Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy nature. One of the most popular outdoor activities during the summer is hiking. However, if you’re not prepared, it can be a very uncomfortable experience.

In this blog post, we will discuss 8 ideas for what to wear when hiking in summer weather. We will also cover some things you should avoid when hiking in the summer heat!

Guest Post written by Mark of This article may contain affiliate links that I earn a small commission from at no additional cost to you.

view of Grandfather Mountain things to do in Boone

What should you wear when hiking in summer weather?

Here’s a handy list of what to wear when hiking in summer weather. Hiking in winter? Check out the list of what to wear hiking in winter instead.

Though some of these may seem like hiking clothes you would wear in any climate, we’ll cover specific features fit for summer weather.  Click an item to jump right to it:

Pro Tip

First and foremost, we want to mention that you should avoid wearing cotton materials if possible for summer hiking clothes.

You want to avoid anything made from cotton because it will absorb sweat and hold onto it, which can lead to chafing.

Wear synthetic fabrics like polyester that wick sweat away to the outer layer of the material so it can dry quickly. 

Synthetic fabrics are also lightweight!


A hat helps protect your face from the sun, which can be very intense during summer hikes.  Remember, even on cloudy days, you can still get sunburned.

If it’s a particularly hot day, a hat can help keep you cool by shading your head and face.

Hiking hats come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  A ball cap is a simple choice, while full brimmed hats provide more sun protection.  You can also get hats with neck covers built in for more sun protection.

Other important features in a hat include:

  • Ventilation to allow for airflow
  • Waterproof materials to help keep you dry in the rain
  • Sun-protective fabrics
  • Moisture wicking or quick drying fabrics

Consider your needs for the hat you want to wear hiking your next trail. Hats are especially important near the coast like if you’re hiking near Wilmington, NC.

rocks on side of mountain

Hydration Packs

Hydration packs are an important piece of hiking gear for summer hiking because they keep you hydrated without having to stop to get to your water all of the time.  With a hydration pack, your water is easily accessible using a drinking tube, and is conveniently carried on your back.

A hydration pack is a backpack that holds a bladder and carries the water with a sealable cap, and a flexible tube at the bottom that is long enough to reach your mouth.  

You only have to suck on the end of the tubing to get your water.  The tube usually has an on/off valve to prevent water from leaking.

The tube can be stowed or clipped to one of the shoulder straps for easy access while you’re hiking.  Some hydration packs are also insulated if you want to keep water cool for a period of time.

You can find hydration packs that double as hiking packs, or buy a bladder separately that you can put into your backpack.  A lot of packs have a dedicated pouch to hold a water bladder, and a feed-through for the tube nowadays.

Remember to find a bladder big enough to get you through your hike so you don’t run out of water! Don’t forget some good hiking snacks either.


This may seem obvious and simple, but the sun can be incredibly harsh, no matter what time of year it is. But during the summer months, the UV rays are especially intense. That’s why it’s so important to wear sunscreen when you’re doing summer hiking – even if it means carrying an extra bottle in your backpack.

Sunscreens vary in SPF protection rating, can be waterproof, sweatproof, or water resistant, and can even contain bug repellant if you’re hiking in areas where you know bugs will be bothersome.

A bad sunburn can ruin your day, so be sure to protect yourself from the sun.

Hiking Pants

A few important questions to consider for what to wear hiking in summer months is: 

What type of pants should I wear?  

Is it better to wear hiking shorts to beat hot weather?

This depends on the terrain you’re hiking, really.

While shorts do keep you cooler, they could be the wrong choice if you’re hiking in an area where ticks or other bugs are an issue.  Other obstacles like thorns should also be considered, as well as your preference for sun protection.

You should keep your legs covered with lightweight long pants if there is any risk of the above.

The best of both worlds are convertible hiking pants.

Convertible pants have the option to zip off the lower legs to turn them into shorts.  They usually have multiple pockets that are perfect for storing snacks, a map, phone, etc.  You can also find pants made from lightweight and breathable fabrics that help keep you cool.

