It was only a few short years ago that Cameron and I would go into the outdoor stores only to find hiking clothes and gear that was only suited towards him. I would naturally get irritated that there weren’t any equivalent hiking clothes for women, but a lot has changed since then.
Now almost every single outdoor brand is getting serious about women’s hiking clothing. They are pushing out more and more comfortable, durable, and high functioning outdoor wear for women.
Us women have different needs when it comes to backpacking gear and hiking gear. We have different hygiene habits, may run colder (or hotter) than our male counterparts, and obviously have very different body types.
It’s important that we find great women’s hiking gear that works for us. I wanted to highlight some of my absolute favorite hiking clothes for women to give you guys some ideas for your next mountain adventure!
Best Hiking Clothes for Women
Best Hiking Pants for Women
I have a few pairs of hiking pants that I absolutely love, all are great depending on what you are looking for in your hike.
Fjallraven’s Keb Pant
Both Cameron and I have Fjallraven’s well known Keb pants. Fjallraven’s Keb pants are a mountaineering staple, but they are heavyweight and not excellent for quick dry properties yet extremely durable. I’ve been asked numerous times on Instagram and in person what brand my pants are, and I feel confident recommending them to anyone. They are seriously SO GOOD.
They keep me warm throughout most of my hikes and are windproof. When I am too hot at the base of the mountain, I am able to unzip the sides for airflow. These are, without a doubt, my favorite women’s pants to hike within the mountains.
If you think it’s going to be a cold day you can easily wear long johns under these as well.
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pant
If it’s not a strenuous hike I like to wear Outdoor Research pants. The pants are really lightweight but similar to a softshell pant with great water resistant and windbreaking capabilities.
With that in mind, they keep you warm in cool weather, but the breathability of the pants keeps you cool in hot weather. They also have a lot of water resistance and are more comfortable than a pair of rain pants.
I just went hiking with them on Burstall Pass last week and got poured on, but my legs were completely dry!
When I’m not in my traditional hiking pants you can find me in trekking leggings I wear yoga pants when I know the hike isn’t that demanding and I trust the weather enough that it won’t rain. I don’t usually wear yoga pants on overnight hikes.
The best hiking yoga pants I’ve found to date are the 5.11 Abby Tights. 5.11 makes tactical, heavy duty gear and that’s why I love their yoga pants. They are far from sheer, and have side pockets which I like to put my cell phone in for quick photo access. These are moisture-wicking and have anti-odor properties.
Best Hiking Shorts for Women
Fjallraven High Coast Trail Shorts
Honestly, I rarely hike in shorts. The weather is too unpredictable in the Rockies and always a little chilly. Plus, if I fall in shorts you can almost guarantee I’m going to cut myself.
BUT I know it’s not like that everywhere, and I definitely see the need for shorts in hot weather. I have the Fjallraven High Coast Trail Shorts and they are just as comfortable as the Kebs!
Best Women’s Hiking Shell Jacket
Arc’Teryx Beta AR Jacket
I don’t travel without a shell jacket and I don’t hike without a shell jacket. They are so easy and light to pack up there is no reason to not have one in your day bag. You should always be prepared for a chance of rain when you are hiking. Getting wet and rained on while on a mountain sucks, and it can also be extremely dangerous in cold temperatures.
My hiking rain jacket has come in handy so many times. Many places where it wasn’t supposed to rain and completely unexpected. The Arc’teryx is waterproof, windproof, and breathable and made with Goretex Pro. It’s not just good for traveling and rain storms, but is a protective shell against all levels of weather. I can even wear it in the winter as a waterproof shell over my down jacket.
(Other Favorite Shell Jackets)
Best Womens Hiking Midlayer
Outdoor Research Refuge Hybrid Jacket
A mid-layer is essential on any hike in the mountains. A mid-layer serves as the layer between your base and your jacket. It’s there if you need it in cool temperatures, but can easily be removed when you get hot.
