Hiking/camping clothing

11:29 a.m. on June 3, 2013 (EDT)
Gary Booker
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Hi guys,

Ive recently started going camping in the country with friends and doing some hiking while we are out there. I'm no Bear Grylls (or however its spelt),  so i'm a bit clueless about whether im suppose to wear any specialised gear for walking in such as socks coats etc? Any info would be great! 


3:04 p.m. on June 3, 2013 (EDT)
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where are you hiking? a lot of your clothing will depend on the weather and climate you're in. it's mostly about being prepared for changes in the weather. you want to go with clothing that doesn't absorb water and dries fast. cotton is out, synthetics are in. wool hiking socks are best for cushion and moisture wicking. I use either smartwools or thorlos. there are a lot of people who will say that you must have this or that, but I'm not one of them. for rain protection, I'd go with a marmot precip jacket and pants. no expensive goretex or e-vent here. if you're not careful you can blow a lot of money on gear...most of it is marketing. just get what you can afford, wal mart or second hand shops sometimes have good deals on outdoor clothing. there's also places like rei and campmoor on the web. check the gear pages on this forum for an idea of what's out there...again, it would be helpful to know what climate your in.

3:43 p.m. on June 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi Gary, welcome! Like Trailjester said, much depends on conditions. In general, though -- it's all about the layers.

Ideally you'll end up with a nice modular system that you can mix and match as conditions dictate. I don't think I own anything that isn't four-season, except maybe a few tank tops. The long underwear gets carried year round, as sleepwear and as baselayer, then there are fleece tops and bottoms and a synthetic puffy for real cold. I use the same windshirt, nylon pants, and rain gear year round. The outer layers are sized big enough to let me get all the insulation on underneath.

Other general advice: quick dry (there's the no-cotton thing), unless it's crazy hot where you are. And good wool socks are awesome. (I got dressed for a hike the other day and realized that, thanks to sale discounts and secondhand shopping, the single most expensive thing I was wearing was my socks. :) No regrets!)

10:31 a.m. on June 4, 2013 (EDT)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
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no, you don't need highly specialized gear for the most part.  comfortable shoes that won't give you blisters and will protect your feet from stray rocks and roots, socks that won't soak up water (worth spending to get merino wool/nylon blend socks).  shirts/shorts/underwear that won't get soaked with sweat and chafe, or rob you of needed heat, so avoid cotton unless you live in a very hot, dry place. 

look at the weather before you go out and anticipate the worst.  if it might get cold or windy or wet, anticipate that by having appropriate clothing to keep you warm and dry.  common sense, be cautious. 

apart from clothing, think about bringing basic stuff you might need if things go wrong - search the "10 essentials" here

1:47 p.m. on June 4, 2013 (EDT)
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Don't worry about what you are "supposed" to wear and just stick with what works for you.  Great advice above on no cotton and finding good wool socks that fit your feet and your shoes.

One item that doesn't cost a lot but really can be useful is a good pair of nylon convertible hiking pants.  By good I mean ones that fit and don't cost too much heh.  Being able to zip off the legs and convert to shorts is great for water crossings or steamy days where you want to let the breeze blow through your leg hairs

Have fun out there!

2:41 p.m. on June 4, 2013 (EDT)
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here's some good pants to start off with, they are fairly cheap but made well. I have the non-convertible version of these and I like them. good for long hikes in the summer.


8:32 a.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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As others have said, a lot is going to depend on where and when you hike. My Illinois trip in early March is going to look a lot different than my Tennessee trip in July.

A good source is your local library. Most of their books are listed on line. I'd get a couple of titles that interest you (Make sure to check publication dates. A 20-year old title is not going to be up on the latest clothing technology.)

AND you don't have to spend a ton of money. For warm weather hiking/camping, I have a quality pair of hiking boots & light merino wool socks. That's my "big money."

My torso is simply wearing a cheap Walmart polyester exercise shirt (no cotton). Instead of pricy hiking shorts, I wear a pair of cheap swimtrunks (almost the exact same thing, except you can get them in exciting colors & patterns!) A ball cap is usually recommended to reduce sun exposure & keep ticks out of your hair.

Aside from my shoes & socks, you're looking at my $12 hiker clothes in this picture. Temps were in the low 50F, and I was quite comfortable walking.

Of course, in my pack, I also had a warmth layer & a rain/wind layer in case conditions turned bad (As it did the next day.)

I've also hit pay dirt at local thrift shops--$2 for a pair of nylon zip-off pants/shorts.

11:55 a.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
denis daly
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One suggestion was made on inexspensive Convertible pants.You can pick up wicking shirts at thift shops and fleece for winter. But what time of year reflects on the types of layers you need. If its really hot summer layers will be different than what you need in winter..