Another option to consider could be synthetic leggings.  Find the right pair for your hike if that’s what’s comfortable.

tree stump and trees in sand hiking near Wilmington

Hiking Shirts

Long sleeved hiking shirts are good for summer hikes because you can get ones that are made of light and breathable materials.  You want to avoid anything that is too tight or constricting because it will make you sweat more.

You can find shirts with vents built into the back and sides of the shirt to give you extra airflow for cooling.  Roll up the sleeves if desired.

A T-shirt or tank top can be other viable options, but short sleeves can lack adequate sun protection, or protection from bugs and other trail obstacles.  Just be mindful of the type of hiking you’ll be doing.


What type of underwear should you wear for summer hiking?

The main thing you want to consider is breathability and moisture-wicking ability.  You want to avoid anything made from cotton because it will absorb sweat and hold onto it.

This can lead to chafing, which is the last thing you want when you’re out on a long hike!

Look for underwear and sports bras made of synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon that will wick away moisture and dry quickly.

This is a lifesaver to prevent discomfort in your nether regions.

Hiking Boots and Socks

For summer hiking, if you want to wear hiking boots instead of hiking shoes, breathability is the first thing you should consider.  

Many boots feature mesh panels and waterproof soles, allowing you to walk through shallow puddles without getting your feet wet.

Other hiking boots are more waterproof but have breathable tongues and moisture-wicking inner liners to keep you comfortable.  There is a trade between breathability and keeping out water.

Hiking shoes are another viable option that trade sturdiness for weight.  Hiking shoes are usually lower profile and made from lighter materials.

You can even find water shoes or hiking sandals if you anticipate walking through water on your summer hike, which can be a fun way to cool off.

Also, choose lighter colored footwear to reflect sunlight instead of absorbing it.

For socks, warm conditions require a sock that has moisture management, odor resistance, and comfortability.

Hiking socks with mesh ventilation zones or wicking fabric can keep you cool, dry, and blister-free.  Wool is a naturally absorbent fiber that can retain up to 30 percent of its weight in moisture.   Try merino wool socks if you’re interested in a natural option.

Side note: wool is also great for winter hiking.

Polyester can make for a great hiking sock, too.  They are cheaper, but there is less odor control.

Socks make a great gift idea for hikers and even stocking stuffers for hikers around Christmas.

Rain Gear

Even though it’s not cold, you can still get caught in a summer rainstorm depending on where you’ll be hiking.

A good rain jacket will have pit zips to help regulate your body temperature and ventilate the jacket.  The shell should also be waterproof and breathable to keep you dry from the outside while allowing moisture to escape from the inside if you sweat.

You can find rain jackets specifically designed for hiking that have all of these features, and are lightweight and packable so you can easily carry them with you on your hike.

Rain pants are also an option to help keep your legs dry in a rainstorm.  Look for lightweight and breathable options to beat the heat.

We recommend GORE-TEX products.  Look out for rain protection that is “water resistant,” as those materials will become saturated and defeat the purpose of keeping you dry.

A rain cover for your backpack can be handy as well to keep any other gear from getting wet.

Wrap-up: What to Wear When Hiking in Summer Weather

Hiking in summer weather can be a great experience if you are prepared with the right summer hiking outfits and gear. 

By following the tips in this post for what to wear hiking in the heat, you can avoid feeling uncomfortable and overheated on your hike. 

With the right gear, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and make some great memories. Whether you’re hiking in Shenandoah National Park or checking out trails near Winston-Salem these tips will work for you.

You can even use some of these items as everyday wear, other outdoor adventure, or on a backpacking trip, too. You could even use this guide to figure out what to wear for these outdoor activities near Virginia Beach.

So, get out there and explore nature this summer! 

Author Bio

Mark Joy is the founder of, where he empowers people to find their outdoor passions. He strongly believes that getting outdoors – no matter what the activity – is good for the mind, body, and soul.

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