19 Super Cute and Useful Hiking Clothes to Wear on the Trail

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What’s better than hitting the hiking trail with a pal, getting in all your steps while enjoying the great outdoors? How about having all that along with one of those hiking outfits you’ve admired on other women, maybe with flattering pants that wick perspiration and a breathable T-shirt situation? Along with the right belt bag, water bottle and other hiking gear, of course. We’ve polled staff, interviewed experts, mined reviews and trail-tested some top hiking clothes for women for you below.

The Best Hiking Clothes for Women at a Glance


Top Waterproof Sneaker

Nike Waterproof Trail Running Shoe

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Cutest Sun Hat

Athleta Excursion Trail Hat

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Lightest Top Layer

Lululemon Grid Fleece Hiking Overshirt

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Excellent Support Bra

Memoi Leopard Print Racerback Sports Bra

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Versatile Hiking Trousers

Prana Halle Pants

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Meet the Experts

Alex McClain is the product designer for Vermont-based sock company Darn Tough. She’s an avid hiker, along with her colleague, digital content strategist Jenny Hastings.

What to Wear on a Hike in Summer

“A wicking shirt with UPF is a must,” says McClain. “Also, a long sleeve, hooded sun shirt with thumbholes, keeps the sun off the skin and provides shade with a ball cap and hood on.” That, a pair of shorts and a day pack, and she’s off.

“In summer, I’m always reaching for a water-wicking shirt, and I’m also looking for light yet durable bottoms,” says Hastings. “I run hot and personally prefer shorts, but whether you want short or long bottoms, I find it’s important to strike that balance of a light, comfortable material on your bottom half that still holds up to scrapes with rocks.”

What to Wear on a Hike in Fall

For fall, Hastings says the key to hiking comfort is a solid mid-layer. “It should be easy to take on and off and add warmth, because you’ll get quite warm hiking, but the cooler fall temperatures can chill you quickly when you stop. For me, it’s a full-zip fleece.”

The Ultimate Hiking Checklist: From What Clothes to Wear to How Much Water to Bring

Top Waterproof Sneaker

1.     Nike Waterproof Trail Running Shoe


  • What We Like: pull loops at heel and tongue, gaiter at collar
  • What We Don't Like: pronating feet might need extra inner support
  • Material: GORE-TEX
  • Size Range: 5 to 12

The bestselling lightweight Pegasus shoe in a water-repellent Gore-Tex package, these shoes are a lightweight alternative to hiking boots that still keep rocks and water away from your feet. That’s thanks to the higher-than-usual ankle gaiter, also made of Gore-Tex, that keeps splashes at bay. All this, in 10 of the dynamic color combos the Nike shoe design team is known for.

Cutest Sun Hat

2.     Athleta Excursion Trail Hat


  • What We Like: breathable side mesh, string stabilizes on windy days
  • What We Don't Like: brim could be wider
  • Material: recycled nylon
  • Size Range: s/m, m/l

This super-lightweight trail hat keeps your face and neck shaded without slowing you down. In sunbaked clay and black, the hat’s small enough to fold into quarters and tuck into a back pocket or fanny pack, and resilient enough to withstand beating sun or whipping winds.

Lightest Top Layer

3. Lululemon Grid Fleece Hiking Overshirt


  • What We Like: zippered pocket on sleeve holds credit card, longer back length to protect your rear when you sit
  • What We Don’t Like: bodycon seekers, look elsewhere
  • Material: breathable recycled poly and elastane grid fabric, nylon pockets
  • Size Range: 0 to 20

Part of lululemon’s inaugural hiking collection, this oversized shirt is the shacket of your tech bro dreams. It has shirttails, so it looks like a borrowed man’s top, and the small grid texture of the material is actually an airy and breathable lightweight fleece that’s sewn inside out, so the sleek outer surface is visible. The big hand pockets include a slot to keep your phone separate.