I prefer a mid-layer with a hood, but it’s not completely necessary. My main mid-layer in the summer is from Outdoor Research. The Refuge Hybrid Jacket is extremely comfortable, Water-Resistant, Wind-Resistant, Lightweight, quick-drying, and breathable.
In the winter I usually hike with my Patagonia down fleece mid-layer as it’s a bit warmer and it’s one of my favorite fleece jackets.
(Other Favorite Mid Layers)
Best Hiking Down Jacket for Women
Feather Friends EOS Down Jacket
I ALWAYS have a down jacket with me on every single hike I go on. It’s a just in case jacket that I usually end up wearing when I reach the summit, and it gets cold and windy.
Down jackets pack up light and small so there is no reason NOT to have one in your bag. Seriously it could save your life in a bad situation. We wrote a whole post on our favorites (hint – Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket, Patagonia Down Sweater, REI Coop Down Jacket)
My favorite jacket is my Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket. It’s super lightweight, comfortable, and warm. If you need a warm jacket it’s not possible to do better in terms of weight vs warmth than the jacket. It features 2.8 ounces of 900-fill down with a down hood and an insulated draft tube behind the zipper.
Best Hiking Thermals for Women
Kora Yak Wool Layer
We’ve tried a few different brands, but recently settled on Kora as our favorite pair of thermals. It may be best for us as we need something technical when we snowboard or climb mountains to wick away moisture from our bodies.
Kora makes high-performance technical clothing out of quality Yak Wool from the Himalayas — warning they are high priced. However, their technical abilities have far outpassed traditional wool or synthetic materials we’ve used.
(Other Favorite Thermals)
Best Hiking Socks
Darn Tough Merino Socks
We’ve learned to love our feet with a good pair of merino wool hiking socks. You will want to keep your feet nice and dry while you walk around. Most importantly wool socks stay fresh for several days as they have natural antimicrobial properties.
We travel with a couple of pairs of the Darn Tough Merino socks and our feet have never felt cold or wet. As a bonus, they’re produced in Vermont! Smartwool also makes hiking specific socks that are perfect for long days in the mountains.
Hiking Sports Bra
Patagonia Barely Sports Bra
This should really go without saying, but any woman should be hiking in a sports bra. Of course, it’s completely up to you, but you’ll want something that is light, nonconstricting, moisture-wicking, and will hold your boobs in when you’re hiking. My favorite sports bras are the Handful Sports Bra, Stance Tomboy, Patagonia Barely Sports Bra, and Icebreaker Sprite Racerback Bra.
The real key to a sports bra is the right fit. I love to shop online so I often read fellow reviews to find the right based on similar body builds. Hence the reason I don’t want to comment too much on fit as we’re all different! Of course, you can always go into your local outdoor store and try on a few.
Best Hiking Underwear for Women
Icebreaker Siren Bikini Underwear
Women have specific hygiene needs in the backcountry. To prevent bacterial infections it’s important to avoid wearing cotton underwear. In general, you have two options that are synthetic or wool. I’ve recently bit the bullet and switch to wool undies even though they cost a bit more.
Smartwool makes there Siren series of wool underwear that are amazing for their moisture management and antimicrobial properties. You have the option of thong and bikini which really depends on the type of pants or shorts you’re wearing. I own both, but the bikini obviously offers a bit more protection.
The other option is a synthetic like those from Ex Officio. They make high performance, quick-drying underwear that is antimicrobial and breathable. We don’t just use this for hiking, but also for traveling in general since I don’t always have access to a washer.
If you happen to be on your period and don’t want to use a tampon on the trail I understand! Many women have transitioned to the Diva Cup (also good for traveling!). This is an eco-friendly product that I recommend all the time for dealing with your flow!
Best Hiking Shirts for Women
Outdoor Research Shirt Echo Series
I have six Outdoor Research Echo shirts and rotate them on all my hikes. They are lightweight and moisture-wicking. Seriously, you don’t want to be stuck with a cotton shirt while hiking. Cotton traps all your sweat and then when you get cold it becomes a problem.
