What To Wear on Your First Hiking Trip

December 26, 2023

Planning a hiking trip to the Smoky Mountains? It can be great for your physical and mental health. With land ranging over 850 miles and over 150 hiking trails to choose from, Smoky Mountain has a lot to offer. Beautiful, breathtaking views, gushing waterfalls, preserved historic buildings, rugged cliffs, and ravines, there is a lot to see and experience.

When hitting the trail for the first time, you might be confused about your attire and what works best. Here is a list of things to help you put together your perfect hiking outfit:

1.      Check The Weather:

This is one of the most important factors that will determine what you should wear. At higher altitudes, the weather isn’t the same; there could be strong winds, it could be colder, and storms could happen. So, it is best to check the weather forecast for common temperatures at that altitude.

2.      What to Wear:

Foremost, try to make use of what you have. Any moisture-wicking activewear will do. Just choose clothing that is comfortable, flexible, and protects you from elements, thorns or spikes, poisonous plants, and bugs. Before hitting the trail, you can also check out a local Smoky Mountain apparel store, like Smoky Mountain Off-road Outfitters, to stock up on clothing items that you don’t have and might need. They have cool hiking gear that will make you enjoy your trip even more with durable, well-made pieces that are good for long-term sustainability.

Here’s a checklist of the most basic hiking attire you should have:

·         Sturdy shoes:

Your shoes are the most crucial part of your hiking outfit since you will be walking a lot. Choose shoes with some extra traction and support. You can choose between trail runners, hiking shoes, or hiking boots. Trail runners are known for their agility; they’re lightweight while still offering grip and support. Low-top hiking shoes can provide a little bit more support, but they are on the heavier side. If you’re prone to ankle injuries or just want to give your ankle a little bit more support, opt for hiking boots.

·         A moisture-wicking top:

Athletic tops are better than regular t-shirts because they are made up of moisture-wicking material and can keep you dry and comfortable. Depending on the weather, you can opt for a short or long sleeve. Avoid tank tops because wearing backpacks on top of them can cause chafing.

·         Comfortable and sturdy pants:

During hiking, you will be using your legs a lot, so try to wear comfortable and flexible material for your bottoms. In summer, running shorts would be okay, as long as you wouldn’t be hiking through thorny plants or encountering temperature changes or mosquitoes. Leggings or flexible pants can offer more protection against the elements. Just make sure to get something that’s moisture-wicking.

·         A brimmed hat:

To protect your head from the glaring sun and sweat, wear a brimmed hat. Plus, it will also keep you safe from excessive tanning.

·         Underwear:

For your hiking underwear, choose something that works well with a lot of movement and doesn’t cause chafing. You can wear your favorite pair of workout underpants or boxers that would work well for hiking, too. Since they are broken in, they would be less likely to cause chafing. Wearing a sports bra can be better than regular bras while hiking.

3.      Layering For A Hike:

When hiking, your outfit is all about having options since the weather can change suddenly. You can wear light layers, which you can put on or take off at your convenience.

·         A warm jacket:

In colder weather, it’s good to have a puffy insulating jacket on hand to keep you warm. Bring gloves or mitts to hikes to keep your hands from getting frosty.

·         A rain jacket or windbreaker:

If there is even a little chance of rain in the weather forecast, keep a rain jacket handy. Any waterproof and breathable jacket would be fine. It will block the rain and the winds while also letting you sweat. Also, bring rain pants if you’re hiking for more than one day or need to stay warm.

4.      Materials And Fabric Terms For Hiking Clothing:

The most common materials used for active wear are nylon, polyester, wool, and polypropylene. Nylon is a durable choice and can withstand scrapes well, but it absorbs water quickly and may take a while to dry. Polyester is known for its wicking and fast-drying abilities. This is a good material to opt for if you want to dry quickly during rain showers and while crossing streams. Wool is a good option to keep you warm without making you sweat excessively. It’s a good insulator for cold-weather hiking. Polypropylene is good for trapping heat, but it’s a bad fabric in terms of breathability. Also check out how to grow a moustache.

Try to avoid cotton or denim while hiking. They can trap moisture, make you feel sweaty in hotter temperatures, and give you chills in colder temperatures. Cotton is also quite prone to wear and tear quickly.

5.      Have A Clothing Strategy:

When putting together an outfit, have a strategy in mind. Pair a moisture-wicking base layer with an insulating layer or an outer waterproof jacket. Choose fabrics according to the season and the weather conditions you will face. Using moisture-wicking fabric as your base layer would be a good choice because it will keep you dry. Try to have clothing so you can quickly adapt to weather changes.

Don’t wear any jewelry or valuables because if you lose them, you won’t be able to find them. Make sure your shoes are sturdy, well-fitting, and broken in. New shoes will give you blisters. Also, don’t wear any clothes that you’re too attached to, because they can snag or get dirty during a hike.

6.      Protect Yourself From The Elements:

Always apply a layer of sunscreen on your body to avoid sun damage. Keep a pair of sunglasses along with your outfit. A bug repellent and a lip balm should also be a priority.


Going on your first hiking trip can be challenging. But if you take care to plan your outfit, you can ensure that you have a comfortable time. With this article, you should be ready to tackle any season or challenge that might be coming to your outfit.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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