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What’s better than hitting the hiking trail with a pal, getting in all your steps while enjoying the great outdoors? How about having all that along with one of those hiking outfits you’ve admired on other women, maybe with flattering pants that wick perspiration and a breathable T-shirt situation? Along with the right belt bag, water bottle and other hiking gear, of course. We’ve polled staff, interviewed experts, mined reviews and trail-tested some top hiking clothes for women for you below.
Hiking Clothes for Women at a Glance
Meet the Experts
What to Wear on a Hike in Summer
“A wicking shirt with UPF is a must,” says McClain. “Also, a long sleeve, hooded sun shirt with thumbholes, keeps the sun off the skin and provides shade with a ball cap and hood on.” That, a pair of shorts and a day pack, and she’s off.
“In summer, I’m always reaching for a water-wicking shirt, and I’m also looking for light yet durable bottoms,” says Hastings. “I run hot and personally prefer shorts, but whether you want short or long bottoms, I find it’s important to strike that balance of a light, comfortable material on your bottom half that still holds up to scrapes with rocks.”
What to Wear on a Hike in Fall
For fall, Hastings says the key to hiking comfort is a solid mid-layer. “It should be easy to take on and off and add warmth, because you’ll get quite warm hiking, but the cooler fall temperatures can chill you quickly when you stop. For me, it’s a full-zip fleece.”
What Not to Forget on Your Hike
Don’t forget to bring the essential safety gear (compass, headlamp, itinerary tucked under your front seat). Also, don’t forget these essentials:
The bestselling lightweight Pegasus shoe in a water-repellent Gore-Tex package, these shoes are a lightweight alternative to hiking boots that still keep rocks and water away from your feet. That’s thanks to the higher-than-usual ankle gaiter, also made of Gore-Tex, that keeps splashes at bay. All this, in 10 of the dynamic color combos the Nike shoe design team is known for.
This super-lightweight trail hat keeps your face and neck shaded without slowing you down. In sunbaked clay and black, the hat’s small enough to fold into quarters and tuck into a back pocket or fanny pack, and resilient enough to withstand beating sun or whipping winds.
In all-over leopard print, this longline sports bra brings the style without sacrificing support. The racerback design is comfortable, the high neck looks good under layers and the whole bra is cute and covered up enough to wear on its own for when you forgot to start back on the trail before the sun got too high.
"Prana makes my favorite hiking pants" says PureWow fashion editor Abby Hepworth, and the Halle II is a natural choice for her because it not only has technical chops (lightweight recycled nylon fabric, articulated seams at the knees, zippered pockets), it looks great from the trail to a dinner with friends. Darn Tough sock brand stategist Jenny Hastings says when temperatures drop, she opts for these pants “which have snaps so you can roll them up—right amount of durability, comfort and stretch.”
“I was able to wear this sun defense shirt in the summer to protect my skin from harsh rays and stay cooled off,” says PureWow commerce editor Liv Dubyak, who wears the top to hike the foothills of the Rockies. “The material is very thin, and it has a max UPF 50+ protection.” In blush, aqua blue and goldenrod hues, this long-sleeved top manages to be both attractive (that’s the princess seams and lightweight material) and utilitarian. The anti-NIR (near infrared reflection) yarn keeps you covered, without bulk.
I have these in olive, and wish I’d gotten them in every color, since they are the perfect wear-everywhere summer shorts for blazing hot weather. Utility-sized pockets close with Velcro and there’s a wide-ish waist band that comfortable sits on your true waist or can be pulled down. The wide legs accommodate muscular legs such as mine without binding, and the nylon is practically indestructible. Finally, since the hem is straight across, not tapered on the side seam like so many sports shorts, these are even appropriate to wear with a cute top and sandals for a lunch date.
“Comfy and fits perfectly, no worries about being ‘bugged’ on the trails” says one reviewer about this garment treated with permethrin, a bug repellent derived from the chrysanthemum flower. (The CDC says it’s safe for clothing, but not appropriate as a bug spray.) Made of mostly polyester, so it’s quick-drying, with cotton and a touch of spandex thrown in, you can just throw this simple-looking T-shirt in the washer and dryer, and the repellent mojo stays put.
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The Platonic ideal of fluffy and fitted, this vest is “perfect for fall and winter hikes,” says PureWow commerce editor Liv Dubyak. “It has a good amount of warmth without overheating your midsection and it feels super lightweight. I also love that it hugs my shape, so I don’t look like a box.”
Part of Lululemon’s inaugural hiking collection, this oversized shirt is the shacket of your tech bro dreams. It has shirttails, so it looks like a borrowed man’s top, and the small grid texture of the material is actually an airy and breathable lightweight fleece that’s sewn inside out, so the sleek outer surface is visible. The big hand pockets include a slot to keep your phone separate.
