You no longer have to scavenge the internet to figure out what to wear on a day hike. I got you! I was in your shoes not too long ago. Scrolling through post after post hunting down the perfect trendy yet functional hiking outfit. After collecting information about types of materials and overall weather late in September – I have figured it out. Do you have a trip coming up late September-early October and don’t know what to wear for your day hike? Yes. Then you’ve come to the right post.
Appropriate clothing for hiking is a must! You don’t want to be trekking through the backcountry and feeling uncomfortable. It’s supposed to be an enjoyable experience to embrace nature but if you are hot AF or freezing that might be difficult. Haha. For early fall, you’ll want to have breathable underwear, base layer, mid-layer, and a shell layer. You can always throw unneeded items into your backpack if you are feeling too hot. However, if you become freezing cold and don’t have the necessary layer you’ll be SOL (shit outta luck). Preparation is key.
Types of Fabrics
Let’s talk about fabrics. There are so many but I’ll be covering the common ones used. I’m just going to start off with cotton. Just no. Cotton is pointless. It will absorb all your sweat leaving you feeling wet, hot, and smelly. You’ll want to find something that is moisture-wicking, UV protective, and breathable for your base layer.
Polyester is a favorite for me. Also a very popular pick for others. Only absorbs up to 0.4% of its own weight in water, making it an excellent choice in regards to moisture-wicking. Drying time is great if you end up passing through a creek for example. As far as odor resistance I’ve heard it does poorly. I personally don’t sweat for whatever reason so I’ve yet to experience this. However, it’s something to keep in mind. Breathability is adequate. During the cooler months, I certainly don’t mind if it keeps me a tad warmer than usual.
This fabric is known to be extremely durable, great for moisture-wicking, and like polyester, not the greatest when it comes to odor resistance. Nylon is less commonly used as a base layer because of its lack of breathability. If you do choose Nylon as a base layer it would be great to use for hiking through areas that require significant durability. Keep that in mind.
Specifically Merino Wool. Hear me out! We aren’t talking your typically itchy wool. Merino wool is soft to touch, breathable, naturally odor-resistant, and keeps to warm when wet. Unlike polyester, it does take longer to dry when wet. Perfect for both the colder hikes but can be knitted thinner for summer months. Wool socks are my go-to for hikes. Careful getting off the beating path as wool is not very durable.
Make sure you are wearing underwear that has similar characteristics to your base layers. You dont want to sufficate your no-no square when hiking. Ultimately that would defeat the purpose of everything else.
Since we are talking early fall in this edition. I’d have to recommend a short sleeve shirt or tight long sleeve. Depending on your trail you might be to cover those arms or you may end up with some gnarly cuts.
Mid-Layer or Shell Layer
Obviously, if we are going into winter you’d want to consider both. But I’d do one or the other for early fall. Check into the weather before you go. The Alum Cave Trail to Mt Le Conte gets approximately 70 inches of rain per year. Couldn’t hurt to have a rain jacket but because the temperature decrease with elevation those down jackets sure come in clutch. It really comes down to the climate and length of the hike. You’d find with a vest or jacket on your typical day hike in late September – early October. You can toss into your backpack if you don’t end up needing it.
I hope this post gave you an idea of what to wear for your trip. I mainly covered upper body apparel in the collages since all the same things applied for the lower body. It just comes down to the “look” you want. Leggings or hiking pants to cover the legs while it’s cool would be a must. I’d love to know where you’re going or where you’d like to go. Leave a post in the comments below.
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