It wasn’t long ago I struggled to find the perfect hiking clothes for women. However, after years on the trail and plenty of brands making athletic apparel, I find it easy to nail the perfect hiking outfit for women. Almost every outdoor brand is getting serious about their women’s hiking clothes as more of us tackle the trail and mountain sports. Some badass women are out there pushing the envelope and challenging the guys. While I may not be one of them, I still get out on the trail plenty and know something about dressing for the great outdoors.
It has a lot to do with the needs of women with backpacking and hiking gear. We’re not the same as men. Our bodies move differently, require different hygienic demands, and we run colder. That’s not even factoring in the very different shapes of our bodies! I’ve tested a lot of women’s hiking gear and am happy to share what works for me! In this post, I want to highlight some of my favorites and the best hiking clothes for women.
The Best Hiking Clothes For Women
My Ideal Women’s Hiking Outfit Quick Links
What Makes a Great Hiking Outfit for Women?
A great hiking outfit for women is about what keeps you comfortable in the great outdoors. My favorite hiking clothes are practical, lightweight, and durable, which make the difference between a great day out and an okay day out.
Here are the staples of a women’s hiking outfit:
- Hiking Underwear
- Sports Bra
- Hiking Shirt
- Hiking Pants or Leggings
- Hiking Shorts
- Hiking Jacket
- Hard or Softshell Jacket
- Down Jacket
- Hiking Socks
- Trail Runners or Hiking Boots
- Hiking Hat
Women’s Hiking Underwear
Icebreaker Siren Bikini Underwear
To prevent bacterial infections, avoid wearing cotton undies as they hold moisture. Instead, stay dry with the right material, like wool or polyester. Both are excellent for their moisture management and antimicrobial properties.
However, wool is better against odor resistance and is more comfortable. I’ve tried many versions, and the Icebreaker Siren Line is my favorite. Smartwool makes a closer runner-up, but Icebreaker delivers a better fit and quality. I have holes in my Smartwool underwear.
You can choose between a thong or a bikini, depending on your style or preference. I own both, but the bikini offers more protection/comfort. In the photo, I jumped in the lake after a 25km hike, and my underwear was dry 30 minutes later – that’s staying dry!
Icebreaker Siren Underwear
Women’s Hiking Hygiene
Saalt Menstrual Cup
I understand if you are on your period and don’t want to use a tampon on the trail! This is especially important for backcountry adventures where you must pack your trash. No one wants to carry around used tampons in their bag.
Due to my birth control, my periods are very light, so it’s not an issue. However, plenty of friends swear by the Saalt Menstrual Cup. It’s an eco-friendly product I always recommend for dealing with your flow! Not to mention, it’s great for adventure travel when you can’t always find tampons.
Saalt Menstrual Cup
Women’s Hiking Bras
Handful Sports Bra
I prefer a sports bra with ample support on day hikes and trail runs. However, it must still be lightweight, flexible, and moisture-wicking for hiking. It doesn’t hurt if it’s durable enough to handle multiple sports and repeated washing.
I’ve tried a lot of sports bras, but Handful makes some of my favorite sports bras. They are made out of quality material that is chafe-free, quick-drying, and flexible. It’s a blend of recycled polyester and spandex.
Handful Sports Bra
Icebreaker Siren Bralette
I love a wool hiking bralette on longer, multi-day hikes when a tight sports bra becomes uncomfortable. Like my underwear, I’ve found Icebreaker nails it with their undergarment material. It’s comfortable and has excellent performance.
The Icebreaker Siren Bralette is best suited for low-impact activities. This makes it great on a backcountry adventure, but I wouldn’t wear it on a trail run or mountain biking. Granted, the use of a bralette all depends on your cup size and needs. However, I find it super comfy for daily life when you’re not running around.
Icebreaker Siren Bralette
Women’s Hiking Shirts
Outdoor Research Shirt Echo Series
I rotate several Outdoor Research Echo hiking shirts on my hikes. They are the most comfortable synthetic hiking shirts I’ve worn. I’d go so far as to say it feels like I’m not even wearing a shirt. Plus, they come in many versions, from tank to long-sleeve hoodies.
They are lightweight, moisture-wicking, and offer UPF sun protection. The result is a long-sleeved shirt I feel comfortable wearing in the summer months.
