Best Hiking Clothes for Women: What to Wear Hiking in 2022

Hiking through the desert landscape

Hiking is all about comfort. When you step foot on the trail, you should be comfortable and prepared. That all starts with the right clothing.

But you don’t just want comfort. You want the best hiking clothes for women, all at prices that don’t break the bank.

Over the years, I’ve tried my fair share of hiking tops, pants, socks, boots, gadgets. Today I’m sharing my favorite hiking gear for women! This ultimate guide to the best women’s hiking apparel will teach you:

  • What to look for in quality hiking clothes
  • Where to shop for sustainable, hiking gear
  • When to find deals on the best hiking gear for women
  • How to layer all the essential picks for ultimate hiking comfort

Looking for more hiking gear guides? Don’t miss these posts!

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All The Best Hiking Gear for Women

Now that you know what materials to look for and where and when to buy the best women’s hiking apparel, let’s dive into the details.

Breathable Undergarments

Breathable and sweat-wicking undergarments are key. For underwear, I prefer the Exofficio Give-N-Go. These breathable underwear are quick-drying and odor resistant, perfect for longer, overnight hikes.

For bras with plenty of support, I prefer the Nike Swoosh bra. This is the bra I wear for high-impact workout activities.

Moisture-Wicking, Lightweight Tops

When it comes to hiking tops, you want something that will dry out quickly and resist sweat odors. I prefer loose-fitting tops over form-fitting ones – after all, comfort is key.

My favorite hiking top is the Patagonia Cool Capilene T-Shirt. It protects you from the sun with built-in UPF sun protection and breathes easily.

It comes in both long sleeve and short sleeve versions (I have both!). This is the best alternative to your standard cotton t-shirt.

Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Shirt
Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Shirt

If you prefer to hike in tank tops, my go-to activewear tanks from Old Navy are the perfect budget option. Old Navy’s Breathe On tank lines are comfortable, breathable workout tanks perfect for hiking.

If you do choose to hike in a tank top, apply plenty of sunscreen to your shoulders. It’s also a good idea to test out your backpack ahead of time for any scratching or rubbing in uncovered areas.

Durable Hiking Pants and Shorts

For durable, rip-resistant hiking bottoms, I like the North Face Aphrodite line.

The North Face Aphrodite 2.0 pants have an elastic waistband, quick-dry technology, and resist abrasion on the trail. They also have hem drawstrings to cinch for a better fit or to keep your pants dry when crossing water.

The North Face Aphrodite Motion shorts use the same durable and quick-drying materials. These elastic waistband shorts are comfortable enough for everyday activities and practical enough for hiking (largely due to the pockets!).

North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Pants
North Face Aphrodite Motion Shorts

Your everyday workout clothing can make for good hiking bottoms as well, but won’t be quite as durable as nylon-based pants.

My favorite leggings to wear hiking are Athleta’s Elation Tights. They are ultra stretchy, compression leggings built for yoga. These leggings stretch and move with you on the trail.

My favorite workout shorts to wear on the trail are the Nike Tempo Running Shorts. These classic shorts are sweat-wicking and loose-fitting for maximum comfort.

Lightweight, Waterproof Hiking Boots

Your shoes can make or break your hike. For longer hikes or rougher terrains, I opt for hiking boots. Boots provide more stability, ankle protection, and a strong grip for scrambling rough terrains.

Look for a pair of boots that are waterproof, such as the Columbia Newton Ridge boots.

For shorter hikes, I like to wear lightweight, trail running shoes like the Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoes. You won’t be weighed down with heavy boots, but don’t lose any of the traction and grip.

If you plan to do any swimming or wading, I recommend packing a pair of waterproof sandals, like Chacos, in your hiking pack.

Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoes

Read More: 44 Must-Have Hiking Gear Picks

Insulating Long Sleeve Layers

It’s important to keep your body warm on the trail by dressing in layers. Stay insulated with merino wool or fleece layers.

