Hiking in the summer is a rewarding experience, although it is not without challenges. Depending on the location of your hike, the weather can be extremely hot.
In addition to ensuring you stay hydrated, you should also wear the proper clothing to remain comfortable and protected and avoid overheating.
Because we know that it can be overwhelming to prepare for hot-weather hikes, our team of experts compiled recommendations for what to wear when hiking in hot weather.
Here are the things you should consider before you suit up for your next adventure and why these options will help you to stay cool.
Best Clothing For Hiking In Hot Weather
When considering hot weather hiking clothes, you should consider the comfort and protection of your entire body from your head to your feet. Here’s our list of the best hot weather hiking clothes.
A good pair of sunglasses with UV protection and polarization will protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays and help you see better in bright conditions.
Breathable Hiking Shirt
The best shirts for hiking in hot weather are flexible, breathable, and moisture-wicking. Choose materials, like nylon or lycra. Also, consider long-sleeves and built-in UPF for added protection from the sun.
Both women and men should opt for some hot weather travel pants that are lightweight, breathable, and made of moisture-wicking fabric.
Opt not to wear shorts on hot-weather hikes. Pants provide added protection from the sun, bugs, and sharp vegetation.
Choose a high-quality hat with UPF protection and enough coverage to protect your face, head, and neck from excessive sun exposure.
Read more: Hiking Hats for Women
Men should wear lightweight, breathable undergarments that are moisture-wicking and quick drying. This garment proves critical in helping to defend against chafing or rashes.
A pair of high-quality hiking socks will protect your feet against the elements. Choose ones that are lightweight, comfortable, and cushioning.
Breathable Hiking Shoes
Your regular hiking boots can make your feet feel hot and sweaty in warm weather. Instead, opt for hiking shoes. Choose ones that repel moisture, are quick-drying, and are lightweight.
What You Should Not Wear When Hiking
When choosing a hot hiking outfit, consider refraining from wearing the following items.
Even some of the best hiking footwear is often made of non-breathable leather, which makes your feet hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable during summer hikes.
Opt for travel pants when hiking for better protection from the sun, vegetation, and bugs (like ticks). Many travel pants convert into shorts if you get too hot.
Colors like black, dark blue, or gray will attract the sun’s heat and raise your body temperature.
This is one tip I’ve learned on Outdooradept. I never knew how much of a difference can make the material the socks are made from.
After testing a few different socks, I can easily say that Merino wool socks are doing a great job.
Can You Wear Hiking Boots In The Summer?
You should only wear hiking boots in the summer if the terrain that you are hiking in is exceptionally rocky and requires significant ankle support.
For other hikes, boots will cause your feet to overheat and become excessively sweaty.
If you must wear hiking boots for a summer hike, choose the most breathable ones you can find and opt for ones that are not waterproof.
Waterproofing makes the boots less breathable and will cause your feet to sweat more.
A good, lightweight hiking shoe made out of breathable materials (such as polyester) or even a quality hiking sandal (if the terrain allows) makes a better option.
Pants vs. Shorts for Summer Hiking
The main difference between pants and shorts when hiking in hot weather is the amount of protection they give you from the sun, insects, and other elements.
If you wear shorts, you must reapply sunscreen every few hours or risk getting burnt.
Lightweight hiking pants are often vented and breathable enough to keep you cool even in the hottest temperatures. Many also have built-in UPF for extra sun protection.
Even tho I wear hiking boots with shorts sometimes, I only do it when I’m making my homework and I know the hike will be on a rocky trail and mostly through the woods, so my legs are protected from the sun.
Another benefit of wearing pants instead of shorts is insect protection. Hot weather often brings out mosquitos and other insects (like ant hills), and if your hike takes you through the woods, there could also be ticks.
Pants will also protect you from things like poison ivy, thorns, or stinging nettle. Just make sure you wear the correct type of pants to avoid getting too hot.
Tips and Recommendations For Hiking In Hot Weather
Here are some of our best tips for hiking during hot summers:
- Ensure you bring enough water with you for the duration of your hike, as hydration in hot weather is extremely important. Generally, you should have at least 2 cups of water available for every hour of your hike.
- Tuck your pants into your socks for further protection against ticks, other insect bites, and vegetation. We’ve tried many different types of pants for hot weather, and here are our recommendations for men and women.
- An adjustable sunglass strap will keep your sunglasses securely around your neck so you won’t lose them if they slip off or forget them somewhere when you take a break.
- Start your hike as early or late in the day as possible to avoid the hottest times (between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM).
Stick to lightly colored clothing when hiking in the heat. Dark colors like black, blue, gray, etc., will attract the sun’s heat and raise your body temperature. The best colors to choose are white, light yellow, tan, or khaki. These colors will reflect the sun’s rays instead of absorbing them.
Hikers stay cool in hot weather by staying properly hydrated, wearing suitable types of protective clothing (loose, light-colored, and UPF-protected), taking frequent breaks, and avoiding the hottest part of the day. You can also use a special cooling towel around your neck to lower your core body temperature.
Hiking boots typically do not make the best footwear for hiking in hot weather because they are generally waterproof, which makes them not very breathable. Instead, opt for lightweight and breathable hiking shoes or hiking sandals. Only use boots if the terrain is exceptionally rocky or requires extensive ankle support.
As a general rule, any temperature about 90° F will likely prove too hot for hiking. The closer the temperature gets to 100° F, the greater the risk of heatstroke. Other factors, such as humidity level, will also affect how hot it feels during your hike and how tolerable the temperature will be.