favorite hiking clothes

My Favorite Hiking Gear and Clothes

One of my most frequently asked questions on my Instagram is “what do you wear when hiking?” especially in the winter months. Ohio weather can be brutal, windy and cold, so base layers and solid hiking clothes are essential for ensuring you can get outside and enjoy hiking while still staying warm. So, I’ve finally rounded up a list of my favorite hiking gear and favorite hiking clothes. This is specifically for women, and some gear and clothes are listed for little kids, too. I will work to create an entirely separate post about that in the future.

*Please note: I do have some affiliate links throughout this post. If you do plan to make a purchase, using my affiliate links would be amazing, as it helps support this website as well as my Instagram and Tiktok channels.

Hiking Socks

We’ll start at the bottom of the body, with my favorite hiking shoes and socks!

Darn Tough Socks are hands down, forever and always my favorite hiking socks. I swear I hype these socks up more than most products. They are SO durable, and keep my feet warm and dry. I’ve never once encountered a blister or felt discomfort in these socks. They are made with Merino wool, which is my favorite fabric. Plus, they offer a Lifetime Guarantee. If you get a hole, rip, etc. you can return your pair and they will send you new ones.

Notable Mentions:

Stego Socks are a little bit more afforable and offer almost all of the same qualities I love about the Darn Tough Socks.

Bombas Merino Wool calf socks are another favorite of mine. Plus, for every pair of socks purchased they donate a pair.

Hiking Shoes

Shoes are one of the most personal hiking gear choices, as there are so many variables such as foot arch and width, but I will share my favorite hiking shoes anyway. For context, I have a more narrow foot with semi high arch.

Merrell is my favorite hiking shoe brand. I always recommend the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Boot. I love these because they require no “breaking in” period, as in you can wear them on a long hike the first time and you shouldn’t expect any discomfort or blistering. I love the mid ankle for additional support but still gives a little flexibility. I’ve taken these to hikes all over the country and they have stood the test of time. I’ve done 8+ mile hikes in them with no issues.

If you aren’t ready to commit to a full hiking boot, I’d suggest trying trail running shoes. They are lightweight and can be used for regular walks, so you can still get use out of them when you aren’t hiking. I have the Moab Flight shoe and love them! The only downside is they aren’t waterproof.

When I’m wearing a child on my back, I do prefer a high, sturdy ankle support shoe to give me that extra stability. Something like the Hoka Anacapa Mid is a great option. They also make an Anacapa low shoe that is more lightweight, is waterproof and requires no breaking in period.

Kids Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes for little kids isn’t a necessity, but we use ours outside of hiking. They are all washable so even if we’re just playing in mud I usually have my kids in them. Both of my kids wear and love the Merrell Kids Trail Chaser sneaker during the warm months. When they were both just starting to walk, we loved the Merrell Bare Steps Boots. Not to mention, they are super cute! If we plan to play in creeks, rivers or any body of water, we use the Merrell Bare Steps H2O Water Shoes. I’ve also heard great things about Keens, but we’ve never personally owned a pair.

For winter hiking, we love the Jan & Jul Toasty Puffy Winter Boots. My three-year-old has never complained of cold or wet feet in these. They have velcro on both sides of the shoe, making them super easy to get on which is a huge bonus in my opinion.

Hiking Pants & Shorts

I don’t prefer traditional hiking pants. I am a leggings gal, and some of my favorites are Lululemon Wunder Under High Rise Tights and Athleta Salutation Stash 7/8 Tight with pockets.

If you’re looking for a more affordable option that maintains quality, I highly recommend checking out Senita Athletics. I recently became an ambassador for them because I was so impressed by their clothing. You can use code MADY15 to save when you buy from them. I love the Studio Skin Joggers (pictured below) and the Skin Shati Leggings (both are UNDER $50!)

I have recently found a pair of more traditional hiking pants that I do love. They are the alder apparel Open Air pants. They are expensive, but they are the only pair I own! I love how many pockets these pants have, and the waistband is super comfortable.

In the winter I add a wool layer underneath my pants. I own the Kari Traa Floke Base Layer Bottoms and love them! They fit great and aren’t itchy like I usually imagine wool to be.

I don’t usually wear shorts while hiking, even in the summer because of ticks, but the Senita Trek shorts are the ones I grab. I also love the Patagonia Baggies. I like the longer 5” version because I’m tall, but they do also offer a 2 1/2” version as well.

Hiking Tops

As far as tops go, I honestly wear such a wide variety it’s hard to narrow it down. I have been loving this Wonder Long Sleeve in the cooler months before a jacket is necessary.

In cooler months, I always wear my 1/4 zip Patagonia fleece. It’s another more expensive item BUT I have had this fleece going on eight years and it’s in perfect condition, so I’d say it’s absolutely worth investing in.

In the winter, I will wear a wool base and I love this Merino base layer from REI.

My favorite hiking coat is the Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down. It’s lightweight, but keeps me so warm even on the coldest hikes.

Hiking Backpack

I always recommend the Osprey Daylite for beginner hikers or anyone who enjoys mostly day hiking. It fits all of the essentials and isn’t too bulky. I also use this in day-to-day life!

As a photographer I tend to carry a bit more in my pack, so I have upgraded to the Osprey Sportlite 25 Pack. I love the adjustable straps and sturdiness of this pack while still being lightweight. Another upgrade is the waistbelt pocket with the Daylite does not have.

Our child carrier is the Deuter Day Comfort. We have used it with both kids and have loved it thoroughly. My only complaint is the front pocket is a bit small for my phone, but I think the new version has a bigger pocket! All of the straps are adjustable, which is so great because my husband and I can both wear it no problem.

Misc. Hiking Gear

Rechargable Hand Warmers for those super cold days.

Frogg Togs Cooling Towel for those super hot days, I like to put these around my kid’s necks or even myself!

Garmin Vivoactive watch to track your steps and hikes. Super accurate and a great battery life. I had an Apple Watch prior to this and I’m so glad I switched.

I will continue to add to this list as I find gear I love! I hope you’ve found this helpful and can find some hiking clothes that work for you.

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