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Women’s Late Summer and Fall Hiking Clothing

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Sometimes I get all uppity about the concept of “shrink it and pink it” women’s versions of products originally designed for men. But other times, my favorite outdoor clothing brands do better than that outdated cliché, and create hiking clothing and gear that is truly women’s specific and really makes a difference in my overall hiking experience.

Just like it’s nice to have clothes made specifically for being a woman, it’s also nice to have your own specific type of clothing for being a hiker. Read on for details about women’s hiking clothing, and some of my favorites.

Hiking Baselayers for Women
Next to your skin you always want soft, breathable materials. For women’s hiking baselayers, you’ll want to look for these qualities plus stretchiness, and moisture wicking properties that will keep you looking and smelling as fresh as possible.

Also, look for smooth materials and seamless construction for reduced chafing. Case in point, I had a sports bra that I thought I loved until I wore it hiking and it chafed my underarms – seams and rough materials can make a very noticeable difference to your comfort level while hiking.

Women’s Hiking Bras and Tank Tops
And speaking of sports bras, keep in mind that hiking bras should offer some support, but no compression. Unless you’re going to “run your hike”, you don’t need to worry about a ton of jostling, so you may as well enjoy a sports bra band flexible enough to allow some big, rib cage expanding inhales. This way you can get lots of fresh mountain air and take in enough oxygen at high altitudes where it is in short supply.

Women’s Hiking Underwear
Undies are a part of the women’s hiking clothing equation that should not be overlooked. Bunching, binding, and chafing can get pretty annoying step after step when you’re trying to focus on the natural surroundings, careful foot placement, conversation with your hiking buddy, contemplation of your life, or any number of other things. As I’ve written before, Patagonia makes my favorite outdoor active panties, the women’s Patagonia Barely Hipsters, which wick, breathe, and dry quickly, and are designed to stay put and stay comfortable during a wide range of activities.

Women’s Hiking Socks
Socks can get real technical these days – in a very beneficial, non-superfluous way. SmartWool PhD socks offer a hiking specific design with carefully placed cushioning to soften the impact of the ground on your long-wandering feet; support to help prevent muscle strain; and mesh sections for extra breathability. These women’s hiking socks are also moisture wicking, quick drying, and naturally anti-microbial which translates into healthy feet and odor prevention – yes please!

Women’s Hiking Pants
In my experience, hiking is one of the fastest ways to remember that an article of clothing you’re wearing is not breathable. That sticky, stuffy feeling will remind you before you’ve completed your first mile that everyday jeans, for example, are not the best choice for women’s hiking clothes.
In order to avoid baby stepping and side stepping, and to make your hiking faster, smoother, more comfortable, and, dare I say, just better overall, look for stretch materials and articulated design details such as strategically placed gussets and darts to give you flexible mobility. Try out the women’s Marmot Lobos pants and shorts which hit the mark on all these fronts.  Or if you can’t decide whether long or short would be a better choice, the Patagonia Rock Craft Women’s Capri Pants are a nice happy medium.

Women’s Hiking Jackets and Fleeces
Maybe you get an early start when it’s still cool out, maybe you’re out later than expected, or maybe a storm or cold front blows in. You never know about weather conditions in the mountains. Well sometimes you do know, but sometimes you don’t – and it’s nice to be prepared either way.

I once set out in a tank top and pants with no extra layers on a warm, sunny September hike that ended in a hail storm. Another time, I wore just pants and a sports bra (again, with no just-in-case plan) for a mid-July canyon excursion that lasted longer than I had anticipated, and was graced by a serious downpour. Obviously I survived both experiences, but I was certainly less than comfortable. Maybe one day I will learn the lessons I try to share with others.

Bring Layers. Be Prepared for Cold and Precipitation.
Pack an insulating layer, such as a fleece. Fleece is awesome for hiking and other outdoor activities because it can trap warmth inside its many little air pockets, for efficient lightweight insulation. Its construction also makes fleece breathable, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying.

Pack a weather-resistant layer. My mother and I like to quietly joke about people dashing between buildings in the rain, saying, “Come on, a little rain won’t make you melt.” But really, even though it won’t make us melt, rain will make us cold. Wind, too, can quickly lower the skin temperature by whipping away the layer of warm air around the body.

When shopping for a windbreaker or a rain jacket, keep in mind that the terms “-resistant” and “-proof” are different. For more serious weather protection, you want a windproof, waterproof jacket; but if you’re just looking for lightweight weather-resistance, then wind-resistant and water-resistant will work just fine. For a light option, I like the Marmot DriClim Windshirt, which is water resistant and 100% windproof. For more of a big deal weather jacket, the Patagonia women’s Torrentshell jacket is a great option.

Even if you weren’t a girl scout, you know the value of being prepared; for hiking in the mountains, it makes sense to invest in women’s specific hiking clothing. You can follow my recommendations above, or I invite you to shop on – there you can find lots of great women’s hiking clothing choices and pick your own favorites.

Enjoy the late summer and fall hiking!

Kendall Fischer, Content Writer