My go-to hiking material is merino wool: its warmth and odor resistance can’t be beaten. For extra ventilation, I like layers that zip.

For most hikes, I prefer a midweight merino wool layer, like the REI Merino Midweight Half-Zip. This durable and lightweight layer provides plenty of warmth for mild days or early mornings.

For a more versatile layer, I opt for the Patagonia Better Sweater. This ultra-warm fleece layer is sporty enough for hikes but stylish enough to wear with jeans.

REI Midweight Merino Wool Base Layer Half Zip
Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Quarter Zip

Warm Down-Filled Jackets

For colder temperatures, down jackets are the best way to stay warm. I recommend the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Down Hoodie. This 850-fill down jacket is water-repellent and has both internal and external pockets.

Plus, this jacket comes with its own compression sack for easy packing.

For colder, below-freezing environments, opt for a down jacket with more fill (higher down fill = more warmth).

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hooded Down Jacket

Water-Repellent Rain Jackets

When it comes to rain jackets, you want to make sure you have one with Gore-Tex. This patented technology integrates waterproof, breathable fabric into the best rain jackets.

My go-to rain jacket is the REI XeroDry GTX Rain Jacket.  This jacket is longer than many on the market (which is important to tall women like me!).

It comes with core vents that provide enough breathability to avoid overheating while hiking.

REI Xerodry GTX Rain Jacket

Dry Wool Socks

Your feet are the most important body part when it comes to hiking. So protect them! Merino wool socks will dry quickly, an incredibly important factor when it comes to hiking. Wet feet = blisters = awful hiking experience.

I buy all my hiking socks from REI. Their store brand has a wide range of thicknesses and heights. When wearing my hiking boots, I prefer taller socks like the REI Midweight Hiking Crew Socks.

If you’re prone to blisters, I recommend wearing a pair of liner socks underneath your merino wool hiking socks.

The REI Merino Wool Liner Crew Socks will keep your feet dry and reduce rubbing and chafing.

Touchscreen Friendly Gloves

For colder weather, gloves are key to keeping your hands warm. Look for touchscreen-friendly gloves, like the SmartWool Liner Tech-Compatible Gloves for mild weather.

For colder days, choose the Black Diamond ScreenTap Gloves.

Read More: 12 Best Hiking Smartphone Apps

Hot and Cold Weather Hats

It’s always important to protect yourself from the sun when hiking. For a wide-brimmed sun hat that shades your neck and ears, I recommend a Stetson merino wool hat.

I prefer a baseball cap to shade my face when hiking. Just don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your ears and neck!

For colder weather, bring along a warm beanie to get your head warm. I love my REI Logo Beanie.

Stetson Merino Wool Jackson Hat
REI Lightweight Logo Beanie

UV-Protective Buff

Popularized by the TV show Survivor, Buffs are a hiker’s best friend. You can wear them seemingly infinite ways: as a headband, beanie, neck cover, face cover… the list goes on!

I like to keep my CoolNet UV+ Buff around my neck for sun protection and pull up to cover my face when needed.  It’s also great for keeping dirty hair out of your face on longer, multi-day backpacking trips!

Are you planning a hike but aren’t sure what to pack? Get this free, printable hiking gear checklist. This guide covers the 30+ items you need for your next hike, from the 10 hiking essentials to the luxury items to enjoy your adventure.

Download the free hiking gear checklist here.

What to Avoid in Hiking Clothes for Women

First things first: what not to wear. No, this section isn’t about the popular 2000s TV show – it’s about the materials to steer clear of when it comes to hiking!

When it comes to hiking, cotton is not your friend. Cotton absorbs moisture, making it heavy and smelly. Plus it takes forever to dry. While I love my oversized cotton t-shirts at home, I leave them behind when I head out for a hike.

