What to Wear for Hiking in the Fall

Hey there, nature enthusiasts! As the days grow shorter and the air becomes crisper, there’s something undeniably magical about exploring the outdoors during the fall season. Hiking, in particular, offers a great way to soak up the stunning fall foliage, breathe in the fresh air, and get some exercise in the process. But before you hit the trails, it’s crucial to make sure you’re dressed for success – after all, the right attire will not only keep you comfortable but also ensure your safety. That’s why, in this article, we’ll be discussing the ins and outs of what to wear while hiking in the fall. From considering temperature fluctuations and weather conditions to taking trail terrain into account, we’ve got you covered. So, grab your pumpkin spice latte, get cozy, and let’s dive into your ultimate guide to fall hiking attire!

Factors to Consider When Choosing What to Wear Hiking in the Fall

Before we dive into the clothing items and tips, it’s important to consider the factors that will affect your clothing choices while hiking in fall.

Weather and Temperature

Fall weather can be unpredictable, and you might encounter anything from a light drizzle to a full-blown snowstorm during your hike. So, it’s essential to be prepared for any weather that comes your way. Don’t let Mother Nature catch you off guard, pack your waterproof gear, extra layers, and warm accessories to keep you dry and cozy on the trail.

Trust me, a little bit of planning ahead will go a long way towards ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable fall hiking experience.

Trail terrain and elevation

When planning your fall hiking outfit, consider the type of terrain you’ll be trekking on. If you’re hitting up steep mountain trails, opt for lightweight and breathable clothing to ensure maximum mobility and breathability for a strenuous (read: sweaty!) climb. On the other hand, if you’ll be walking on flat terrain, you can layer up with more insulation to keep yourself warm and cozy.

Remember, when it comes to fall hiking, it’s all about striking the right balance between functionality and comfort. You don’t want to be bogged down by heavy clothing, but at the same time, you don’t want to be shivering in the cold. So, choose your clothing wisely and tailor your outfit to match the terrain and weather conditions you’ll be facing.

Duration of the hike

Comfort should be a top priority, especially if you’ll be hitting the trails for an extended period. Make sure to choose clothing that is breathable and flexible to reduce the risk of chafing or irritating your skin.

Consider investing in high-quality, moisture-wicking fabrics to keep sweat and moisture away from your body. Also, choose clothing that allows you to move freely and won’t restrict your movements. The last thing you want is to cut your hiking adventure short due to discomfort or irritation caused by your clothing.

Personal comfort and preference

When it comes to fall hiking clothing, personal comfort and preference should be a major consideration. Everyone’s body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Some people prefer snug-fitting clothing that hugs their body and provides added warmth, while others prefer looser-fitting clothing that allows for more airflow and mobility. It’s also important to consider the materials used in your clothing. Some hikers prefer wool clothing for its warmth and natural moisture-wicking properties, while others prefer synthetic fabrics for their lightweight and quick-drying capabilities.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to find the perfect balance of comfort, functionality, and personal preference when choosing what you wear hiking in the fall.

Essential Clothing Items for Fall Hiking

Base Layers

Your base layer is the layer closest to your skin and is responsible for wicking away moisture to keep you dry and warm. Choose a base layer made from synthetic fabrics such as polyester or merino wool that will keep you dry even when you sweat.

Recommended clothing items

Women’s Smartwool Merino 150 Long Sleeve or the Mens 200 Crew

Women’s  or Men’s Smartwool Merino 250 Base bottoms

Women’s Eddie Bauer Trail Tight Leggings and Baleaf Base Layer Top

I wrote about these Eddie Bauer leggings in my review post on hiking leggings. They are incredible!

Read: Best Leggings for Hiking

Mid Layers

Mid layers provide insulation and warmth. You can choose a mid layer made from fleece, wool, or synthetic materials, depending on your personal preference. You can also opt for a down jacket if you’ll be hiking in very cold conditions.

Womens Baleaf Fleece Half Zip or Mens Quarter Zip

Outer Layers

When it comes to choosing the perfect outer layer for your fall adventures, the options are practically endless! There are so many great options out there that it can be hard to pick just one. Personally, I always make sure to pack my trusty puffy jacket whenever I head out on a fall hike. It’s lightweight, easy to pack, and provides the perfect amount of warmth to keep me comfortable throughout the day. However, I know that some hikers prefer to opt for a waterproof layer, and that’s a fantastic choice as well.

Recommended clothing items

Outer layers protect you from wind, rain, and snow. A waterproof and breathable jacket and pants will keep you dry during rainy or snowy hikes. You can also choose a softshell jacket if you’ll be hiking in dry conditions. But ultimately, I just keep it simple and bring my winter puffy, even if I never put it on.


Headwear: A hat or beanie will keep your head warm and protect your ears from the cold. A lightweight and breathable cap will provide shade and protect your face from the sun.

Footwear: The right footwear is essential for a comfortable and safe hike. Choose shoes or boots with good traction and ankle support. If you’ll be hiking in wet conditions, make sure your footwear is waterproof.

Socks: Choose socks made from synthetic materials or wool that will keep your feet dry and warm. You can also bring an extra pair of socks in case your feet get wet.

Clothing Tips for Hiking in Fall

Now that we’ve covered the essential clothing items for fall hiking, let’s talk about some tips for dressing for a successful and comfortable hike.

Layer, layer, layer: If there’s one piece of advice I can’t stress enough, it’s this: dress in layers for your fall hikes! This simple trick allows you to adjust your clothing as your body temperature fluctuates, keeping you comfortable and preventing you from overheating or getting too cold. Trust me, nothing ruins a hike faster than being too hot or too cold.

Dress for the temperature range: Fellow hikers, beware: fall weather is notorious for its unpredictability! Don’t get caught off guard by sudden temperature changes. Make sure to dress appropriately for the expected range and pack extra layers, just in case.

Choose appropriate footwear: The right footwear is crucial for a safe and comfortable hike. Choose shoes or boots that are sturdy and have good traction for the trail conditions you’ll encounter.

Protect yourself against rain and wind: As I mentioned earlier, fall can bring rain and wind, so make sure you bring appropriate outer layers to protect yourself. A rain jacket, pants, and hat will keep you dry, while a windbreaker or insulated jacket will protect you against the wind.

Bring accessories: Don’t forget to bring a hat or beanie, gloves, and warm socks. These accessories will help keep you warm and protect your extremities against the cold.

Dress in bright colors and wear reflective gear: As the days get shorter, it’s important to make sure you’re visible to others on the trail. Dressing in bright colors and wearing reflective gear will make sure you’re seen by others and prevent any accidents.

Fall hiking is an experience that I highly recommend. The cool, crisp air and vibrant colors of the changing leaves make it a magical time to explore the great outdoors. As you trek through the beautiful autumn scenery, take some time to truly appreciate the stunning natural beauty around you. Let yourself get lost in the moment and simply breathe in the fresh, crisp air.

As always, I love to hear from you. Share your fall hiking experiences, tips, and photos with me in the comments below. Happy hiking, friends!

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