My only complaint is they tend to rip rather than wear down, but they last longer and do not pill from a backpack. I love the long-sleeved hoody for water activities when I want sun protection in hot weather.
Outdoor Research Echo Shirt
Smartwool Classic Shirt
The Smartwool Classic All-Season Shirt is a great all-rounder that works in many situations. I love wool shirts, even though synthetic shirts are slightly more versatile.
I’ve tried several other wool shirts, but the Smartwool Classic Shirts feel the most durable. Since wool tends to fall apart faster, they utilize a fabric that wraps wool around a nylon core to weave the shirt. The downside is it is a petrochemical.
However, you still get all the performance of wool with the durability of synthetics. Fit is a nice blend between casual and athletic, so it works with many body types. It also comes in a long-sleeved version for hiking in cold temperatures. I’ve never regretted wearing this shirt while hiking!
Smartwool Classic Shirt
Best Hiking Pants for Women
Patagonia Pack Out Tights
I prefer the comfort and mobility of leggings over traditional pants. Not to mention I think they look better in photographs. I’ve tried a lot of hiking leggings, and there are a bunch that do an excellent job.
I love my leggings from Handful and Lululemon and have gone on many hikes with them. However, I like the Pack Out Tights from Patagonia if I’m on a bigger hike or backcountry adventure. They offer better storage than most leggings and have reinforced knees.
The wide waistband ensures the leggings remain comfortable on the trail. Of course, they’re exceptionally comfortable and can remain fresh even after a few days on the trail.
Patagonia Pack Out Tights
Fjallraven’s Keb Trousers
When I wear pants, it’s for a rough adventure. I love the Fjallraven Keb Trousers because the canvas pants are super comfortable and tough. They use structured panels to make pants that move flawlessly with your body.
The standout feature here is its heavy canvas blend that is both eco-friendly and rugged. They also have a bunch of pockets and rugged good looks. Plus, they have four handy zippered vents to dump heat when you get warm.
These pants shine with rough travel where branches and rocks are features of the trail—in other words, bushwacking. Yet, they remain some of the most comfortable hiking pants I’ve ever worn. They look pretty cool, too!
Fjallraven Keb Pants
Arc’teryx Gamma Pants
There are better lightweight hiking pants, but I prefer the protection of the Arc’teryx Gamma Pants. If the weather is good or even cool, you’d be hard-pressed to find me in a pair of pants. I wear soft-shell pants when the weather looks mixed or cold. Cold to me is around freezing.
The Gamma is an exceptional softshell pant that is comfortable and offers reliable protection from the elements. I wear them in the rainy shoulder seasons and when we travel to destinations like Iceland, Patagonia, or the Faroe Islands.
I love the material in these pants as it offers the perfect amount of breathability, mobility, and water resistance. Unless it’s a torrential downpour, they offer all the protection I need from the elements. They’re even excellent winter pants capable of mountaineering with just enough room for a layer of thermals comfortably.
Arc’teryx Gamma Pants
Best Hiking Shorts for Women
Lululemon Hotty Hot Shorts
I love all my outdoor gear brands, but sometimes I only need a pair of running shorts for a hike. Lululemon is a behemoth for athleisure, but its products stand out from their competition.
I love their Hotty Hot Shorts for trail runs and summer hikes. They have a couple of different options with lining and length. I prefer the lined 2.5″ as I have shorter legs. Also, I’m a big fan of shorts with a liner, as they reduce the chances of chafing and keep you super cool.
I’ve tried more affordable products from the “bigger” athletic brand names and felt disappointed by them on the trail. They all worked when wearing them for an hour or two at the gym, but hiking for ten-plus hours brings out product defects. That’s why we generally stick to outdoor brands.
Lululemon Hotty Hot Shorts
Best Hiking Dress for Women
REI Hiking Dress
If I’m being honest, I rarely hike in a hiking dress, as it’s not a usual hiking outfit women’s staple. I have very muscular quads and do not have a thigh gap, meaning I often chafe if there is no fabric between my legs.
However, I know that some women like getting out in a hiking dress, and I can’t deny that they look great in mountain photos. REI makes the best hiking dresses that I have been able to find.
