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What to Wear While Backpacking?

Part Two

Best Clothing to Wear on Your Backpacking Adventures

Good choices for a comfortable, effective and versatile backpacking wardrobe for your hiking and camping excursions include the following:

Comfortable Underwear

Making a good decision about the right kind of underwear for backpacking is essential. It is important that the fabric will wick away moisture to keep your skin dry and comfortable and provide a layer of warm fabric next to your skin. Some male trekkers like boxer-length underwear, while many women opt for shorter designs. Hiking undies come in wool, nylon-spandex or mesh. Whatever material you choose, make sure it is breathable and not too tight.

It is best to avoid cotton, since it lacks good wicking properties and will require extended drying time. This causes a clammy feeling against your skin and may result in chafing or skin irritations and infections. Be sure to pack enough undies to ensure that you always have a clean, dry pair.

B0843T1GZQ - Icebreaker Women's Amplify Merino Racerback Tank

Tank Tops and Camisoles. These tops are lightweight and are easy to pack. They can regulate core body temperature and are good sleeping gear on warm, humid nights. Silk, synthetics and quality wool are all good choices in these tops for backpacking trips.

B08DK9NNCT - Bodtek Mens Thermal Underwear Set

Base Layers for Tops and Bottoms. Long underwear, or “long johns,” are essential for hiking and camping in cool and cold weather. Crew neck styles or zip-neck designs are both good choices. The bottoms are especially popular for wearing underneath rain pants while on the trail. They also make warm, cozy sleeping gear on cold, frosty nights. These base layers are available in different weights for trekking in different seasons and climates.

Bras. Pullover sports design bras are the best styles for backpacking. Designs with plastic or metal clasps or hooks are not recommended. These hard items can press into your skin when caught under backpack straps. Some women hikers prefer wearing lightweight camisoles instead of bras.

Durable and Breathable Shirts, Shorts and Pants

B07TJD1XTQ - Camping Hiking Backpacking Outdoor Wilderness T-Shirt

T-Shirts. Tank tops and t-shirts make perfect sleepwear on hot summer treks. Be sure to choose wool or synthetic fabrics and pack at least one shirt to wear on the trail. Include another for sleeping on cool nights.   


B071F121YC - BALEAF Men's UPF 50+ Sun Protection Shirts Long Sleeve Dri Fit SPF T-Shirts
  • Long Sleeved Shirts. When backpacking in regions with bright sunlight and hot to sweltering temperatures, pack one long-sleeved shirt with UPF 50+ protection. Ideal styles are designed with collars to shield your neck against sunburn. On backpacking trails through woodland areas, take a long-sleeve shirt and a pair of full-length pants that offer insect repellent. This helps protect you from mosquitoes, flies and ticks. 
B07S9WYTR7 - Men's Hiking Pants Convertible Lightweight Zip-Off

Convertible Style Pants. Packing zip-off pants is a great idea since they provide you with both long pants and shorts. These pants can help you decide what shorts to wear backpacking and conserve packing space. They also are designed with spacious gear pockets and pouches. Some trekkers report that the zippers can press against your legs at times, causing discomfort on the trail. A good alternative would be roll-up pants that include tabs and buttons near your ankles or knees. If you pack cinch-pants, you can easily vary their length as needed. 

Tights, Leggings and Yoga Pants. These items offer welcome comfort at your campsite. Their stretchy, flexible materials feel especially good against your skin after a strenuous day of trekking. However, they are not as strong and durable as synthetic fabric pants for hiking clothes. Also, tight-fitting clothing, no matter how comfortable, does not safeguard you from mosquitoes and other insects. 

B07TYB58C6 - Little Donkey Andy Women's Athletic Skort Build-in Shorts with Pockets

Trekking Dresses, Skirts or Skorts. These convenient items offer flexibility and comfort along with an inner liner. If you wear a hiking skirt that has insulation with yoga tights underneath, you can stay cozy and comfortable. This clothing is best for trekking in moderately cool climates. 

Middle Clothing, Jacket Styles and Footwear

Even when backpacking in warm regions, you often need a light-to-mid-weight long-sleeve top or jacket. Especially at higher altitudes, nights can be significantly cooler than the daytime temperatures. Be sure to pack a light fleece top, preferably a zip-neck style, and a lightweight down jacket or vest. These items can prevent the discomfort of sleepless, shivering nights at your campsite. 

Fleece Top Designs. These tops are great items to bring on backpacking excursions. In chilly or cold weather, they keep you warm and cozy while trekking or sleeping. They also substitute for soft pillows at night. Select a fleece top design with only a quarter-zip and without pockets. It will require very little space in your backpack. Fleece is especially comfortable for relaxing nights after long daytime treks.