Outdoor Research shirts provide full coverage with their long sleeve collections, but you won’t get hot under the sun. These shirts are built with UPF sun protection, AirVent™ moisture management, and ActiveFresh™ odor control technology.
(Other Favorite Womens Hiking Shirts)
Best Womens Hiking Shoes and Boots
Cabela’s Vintage Hiking Boots
These are my favorite hiking boots, not only because they provide ankle support, but because they are so darn cute for photos. At only $100, these are a third of the price of Danner’s which they are modeled after. They are just as cute and just as comfortable. I love wearing them around the Canadian Rockies.
Merrell Moab 2 WP Low Hiking Shoes
After trying on close to 30 pairs of different shoes, the Moab Ventilator shoe is what I wanted as a hiking and walking shoe. The main reason being that these are hiking shoes. However, I can wear them around like I would Nike trainers, and they don’t look ridiculous.
These shoes are built tough, built to last, and are just in general good women’s travel shoes. I have probably put over 500 miles, and they got me through a year of bushwalking in Africa – I still haven’t thrown them out. They are well padded, extremely comfortable, and for about a $20 different you can get the Gortex version (waterproof).
I also have wide feet and a slew of other foot problems and I can easily walk all day in these shoes through all different terrains. Seriously Moab Ventilator, you are some of the best women’s walking shoes for ladies that love the outdoors. They also come in a high ankle version.
Hiking sandals can be so incredibly nice for freeing your feet. Whether it’s an easy hike or you’re just walking around camp it’s great to walk around in a pair of Teva’s or Chacos.
Hiking Gear and Accessories for Women
Unless I am hiking in leggings I need a belt to secure my pants. The newest one I just got is a Jelt Belt. Jelt is a women-owned social enterprise that produces belts made from 100% recycled plastic bottles with an innovative patented flat buckle that won’t show a bump under tops or tees.
Both Cameron and I have a few of these bad boys and they are SO much better than regularly clunky belts.
I have a pair of Outdoor Research gloves in my hiking pack at all times. They are great for when you are scrambling and I always end up using them at some point on my hike. I never want to come back with bloody hands and they protect against that.
I always have a baseball cap in my bag in case the sun gets too intense. I’ve been out too many times without one and my forehead gets too toasty for my liking – even with sunscreen. A baseball cap protects against that and I highly recommend having one in your bag.
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun since you’ll likely spend a lot of time hiking in the sun at elevation. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes. Sunglasses are particularly important if you plan to visit any glaciers or high alpine passes as sun reflection from the snow is damaging to your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses; however, we love ours and will never buy cheap ones again. Polarized glasses are great at enhancing vision in bright environments and removing glare from windshields and the water.
I bring a Buff on every trip in case 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 a multitude of reasons such as sun/wind protection, a scarf, headband, or an ear warmer.
We always have one in our suitcase or backpack no matter the destination and consider it one 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.
If you’re not on a long hike a large multiple-day hiking backpack may not be necessary. Expect to still carry several pounds of gear on your pack so it’s important to have a backpack that sits well on your back with good suspension. However, you don’t need a 50L+ backpack. Instead, opt for a size around 35L that should be enough to carry all of your necessities for the day.
We have a large number of hiking backpacks and they range in sizes. If you have plans for other short treks that may or may not have a porter you can go with a 50L that will lend more versatility without being so large it’s unnecessarily cumbersome on the trail.
We personally like to use between a 30-35L pack for most day hikes in the mountains as it allows for us to carry everything we could need. Plus we carry cameras and sometimes even a gimble, but you may not need this large of a pack, so make sure to pick what’s best for you.
The major plus side of a large bag means we can bring things like a stove to make coffee or a hot meal for a nice rest. As far as our recommendation on smaller backpacks we love the Traverse from REI and the Exos/Tempest from Osprey.
If you have plans to take part in a long day or multi-day hikes a pair of hiking poles are 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 get tired 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 at least one while I’m descending a mountain.