They also make stylish skorts so that you look like you’re in a skirt but have a sneaky pair of shorts underneath. Dresses and skirts are not for me, but maybe they work for you!
Best Women’s Hiking Jackets
Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket
I always throw a hard-shell jacket in my bag for hikes in the backcountry. It’s an essential protection from the elements and can save your life. They’re lightweight and easy to pack, so there isn’t any excuse to go without one.
My hiking jacket is the trusty lifeline that’s saved me from several wet days. We’ve been fortunate enough to test out a lot of jackets over the years. My absolute favorite is the Arc’teryx Beta LT, as it’s bomb-proof.
It features 3L GORE-TEX® that is light and keeps me dry and comfortable no matter the weather. My second favorite jacket is the Helly Hansen Odin 3L because it is gorgeous blue and has excellent performance. One last suggestion is the affordable Patagonia Torrentshell!
Women’s Arc’teryx Beta Jacket
Patagonia Down Sweater
Down jackets are easy to compress and super light but supply plenty of warmth. It’s no surprise that they’re staples for hikers. It depends on the hike, but it’s a frequent piece of clothing in my backpack.
It’s particularly important in high-alpine environments. My favorite down jacket is the Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody, as it has a nice athletic fit that looks super sharp. It doesn’t hurt that it has the technical cred of a lightweight down jacket with plenty of warmth.
The only problem is it’s pretty expensive. My first down jacket, Patagonia Down Sweater, offers much more value and is still awesome. It’s an outdoor staple and loved by plenty of hikers.
Women’s Down Jacket Recommendations
Arc’teryx Atom Hoody
I love a comfy mid-layer for cold-weather hikes, campsites, and daily life. I pretty much live in two different jackets in my everyday life. They are the Patagonia Nano-Air and the Arc’teryx Atom Hoody.
They’re both breathable, warm, comfortable, and lightweight. They are super versatile, too, as I can wear them as insulation during the ski season or alone hiking in cool fall weather.
I prefer these synthetic jackets over fleece, flannels, or down jackets as they offer better performance. The Nano-Air Jacket is lighter; however, the Atom is a staple in mountain towns and offers more warmth.
Mid-Layer Jacket Recommendations
Arc’teryx Atom Hoody
Arc’teryx Squamish Hoodie
I grab my lightest jacket for trail runs, bike rides, and mild weather days. That’s the Arc’teryx Squamish Hoodie. It’s not waterproof as it’s a soft-shell jacket, but it offers a fair amount of protection.
It has a roomy fit that can layer over anything from a t-shirt to a down jacket, so it’s easy to match any climate. It keeps wind and precipitation out while providing solid ventilation.
More than anything, I like it on cool days when I want a little warmth but don’t want to overheat when hiking uphill. It packs into the pocket for easy storage in a trail running vest or climbing harness. It’s a terrific option for fast hikers, trail runners, or bikers seeking protection without dying of heat.
Women’s Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody
Best Women’s Hiking Thermals
Helly Hansen Lifa Base Layer
On alpine backcountry trips, I love to pack a pair as nightwear. Of course, a pair of thermals is also great when hiking in the snow or winter weather. My favorite thermals for backcountry use are the Helly Hansen Lifa Base Layers.
I’ve tried many brands, and they remain my favorite pair of thermals. What I love most is their exceptional value for a pair of base layers. The Lifa Base Layers also last forever!
Another great option for a base layer is the Smartwool Classic Thermals. I may even find them a tad more comfortable than the Helly Hansen base layers, but they cost a bit more.
Women’s Hiking Base Layer
Helly Hansen Lifa Base Layer
Smartwool Classic Thermals
Best Women’s Hiking Socks
Darn Tough Merino Socks
Yes, the best hiking clothes for women involve socks. Socks may be the most important part of hiking apparel because the wrong pair can lead to much misery on the trail. Plus, they’re the most affordable piece of women’s hiking clothing.
I give my feet some love with a pair of Merino wool hiking socks. Wool socks stay fresh for several days as they have natural antimicrobial properties and do an excellent job at moisture management. My favorite wool socks are the Darn Tough Micro Hikers.
