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What to wear for a summer hike?

Summer is a beautiful season during which it is so pleasant to explore nature and admire it in all its splendour. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or an enthusiastic novice, venturing out on the trails during this time requires adequate preparation. The key to a successful summer hike lies in choosing your equipment. It must be comfortable and protective to allow you to fully enjoy every hike. With this guide, we provide all the information you need so that you can put together the best outfit to turn each outing into an enriching and pleasant experience.

Women’s summer hiking apparel choice

Mountain Weather Specifics

The mountain is an endless source of wonder. While in some respects it may seem hostile, one should never overestimate themselves. Regardless of the season, including in summer, the weather can change completely, sometimes in just a few minutes. To avoid being caught off guard by rain, wind, and lightning during a sudden storm, it is essential to check the weather forecast before setting out. These are valuable for adapting your outfit and choosing the clothes to pre-emptively pack in your backpack. To avoid getting cold, especially when you take a break, we recommend to always to bring a fleece or down jacket. Similarly, as you can never be safe from a downpour, we recommend packing a waterproof hiking jacket. It will also serve as a windbreaker, which is always helpful at altitude.

Women’s summer hiking garments

Knowing Your Playground

If you hike regularly, you probably already own hiking clothes. When you go away for a weekend or a week for a hike, or longer for a trek abroad or in a region different from your own, it is important to inform yourself beforehand about what to expect, so as not to be surprised by the difficulty level of the hikes you plan to undertake once there. It is also advisable to check the weather forecast to have an idea of the weather you might encounter. This way, you can anticipate and pack an appropriate outfit, made up of the clothes you already have or, if necessary, if you are missing something, you will know what to buy.

Female hiker with shorts and long-sleeved t-shirt

Hiking Outfit: The 3-Layer System

The 3-layer system is a commonly used approach to adapt your outfit to the weather conditions you might encounter. It ensures comfort, protection, and thermal regulation. The goal is to maintain a balance between moisture management, thermal insulation, and protection against the elements throughout your hike. Here's how this system works:

Choosing summer hiking garments

A Lightweight and Breathable Base Layer

The layer in direct contact with your skin corresponds to the base layer. Its primary role is to manage moisture by wicking sweat away from your body. These are most commonly made from synthetic fabric, though merino wool base layers are also available. Cotton should be avoided because, although absorbent, it dries very slowly and can convey a sensation of cold, which can be very uncomfortable.

Which Material to Choose?

  • Many base layers are made of polyester. Others are made of polyamide, and a blend of these two materials is also common. Although, fortunately, more and more hiking apparel is made of recycled polyester or polyamide, these are synthetic materials derived from petrochemicals. They have numerous advantages: these materials are lightweight and soft. They do not easily deform and are durable. To make the fabric even more stretchable, elastane is sometimes mixed with polyester. In any case, synthetic base layers provide optimal comfort by quickly wicking away sweat and drying very rapidly. However, they have the disadvantage of retaining odours, which requires frequent changing and washing.

  • Among natural fibres, merino wool takes the top spot. It comes from the shearing of sheep of the same name. Known for its excellent breathability, it is naturally thermoregulating and antibacterial. By limiting the proliferation of bacteria that cause bad odours, a merino wool base layer can be worn for several consecutive days without sweat becoming a problem. On warm summer days, a merino shirt is the perfect companion, both in the plains and on alpine ridges. Merino wool also absorbs sweat very easily and dries quickly, leaving no unpleasant sensation of moisture.

  • Beyond merino wool, there are also linen and hemp, which are appreciated for their thermoregulatory properties. Their cultivation is very water-efficient. Their transformation into textile fibres consumes little energy and does not use any chemical inputs. Hiking clothing made entirely of linen and hemp is rare; these are more often found in blends: polyester and linen, polyester and hemp, as well as blends of polyester and merino wool.

  • Other base layers combine merino wool and lyocell. This fibre, made from wood pulp, also has the property of being breathable. To the touch, it feels similar to viscose or silk.

A Thermal and Insulating Second Layer

The second layer's role is to retain your body heat and insulate you from the cold. This could be a fleece or a down jacket, with either natural down or synthetic fill. If you set out early in the morning, it follows you at the start of the hike, and then, as soon as the sun comes out or the effort of climbing makes your body generate heat, it can be quickly removed and packed into the backpack. That's why it's beneficial to choose a compact jacket that is easily packable, so it has a small footprint. When you stop for a snack or to enjoy the view, just put it back on to avoid getting too cold.

A Waterproof Third Layer

For hiking, the third layer serves as protection against the elements, primarily rain and wind, but sometimes also a few snowflakes that join the party in the mountains, even in summer. Therefore, this layer must be waterproof and windproof, while remaining breathable. It is commonly referred to as a Gore-Tex, due to the success of the famous brand of waterproof membrane. Today, while many brands continue to use a Gore-Tex membrane for their jackets, most have developed their own membranes that demonstrate great performance as well. For example, Vaude and Patagonia make their jackets with in-house membranes that are effective at keeping you dry while adhering to the environmental values they hold dear.

