My Favorite Hiking Tops & Pants

With myriad choices in hiking clothing, it’s important to choose what to wear based on function and comfort. There are my favorite hiking tops and pants that I’ve used and recommend.

Long-sleeve tops

Long Sleeve Shirts for Hiking

Most of the time, I wear long sleeve tops for hiking and backpacking for the sun protection they provide. They also help to keep mosquitoes and ticks away from your skin.

Mountain Hardwear Long Sleeve Half-Zip: Super soft against the skin, this synthetic top feels good to wear day after day. Features include a half-zip for ventilation, flatseam construction, and thumbholes.

REI Co-op Sahara Shade HoodieWith 50+ UPF protection, this hoodie will keep you cool in hot weather. The fabric is super soft and stretchy and features antimicrobial treatment to inhibit odors. The longer hem provides good coverage, especially when worn with leggings.

REI Co-op Plaid ShirtI wear this long-sleeve button-down shirt during the hottest part of the summer. It fits loosely to allow for air flow to keep me cool, and it’s difficult for mosquitoes to bite through the woven fabric. It also has UPF 50+ for sun protection, two chest pockets, plus a hidden pocket on the side seam.

Short-sleeve tops

Short Sleeve Shirts for Hiking

REI Co-op Swiftland Running T-shirtThis ultralight polyester t-shirt is made from a stretchy mesh fabric that wicks sweat and dries fast to keep you cool on the trail. Features include flatseam construction, underarm gussets and side vents for comfort. Fair Trade certified manufacturing and made from bluesign®-approved materials.

REI Co-op Sahara T-shirt: The Sahara t-shirt is made from a polyester/spandex blend for soft, comfortable stretch. Features include an antimicrobial treatment that inhibits odors, and UPF 30 sun protection. I like the looser fit of this top and longer length.

Hiking Pants

Hiking Pants

I prefer to wear long pants when hiking for protection from the sun and insects as well as from abrasions when scrambling over rocks or logs. These pants vary in thickness and wind/rain resistance and each has it’s place on trail.

Prana’s Halle Straight hiking pantsThese are my favorite for hiking and backpacking – so much so that I own five pairs in different colors. They have a slim profile and don’t have that ‘hiking pant’ look, so they look great on the trail or in the city. They fit a bit lower on the waist that other pants, which works well when wearing a hip belt on a backpack. The fabric is abrasion resistant, has a water repellent finish, and is stretchy – perfect for easy movement on trail, rocks, or wherever you need to go. And in warmer weather, roll up the legs and use the included straps to snap them in place for capri length pants.

Sizes: 00-16, inseam short 28″, regular 30″, tall 34″
Fabric: 97% Nylon / 3% Spandex

Kuhl Innovair Skinny hiking pantsMade for outdoor activity, but they are also good-looking pants that are great for wearing anytime. As the name implies, the fit is slim, especially on the lower legs. The fabric is lightweight with UPF 50+ sun protection, and they have zippered pockets on the front and back. My favorite feature is the flat snap closure, which works well when worn under a hip belt and is easy to open and close.

Sizes: 0-16, inseam 28″, 30″, 32″
Fabric: 96% Nylon, 4% Spandex

Mountain Hardwear’s Dynama pantsThe Dynama pants have a stretchy and wide yoga-style waistband, so there are no zippers, buttons or snaps to get in the way of comfort. The fabric is a lighter weight stretchy material and has a DWR finish to repel water (although they are not waterproof). The two pockets in front and two in back are on the small side but are handy for carrying smaller items, and the bottoms roll up easily without being too bulky for when you’d rather wear capris or short length pants.

Sizes: XS-XL, inseam: short, regular, long
Fabric: nylon and spandex with DWR finish

REI Co-op Activator Soft-Shell PantsMade with a heavier soft-shell fabric, these stretchy hiking pants are wind and water resistant, perfect for hiking in cold weather. The Activator pants feature zipped hand pockets and back pockets, articulated knees, and are made using bluesign®-approved materials.

Sizes: XS – XL
Fabric: 63% nylon/26% polyester/11% spandex with DWR finish

Leggings

Leggings for Hiking

I don’t wear leggings often when hiking unless the weather is bit a on the cooler side since I tend to get too hot in them. I also never wear them when mosquitoes are out since they can bite right through the fabric. However, leggings are extremely comfortable to wear and these are my favorites for hiking.

SmartWool Merino Sport Fleece Wind TightsThese heavyweight wool tights are made from responsibly sourced merino wool with synthetic windproof panels on the front. Features include a drawcord on the interior waist, reflective elements, side zippers at the leg bottoms, and flatseam construction for comfort. I wear these when hiking in the winter for extra warmth with the wicking qualities of wool for staying dry.

Prana Becksa 7/8 LeggingsBecksa leggings are made for more than yoga moves. Features include high-raise waist, side pockets, and UPF 50+ fabric for sun protection.

Craft Pro Hypervent Running LeggingsThe Hypervent leggings are highly ventilated with mesh panels for use in hot weather. Features include a medium-high waistband, zippers at the bottom of each leg, and a concealed back pocket.

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