They offer a nice mid cushion underfoot that feels comfortable but isn’t too much. They’ve held up beautifully after years on the trail, and I’ve never gotten a blister when wearing the socks with proper footwear. More of the footwear next.
Darn Tough Micro Hiker Socks
Best Women’s Hiking Footwear
Truthfully, there are a ton of variables when it comes to footwear. Things to consider are terrain, fit, style, and intended use. I have several different options for footwear for the trail, and I choose based on the day. Choose a shoe that best fits your everyday needs. A trail running shoe is perfect for most hikers as it is capable on and off the trail. That way, you get plenty of use out of your investment. Low-elevation and easy hikes are on well-maintained trails, so a good pair of hiking or tennis shoes is more than adequate.
There has been a long debate on whether you need high-top boots or low-cut shoes to protect your ankles. I only wear boots in poor weather, rough terrain, or rugged backcountry adventures. However, it’s best to be cognizant of your body’s health. If you have previous injuries, are prone to ankle rolls, or need extra support, do not hesitate to choose the best option for yourself. For most, these will be high-ankle boots.
Salomon Speedcross 6
Trail runners are a staple in my hiking outfit and what I wear on most hikes. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and allow me to keep a fast pace. I’ve tried a bunch of trail runners, but Salomon Speedcross 6 is my absolute favorite shoe.
If you’re big on trail running, beating the Salomon Speedcross 6 is tough. They have a diehard following, and for good reason. The lightweight shoe is high on comfort, and the aggressive tread pattern ensures you always have a grip. I burn through a pair of these each summer.
The only downside is the aggressive treads make them uncomfortable for running on smooth surfaces or in the gym. I like to run around my local trails and streets in the Hoka Speedgoat 5 if you want a more versatile shoe.
Salomon Speedcross 6
Danner Mountain 600 Hiking Boots
My favorite hiking boots are the Danner Mountain 600, which offer great performance and are super cute. I prefer the 600s over their classic Cascade Hiking Boots, as they are far lighter and less than half the price.
I like to wear boots on long multi-day hikes when I need strong hiking boots to carry my backpack load. They have more synthetic materials than the classic Danner Boots, so they won’t last as long. However, they are more comfortable and easy to wear on day hikes.
An even more affordable option for women’s hiking boots is the Merrel Moab 3. They’re some of the only boots I’ve found that need no break-in. I took a new pair on a 5-day backcountry hike over 100km out of the box.
Danner Mountain 600 Boots
Women’s Hiking Sandals
Hiking sandals are incredible at freeing your feet. Whether it’s an easy hike or just camping, walking around in a pair of Teva’s or Chacos is great.
They can also complete any cute camping outfits! There’s nothing better than getting to camp, popping off hiking boots, and switching to a pair of sandals!
I have difficulty hiking in sandals as they don’t work on my feet. However, I love to wear them when I go paddleboarding, kayaking, or I plan to cross a river on my hike.
Hiking Gear and Accessories for Women
Women’s Hiking Belt
They have an innovative patented flat buckle that won’t show a bump under tops or tees. They’re comfortable and work for any outdoor sport like skiing, kayaking, or mountain biking.
Women’s Hiking Hat
A hat is not exactly the best hiking clothes for women, but they are still very important for a hiking outfit. I always have a hat in my bag if the sun gets too intense; it’s one of the most underrated pieces of hiking gear for women.
I’ve been out too often without one, and my forehead gets too toasty for my liking – even with sunscreen. A hiking hat protects against that, and I highly recommend having one in your bag.
Lululemon makes a great hat that has a larger hole for a ponytail. I have thick hair and struggle to pull it through a traditional hat.
Fast & Free Ponytail Hat
Protect your eyes from the sun since you’ll likely spend a lot of time hiking in the sun at elevation. There are many sunglasses options; everyone should own at least a pair.
It’s best to ensure they have UV protection for the health of your eyes. Sunglasses are essential if you plan to visit any glaciers or high alpine passes as sun reflection from the snow damages your eyes.
Smith Lowdown 2.0
I bring a Buff on every trip if my ears get cold or I want to have one to cover my face, which happens more often than you may think. We have a collection of buff headbands and bring them everywhere. They’re great for many reasons, such as sun/wind protection, a scarf, a headband, or an ear warmer.
