What to wear hiking in PNW

It can be confusing to know what to wear when first getting into hiking! The key considerations are comfort and safety.

Renee Roaming

Pacific Northwest

It can be confusing to know what to wear when first getting into hiking! The key considerations are comfort and safety but keep in mind that this can look a little different for everyone. Here are my top recommendations for what to wear hiking in Washington. Keep in mind that these are 3 season recommendations, not winter. Check out this winter specific post if you plan to take some winter hiking adventures.


Hiking shoes are very person-specific. Some people love wearing trail runners and others prefer boots. Some people prefer heavier waterproof boots and others prefer lighter options. When hiking in Washington I usually opt for a waterproof boot with ankle support, but something that isn’t too heavy, like the Danner Adrika Hiker Boot or the Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX Hiking Boots . Once the trails become dryer I sometimes opt for a pair of trail runners like the La Sportiva Bushido II Trail Runner .


Don’t overlook the importance of having socks that fit correctly and are comfortable to wear for a long time. Over the years I have found that merino wool socks from Darn Tough and Smartwool are the most durable, least smelly, and most comfortable for hiking. Injinji Liner Socks are a great way to help keep your feet dry and prevent pesky blisters!


What you wear for bottoms is a personal preference. If you’re a pant kind of person then I would suggest the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pant or something similar. Another option is wearing convertible pants that you can easily switch to shorts, such as the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pant . If you prefer leggings then I would suggest the Mountain Hardwear Mountain Stretch Tight (with side pockets!) If you’re more of a shorts person then I recommend the Backcountry Olympus Lightweight Short for an athletic style short, or the Patagonia Quandary 5in Short for a more traditional fit. I personally prefer to keep my legs covered with pants to protect from sunburn, ticks, mosquitoes, and scratches.


For hiking shirts you can either go with short sleeve, long sleeve, or a tank option. For cooler hikes or those where I am worried about sunburn I will usually opt for longer sleeves and wear something like the Smartwool Merino Long Sleeve Shirt . Lightweight sun shirts, like the Backcountry Tahoe 2 Sun Hoodie , are really popular in Washington for hikes that you will be above treeline with no shade for extended periods of time. Otherwise you will usually find me in one of the Icebreaker Sphere Lite SS Low Crewe Shirts . Natural fibers like merino wool are my go-to for hiking tops due to the odor-reducing properties and overall comfort.


I recommend you wear some kind of hat on the trail to protect you from the sun, especially during the warmer months of July and August. Some popular options are caps such as the Patagonia P-6 Label Trad Cap or wider hats such as the Outdoor Research Wadi Rum Brim Hat . A lightweight neck gaiter is another great option to keep the sun off your neck. You can use the Outdoor Research Echo Ubertube Neck Gaiter as a headband to keep your hair out of your face, and even dunk it in water to cool you down on the extra hot days.


Having sunglasses makes hiking a LOT more enjoyable on a sunny day (or when it’s overcast with a lot of glare). In addition, polarized sunglasses will cut the reflections and glare on those beautiful lakes you are looking at (bonus!) My go-to sunglasses brands are Sunski , SMITH , and American Optical .


Not everyone enjoys using trekking poles but I personally find them helpful for Washington hikes with considerable elevation gain, or if the terrain is unsteady. My go-to poles are the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Trekking Poles as they are lightweight and comfortable to use. Some more affordable option are the Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles and the Black Diamond Trail Sport 2 Trekking Poles .