Denim and physical activity just don’t mix. Jeans are heavy, take a full day to dry out, and are just downright uncomfortable.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Hiking for Beginners

What to Look for in the Best Women’s Hiking Clothes

When it comes to hiking apparel, quick-drying materials are your best friend. Look for materials like merino wool or polyester blends. These materials are also odor resistant!

Durability is also important, particularly for pants and outer layers. Look for durable rip-proof materials like nylon in hiking pants and jackets.

Warmth layers are crucial for colder weather. Look for insulating materials like down (or a synthetic down blend) or fleece.

The bottom line when picking hiking clothing is to look for brands you know and trust. You want to buy pieces that will last for years, hold up after many washes, and keep you comfortable on the trail.

My go-to outdoor clothing brands include Patagonia, North Face, Arc’teryx, and REI.

Read More: The Ultimate Hiking Gear Guide

How to Layer Women’s Hiking Clothes

Layering is the key to comfortable hiking. Dressing in layers allows you to strip down as it gets warm and layers back up as the temperature drops.

  1. Start with base layers over your undergarments. In colder weather, this could be a long sleeve merino wool layer underneath a breathable t-shirt and wool leggings under your hiking pants. In warmer weather, your base layer may just be your hiking top.
  2. Layer on additional insulation like your merino wool or fleece zip-up. In cold weather, your down jacket goes on over your insulation layer.
  3. Finish your layering with sun and rain protective outer shells, like a rain jacket, hat, and buff.

Where and When to Buy the Best Women’s Hiking Gear

REI

By far, my favorite outdoor retailer is REI. They have expert staff to help you pick out all your gear and apparel, plus a generous return policy! REI also provides expert advice and classes for its community at low or no cost.

REI is a member-owned co-op. Each year, members receive dividends of 10% back on all full-priced purchases.

Save more by having a specific shopping list and waiting for those items to go on sale. I rarely buy full price at REI (but if I do I get my 10% member dividend!).

REI has multiple big sales per year:

  • Winter Clearance in February
  • Anniversary Sale in May
  • Summer Clearance in June/July
  • Labor Day Sale in August/September
  • Pre-Holiday Sale in November
  • Holiday Clearance in December

REI also resells used or returned items at low rates. You can score lightly or never used items for more than half off. I have multiple lightly used pieces from REI and you’d never know they’d were preowned.

Backcountry

Backcountry is one of my favorite online retailers for outdoor gear. Their perks include free 2-day shipping on orders over $50 and simple returns.

Get great deals from Backcountry during their semi-annual sales, in February and August.

Backcountry’s bargain outlet, Steep & Cheap is my first stop when shopping for a specific item. You can get great deals on last season’s styles and save more than anywhere else.

Read More: 10 Best Outdoor Products on Amazon

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Hiking Apparel

What is the best outfit to wear when hiking?

The best outfit to wear hiking consists of comfortable pants, breathable tops, and fleece or down layers. Avoid materials like cotton and denim, instead opting for moisture-wicking materials.

What pants should a woman wear hiking?

Women can opt to wear either hiking pants or leggings. Hiking pants will provide a more durable layer, best for trails with lots of brush. Standard athletic leggings are also an option for those opting for more comfort.

Are leggings good for hiking?

Athletic leggings are great for hiking as they are breathable and comfortable. Be sure to opt for durable leggings that won’t rip or tear when hiking through brush and rocky trails.

Final Thoughts on the Best Hiking Clothes for Women

Looking for quick links to all the best hiking clothes for women? If you only have the budget for a few picks, these are my top 5 favorites:

  1. Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Shirt (Long Sleeve)
  2. Athleta Elation Tights
  3. Patagonia Better Sweater Quarter-Zip
  4. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Boots
  5. Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoes

Looking for more hiking gear guides? Don’t miss these posts!

Are you planning a hike but aren’t sure what to pack? Get this free, printable hiking gear checklist. This guide covers the 30+ items you need for your next hike, from the 10 hiking essentials to the luxury items to enjoy your adventure.

Download the free hiking gear checklist here.

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