No matter the destination, we always have one in our suitcase or backpack and consider it one of the top travel and hiking accessories. I imagine most people have one or two of these by now, but if you don’t, it’s time to invest in at least one good one.
A large multiple-day hiking backpack is unnecessary if you’re not on a long hike. You don’t need a 50L+ backpack. Instead, opt for a size around 20-30L that should be enough to carry all your daily necessities.
Many great backpacks are on the market, but my favorite is from REI Co-op. The REI Co-op Trail 25 is affordable and super comfortable on the trail. My other favorite hiking backpack brand is Osprey! I have the Tempest, and it has served me well over the years.
REI Co-op Trail Backpack
If you have plans to take part in a long day or multi-day hikes, a pair of hiking poles is a great way to save your knees and prevent injuries. If you’re on a full day of hiking in the mountains, you’ll gain and descend a lot of elevation. So, it’s easy for your legs to tire, and a pair of hiking poles will pay off.
Although I don’t always need hiking poles, they are always in my pack. I almost ALWAYS end up using it at least once while I’m descending a mountain.
Black Diamond FLZ Hiking Poles
Pack some high-calorie snacks for your hike on the trail. Popular options include energy gels, bars, balls, jerky, nuts, and Snickers. Hiking at elevation can burn a lot of calories, so it’s important to maintain your glucose levels.
Eating as much as 200-300 calories per hour of exercise is advised. If it’s a long day on the mountain, you can always bring a packed lunch with a sandwich and high calories like dried fruits. (I’m pretty much a kid and still love a peanut butter and jelly sandwich).
You shouldn’t hike without a headlamp, even on a day hike. We rarely do sunrise hikes, but a headlamp is always in our bag if we get caught on the mountain after dark. They are small and light, so there is no reason not to have one in your pack. This is another hiking accessory that could save your life.
We have several headlamps, but one of our new favorites is the Biolite. It took several recommendations online before settling on this one because of its affordable price and durability. It delivers 200 lumens, costs $50, and will likely last a decade or longer. It’s a sweet deal if you like to spend time outdoors.
While I like having a water bottle on my hikes, I like having a water bladder even more. My bladder keeps me regularly drinking since I never have to stop hiking and take out my bottle. It’s always readily available when you need it.
You should consume at least two liters of water daily while hiking in the mountains; this often means you carry two bottles of water. A water bladder is better for carrying that much water on your treks.
Most hiking backpacks and even daypacks designed for hiking have a sleeve for carrying extra water.
Grayl Ultralight Water Bottle
If a water bladder is not your thing, at the very least, get a good water bottle. Don’t go hiking with a single-use plastic water bottle! This is a waste of money and plastic.
I love the Grayl bottle as it features a purifier. Most importantly, this water bottle system purifies water vs. filters, removing viruses and virtually all threats of waterborne illnesses.
Grayl Ultralight Bottle
This is where preparation for a night out in the wilderness occurs. If you’re on a short loop around town, it’s probably not necessary, but any significant hike in a national park or wilderness area presents the risk of spending the night outside.
When temperatures drop at night, it presents the dangerous threat of hypothermia or frostbite. An emergency blanket is a light and small item to keep in your pack.
Women’s Hiking Backpacks
Gregory has been building bags for a long time to know how to make a quality pack. This hiking backpack for women is a workhorse designed to be used and abused. The Deva is designed to carry a heavy load without breaking your back on the trail.
It has a superior suspension system with plush padding and great organization. This is your ideal hiking backpack if you’ll be on extended thru-hike trips and don’t mind sacrificing a pound or two.
A comfortable mesh backpack makes for excellent ventilation. It has attractive features like a built-in rain-fly, a water bottle holder that offers easy hiking access, and hydration compatibility. It’s my favorite multi-day hiking backpack I’ve ever owned!
Gregory Diva Backpack
I hope this backpacking gear and hiking guide for women was helpful to you! These are my favorite women’s hiking clothes items, as you can see from the photos, and I stand by all of them. I’m sure you will love all these products as much as I do.
Are you looking for more backpacking and hiking gear for women and not Just Hiking Outfit for Women Ideas? Then Check out this post!
My Favorite Hiking Brands for Women
- Outdoor Research
- REI Co-op
- Helly Hansen