B07LGZYPN1 - HARD LAND Men’s Water Resistant Packable Down Jacket

Insulated Jacket or Vest. Deciding what coats/jackets to wear backpacking is extremely important. A puffy down jacket is often a necessity when you backpack in cold, snowy and icy regions. For somewhat milder weather, you can pack a lightweight down jacket or vest instead. Synthetic puffy jackets and vests with insulation are also good choices. Although bulky for keeping you warm, these items are designed to compress well for packing. 

Soft-Shell Jackets. These water-resistant jackets are also good windbreakers and provide some warmth. However, they often do not compress very well for compact packing. 

B07NNMVF5K - SWISSWELL Men's Rain Suit Waterproof Lightweight Hooded Rainwear

Rain Jackets and Pants Designs. Always consider rain jackets when deciding what coats/jackets to wear backpacking. Be sure to select a rain jacket and rain pants that are breathable with excellent waterproof protection. Along with keeping you dry and comfortable when hiking in wet weather, these items also help you avoid hypothermia. Jackets that include adjustable hoods and are easy to pack are recommended. Also, remember to choose rain pants that have full-length leg zippers. For your convenience, you can put them on or remove them while wearing boots. No need to worry about what shoes to wear backpacking when wearing leg-zippered pants. Pants designed with elastic waists or adjustable waistbands are also the most comfortable. Deep pockets are also a plus. Some experienced hikers report that wearing rain gear is the best plan for avoiding mosquito bites. 

B074KM5HY9 - Salomon Quest 4D 3 Gore-Tex Mens Backpacking Boots

Footwear. Beginning backpackers often wonder what shoes to wear backpacking. In good and mild weather, this is a personal choice. Running or hiking shoes are good selections for most hiking trails. However, in cold, rainy, snowy or icy weather, trekking boots – and often gaiters –  are recommended. They will protect your feet from injury and cold, wet, harsh weather.

Backpacking Sleepwear and Accessories

Sleepwear. Especially during long backpacking trips, remember to reserve a clean T-shirt and shorts or long-johns for sleepwear. If you store clean socks in your sleeping bag, you will always have a fresh pair. Remember that another essential decision to make is what socks to wear backpacking.

B07D8W97DX - DANISH ENDURANCE Merino Wool Light Hiking Socks 3-Pack

Socks. Socks are essential items of clothing for backpacking trips. It is best to try wearing different styles and weights of new socks with your hiking boots at home. This will enable you to choose the best socks to pack for your next trekking adventure. Many hikers recommend socks made of a blend of wool and synthetics. These socks often provide the most effective cushioning for your hiking comfort. You can also try wearing lightweight liner socks beneath a heavier pair of socks. When trekking in trail hiking shoes, you can wear socks made of lighter weight materials. It is good to consider all aspects of your trekking trip before deciding what socks to wear backpacking. 

B07CCGMSQS - Lenikis Unisex Outdoor Activities UV Protecting Sun Hats with Neck Flap

Hiking Hats. Choosing what hats to wear backpacking is very important. When backpacking in warm to moderately cool weather, pack a hat that offers good protection from the sun’s UV rays. Also, pack a second hat that offers warmth on cool nights or blustery hiking days. If you hike over desert terrain, take a large-billed cap or a wide-brimmed hat. Hats with attached sun capes are also good head and neck covers. For your warm hat, choose a wool fabric or comfortable synthetic. Knowing what hats to wear backpacking is essential.  

B07439NQ2K - Vbiger Men Winter Warm Gloves Windproof Anti-slip Touch Screen Gloves

Trekking Gloves. In mild to moderately cool temperatures, pack a pair of stretch gloves that fit smoothly and are moisture-resistant. Styles with a fleece lining are good for slightly colder climates. On hiking trails with plenty of direct sunlight or in desert regions, wear sun-blocker gloves. The best choices offer UPF 30 to 50+ protection. Both half and full-fingered designs are suitable to wear for hiking.   

Other Backpacking Accessories. Whenever and wherever you go backpacking, cotton bandanas are recommended accessories. Neck gaiters made of polyester or other synthetics are also useful. You can tie them around your head to keep your hair back from your face. In addition, they offer good sun protection when worn around your neck. Neck gaiters also provide a layer of warmth in all types of weather. 

By packing carefully and sensibly for each new backpacking adventure, long or short, you can enjoy healthy, inspiring excursions. Knowing what clothes to wear backpacking is a basic necessity. When well-prepared for a variety of temperatures and weather conditions, you can gain valuable hiking experience. You can also relax and appreciate all aspects of every new trek. Select the best clothing and accessories, pack light, but wisely, and have many fabulous adventures.

Happy trekking! 

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