My Clothing & Outerwear for Hiking & Backpacking
Since every ounce counts when carrying a loaded backpack, I take as few clothing items as possible, relying on layering techniques instead of bringing extra items for each day.
Clothing for hiking
These are a few of my favorite clothing items for hiking, although I have many others that I also use, these are the items that I use the most.
- Women’s Butterlicious Long Sleeve Half-Zip
Super soft against the skin, this synthetic top feels good to wear day after day.
- Icebreaker merino wool short sleeve top
Great for warm weather hiking, this top has airy mesh panels for ventilation.
- Prana Halle Straight Pants
My favorite hiking pants! The fabric is super stretchy, the fit is slim, and they look just as good in the city as in the backcountry.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Socks
Socks are one of the few things that are good to have in multiples for backpacking. I like to take three pair: two are for hiking, and one pair is for sleeping. Darn Tough socks are extremely durable. I’ve yet to get a hole in any of these, but if I do, they have a lifetime warranty.
- Patagonia Women’s Barely Bra
Yay! A sports bra that doesn’t bind, create a uniboob, or pull your arm out of its socket to get it off. The fabric is soft, wicks well, and doesn’t feel restrictive the way most bras do.
- Patagonia Womens Active Mesh Boy Shorts Underwear
I only take one extra pair of underwear on backpacking trips. It’s simple to wash them at camp and they dry fast so you always have a clean pair to wear. These are so comfortable, plus combined with the bra, they make a great backcountry bikini!
Base layers for sleeping
- Icebreaker Merino Wool Oasis Crew Long Underwear Top
I wear this soft merino wool top for sleeping, and if it’s really cold while hanging around at camp at night, it can be worn as an extra layer.
- Columbia OmniHeat leggings
Synthetic leggings lined with silver dots to reflect body heat, these are my favorite base layer pants for sleeping in (or wearing under hiking pants in cold weather).
- Outdoor Vitals Loktek Jacket
This unisex synthetic jacket is feature-packed at a low price: it has an adjustable hood, pit zips, hand pockets, thumbholes, and a DWR finish to resist rain. This is my jacket of choice for day hikes.
- Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
This hooded down jacket is extremely lightweight, provides a lot of warmth, and layers well with an outer shell due it’s trim shape. This jacket goes with me on every backpacking trip.
- Columbia Glacial Half Zip Fleece Top
I only take this fleece top on super cold weather trips or hikes in the winter.
- NW Alpine Spider Hoody
Made with Polartec grid fleece, this top will keep you toasty warm in cold weather. Features include a hood, thumb loops, and a chest pocket.
- Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket
At just over 5 ounces, this is one of the lightest rain jackets available and it goes with me on every backpacking and hiking trip, regardless of the forecast. It’s also great for protection from high winds.
- Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants
These rain pants feature 2.5 layer Pertex-Shield+ fabric, have ankle zippers, an elastic waist, and they stuff into the back pocket for storing in your pack. I only take these rain pants if there is rain in the forecast.
- Mountain Hardwear Super Chockstone Hooded Jacket
I wear this soft shell jacket while day hiking in cool weather, but don’t take it on backpacking trips. This jacket is more breathable than a rain jacket but won’t cause overheating as easily as an insulated jacket.
I always take a light pair of gloves on every backpacking trip regardless of weather. It’s not uncommon for it to be much colder at night or in the morning, especially when taking photos of the stars at night. I like gloves with sensors so you can use them with a touchscreen without taking them off.
- lightweight gloves: Outdoor Research Melody Sensor Gloves (1.4 oz)
My favorite gloves! They are lightweight and the sensor part works very well with my iPhone.
- rain mitts: Borah Gear eVent Rain Mitts (1 oz)
I wear these waterproof rain mitts over lightweight gloves when hiking in the rain.
I tend to rely on the hoods on jackets and like to wear a trucker hat to keep the sun out of my eyes, but having a beanie is great for keeping my head warm at night when I’m sleeping since my quilt doesn’t have a hood.
I’m a complete convert to trail running shoes over hiking boots, and I’m not a runner. My feet used to get overheated and sore easily on hikes, with my toes squished in the typical toe box of a boot. Most trail running shoes use mesh on the top and sides of the shoe, and have a wider toe box to give your feet a more natural alignment when hiking. I find that the zero drop feature has relieved the pain I used to feel in the balls of my feet. Zero drop means that the toes and the heel are at the same height, with no “drop” for the toes. I even wear them when crossing streams. The mesh allows the water to drain out, and the shoes dry quickly. Bonus: there’s no need for camp shoes since these are so comfy to wear. I loosen the laces for wearing around camp and to make them easier to slip on and off. So, after wearing these on a few hikes, I retired my hiking boots.
- Altra Olympus Trail Running Shoes
These are my favorite hiking shoes. Olympus zero drop trail runners have a high stack height… perfect for keeping your feet from tiring on long trail days, especially on rocky trails.
- Saucony Peregrine Trail Running Shoes
These Saucony Peregrines are very comfortable right out of the box, extremely lightweight, and have the best traction of any hiking boot or shoe I’ve ever worn. They provide great support, even for backpacking with a 30 pound load.