Learn what to wear hiking in the fall with this step-by-step guide that will ensure you are comfortable, warm, and stylish the next time you head out for a beautiful hike!
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How Should I Dress For a Hike?
Hiking is a popular activity that is loved by many, and it’s no surprise. There’s nothing like being out in nature, breathing in the fresh air, and getting in a good workout at the same time.
Whether you are a total newbie or an avid hiker, there are always trails to suit your skill level and when it comes to outfits… the sky’s the limit!
The fall season often bring cooler temperatures and rain so if you are headed for a hike it’s important to dress appropriately for warmth and comfort. That way you won’t need to focus on anything but the trail and the views.
Start with Base Layers
Because temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit from morning to evening in the fall months it’s best to dress in layers. That way if you are starting your hike early, you can remove layers as the temperature rises, but if you happen to encounter rain, or a cloudier day, you’ll have the extra insulation necessary.
Below are some of the base layers you can choose from, although I’d say a bra, socks, and underwear are a must (unless you are a fan of commando… I’m not judging!), then you can add on a tank top, t-shirt, or long-sleeve as your base layer.
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Sports Bra: Choose a comfortable sports bra that is made with soft sweat-wicking fabric. There’s nothing more annoying than having “the girls” bouncing around unnecessarily when scaling the terrain. The Zella Live-In Racerback is a great option, or the Energy Bra from Lululemon.
Underwear: Just like a good bra, comfortable undies are a must for a fall hike. You want a pair that is also breathable, with sweat-wicking fabric, and fits snug (but not too snug). The Icebreaker Hipkini’sare great, or you can go with a thong version like the Icebreaker Siren Thong.
Socks: A must-have base layer, a good pair of socks goes a long way on a hike. These McGregor Merino Wool Socks are made with fine wool and are warm but not too thick that your hiking boots will feel overly tight.
Tank Top or T-Shirt: If you are hiking earlier in the fall and the temperature is expected to get warmer, having a t-shirt under your jacket is a good idea. The Zella Haven Oversized T-shirt is airy and breathable, or you can opt for the more fitted Zella Method Rib Tank.
Add a Jacket, Vest, or Flannel
Once you have figured out your base layers you can begin adding more top layers as needed. If it’s a warmer day you might only need a vest over your long-sleeve, or you might opt for a cozy flannel you can tie around your waist if needed. If it’s later in the fall, a jacket or fleece might be your best bet. Here are some top layers to choose from.
Puffer Vest: Vests are great because they keep you warm without making you feel too hot or sweaty, especially when you are on a vigorous hike. The Patagonia Nano Puffer vest is warm, water-proof, and wind resistant. It’s a great layer that can be thrown over a long sleeve, or wear it under a packable jacket for extra warmth.
Flannel Shirt: I love the look of flannel and there’s something about it that just has a fall vibe. But, aside from the super cute look, it also functions as an extra layer of warmth and can be easily tied around your waist if you are feeling too hot. The Filson Alaskan Guide Shirt, Patagonia Fjord Flannel, or the Volcom Plaid to Meet U Flannel are all great options.
Packable Jacket: A lightweight (but still warm) waterproof packable jacket is a perfect layering option for hiking. It can easily be rolled up and put into your backpack and pulled out if it starts to rain or you venture into a damp wooded area. The Northface Venture 2 Packable Jacket or L.L. Bean Half-Zip Anorak are perfect choices.
Fleece Pullover: I love a good, cozy pullover. If a vest or flannel doesn’t provide the warmth you need for a hiking trip in late fall, wear a fleece pullover or zip-up over your base layer (and put a packable jacket in your backpack just in case!). I love the Patagonia Re-Tool Half-Zip Pullover, the Shelled Retro-X Pullover, or the Retro Pile Fleece Marsupial.
Pick a Pair of Bottoms
If you are wondering what to wear hiking for fall you’ll of course think about the best choice of pants. I prefer leggings any time I hike simply because they are so comfortable. But, it’s also a good idea to have a water-proof option because sometimes it rains in the fall and it can be cold and wet, especially if you happen to slip and fall on your butt!
Leggings: If you are going the leggings route I recommend choosing a full-length thicker pair of leggings that have some warmth to them. The Zella Live-In Leggings are a fan favourite or the Lululemon Wunder Under Leggings are a suitable option as well.
Pants: When it comes to pants you can go with a cargo style pant that has extra pockets for things you might need along your hike (ie. granola bar and cell phone) like the Patagonia Simul Alpine Pants or a more simple pair like the Patagonia Happy Hike Studio Pants.
Lace Up Your Hiking Boots
Probably one of the most important hiking items is a solid pair of hiking shoes. Because the terrain can be slippery and wet in the fall it’s best to go with a pair of hiking boots (as opposed to hiking specific shoes or sandals). The higher rise of boots will help keep your feet warm and prevent water (or possibly snow!) from getting in.
Comfort truly is key when it comes to footwear for hiking so don’t be afraid to try on many pairs until you find the right fit. Here are some great options:
Lowa Renegade Hiking Boots (I love these, and while they are an investment, I’ve owned mine for several years and they are holding up incredibly well).
Are you on a tight budget? Check out my 10 Best Hiking Boots Under $100!
Finish with Accessories
Last but not least, accessorize with these essentials to and you’ll be fully dressed and set for your fall hike!
Backpack: Make sure you have a handy backpack to bring along snacks, a first-aid kit, extra supplies, and you’ll have a place to pack those extra layers should you remove them on the hike. The Northface Isabella Backpack is great!
Insulated Hot/Cold Water Bottle: Water, tea, …coffee and Baileys? Whatever you decide to bring along for a beverage an insulated water bottle will keep it the temperature it’s supposed to be. On a fall hike you might want a drink that will give you that extra warmth. An insulated bottle will keep it nice and toasty.
I hope you are inspired with ideas for what to wear hiking in fall! Be sure to pin the photo below to save this post for later.
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