What to Wear When Hiking in Summer: Your Essential Guide

Summer is a great time to go on outdoor trips, and hiking is one of the most popular things to do. However, choosing the right cloths to wear for hiking in summer is crucial to ensure comfort, protection, and overall enjoyment during your outdoor excursions. This guide will explore the essential apparel and accessories you should consider when planning your summer hiking wardrobe.

Due to the high temperatures and increased exposure to the sun, hiking in the summer brings particular obstacles. Comfort, safety against sun damage, and avoiding heat-related disease are all enhanced by clothing suited to the climate. Let’s look at what matters most when picking out summer hiking gear.

Importance of Appropriate Clothing for Hiking in Summer

Wearing suitable clothing while hiking in summer is essential for several reasons. First and foremost, it helps regulate your body temperature and prevents overheating. Additionally, proper hiking apparel provides protection from the sun, reduces moisture buildup, and enhances overall comfort during prolonged outdoor activities. Choosing the right clothing can optimize your hiking experience and ensure a memorable and safe journey.

Considerations for Choosing Hiking Apparel

Breathability and Moisture-Wicking Fabrics

When selecting clothing for summer hiking, prioritize breathability and moisture-wicking properties. Fabrics like nylon, polyester, and merino wool are excellent choices as they allow air circulation, enhance sweat evaporation, and keep you dry. Avoid cotton clothing as it retains moisture, leading to discomfort and potentially dangerous conditions such as chafing or hypothermia.

Sun Protection

During summer hikes, it’s important to keep your face safe from UV rays. Choose clothes with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) built-in, or wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts and trousers to keep the sun off your skin. Don’t ignore putting sunblock on your face, neck, hands and any other uncovered parts of your body.

Layering for Temperature Regulation

Even though it’s hot outside, temperatures can fluctuate during your hike, especially in higher elevations or shaded areas.

hikers dressing while hiking in summer

Dressing in coatings allows you to adjust to changing conditions. Begin with a moisture-wicking base layer, add a lightweight mid-layer for insulation if needed, and top it off with a breathable, quick-drying jacket.

Proper Footwear

Choosing the right footwear is crucial for a comfortable and safe hiking experience. Invest in hiking boots or shoes that offer good ankle support, traction, and stability. Look for breathable and water-resistant materials to keep your feet dry and blister-free. Trail running shoes are also suitable for lighter hikes on well-maintained trails.

Comfortable and Functional Accessories

In addition to clothing, don’t overlook the importance of accessories for a successful hiking trip. Cover your face and head from the sun by donning a wide-brimmed hat or cap. Choose sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from harmful rays and enhance visibility. Opt for lightweight and breathable socks to minimize friction and prevent blisters. A backpack with proper ventilation will help keep you cool and comfortable, and trekking poles can provide extra strength and reduce strain on your joints.

What to Wear on the Upper Body When Hiking in Summer

Moisture-Wicking T-shirts

As a first step, put on a T-shirt that will keep you dry. These breathable tops are ideal for long days on the trail because they keep you dry and relaxed by drawing moisture away from your skin. Try to find shirts with underarm vents or mesh panels to increase airflow.

Lightweight Long-Sleeve Shirts

Lightweight long-sleeve shirts made from breathable fabrics are excellent for added sun protection. They shield your arms from the sun while allowing air circulation to prevent overheating. Roll up the sleeves or choose shirts with roll-up tabs for versatility in changing conditions.

Breathable and Quick-Drying Jackets

Carry a lightweight, packable jacket that protects against sudden temperature changes or unexpected rain showers. Look for jackets with breathable membranes that allow heat and moisture to escape while keeping you dry. Choose those with adjustable hoods and cuffs for added convenience.

What to Wear on the Lower Body While Summer Hiking

Lightweight and Quick-Drying Shorts

If the weather permits, opt for lightweight and quick-drying shorts for maximum freedom of movement and ventilation. Look for shorts with multiple pockets to store essentials such as a trail map, sunscreen, or snacks.

Convertible Hiking Pants

Convertible hiking pants are a versatile option for switching between pants and shorts.

convertible hiking pants to wear while summer hiking

These pants feature zip-off legs, making them convenient for unpredictable weather or when encountering different terrains during your hike.

Moisture-Wicking Leggings or Tights

For added warmth during cool mornings or higher elevations, consider wearing moisture-wicking leggings or tights under your shorts or convertible pants. These provide insulation while still allowing flexibility and moisture management.

Choosing the Right Footwear

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots offer excellent ankle support and protection for more rugged trails. Opt for boots made from breathable and water-resistant materials with a durable outsole for traction. Ensure a proper fit and break them in before your hike to avoid discomfort and blisters.