Excellent Support Bra

4. Memoi Leopard Print Racerback Sports Bra


  • What We Like: wire-free, removable cups
  • What We Don't Like: recommended to dry flat, not tumble
  • Material: 80 percent poly, 20 percent Spandex
  • Size Range: xs to xxl

In all-over leopard print, this longline sports bra brings the style without sacrificing support. The racerback design is comfortable, the high neck looks good under layers and the whole bra is cute and covered up enough to wear on its own for when you forgot to start back on the trail before the sun got too high.

Versatile Hiking Trousers

5. Prana Halle Pants


  • What We Like: lightweight, breathable, flattering
  • What We Don't Like: curvy cut can look baggy on lean frames
  • Material: recycled nylon, elastane
  • Size Range: 00 to 16

"Prana makes my favorite hiking pants" says PureWow fashion editor Abby Hepworth, and the Halle II is a natural choice for her because it not only has technical chops (lightweight recycled nylon fabric, articulated seams at the knees, zippered pockets), it looks great from the trail to a dinner with friends. Darn Tough sock brand stategist Jenny Hastings says when temperatures drop, she opts for these pants “which have snaps so you can roll them up—right amount of durability, comfort and stretch.”

  • What We Like: ultralightweight, SPF 50
  • What We Don't Like: thumb loops are elastic
  • Material: polyester/spandex
  • Size Range: x small to x large

“I was able to wear this sun defense shirt in the summer to protect my skin from harsh rays and stay cooled off,” says PureWow commerce editor Liv Dubyak, who wears the top to hike the foothills of the Rockies. “The material is very thin, and it has a max UPF 50+ protection.” In blush, aqua blue and goldenrod hues, this long-sleeved top manages to be both attractive (that’s the princess seams and lightweight material) and utilitarian. The anti-NIR (near infrared reflection) yarn keeps you covered, without bulk.

Essential All-Around Shorts

7. FP Movement In the Wild Short

Free People

  • What We Like: large pockets, lightweight
  • What We Don't Like: too oversized for some wearers
  • Material: nylon
  • Size Range: S to XL

I have these in olive, and wish I’d gotten them in every color, since they are the perfect wear-everywhere summer shorts for blazing hot weather. Utility-sized pockets close with Velcro and there’s a wide-ish waist band that comfortable sits on your true waist or can be pulled down. The wide legs accommodate muscular legs such as mine without binding, and the nylon is practically indestructible. Finally, since the hem is straight across, not tapered on the side seam like so many sports shorts, these are even appropriate to wear with a cute top and sandals for a lunch date.

Excellent Insect Repellent-Wear

8. L.L. Bean Women's Insect Shield Field Tee

L.L. Bean

  • What We Like: repels insects up to 70 washings, slightly fitted
  • What We Don't Like: fabric’s medium thickness
  • Material: 62 percent polyester, 34 percent cotton and 4 precent spandex
  • Size Range: xs to xl

“Comfy and fits perfectly, no worries about being ‘bugged’ on the trails” says one reviewer about this garment treated with permethrin, a bug repellent derived from the chrysanthemum flower. (The CDC says it’s safe for clothing, but not appropriate as a bug spray.) Made of mostly polyester, so it’s quick-drying, with cotton and a touch of spandex thrown in, you can just throw this simple-looking T-shirt in the washer and dryer, and the repellent mojo stays put.

Most Flattering Vest

9. Orvis Women’s Mad River Sherpa Vest


  • What We Like: zip pockets, cotton stretch lining
  • What We Don't Like: might feel too short for long-waisted wearers
  • Material: post-consumer plastic zippers and taping, Bluesign®-approved recycled polyester,
  • Size Range: x-small to x-large

The Platonic ideal of fluffy and fitted, this vest is “perfect for fall and winter hikes,” says PureWow commerce editor Liv Dubyak. “It has a good amount of warmth without overheating your midsection and it feels super lightweight. I also love that it hugs my shape, so I don’t look like a box.”