If you hike occasionally in summer, instead of getting yourself a waterproof jacket, you might choose a rain cape or poncho which can be quickly donned at the first drops of rain. These garments provide comprehensive protection. Indeed, because they are generally quite long, they cover your legs and some are designed wide enough to be worn over a backpack, ensuring that in heavy downpours, both you and your belongings are sure to stay dry.

choosing mid layer and third layer

It is important to note that these three layers can be adjusted based on weather conditions. It is not always necessary to carry all of them every time, although it is advisable to pack them in your backpack, just in case.

Hiking Trousers or Shorts?

The choice between hiking trousers and shorts depends on several factors: the route, the terrain, the vegetation encountered, the weather, and naturally your personal style preferences, your sensitivity to cold and heat, etc. Here are some elements to consider to help you make your choice:

Hiking Trousers

  • Protection: against the sun, wind, cool temperatures of the morning or evening, insects, tall grass, thorny bushes, sand, dirt, and small pebbles on rocky trails.
  • Versatility: Hiking pants are adaptable to weather conditions that can sometimes change very quickly in the mountains. They are perfect for the shoulder seasons, when summer has not yet fully set in, after spring, and of course, during the autumn, before the biting cold of winter appears.

Hiking Shorts

  • Comfort and Breathability: Compared to trousers, a pair of hiking shorts is lighter and allows for more air to circulate, which is ideal when temperatures are high.
  • Freedom of Movement: Very useful during technical hikes or on steep trails that require agility.
  • Quick Drying: Beneficial if you cross a stream, in case of a passing shower, or when it is very hot and you are likely to sweat profusely.

Convertible Trousers

There are several names for trousers that can turn into shorts: modular trousers, 2-in-1, or convertible trousers. Depending on the weather and your preferences, you can simply detach the lower part of the legs with a zipper, and you're done. And whether it's to remove them or put them back on, there's no need to take off the trousers. This versatility allows you to carry one garment instead of two, thereby lightening your backpack by a few hundred grams, which is never insignificant, especially if you're on a trek.

Zip-off trousers shorts

What Shoes or Boots to Wear for Summer Walking?

The choice of hiking footwear for the summer depends on the type of hiking you plan to do, the terrain you will encounter, and your personal preferences. Here are some tips for choosing summer hiking shoes or boots:

Low-Cut Hiking Shoes

For hikes on relatively stable and easy-rolling trails, low-cut hiking shoes may be appropriate. They offer good grip, as well as good protection around the toes and the edges of the foot, which is practical on more technical mountain terrains or in rocky areas. They appeal to many walkers in search of lightness and freedom of movement.

Low-cut hiking shoes for summer

Trail Running Shoes

If you plan to pick up the pace during your walk, trail shoes are quite suitable. They have the advantage of being lightweight, breathable, and grippy. They promote good agility. Although they may not have a very wide protective toe cap at the front or on the sides, they still provide adequate protection for the toes. Their versatility allows you to use a single pair of shoes for both running and walking.

Trail running shoes for summer hiking


On rugged trails, where roots and rocks can impede walking and sometimes be slippery, it can be better to wear mid cut or high ankle hiking boots. They provide genuine ankle support and stability. Their robust design, stiffness, and lacing system are suited for all conditions (steep trails, rocky areas, screes, mud, long distances with a loaded backpack, etc.).

High ankle hiking boots for summer

Waterproof and Breathable Footwear

  • Breathability: Opting for shoes made of breathable materials in the summer helps to wick away sweat and keep feet dry.
  • Waterproofness: Waterproof shoes are a real asset in the summer if your route requires you to walk in early morning dew, cross streams or wet areas, and of course, whenever a rain shower occurs.
Low cut summer hiking shoes

Hiking Socks

A good pair of socks, specifically designed for hiking, helps to keep feet dry by wicking sweat away. It reduces the risk of uncomfortable friction and limits the chance of developing blisters, which can be very painful. Hiking socks are often reinforced in areas prone to wear, such as the heels and toes, providing extra protection. Some include merino wool and offer breathable properties, crucial for maintaining a stable temperature, which is essential for lasting comfort and preventing potential foot issues.

Sun Protection

Prolonged exposure to the sun can have disastrous consequences. Aside from the risk of sunburn, it can sometimes lead to serious long-term health issues. That's why it’s essential to be protected from ultraviolet rays. Many hiking t-shirts, shirts, trousers, caps, and hats are made from materials that guarantee sun protection.

Hikers in forest summer hiking apparel choice

Since hiking in the summer requires having the right equipment to protect from the sun, as well as to avoid being caught off-guard by sudden weather changes, we invite you to rely on the three-layer system, which we believe is the best way to assemble a complete outfit and prepare for any eventuality. The advantage of hiking clothing is its versatility and durability. You can easily wear them for other activities, as often as you like. If you have any doubts about the choice of materials, sizes, or styles, do not hesitate to ask us. We will help you find the garment that is right for you. From valleys to mountain peaks, you will enjoy your high-performance equipment, ensuring your comfort and enjoyment, season after season.