What To Wear Hiking In Hot Weather: The Ultimate Guide

Hiking is a fun, all-year-round activity. Some trails are just meant to be hiked in snowy weather, while others are perfect for hikes in warm weather. But let us tell you this – nothing can lift your spirits as much as hiking on a sunny day when there is no cloud in sight.

If you are just a beginner hiker, the chances are that you are still trying to figure out what to wear hiking in hot weather. This ultimate guide will tell you everything on the topic, so make sure you stick around and learn more about it.

1. Clothing

When hiking in hot weather, it can be very easy to become dehydrated or suffer from heat exhaustion. Aside from the obvious fact that you need to drink enough water, you also need to know the proper clothing that you need to take for this type of weather.

The proper clothing will let your skin breathe and stay as cool as possible. At the same time, it will protect you from the sun’s rays, and it will make sure that the sweat and moisture are wicked away from your body. Let’s see exactly what kind of equipment combines all of these things, starting with the shirts.

1.1 Shirts

When hiking in hot weather, it is always a good idea to take at least two shirts with you.  That way, if the first becomes too sweaty or too wet, you can always change it with the other one. But this does not mean that you can take just about any shirt. Here are some of the characteristics that you should be looking for in your summer hiking shirts:

  • Breathable materials. While merino wool is perfect for hiking in hot weather, garments made with this material are known to be quite expensive. You can always rely on some of the other natural fabrics in this situation, but keep in mind that nylon and polyester are less expensive but still great options for you to consider.
  • Loose fit. Anything too tight will make you too hot while hiking. This is why we recommend that you go with shirts with a looser fit. If you want to stick with body-fitting shirts, make sure that they are made from Dri-Fit material or other breathable materials.
  • Lightweight shirts. You do not need any heavy clothing while hiking in hot weather.  Usually, the most lightweight options will be the best for this situation.
  • Short or long sleeves. When it comes to the length of the sleeves, you can go with either short or long sleeves. If you do end up going with a shirt with short sleeves, we recommend that you put sunscreen on the exposed part of the arm to protect it. You can also put a loose long-sleeve flannel on top of the short-sleeve shirt for protection or wear it by itself.

1.2 Pants

Pants are equally as important as shirts and can make or break your trip.  If you end up wearing the wrong pants, you may feel both hot and uncomfortable, which can be a big problem for hikers. Here are some of the things that you should look for in hiking pants:

Comfortable. Anything too tight, heavy, thick, or made from materials that do not adjust well to your body is a no-no. It would be best to look for comfortable, loose pants that will not feel itchy or stiff. The material should be breathable, while it is also smart to look for waterproof pants. After buying the pants, try them at home at least a couple of times before wearing them on a hiking trail.

Lightweight. As we mentioned with the shirts, your pants should also be lightweight. With the backpack and those heavy hiking boots, the last thing you want is for your pants to add to the weight.

Zip offs. These are a particular type of hiking pants that come with zippers that you can use to attach or detach a part of the pant leg. This is great considering that you need long pants for areas with high grass, while short pants are best for woody regions and clearings. If you reach such a spot where you do not need those long pants anymore, you can just detach the part of the pants below the knee.

2. Boots

The most important thing that hikers need is a proper pair of boots.

Experienced hikers will tell you that many things can go wrong with your trip if your boots do not fit well. So, you must make sure that you have the perfect pair before you go out on a longer hiking trail.

Let us tell you all about the features you should look for in a pair of summer hiking boots:

Perfect fit. You might pull off wearing half a size smaller shoes on regular occasions, but that will not be the case with hiking. Your feet will get tired quickly, and you will get a lot of blisters if your shoes do not fit well. So, take your time when choosing your next pair of hiking boots and make sure that the ones you get are exactly your size or just half a size larger.

Worn in. Another thing to keep in mind is that your boots should be worn in before you take them on a hiking trail. Some boots take very long to break in, so you might have to take them on a few short trips in your neighborhood before taking them on a hike. No matter if you wear the shoes in or outside of your home, make sure that they are entirely worn in and comfortable before you hike in them. Further reading: How To Break In Hiking Boots.

Breathable and lightweight. The boots should also be breathable and light; they should be breathable because you do not want your feet to be wet from all that sweat; they should be lightweight because the extra weight is unnecessary.

Waterproof and sturdy. On some hiking trails, you will come across streams that you will need to pass, and you will need a good pair of waterproof boots to be able to do that.  Also, in case of rain, waterproof boots will be able to protect your feet. It would be best to have sturdy boots to walk on the most challenging terrains without any problem.

Foot support. Foot and ankle support is essential as no one wants to get injured while hiking. No matter if your hiking boots have a high or low collar, you should make sure that they have good soles and footbeds as well as comfortable lining and collar.

3. Accessories

There are three types of accessories that we never leave behind when going on a summer hike. Here is why you need to have them with you on all hot weather hikes:

3.1 Backpack

You need a backpack for the extra clothing, food, water, your first aid kit, and all the other things you need for the trip. The backpack should be lightweight and made from breathable materials, but you should also consider how much weight you put in it when packing. If you are going on a short hike and do not need anything aside from water, consider getting a simple camelback backpack.

3.2 Hat/Bandana

Being overly exposed to the sun can lead to several problems, including dehydration, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. The moment you feel that your head is too hot or that you are getting a headache, put on a hat, a bandana, or combine the two for even greater protection.

3.3 Sunglasses

Sunglasses are also a must-have for summer hikes, especially on longer hikes, because they can protect your eyes.  We recommend that you go for sunglasses with lighter lenses as they offer an improved vision that puts less strain on your eyes.

Bonus: 4 Behavioral Tips for Hiking in Hot Weather

Hiking requires a certain kind of behavior as well as a certain level of preparedness. These are things that beginner hikers do not always understand before they go on a longer hike.

So, we want to give you some behavioral tips to show you what is expected from you as well as what you should expect from a hiking trip that takes place at the warmest time of the year.

1. Plan Ahead of the Trip

This means finding all information available on your desired trail, making a plan for when to start the hike and when to finish it, whether the hike will be a linear or a circular one, and so on. You need to check the weather forecast for the day when you are planning on taking the trip, but you also need to check for places where you can take breaks,  get some food, refill your water bottles, and similar things.

2. Pack Accordingly

This includes the gear, the equipment needed, the amount of food and water needed, and so on. It is always a good idea to go for hiking trails that have streams or other sources of water that you can use along the way. That way you do not need to pack heavy.

3. Make a Plan in Case of an Emergency

If you’re taking a hiking trip without a professional guide or experienced hiker, you will need to have an emergency plan in case you accidentally stray from the path, come across wild animals, or have any kind of medical emergency. Always have a compass and a phone, smartwatch, or any other device that you can use to send signals or coordinates of your location to an emergency contact.

4. Be Mindful of Your Body

It is smart to keep an eye out for yourself and make sure that you are both mentally and physically prepared for your trip. During the trip, take breaks whenever you need them, try not to dehydrate or overhydrate, eat fatty foods that will give you lots of energy, and try to catch as much shade as possible. We know that the sun can feel great on your skin, but it can also lead to heat cramps or exhaustion if you overdo it.

Last Update: 31. March 2022
About the Author

My name is Thomas, and I love the outdoors. I'm currently living in Germany and I would like to encourage my readers to go outside with this blog. Here you can read more about me.