Essential Accessory

10. Madewell Organic Cotton Bandana


  • What We Like: super lightweight and soft
  • What We Don’t Like: can lose shape with rugged use
  • Material: cotton
  • Size Range: one size

One reviewer sums up the multi-purpose appeal of this 21 7/10-inch square piece of printed cotton better than we ever could: “A knife and a bandana are the foundation of my everyday carry, and these bandanas are the BEST. Stumble upon a patch of ripe berries? Bundle them up safe. Camping out and forgot filters for sun tea? Bandana tea sachet. Pop down the corner store without a face covering? Instant mask. Got a little sweatier than expected? Sop yourself up, rinse it out, then make a cooling neck compress. Just need a cute accessory to top off your look? Got it right here, fifty different ways. This bandana in particular is lightweight, washable and durable….Seriously, this bandana’s the best cute x utilitarian accessory out there.”

Coolest Zip-Off Pants

11. Outdoor Voices RecTrek Zip-Off Pant

Outdoor Voices

  • What We Like: 29.75-inch inseam pants, 3.75-inch inseam shorts
  • What We Don’t Like: horizontal lines can make legs look shorter
  • Material: 90 percent nylon, 10 percent elastane
  • Size Range: xxs to xxxl

waistband pocket, make these handy on the trail, as does the carabiner loop. And the zip-off sections of the legs keep you as cool as you like, since you can make these into shorts or crop pants. Finally, the bungee cinch cuffs let wearers cinch the legs closed to keep out insects or pests, then uncinch to pull the pants off.

Great All-Season Sock

12. Darn Tough Cushion Sock

Darn Tough

  • What We Like: lifetime warranty, Achilles cushion
  • What We Don’t Like: rubber ribbed upper mesh might feel too snug
  • Material: 53 percent nylon, 43 percent merino wool, 3 percent Lycra
  • Size Range: s to l

The heat-regulating and odor-controlling properties of wool are blended with nylon, so these socks are pleasantly lightweight for warmer weather. Made by Darn Tough, a Vermont-based sock company that makes all its socks in America and guarantees them for life, these socks have the look and performance of their brand’s Yankee authenticity, but with a contemporary design update—the micro-crew length is a little shorter than most long crew socks. These land somewhere between your ankle and mid-calf, long enough to tuck your pants in if you like, but not so long they bunch up at the ankle.

Warm-Weather Sock Pick

13. Icebreaker Women’s Merino Hike+ Light Crew Socks


  • What We Like: odor-resistant, anatomical toe box
  • What We Don’t Like: limited color options
  • Material: 61 percent Merino wool, 37 percent nylon, 2 percent Lycra
  • Size Range: s to l

This New Zealand-based company is committed to the concept of layering with natural fibers as a way of protecting against the elements. Still, we’re happy about the large percentage of nylon in this pair of socks, since it makes them super-thin and comfy for sweaty feet on hot hikes. The reinforced footbed is durable and the mid-rise cuff is suitable for low-rise hiking footwear or boots. And they’re hyper-designed—the top of the footbed has a ventilation ‘breathe zone,” the instep is supported for stability and each foot has its own custom-designed toe box.

Top Wind Protection

14. Columbia Flash Forward Windbreaker


  • What We Like: zippered hand pockets, water repellent
  • What We Don’t Like: length may look too blocky for short waists
  • Material: polyester
  • Size Range: xs to 3x

The classic outdoors outfitter, Portland-based Columbia, gets hip to the color-block trend with 13 colorways of this lightweight and well-priced zip-front hoodie. A wardrobe essential for windy, drizzly trails and beyond, this jacket folds/rolls to take up next to no space in a backpack but unfurls to keep you dry with a hood, elastic cuffs, drawstring bottom and two zippered hand pockets. (Because you don’t want a sudden downpour to soak your phone and keys.)

Comfiest Outfit

15. Lightbare Women’s UPF 50+ Tank Dress


  • What We Like: detached inner shorts, UPF 50+
  • What We Don't Like: silicone grippers on legs might irritate delicate skin
  • Material: 88 percent polyester, 12 percent spandex
  • Size Range: X-Small to XX-Large

Fast-drying and lightweight, this polyester knit dress slips on overhead and, after stepping into the color-coordinated inner shorts, you’re ready to hit the trail in a way that’s cool and simply chic. Stretch panels on either side of the dress keep it moving with you, without being too clingy, and the UPF 50+ fabric keeps you covered. Plus, there are a plethora of pockets: Two zippered pockets to keep your phone intact on the dress, plus two more pockets on the shorts. And we appreciate the high waist on the shorts for tummy control.