One reviewer sums up the multi-purpose appeal of this 21 7/10-inch square piece of printed cotton better than we ever could: “A knife and a bandana are the foundation of my everyday carry, and these bandanas are the BEST. Stumble upon a patch of ripe berries? Bundle them up safe. Camping out and forgot filters for sun tea? Bandana tea sachet. Pop down the corner store without a face covering? Instant mask. Got a little sweatier than expected? Sop yourself up, rinse it out, then make a cooling neck compress. Just need a cute accessory to top off your look? Got it right here, fifty different ways. This bandana in particular is lightweight, washable and durable….Seriously, this bandana’s the best cute x utilitarian accessory out there.”
waistband pocket, make these handy on the trail, as does the carabiner loop. And the zip-off sections of the legs keep you as cool as you like, since you can make these into shorts or crop pants. Finally, the bungee cinch cuffs let wearers cinch the legs closed to keep out insects or pests, then uncinch to pull the pants off.
The heat-regulating and odor-controlling properties of wool are blended with nylon, so these socks are pleasantly lightweight for warmer weather. Made by Darn Tough, a Vermont-based sock company that makes all its socks in America and guarantees them for life, these socks have the look and performance of their brand’s Yankee authenticity, but with a contemporary design update—the micro-crew length is a little shorter than most long crew socks. These land somewhere between your ankle and mid-calf, long enough to tuck your pants in if you like, but not so long they bunch up at the ankle.
This New Zealand-based company is committed to the concept of layering with natural fibers as a way of protecting against the elements. Still, we’re happy about the large percentage of nylon in this pair of socks, since it makes them super-thin and comfy for sweaty feet on hot hikes. The reinforced footbed is durable and the mid-rise cuff is suitable for low-rise hiking footwear or boots. And they’re hyper-designed—the top of the footbed has a ventilation ‘breathe zone,” the instep is supported for stability and each foot has its own custom-designed toe box.
Buy it ($23)
The classic outdoors outfitter, Portland-based Columbia, gets hip to the color-block trend with 13 colorways of this lightweight and well-priced zip-front hoodie. A wardrobe essential for windy, drizzly trails and beyond, this jacket folds/rolls to take up next to no space in a backpack but unfurls to keep you dry with a hood, elastic cuffs, drawstring bottom and two zippered hand pockets. (Because you don’t want a sudden downpour to soak your phone and keys.)
Fast-drying and lightweight, this polyester knit dress slips on overhead and, after stepping into the color-coordinated inner shorts, you’re ready to hit the trail in a way that’s cool and simply chic. Stretch panels on either side of the dress keep it moving with you, without being too clingy, and the UPF 50+ fabric keeps you covered. Plus, there are a plethora of pockets: Two zippered pockets to keep your phone intact on the dress, plus two more pockets on the shorts. And we appreciate the high waist on the shorts for tummy control.
Use pockets, but don’t want to look weighted down? This pair of shorts has two large rear pockets secured by Velcro and two side zip pockets. “It has been a while since I found some really great all-purpose shorts,” writes one reviewer. “Great for working out and going to town. Flattering fit. Great length for adult women. Fabric retains shape but isn't stiff. Zip pockets are a great bonus. I bought several colors!” Bonus: The side-split hem design is subtly sporty and flattering.
“If you suffer from any foot issues this is the sandal for you. I have plantar fasciitis and I walked all over Jerusalem and hiked across the Negev desert in this sandal,” says one reviewer. This shoe is equally comfy in the rain or a creek bed, since the waterproof construction just keeps holding, even underwater.
This padded hoodie pullover looks like a cream puff but wears like iron—just machine wash it and hang to dry and it’s good as new. A series of snaps keeps the neckline closed over your chest and a funnel color keeps the cold out. It’s water-resistant, too.
This midweight fleece is a classic cold-weather layering piece that looks as good on the trail a it does with a casual fit. Zippered pockets include one on the chest and two hand pockets, and in case of on those zippers sticks, you can contact Patagonia to fix them.
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<em>Why You Should Trust Us</em>
Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space. Suitcases to sex toys, she's got an opinion on what's best. Dana is based in Los Angeles; her work has also appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue and The New York Times. Check her out on Instagram and LinkedIn.
PureWow is the best friend you never had when it comes to finding the best, most useful lifestyle products online. Founded in 2010, our company’s editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which ones are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series, which sees each and every item we test being ranked on a 100-point scale of awesomeness, to the painstakingly curated lists our fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family editors create as vertical experts, you can trust that our recommendations include some of the greatest items you’ll find on the internet. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.
Why You Should Trust Us
PureWow's editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series (where we rank items on a 100-point scale) to our painstakingly curated lists of fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family picks, you can trust that our recommendations have been thoroughly vetted for function, aesthetics and innovation. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.