How to Dress for Hiking and Trekking

In both cold and hot environments, some general rules apply to minimize overheating and perspiration. Huge factors when undertaking long outdoor journeys as they can pose discomfort and in some cases life-threating risks. Regardless of the specifics but more so in cold weather, clothes that wick away moisture from your body are preferable.

Base layer

  • Thermal underwear comes in three weights: light, mid, and expedition weights.
  • Avoid cotton as it traps moisture fairly easily. Having a damp cotton t-shirt can mean a lot of problems when in the cold wilderness.
  • “Wick-away” fabrics such as Merino wool, silk, goose down, or special synthetics (polyesters) will keep you dry and warm. Socks are very important. Similar wick-away proprieties are needed as to avoid blisters. Some people swear by layering socks or having an under liner sock as to prevent blister formation.

Insulating layer

  • Multiple layers allow for a better temperature control by shedding layers in accordance.
  • Choose long or short garments in correspondence to your environmental factors: long for intense sun, avoiding insects, avoiding frostbites etc.

Shell layer

  • Preferred are jackets with a water-resistant exterior, windbreak design, and if possible, a removable fleece interior for maximum versatility.
  • Choose wisely between non-breathable jackets which are durable but prone to overheating. Consider your situation, and opt for a zipper or buttoned version to increase ventilation when needed.
  • Many useful features like hoods, pockets, and vents allow further temperature regulation but also drive the price up.


  • High-top waterproof boots provide excellent ankle support and traction.
  • Head and neck insulation are almost always needed. Consider wearing a scarf, hat, or beanie for protection.
  • The best impermeable gloves come with individual cloth interior.
  • Fanny packs or larger backpacks offer room for first aid packs, flashlights, pepper spray, additional clothing, matches, food, water, a tent etc.


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