Black Diamond is a company dedicated to mountain sports and has worked hard to craft wonderful products. I personally use the Black Diamond FLZ Hiking Poles, but there are some other great poles out there produced by companies like REI and MSR. “Z” poles are fantastic as they’re lightweight and can be stashed inside a backpack should you not need them.
Pack some high calorie snacks for your hike on the trail. Popular options are energy gels, bars, or balls, jerky, nuts, or even a Snickers. Hiking at elevation can burn a lot of calories so it’s important to maintain your glucose levels.
It’s advised to eat as much as 200-300 calories per hour of exercise. If it’s a long day on the mountain you can always bring a packed lunch with a sandwich and high calorie like dried fruits. (I’m pretty much a kid and still love a peanut butter and jelly sandwich).
If you’re on a long multiday hike where you are carrying everything on your back with you will need to bring lightweight food with you.
Mountain House makes high-quality, freeze-dried meals that actually taste good. You just add water and you’ll have a quick hot mail for the trail.
They also come in great in an emergency situation. A few bags of this could save your life!
Speaking of eating it’s a good idea to bring a small mat to sit on during breaks if you’re in the mountains. The stone and ground can often be much colder than the air so it conducts heat and will make you cold.
A pad can serve a lot of purposes to like back rest, pillow, cooking surface, or a place to change your clothes. We bring the Z Seat on many of our day hikes and appreciate the comfort when we want to just relax and enjoy the view. They are light though so make sure they don’t blow away. It’s best to keep them inside your pack, instead of the outside on a windy day.
You shouldn’t hike without a headlamp, even on a dayhike. We rarely do sunrise hikes, but a headlamp is always in our bag just in case 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 200. It took several recommendations online before settling on this one because of its affordable price and durability. It delivers 200 lumens, costs $40, and will likely last a decade or longer sweet deal if you like to spend time outdoors. Most importantly it’s rechargeable so no more of those pesky batteries in the trash — eco-friendly product win!
While I like having a water bottle on my hikes I like having a water bladder even more. A bladder keeps me drinking regularly since I never have to stop hiking and take out my bottle. It’s always readily available for when you need it.
You should consume at least two liters a water a day while hiking in the mountains, often this means you either carry two bottles of water. The better option for carrying that much water on your treks is to carry a water bladder. A water bladder additionally allows for you to carry extra water if needed.
Most hiking backpacks and even daypacks designed for hiking have a sleeve for carrying your 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 plastic water bottle! This is a waste of money and plastic.
I love the design of this water bottle! Like the Lifestraw Go this bottle also features a filter. However, the filter design is entirely different than the Lifestraw. Most important is that this water bottle system purifies water vs. filters which removes viruses and virtually removes all threat of waterborne illnesses.
This is where preparation for spending a night out in the wilderness comes into effect. 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 very dangerous threat of hypothermia or frostbite. An emergency blanket is a light and small item to keep in your pack.
Women’s Hiking Backpacks
Osprey Aura 65
The Osprey Ariel is the perfect women’s trekking backpack. It’s a great all-around bag built to fit a woman’s torso. Made of Nylon ripstop material it comes in two sizes 55L and 65L. Complete with a custom fit and interchangeable IsoForm5 harness and even a padded hip belt the Ariel is great for long hikes.
Its Anti-Gravity technology is throughout the entire back and can be found in the lightweight mesh material in the upper torso and lumbar area. My favorite feature of the Ariel is the convertible top lip day back which can be removed if you want to climb a nearby peak without the entire pack. The pack has trekking pole attachments and hydration sleeves to keep hydrated. With their LightWire peripheral frame, the Ariel is also one of the lighter backpacks on this list.
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60
I’m a minimalist traveler and always love cutting out whatever weight or unnecessary features I can. Ultralight packs are a popular option for a lot of multi-day and thru-hiker for a good reason. When covering long distances every pound counts such lightweight options like the Mariposa can save your knees and back in the long run. What’s exceptional about the Mariposa is how few tradeoffs there are in a backpack that weighs just over 2 pounds.