11:56 a.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Jeffery Gosnell said:

I've also hit pay dirt at local thrift shops--$2 for a pair of nylon zip-off pants/shorts.

 That is some really good advice.  I was at my local last week looking for a new white long sleeved dress shirt, my preferred over a wicking sport T under.  While there I came across several nice name brand pieces.  I passed on a couple of heavier Columbia wind and warm gear but couldn't resist a Bean fleece for $5.99.  As the forecast gets cooler and wetter I'm thinking this might go in the pack for next week's Baxter trip in place of my usual lighter Summer fleece.

Definitely worth scoping the thrifts on a regular basis if you have access.

9:35 a.m. on June 6, 2013 (EDT)
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I think where you hike, and how long of a hike (a few hours, whole day, overnight, etc) will determine what you need. Its easy to get over-excited and buy a lot of things at the start, which may become obsolete as you begin to realise what you really want/need. A lot of the stuff I purchased when I got back into hiking became obsolete as I got a better feel for the areas I was hiking and what I liked to wear when I was doing it.

The one thing you will not regret is a proper pair of boots or shoes. Nothing (well within reason of course) will ruin your outdoor experience quite as fast as damage to your feet. Even some bad blisters could keep you from going out again for a few weeks. So that would be the one thing I would focus on.

Then some synthetic pants. Convertible pants as was suggested are fine, but make sure you try them on and see if the cut-off zips cause any discomfort as they can on some models. Other that that, work on a layering system as its more flexible. A decent rain coat, a 100 or 200 weight fleece, and a wicking t shirt should do it. You will figure things out as you go along.

If you are going out for a longer period of time, and in areas far from civilization, consider proper emergency and first aid kit.


Either way, have fun!

5:12 p.m. on June 6, 2013 (EDT)
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TJ1984 said:

I think where you hike, and how long of a hike (a few hours, whole day, overnight, etc) will determine what you need.

 Word of warning. If you are hiking in the backcountry, you should always be prepared for unexpected changes in the weather. This past January a father and his two sons died from exposure on a short "day hike." They started out in 60F temperatures, and when they got lost, they were under dressed for the 20F overnight temps.


Rain gear, a warmth layer, and a SOL Thermal Bivvy will all fit in a mid-size day pack and weigh only a few pounds.

Plus, you should always carry the "10 Essentials" (https://www.trailspace.com/forums/backcountry/topics/43906.html) when you are out in the woods.

2:23 p.m. on June 8, 2013 (EDT)
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again, as I said before, be prepared for changes in the weather. in the backcountry the weather can change from hour to hour. definitely have raingear, warmth layer and some kind of overnight shelter just in case. s SOL bivy is a good idea. the 10 essentials are a no brainer. but, some people need to be told. newbies take note!

2:51 p.m. on June 9, 2013 (EDT)
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here are the new and old ten essentials, that link doesn't work.

Updated Ten Essential "Systems"

1. Navigation 2. Sun protection 3. Insulation (extra clothing) 4. Illumination 5. First-aid supplies 6. Fire 7. Repair kit and tools 8. Nutrition (extra food) 9. Hydration (extra water) 10. Emergency shelter

Classic Ten Essentials

1. Map 2. Compass 3. Sunglasses and sunscreen 4. Extra clothing 5. Headlamp/flashlight 6. First-aid supplies 7. Firestarter 8. Matches 9. Knife 10. Extra food


8:46 p.m. on June 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Trailjester said:

here are the new and old ten essentials, that link doesn't work.

 Mmmm...it works for me. ????

9:37 p.m. on June 14, 2013 (EDT)
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You mean I can't hike naked? I wear the same clothes to hike in as I do  cycle touring and other adventures. But I prefer synthetics as it drys quickly. 

10:16 p.m. on June 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Gary, don't feel bad about not being able to utilize the ol' happy hippy hiking suit.

They are still good to go out this way January-March.

11:14 p.m. on June 19, 2013 (EDT)
Danny Wang
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Arcteyrx head to toe... (I'M KIDDING.. but as gear'd up as some guys are out there.. the trails are starting to look like catwalks!)

5:40 p.m. on June 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Specialized outdoor clothing is highly over-rated, and sold by companies with excellent and refined marketing programs.

Naked hiking is one of the best ways.

1:33 a.m. on July 1, 2013 (EDT)
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Nothing wrong with loving the cloths any more than loving the gear. Used to never see bike riders in bike shorts and jerseys either...but seems now everyone with a bike has the cloths. Same with hiking. For some, that is just part of the fun.  Always good to think of wicking and climate when buying stuff. I was happy to have good gear on my last trek. Fit and seams and utility are all considerations for me. But as a Big girl, could not always get the cools stuff I wanted. For the Machu Picchu trek, all that will change!

May 25, 2020
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