Only a few short years ago I would go into the outdoor stores to find very little hiking clothes for women. I would naturally get irritated that there wasn’t a great women’s hiking outfit, but a lot has changed since then and now there is a lot of options for hiking gear for women.
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.
Women have different needs than men when it comes to backpacking 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 and best hiking clothes for women to give you guys some ideas for your next mountain adventure!
What Makes a Great Hiking Outfit for Women?
A great hiking outfit for women is all about what makes you comfortable in the great outdoors. Hiking clothes that are practical, lightweight, and durable can make the difference between a great day out and an okay day out. My ideal womens outdoor clothing consists of:
- Hiking Pants or Leggings
- Base Layer
- Mid Layer or Down Jacket
- Hiking Shell Jacket
- Merino Wool Socks
- Sports Bra
- Hiking Underwear
- Hat for Sun Protection
- Trail Runners or Hiking Boots
The Best Hiking Clothes for Women
My Ideal Women’s Hiking Outfit Quick Links
Best Hiking Pants for Women
Fjallraven’s Keb Pant
At the top of my list of best hiking clothes for womens are the Kebs. 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.
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pant
OR makes some of the best hiking clothes for women. 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 resistance 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! See more of my favorite hiking pants here.
A hiking outfit for women isn’t complete without leggings. Leggings are among some of my favorite hiking clothes for women. 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 trips.
My favorite yoga pants are made from Handful, their signature leggings are durable enough for hiking, but also light enough for a yoga sesh. (Use code TWP15 for 15% off!)
Best Hiking Shorts for Women
Fjallraven High Coast Trail Shorts
If you’re looking for women’s summer hiking clothes you have to consider 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 a cut is likely on sharp rock.
I know it’s not like that everywhere, and I definitely see the need for shorts in hot weather. Shorts are great hiking clothes for women. I have the Fjallraven High Coast Trail Shorts and they are just as comfortable as the Kebs! See the other best hiking shorts here.
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 Beta is waterproof, windproof, and breathable and made with Goretex Pro. It’s not just good for traveling and rainstorms, 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.
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
Arc’teryx Cerium Down Jacket
I ALWAYS have a women’s 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
My favorite jacket is my Arc’teryx Cerium 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.
Best Hiking Thermals for Women
Kora Yak Wool Layer
If you’re camping on your hike you may want some thermals to keep warm at night. Kora makes great camping clothes for women.
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. Some slightly cheaper options are made by Smartwool!
(Other Favorite Thermals)
Best Hiking Socks for Women
Darn Tough Merino Socks
Yes, the best hiking clothes for women involves 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.
Hiking Sports Bra for Women
Handful Sports Bra
A good sports bra is pretty much essential hiking gear for women. 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 made by Handful.
The real key to a sports bra is the right fit. I love to shop Handful as I always know it’s going to fit me well. Their sports bras are heavy duty and durable, just what you need for hiking. They are made out of quality material, are chafe-free, quick-drying, and even come with stash pockets. Use code TWP15 for 15% off. See my other favorite hiking sports bras here!
Best Hiking Underwear for Women
Icebreaker Siren Bikini Underwear
Good underwear is a women’s hiking apparel staple. 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 switched to wool undies even though they cost a bit more.
Icebreaker makes their 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. I’m wearing the Siren underwear in this photo. After a 25 km hike, I jumped in a glacial lake to cool off, my underwear was dry in 30 minutes!
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
These shirts make great summer hiking clothes for women. I have six Outdoor Research Echo hiking shirts and rotate them on all my hikes. They are lightweight and moisture-wicking and great camping clothes for women.
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
These are my favorite hiking boots, not only because they provide ankle support, but because they are so darn cute for photos. The only problem is they are expensive, but I expect them to last for years! (They have already lasted me three years of SOLID use) I love wearing them around the Canadian Rockies.
If you’re on long multi day hikes where you will need strong hiking boots to carry your backpacking load these are great. Just keep in mind they are heavy so not ideal for long day hikes climbing tall mountains. See all the best lightweight hiking boots.
Merrell Moab 2 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.
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 come in a high ankle version and low ankle version and require little to no break in time. The last hiking trip I did in them was 70 km and they were so comfortable!
Salomon Trail Runners
In all honestly, I wear trail runners on about 85% of my hikes and they are a staple of my women’s hiking apparel. I like how lightweight they are and that I have the option to start running on a trail when I want. Out of all the trail runners, I’ve tried the Salomon’s are my favorite.
Often voted one of the top trail running shoes on the market, these are built with only the rocky trail in mind. Salomon has strong name recognition and there is a good reason for that.
From their waterproof but breathable design, down to their grippy and rugged bottom soles; these shoes support me through every trail hike. The reason the Ultra 3 stands out in the line-up is their Advanced Chassis surrounded by foam, that will have your feet forgetting you’re walking in the wilderness at all!
Women’s Hiking Sandals
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.
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 in the Rocky Mountains when I am on jagged terrain. 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, it’s one of the most underrated pieces of hiking gear for women. I’ve been out too many times 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.
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.
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 20-30L that should be enough to carry all of your necessities for the day.
We personally like to use a 20L pack from Camelbak for most day hikes in the mountains as it allows for us to carry everything we could need. Plus we carry cameras but you may not need this large of a pack, so make sure to pick what’s best for you.
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.
I personally use the Black Diamond FLZ Hiking Poles. “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 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 might 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.
I don’t bring this on all my hikes, but when I do it is surely appreciated. A pad can serve a lot of purposes to like backrest, pillow, cooking surface, or a place to change your clothes. 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.
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.
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, the Grayl 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
Gregory has been building bags for a long time, so they 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 a great organization. If you’ll be on extended thru-hike trips and don’t mind sacrificing a pound or two, this is your ideal hiking backpack.
A comfortable mesh backpack makes for excellent ventilation, and it has attractive features like a built-in rain-fly, water bottle holder that offers easy access on a hike, and hydration compatibility. It’s my favorite multi-day hiking backpack I’ve ever owned!
(Osprey Aura – Alternative Womens Backpacks)
Multi Day Hiking Gear for Women
MSR Hubba Hubba Tent
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 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.
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. 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 for women 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.
Looking for more backpacking and hiking gear for women and not all clothing items? Check out this post!
My favorite hiking brands for women
- Outdoor Research