What to Wear Hiking: The Best Affordable Hiking Gear for Every Season
June 25, 2020
I'm very straightforward when it comes to outdoor gear. I don't spend hundreds of dollars on brand name equipment from expensive apparel companies. I buy items because they work, they last, and they are efficient. Over the years, I've finally narrowed my favorite hiking clothes (and some gear) for every season.
So...what do you wear hiking? Let's break it down.
This is my favorite go-to hiking top (I'm wearing the white version in the above photo). It's lightweight and has a mesh back that keeps me cool on long hikes. Honestly, I can't stop ordering different colors. It's light enough to wear as an underlayer for hikes that change in elevation and temperature. The best part? It's only $15.99.
I wear these sandals on casual short-distance hikes, but they are also great for use around town or just getting groceries. I've had my current pair for three years and they show minimal wear and tear, even after stubbornly taking them on multiple long-distance hikes over boulder fields and rocks. Once this pair goes, I'll be ordering another.
I've tried several different daypacks, but Topo Design Rover remains my favorite. It has great shoulder support, is lightweight, and looks small but has enough room for all my essentials (including camera gear). Some models also have a slot for laptops, making it completely versatile between trail and life.
I've bought $50 leggings and they work fine. These leggings are nearly 1/5 the price and do everything the more expensive pairs do. I also prefer leggings with a pocket so I can keep my phone easily accessible while out and about. They are basic leggings, nothing fancy, but get the job done. I'm wearing a pair in two of the above photos.
Uncomfortable sports bras are the WORST. I love something with good support, but that also feels weightless and can handle sweat and dirt without turning itchy or bothersome. My FITTIN sports bra is a new find, but I have to say I am quite impressed with it so far.
This is a great 1L water bottle that Josh got me for my birthday last year. It's perfect for easy day hikes. However, if you are doing longer treks (anything above three miles), I would recommend a hiking bladder or larger water bottle.
Is there anyone in the world who doesn't despise mosquitos, ticks, and black flies? If so, please make yourself known. Proven Repellent is a cleaner alternative to regular bug spray that is odorless (bonus) and can last for 12 hours (double bonus). As someone who has found dozens of ticks on her and appears to be a mosquito magnet, this is a must for me on so many levels.
It is also pet friendly, which is pretty rad.
These really turn into all-season boots and I wear them year-round (see top middle picture). In fact, this is the pair that has led me to numerous summits, including multiple state high points. I especially love taking these on muddy trails or paths that require snow/river crossings. By far the best hiking + waterproof boot I have owned.
This is really an all-season lightweight pant great for hiking, climbing, camping, or any outdoor activity. I like that they are breathable, yet keep me warm on cooler days. It's the perfect item to pair with a campfire with friends on a chilly night.
This is another item of clothing I have owned for several years and it still holding like it's brand-new. To be honest, I might have just ordered another color while grabbing this link (oops). I love that it's extremely lightweight but the perfect option for a mild fall/spring day. I also bring it as a backup layer on days with frequent temperature changes.
(psssst...the grey one pictured is currently on sale for $22.50)
These camp stoves are smaller than the palm of my hand and connect easily with gas canisters for a quick and easy dinner set up when camping. I use these every season but typically use them more in the Fall/Spring when conditions can be wet and harder to start a fire. This is also the stove where we cooked all our meals backpacking through 20 countries in Europe.
I discovered this jacket at an outdoor thrift store and it has quickly turned into my favorite piece of gear, especially out here in windy Wyoming. It traps heat and protects against the elements better than any previous jacket I have owned. It's also extremely lightweight, making it the perfect three-season piece for camping/backpacking excursions.
Wool socks are a must when hiking in colder climates. The day before we climbed Mt. Whitney I realized I forgot to pack my wool socks. In the small town of Lone Pine, California, I headed into an outdoor store and reluctantly forked over $30 for a single pair of socks. Now, don't get wrong, they're a nice pair of socks that I still wear often. However, I love my $15 wool socks just as much.
I've had these mittens for around five years and they've held up through winter hikes, snowboarding trips, and even Michigan polar vortexes. I also love that they have plenty of room inside for handwarmers, just in case you need a little bit of extra heat.
That's it! Pretty simple and straight forward. Do you have a favorite piece of hiking gear? Drop a link in the comments for others to try.
At any given moment, Shalee is either lost, hunting for ice cream, or obsessively planning her next adventure.
Born and raised in rural Michigan, she began exploring the shores of Great Lakes as a teen, often sleeping in her car to save money. Eventually, her urge to explore pushed beyond her Midwest borders. Today, Shalee shares her tips and stories to thousands of readers interested in adventure and outdoor tourism. Her pack now includes two spunky hiking cats and her partner, Josh. Learn more about her here.