comes to you. Buy what you like and send back the rest. Shipping, returns and exchanges are always free. It’s as simple as that.

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