Bargain Shorts Pick

16. Baleaf Women's 5" Athletic Hiking Shorts


  • What We Like: flattering curved back seam, four deep pockets
  • What We Don't Like: swishes when you walk
  • Material: 89 percent nylon, 11 spandex
  • Size Range: x-small to xx-large

Use pockets, but don’t want to look weighted down? This pair of shorts has two large rear pockets secured by Velcro and two side zip pockets. “It has been a while since I found some really great all-purpose shorts,” writes one reviewer. “Great for working out and going to town. Flattering fit. Great length for adult women. Fabric retains shape but isn't stiff. Zip pockets are a great bonus. I bought several colors!” Bonus: The side-split hem design is subtly sporty and flattering.

Comfiest Hiking Sandal

17. Merrell Huntington Sport Convert Sandal


  • What We Like: adjustable Velcro straps, air cushioned heel
  • What We Don't Like: straps can cause blisters
  • Material: neoprene, EVA foam insert, rubber outsole
  • Size Range: 5 to 11

“If you suffer from any foot issues this is the sandal for you. I have plantar fasciitis and I walked all over Jerusalem and hiked across the Negev desert in this sandal,” says one reviewer. This shoe is equally comfy in the rain or a creek bed, since the waterproof construction just keeps holding, even underwater.

Top Pullover Puffer

18. FP Movement Pippa Packable Pullover Puffer

FP Movement

  • What We Like: vivid colors, folds into its own pocket
  • What We Don't Like: 24-inch length may be too cropped for long-waisted wearers
  • Material: polyester, nylon filling
  • Size Range: xs to xl

This padded hoodie pullover looks like a cream puff but wears like iron—just machine wash it and hang to dry and it’s good as new. A series of snaps keeps the neckline closed over your chest and a funnel color keeps the cold out. It’s water-resistant, too.

hiking clothes for women patagonia fleece

Fluffiest Fleece Jacket

19. Patagonia Retro Pile Fleece Jacket

  • What We Like: contrast colorways of body and zippers, spandex hood, cuff and hem bindings
  • What We Don't Like: limited colors
  • Material: double-sided shearling fleece made from recycled materials
  • Size Range: xs to xl

This midweight fleece is a classic cold-weather layering piece that looks as good on the trail a it does with a casual fit. Zippered pockets include one on the chest and two hand pockets, and in case of on those zippers sticks, you can contact Patagonia to fix them.

What Not to Forget on Your Hike

Don’t forget to bring the essential safety gear (compass, headlamp, itinerary tucked under your front seat). Also, don’t forget these essentials:

  • Bandana: You’ll use it to absorb sweat, cover your neck from sunburn and a handy tourniquet in case things go wrong
  • Water: “I like bringing Nuun tablets,” McClain says. “They have electrolytes and caffeine in them and can make a huge difference on a hot, sunny day.” The general rule of thumb is to have one liter (about 33 ounces) per hour of hiking. Outdoors outfitter Camelbak has a handy hydration calculator that determines how much you’ll need based on biometrics and time/intensity of your day hike.
  • Ankle Covering Socks:  Do you want bug bites, dirt down your shoes or blisters from cute tennis socks falling down? We didn’t think so. McClain wears a pair of Micro Crew Hikers from her brand, then has a spritz of bug spray. “I’ve been using Natrapel this year and it seems to be working pretty well, plus I smell like lemongrass and eucalyptus, way better than DEET in my opinion,” she says. Hastings recommends Picaridin as her active ingredient of choice. “A 20 percent Picaridin bug spray will keep you bite-free for up to 12 hours,” she says. “I find the on-skin feel to be unobtrusive, and I’ve used in the buggiest situations with great results. “
  • Hat: Sunstroke is real. So is facial sun damage.
  • Non-GPS Directions: “I always bring a paper map of the area and trail I’ll be hiking as a backup if my phone doesn’t have service or if I’m out of data,” Mcclain says. “I also use a handful of app services for planning a route such as AllTrails, Avenza Maps, and Gaia GPS.”

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dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...

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