There are many reasons why hiking should become your favorite fall and winter outdoor activity—mainly because it’s an excellent form of cardio that increases respiratory and heart health. It’s also shown to improve balance and strengthen muscles and bones. But unlike other forms of cardio, hiking is relatively low-impact, leisurely, and accessible for the whole family. Plus, it puts you into untamed environments, giving you an opportunity to connect with nature, recenter, and relax.
Hiking isn’t just the best way to stay fit when the weather drops—it’s also a chance to show off your unique fashion sense through fun, trendy outfits! But how exactly can you dress for hiking properly without sacrificing style? Armed with a little knowledge of currently popular styles, creativity, and the following tips, you can create trendy outfits that are perfectly suitable for outdoor activities.
Let’s be realistic—the “style” factor of your hiking outfit is your lowest priority. While there are ways to include fashionable elements (and much more on that later!), you must always ensure your clothing is functional in relation to your physical activity. But what exactly makes clothing functional? Concerning hiking, functional clothing describes garments and layers that provide optimal protection from the elements without overheating or limiting a full range of motion.
Functionality in clothing is essential for any outdoor physical activity, since they typically demand movement and endurance. However, wearing the wrong clothing and materials can actually hinder your performance and experience. Now that we know the meaning of the term functional clothing, let’s explore some examples—we’ll proceed by layer.
Seeing as fall and winter are quickly approaching, you’ll need suitable base layers that provide insulation without limiting airflow. We recommend exercise T-shirts or long sleeves, depending on how warm you get while hiking. Sports bras and workout undergarments are also preferred, although colder environments might demand long johns or undergarments made with thicker fabrics. And don’t forget your socks! You must wear high-quality socks that preferably reduce blisters, wick moisture, and insulate heat.
Your mid layer should provide more insulation compared to your base but remain thin enough to accommodate a larger outer layer. However, most fall hiking doesn’t require more than a mid-layer, especially if it’s early in the season.
Regardless, the most functional garment to place over your base is an athletic pullover or zip-up sweater. These products are often made with synthetic materials that adequately break wind and wick moisture. They’re also thin enough that you can comfortably wear a larger coat if necessary. For dryer days, wool and cotton are also suitable fabrics.
Once you’ve determined your base, mid, and out layers of garments, it’s time to select your footwear and accessories. Hiking boots are always a safe bet as they’re designed to keep you balanced even over rugged terrain and prevent moisture from contacting your foot. In some situations, hiking or running sneakers are acceptable footwear options and are potentially more comfortable for some compared to clunky boots.
As for accessories, you must consider wearing a hat (or, at the least, ear protection), scarves, and gloves. For all three of these items, we recommend finding workout-specific garments that are designed for physical activity. For easy phone access, you should also use gloves with removable or screen-compatible fingertips.
You now have a functional outfit that’s guaranteed to protect you from the elements, and hopefully bolster your hiking experience. But before we start stylizing your ensemble, it’s important to consider your comfort. Mainly, ensure all items fit properly, don’t cause irritation, and aren’t too stuffy when, layered with coats and sweaters.
Comfort is almost as important as functionality, since your comfort level will determine how the experience of your hike. We recommend softer materials like fleece and other synthetic fabrics since these are easy on the skin and still provide insulation. Avoid materials that aren’t great at absorbing or wicking moisture, as excessive sweat can weigh you down and cause discomfort and even skin injuries.
Note that many hiking- and exercise-specific clothing typically runs a size or two small, so it’s essential you find something that fits you perfectly. This might take some research; luckily, many sites (such as our own!) provide helpful sizing charts to assist your purchase. If you’re unsure of a specific product and its size, consider the material it’s made of and how that fabric typically fits on you. You can also read reviews that provide insight into how the product looks and feels in real life.
With functionality and comfort fully considered, it’s time to stylize! Creating a trendy hiking outfit is very simple and comes down to understanding what styles are popular at the moment. Let’s explore some trends you can capitalize on this fall.
Many individuals prefer yoga pants when hiking, as these garments are relatively functional and extraordinarily comfortable. They’re typically most suitable for spring, summer, and fall (winter hikes will require warmer leg coverings). But the traditional yoga pants look is tired, and it’s time to add some excitement to this style. Flared, bell-bottom, and corded yoga pants are all very popular and work great for casual hiking.
This season’s biggest clothing trend is color blocking, a fashion style that involves contrasting panels or blocks of colors that are typically bright and vibrant. Basically, each item in your outfit features a bold color that clashes against the other garments – most color-blocked outfits consist of two to three different colors. The best part about this trend is that it’s applicable to nearly any fashion style! Simply find comfortable and functional hiking clothes in bold colors and mix and match them until you have a unique, eye-catching look.
Understanding how to dress for hiking requires knowledge of clothing functionality and comfort, but dressing without sacrificing style is more up to your preferences. Ultimately, find which items make you look and feel best, and you’re guaranteed to have an amazing experience. If you’re in need of new clothing for your future hiking endeavors, check out our selection of women’s outdoor apparel here at Escape Outdoors.
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