The backpack has an internal frame and a suspension system that does an excellent job at distributing weight evenly. The bag comes in a new lightweight material called Robic nylon. Robic Nylon feels more substantial than Dyneema used in other ultralight packs like the Z-Pack and Hyperlight; however, you’ll still want to be mindful of potential punctures. I love the number of pockets, including one large side and front pocket for stashing items such as a rain fly.
Fjallraven does not get a lot of credit in the outdoor. Fjallraven makes the Kaipak from their G-1000 Heavy-duty Eco fabric that is similar to canvas. The material is made from recycled polyester and organic cotton and then waxed for water resistance. Over time the wax will come out of the fabric, but Fjallraven sells the bar that can be applied. We already have the bar for the Keb-1000 trousers, which are some of my favorite hiking and mountaineering pants. What we love the most is this pack is eco-friendly avoiding the article material not made from oil.
The system has a fixed back length and is very stable for the size of the backpack so it carries very well. I would like the bag to be adjustable, but the stability is nice. It’s a top-loading backpack with plenty of room and a snow lock with two loop attachments for ice axes or trekking poles. Kaipak also includes a rain cover and compression straps. Above all, it’s pretty affordable for a high-end brand and stylish bag.
Multi Day Hiking Gear for Women
MSR Hubba Hubba Tent
You’ll need a tent if you’re camping in the wilderness. We have our MSR Hubba Hubba 2 backpacking person tent for comfort when backpacking and doing multi day hikes.
The Hubba Hubba is a top seller for MSR. It’s ultralight and has a super-fast setup system. This tent is waterproof and ultra-durable for any mountain adventure. It’s a great size for two people and there is even extra space to move around.
NeoAir Uber Lite
You’ll want a sleeping pad under you while you sleep. Not only is it more comfortable, but it provides insolation that you’ll need to stay warm. The can get very cold when camping at night and without a sleeping pad under you, your body will take in all that cold.
We travel with the new NeoAir Uber Lite. It’s good for backpacking since it only weighs 8oz and you can blow it up in under two minutes.
A pillow is essential for a good night’s sleep in the mountains. Therm-A-Rest makes durable pillows from upcycled foam. These pillows are soft, and expand large enough for a comfortable rest.
Therm-A-Rest Vesper Down Quilt Bag
Don’t go into the mountains without a sleeping bag if you’re staying overnight. Even in the summer, it gets cold at night and you’ll need a proper sleeping bag to provide you with the warmth you need.
We personally have the new Vesper 20F/-6C Quilt. This is an awesome comfortable sleeping bag featuring 900-fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down. It’s ultra-light and good for overnight backpacking trips. It’s important to match your sleeping bag to your climate, in the Rockies we often see temps below freezing even in the summer.
MSR PocketRocket Deluxe
This is the latest burner from MSR who have been designing these burners for ages, and the Deluxe is their best one yet. It’s not the lightest burner on the market, but at only three ounces, it’s pretty close. It’s a significant update to the old RocketPocket 2 with new recessed burner holes, regulator, a piezoelectric lighter, and pot supports. The result is a burner that is easier to light, burns consistently, and handles wind very well that feels nothing like its predecessor.
In use the burner is exceptional, and it’s easy to deliver a consistent temperature whether boiling water or simmering to cook food on a pan. Most impressive it the sheer amount of heat the burner throws our boiling water faster than any other cooker we’ve used. It also comes with a small stuff sack that fits well inside your cook kit. Other than the typical drawbacks to canister burners, the PocketRocket Deluxe didn’t always light on the first ignition click (nit-picking here) and could stand to be a little more fuel efficient. Altogether, it’s likely the best backpacking stove, and I love it to use it when we’re hiking in the mountains as it handles wind surprisingly well.
I hope this backpacking gear and hiking guide was useful to you! These are my favorite women’s hiking clothes items as you can see by the photos and I stand by each and every one of them. I’m sure you will love all these products as much as I do!
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