Fall hiking can be tricky and uncomfortable if you don’t have the right fall hiking outfit. During that time of year, the weather is quite unpredictable. It could be bright and sunny in the morning and dark and rainy in the afternoon. Simply going with any generic fall hiking outfit for the day may not work.
The trick is to master layering. We have shared some practical layering tips in our How to Layer for Cold Weather – Outdoor Checklist article. Once you know how to get that perfect combination of outfits that will not only keep you warm but also dry and provide adequate breathability, you will find fall hiking just as much fun as summer or winter hiking.
Here are some fall hiking outfit tips that should help you get started on the right foot.
Tips on What to Wear When Hiking in the Fall
When hiking in the fall, or any season, the golden rule is to wear clothing that can dry quickly and do a good job of whisking moisture away from your skin. This way, your skin will remain dry, and should your clothes get wet, as they often will when hiking in the fall, they won’t retain that moisture or dampness for long.
The best hiking clothes are synthetic polyester and nylon or merino wool blends. These fall hiking clothes are guaranteed to keep you well insulated but not too hot and are breathable, adding to their comfortability.
Base Layers for Fall Hiking
If you get the base layer right, it should be able to keep your body warm and regulate your temperature. The right base layer will protect you from overheating or becoming hypothermic if your clothes become damp.
Think of the base layer as the building block of your fall hiking outfit or ensemble. This is the layer closest to your body; you can add to it as needed.
Here are some of the most essential base layers for fall hiking.
A Short-Sleeved Hiking T-Shirt
A hiking t-shirt is one of the best base layering options when hiking in the fall. Something like this Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt is a great option.
This t-shirt is made out of recycled polyester. It is quick-drying and moisture-wicking, ensuring you stay nice and dry as you push to make the summit. A short-sleeved t-shirt option is great when hiking in the fall, especially when the sun decides to come out.
Since the weather can change abruptly when hiking during the fall months, it’s important to have a versatile set of leggings to provide the necessary warmth you need while on the hiking trail. The best fall hiking leggings are slightly thicker than your usual leggings and are good for cold weather.
They offer all-weather versatility and do well to wick moisture away from the skin, allowing your legs to breathe whenever you are going uphill. These IUGA high-waist yoga pants with pockets work perfectly for ladies who prefer to keep their personal belongings on their person when hiking in the fall.
Fall Hiking Mid-Layers
Much like base layers, which are in contact with your skin, mid-layer hiking clothes are meant to keep you warm while also providing breathability. Furthermore, they provide better insulation against the elements and better skin coverage. Middle layers trap in heat while remaining lightweight and easy enough to put on and remove as needed.
Here are some of the best fall hiking middle-layer options.
Long Sleeve Top or Pullover
A comfortable long-sleeve pullover on top of a short-sleeved hiking t-shirt provides adequate protection against the elements. You need something that’s fitted but not too tight and also has 4 way stretch. You can easily layer it over the t-shirt without being too snug.
This Vuori Halo Essential Hoodie will do nicely, not only is it sweat-wicking, it also dries fast!
If you are hiking on a particularly cold day in the fall, you might want to add an insulated vest to your ensemble. These vests are the perfect fall hiking outfit for people who run hot and need to let their arms and armpits breathe as much as possible while staying warm.
Unlike an insulated puffy jacket, which is ideal for winter hiking, an insulated vest isn’t heavy or bulky. It is warm and comfortable, keeping your core well protected.
One of the best-insulated vest options for ladies who enjoy hiking in the fall is this Patagonia Nano Puff Insulated Vest. Made of recycled materials, it comes with a water-repellent shell, a full zipper, two pockets, and a drawstring at its hem. It also offers neck protection.
Outer Layers for Fall Hiking
Layering isn’t complete without the outer layer. The outer layer is designed to keep you protected from the elements. These clothing items are often warm but, more importantly, waterproof to keep you dry in the event of a sudden downpour.
Most hikers mistakenly assume they won’t need an outer layer for one reason or another. Usually, these hikers run hot and assume that the inner and mid-layers will be enough to keep them warm throughout the hike.
While, in many cases, this is true, the simple fact is that you should always carry outer layers, even when you don’t think you will need them. This is particularly true when hiking in the fall when the weather is erratic. In the case of outer layers, it’s better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have any, especially if it starts raining.
Columbia Women’s Arcadia Ii Jacket | $69.75
Although rain jackets aren’t as insulating as other options, they are a must-have item on your fall hiking outfit list. Since the weather can be unpredictable during the fall, it’s often best to have rain gear, and this Columbia Women’s Arcadia Ii Jacket does the job perfectly. Columbia offers many excellent rain jacket options that are lightweight, waterproof, and made out of high-quality nylon materials.
Although not everyone will need hiking gloves, they are always a good idea to have them in your hiking bag, just in case. These Outdoor Research Melody Sensor Gloves are an excellent option for people who enjoy GPS hiking and would like the ability to operate their handheld devices without having to remove their gloves.
Hiking Shoe or Boot
Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Hiking Boot | $179.95
Fall hiking increases your chances of encountering rain on the hiking trail. For that reason, it’s important to have a waterproof hiking boot that will protect your feet from any dangers that the hiking trail might present and keep them dry on colder hikes.
In the fall, wet feet will not only be uncomfortable, but they could also leave you open to hypothermia in cooler temperatures. Besides, soggy feet are prone to developing blisters, which can hamper your hiking progress and experience.
These Oboz Bridger Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots are an excellent option for people who want something stylish, effective, and waterproof.
When buying the best hiking shoes, it’s often best to focus on the protective quality and comfort. One doesn’t work without the other, although some manufacturers don’t always pair them well together.
There are other items on this fall hiking outfit list that complete the look. These include:
- A beanie to keep your head covered and warm. We like Buff DryFlx hat since its 360 degree reflective and a UPF 50 rating.
- A Buff, multifunctional headwear, which can be worn as a headband, neck gaiter, helmet liner, keep your ears warm ,and prevent your beanie from being blown away by the wind should the day suddenly turn windy. We like this headwear Buff CoolNet UV+ Insect Shield Multifunctional Headwear because it can be worn 12 ways and protects your neck and face from biting insects.
- A pair of synthetic material hiking socks to keep your feet comfortable and wick away sweat as you hike
- An insulated hoodie works best for those days when you are certain there won’t be any rain, but you still need something to protect you from the wind
Your fall hiking outfit should be complemented by the appropriate hiking gear, including hiking poles to keep you stable, a backpacking headlamp should the day suddenly become dark, and a host of essential camping gadgets to both find direction and call for help when you need it.
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Last update on 2022-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API