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are a popular choice for day hikes or less demanding terrains. They provide a balance between ankle support, stability, and comfort.

Hiking Shoes to Wear When Hiking in Summer

Look for shoes with breathable uppers, cushioned midsoles, and grippy outsoles for optimal performance.

Trail Running Shoes

For light and fast hiking and adventures on well-maintained trails, trail running shoes is a suitable alternative. They are great for hikers who choose agility above stability, as they are lightweight, comfortable, and have good traction.

Essential Accessories for Summer Hiking

Wide-brimmed Hat or Cap

During summer treks, it is essential to protect your face and head from the sun. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap to shade your face, neck, and ears. Look for hats with UPF protection and breathable materials for maximum comfort.

Sunglasses with UV Protection

Invest in high-quality sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from harmful rays. Polarized lenses can reduce glare and enhance visibility, especially when hiking near water or in high-altitude environments.

Lightweight and Breathable Socks

If you want to avoid blisters and keep your feet feeling great, picking out the appropriate socks is a must. Socks made from merino wool or an artificial blend that are able to drain away moisture should be your material of choice. For further protection against friction, liner socks may be worn under regular socks.

Backpack with Proper Ventilation

A well-ventilated backpack is essential for carrying your hiking essentials while keeping your back cool and dry.

lightweight backpack to wear for hiking in summer

Look for backpacks with mesh panels or airflow systems that allow air circulation and minimize sweat buildup.

Trekking Poles

Trekking poles provide stability and balance and reduce strain on your legs and joints, particularly during uphill climbs or when navigating uneven terrain. Adjustable poles allow customization based on your height and the trail conditions.

Sunscreen and Bug Repellent

Don’t forget to apply sunscreen with a high SPF rating to exposed skin before and during your hike. Additionally, protect yourself from pesky insects using a reliable bug repellent that is safe for outdoor use.

Dressing Appropriately for Different Trail Conditions

Hot and Dry Environments

In hot and dry environments, prioritize clothing that offers maximum breathability and sun protection. Opt for lightweight and loose-fitting apparel in light colours to reflect the sun’s heat. Don’t forget to drink a quantity of water and take breaks in shaded areas to avoid dehydration.

Humid and Rainy Conditions

When hiking in humid and rainy conditions, choose quick-drying clothing that can handle moisture. Consider waterproof or water-resistant jackets and pants to keep you dry during unexpected downpours. Pack a poncho or a waterproof backpack cover to protect your gear.

High-Altitude Hiking

Temperatures can be cooler for high-altitude hiking, and UV radiation is more intense. Dress in layers to accommodate temperature changes and wear clothing that provides insulation while allowing breathability. Don’t forget to protect your skin with sunscreen and wear sunglasses to reduce glare from snow or ice.

Safety Considerations


Staying hydrated is crucial when hiking in summer. Carry adequate water and drink regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Consider using a hydration bladder or water bottles with built-in filters for convenience.

Emergency Essentials

Bring along a first aid kit, a whistle, a flashlight, and a multi-tool, just in case. Learn the fundamentals of first aid and become familiar with your hiking route, including any potential dangers.

Leave No Trace Principles

Respect nature and minimize your environmental impact by following Leave No Trace principles. Pack out any trash, stay on designated trails, and be mindful of wildlife and their habitats. Leave the trail as you discovered it for future hikers to enjoy.


Wearing the right clothing can enhance your experience when venturing for a summer hike. Prioritize comfort, protection, and functionality when selecting your hiking apparel and accessories. Remember to choose moisture-wicking and breathable fabrics, protect yourself from the sun, and dress in layers for temperature regulation. Consider the trail conditions and safety precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure. Happy hiking!


Can I wear cotton clothing for hiking in the summer?

It is advisable to avoid wearing cotton clothing for summer hiking as it retains moisture, leading to discomfort and potentially dangerous conditions.

Should I wear long pants or shorts for hiking in the summer?

Choosing between long pants and shorts depends on personal preference and the trail conditions. Shorts offer better ventilation, while long pants provide sun protection and additional coverage against bugs or abrasions.

What type of socks are best for summer hiking?

Merino wool socks, or a synthetic blend that can efficiently wick away sweat, are excellent choices. If you want extra protection against blisters and irritation, liner socks are a good idea.

How often should I reapply sunscreen while hiking?

Every two hours or more, usually if you are sweating heavily or swimming, you should reapply sunscreen. For maximum safety, read and follow all sunscreen package recommendations.

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