Seasoned hikers know that the right gear can make or break an outing. When you’re hitting moderate and difficult trails, average workout apparel simply won’t cut it. It’s important to have outerwear on your hiking checklist that enhances your hiking abilities, keeps you protected, and provides maximum comfort.

To keep yourself trekking in style, check out this essential list of what to wear hiking.

Proper Footwear

The most important piece of hiking apparel is proper footwear. Trudging through various types of terrain can be brutal on a flimsy pair of sneakers. From thick mud to slippery rocks, you’ll need shoes with a good amount of traction to handle the great outdoors.

There are three types of hiking shoes, and choosing the right one will depend on your skill level, backpack weight, and the type of trails you’re frequenting:

  • Hiking shoe – A low-rise hiking shoe is the most basic of the three. This option is great for lightweight hikers who aren’t carrying too much equipment. The soles of hiking shoes are also the most flexible, making them ideal for fast walkers, joggers, and hikers on relatively flat terrain.

  • Hiking boots – A sturdy pair of hiking boots is the next level of hiking footwear. Hiking boots will typically have a higher cut, thicker soles, and more traction. Rougher terrain and a slightly heavier backpack will create ideal conditions for a pair of day hiking trip boots.

  • Backpacking boots – The final evolution of hiking shoes is a pair of durable backpacking boots. Hikers who carry heavy equipment, larger bags, and like to go off the beaten path will benefit the most from this type of footwear. Backpacking boots will have the highest cut and stiffest soles—in order to protect the ankles and arches of the feet.

The bottom line: Different hikes require different footwear. If you usually stick to the hiking trail and carry a light load, a flexible pair of hiking shoes will work just fine. More advanced hikers—who tend to stray from the regular trail—may need a hiking boot with additional support or a winter hiking boot. Either way, the traction of a proper hiking shoe will keep your feet and ankles safe on rough terrain.

Comfortable Backpack

The right backpack is the second step to a complete hiking outfit. Hikers need a bag to carry their essentials, such as:

  • Water
  • Additional clothing
  • Food
  • First-aid
  • A phone or camera

You want to find a balance between comfort, weight, and spaciousness when choosing your hiking bag. A bag that’s too heavy can hold you back when traversing a trail, while a bag that’s too small can quickly become cramped and misshapen. It’s also very important to know how to pack a hiking backpack properly so your essentials don’t get lost at the bottom of your bag.

Hiking bags should be waterproof, have multiple compartments, and keep your items safe from the elements with a rugged exterior. The best part? RebateKey has plenty of discounts and cashback rebates on hiking bags from Amazon.

The bottom line: Your hiking backpack should be able to stand up against nature and is a staple piece of essential hiking gear. Find a bag with a tough exterior, waterproof material, and plenty of space for your belongings. Comfort is also key to finding the right hiking bag—ensure it fits well and doesn’t weigh you down while moving around.

Seasonal Clothing

The final piece to the puzzle: hiking clothes.

True nature lovers will hike no matter the weather—but their apparel needs to change with the seasons. It’s important to find breathable clothing that traps heat in during winter hiking and wicks away sweat in the summer.

Here’s a helpful guide for hiking attire throughout the year:

  • Summer – Curious about what to wear hiking in summer? Staying cool and dry during this season is all about athletic shirts with moisture wicking materials, like polyester or nylon. Cotton is also a breathable fabric, but it may soak up moisture on particularly hot days. It’s important to protect yourself from the sun during summer hikes with long sleeves, brimmed hats, or a strong SPF.

  • Winter – Curious about what to wear hiking in the winter? Figuring out what to wear hiking in winter is a whole different ball game. Despite chilly temperatures, your activity levels can still leave you feeling hot and sweaty. This is why layers are the key to a comfortable winter hike. First, you’ll want to start with an insulated base layer—like a long sleeve hiking shirt made of wool. Next, you’ll need a removable middle layer—like a sweatshirt. Finally, a waterproof coat will keep you dry in the event of rain or snow.

  • Fall and spring – What do you wear hiking in the fall or spring? Arid seasons, like fall and spring, will require a combination of cool and warm weather hiking clothing. This may include a long sleeve shirt, a light windbreaker, a rain jacket, or a cozy fleece jacket.

The bottom line: Layers, breathable fabrics, and protective clothing are crucial when hiking throughout the year. Always bring more clothes than you may need, and remove layers as you go. Sun protection can come in the form of sleeves, a hat, or SPF.

Hit the Trails with RebateKey

Whether you’re shopping for athletic clothes, sturdy footwear, or a tactical backpack—RebateKey has you covered. By partnering with big name retailers, we’re able to bring you exclusive discounts, coupons, and cashback rebates on the hiking products you need.

The way it works is simple: find the deals you want on our website, claim your rebate, and purchase your item. From there, just wait for your hiking gear and your cash to arrive. RebateKey has you covered, so stop worrying about spending money and start spending time in the great outdoors!


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