What To Wear Hiking for Every Season (And Condition)

Styling Tips

Your guide to hitting the trail in style.

Last updated: June 9, 2023
7 min read
What To Wear Hiking for Every Season (And Condition)

No matter the season, hiking is a year-round sport that many enjoy.

And, not all trails involve steep summits, narrow switchbacks and rocky terrain. Whether you're a seasoned thru-hiker, low-key loop-lover or someone who enjoys mixing things up with a groomed path one day and a challenging section the next — there's a required commonality: quality hiking gear.

(Related: The Best Winter Hiking Gear by Nike)

When you’re figuring out what to wear hiking, it's all about performance pieces that keep you dry, comfortable and protected from the elements. But also, a little aesthetic, please and thanks. After all, hiking clothes don't mean sacrificing style — yes, gorpcore.

How To Choose the Appropriate Fabrics for Your Hiking Outfits

Now, a few key things separate a good outfit for hiking from other activewear ensembles in your repertoire — and it all starts with the materials.

Thermoregulating fabrics (ranging from wool to synthetic fibers like recycled polyester) are imperative. These wick sweat away from your skin to keep your body at an even temperature, like Nike Dri-FIT items, designed to disperse moisture for quick evaporation.

You'll also want to consider the weather and dress accordingly. Prioritize sun protection by wearing darker colors or Ultraviolet Protection Factor-rated fabrics. Come rain or snow, water-repellent outerwear will shield you from getting damp. You'll also want insulation in cold weather to stay warm and comfortable. The Nike ACG collection, in particular, can help to channel your inner explorer while durably withstanding the elements and keeping cozy.

How to Curate Outfits to Hike In

Range of motion is essential when considering silhouette and fit. You'll want to wear loose-fitting garments with four-way stretch that move with you as you navigate nature's obstacles. On that note, snags and rips are often par for the course, making durability another critical feature. Tree branches, brush and so much more can wreak havoc on delicate material, so choose sturdy clothing that can withstand wear and tear.

There's also a methodology for assembling a functional and stylish hiking outfit. Think in silhouette and proportion — a slightly more fitted top pairs well with loose shorts or hiking pants, and vice versa. Hiking leggings are well-balanced with a roomier tee, boxy fleece or oversized sweatshirt. Since layering is key, consider how to transition mid- and top-layers throughout your journey easily.

Shoes, socks, hats, sunglasses and packs are all great ways to embrace bolder tones if not with your clothing. Tip: Neutrals almost always feel more versatile than zingy shades of red, yellow and lime green. If you like making a statement, go big with color-blocking or a dynamic monochromatic moment.

Now that you're ready to trek through the wild in style, scroll for five hiking outfits for different seasons and conditions — plus get the lowdown on choice shoes and gear — happy adventuring.

(Related: The Benefits of Hiking, According to Experts)

Nike Hiking Outfits for Every Season

  1. 1.Summer Hiking Outfit

    What To Wear Hiking for Every Season (And Condition)

    An ideal summer hiking outfit keeps you cool and protected. Start with a moisture-wicking top — Nike Dri-FIT options are crafted from buttery-soft fabric made with recycled polyester fibers that are also breathable — and airy bottoms, like water-repellent nylon shorts.

    Keep the vibes joyful and fun in a colorful palette suited to the season, down to accessories like trail sneakers and sunglasses. Consider going for an unexpected combo of bright, tinted shades.

  2. 2.Fall Hiking Outfit

    What To Wear Hiking for Every Season (And Condition)

    Embrace autumnal tones and cozy layers for a fall hike filled with leaf-peeping. A long-sleeved base layer is a versatile starting point — again, go with one made of sweat-wicking fabric to help regulate that body temperature. Supportive leggings with pockets are a functional bottom — perfect for stashing small snacks, your phone and extra sunscreen (a year-round essential).

    Then, layer on a made-for-movement hoodie. Consider choosing one that uses Nike Therma-FIT tech, as it helps to regulate your body temperature, so that you stay toasty amid cooler conditions — from the trailhead to the summit. Complete the look with GORE-TEX traction sneakers that hug your ankles for extra protection and warmth.

  3. 3.Spring Hiking Outfit

    What To Wear Hiking for Every Season (And Condition)

    Though budding and bright, spring can be nippy on the trails, making midweight pieces your best friend. Whether you like a short- or long-sleeved top as your foundation, a warmer layer in the mix makes all the difference. Nike Polartec fleece is just one fabric option to prioritize in your hiking repertoire. Fast-drying and ultra-breathable, this fleece helps keep you comfortable in all kinds of weather conditions, from gusty wind to morning chill.

    On the bottom, roomy yet tailored sweat-wicking pants allow for range of movement without being too baggy — not to mention a super sleek look. Colorful trail shoes and socks are a playful finish that'll tie various color combos together flawlessly.

  4. 4.Winter Hiking Outfit

    What To Wear Hiking for Every Season (And Condition)

    Cold weather doesn't mean halting your hiking adventures. Beat the brisk air with insulating pieces that withstand low temperatures, like pants made with Nike ACG Polartec fabric, a sustainably-minded option utilizing 100 percent recycled polyester fibers.

    A warm, packable, lightweight and waterproof shell is cozy on top of a long-sleeved, sweat-wicking top. Opt for a full front zip to add extra airflow as you start to heat up on the trail. A beanie will help trap in heat while protecting your ears, too.

  5. 5.Kids Hiking Outfit

    What To Wear Hiking for Every Season (And Condition)

    Keep the kiddies cute, colorful and well-protected in a layered hiking outfit. Start with a moisture-wicking long-sleeved shirt, and, in cooler conditions, add a water-resistant shell — styles made with PrimaLoft insulation will help keep them toasty.

    Loose and cozy pants with pockets are fun and functional (they can store treasures discovered on the trail). Of course, no look is complete without hiking boots. Features like durable traction soles, rubber overlays, padding around the ankles and soft foam insoles will help keep tiny toes comfy and ready to hit the trails.

  6. 6.Shoes and Gear To Consider

    What To Wear Hiking for Every Season (And Condition)

    The best hiking shoes share similar traits as your go-to athletic sneakers, like supportive fit and comfortable foam insoles. Other trail-specifics include high support at the ankles, grippy traction outsoles and waterproof GORE-TEX fabric to keep feet dry in wet weather conditions. There are also water-specific designs, from sandals to woven slip-ons, that make crossing shallow streams easier and more comfortable.

    Other gear and accessories like trail socks, hats and packs add to a successful trek. Like with hiking clothes, lightweight, durable, moisture-wicking and waterproof versions are ideal — it's all about optimal protection with the fewest ounces.

What Not To Wear Hiking

Avoid too-tight clothing that restricts movement. However, overly loose clothing is also a no-go — you don't want to risk tripping or entanglements with nature. You also want to stay protected from the sun and weather, so don't choose silhouettes that overexpose skin; if you do, bring a protective layer.

Flimsy and cotton fabrics are not ideal, either. The former leads to wear and tear, while the latter absorbs sweat and can negatively affect body temperature regulation.

Words by Laura Lajiness Kaupke

Originally published: May 31, 2023

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