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5 Day Hike Essentials: What to Wear on Your Mountain Hike!

Posted in: Hiking Gear

Heading out on a hike? In this post by blogger Brenda Kimble (bio), you'll learn about 5 day hike essentials. These reminders will make your hike safer and more enjoyable.

Day hiking essentials

5 Day Hike Essentials: What to Wear on Your Mountain Hike!

Whether you’re going on a safari, climbing a mountain, or embarking on any other type of outdoor adventure, one thing is for certain: The right clothing is a must.

While the specifics may vary, depending on exactly where you are going and what the weather is like, there are certain things that are must-haves for any expedition. In addition to protecting you from the elements, the right clothing is versatile, comfortable, and easy to transport.

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No matter where in the world you are heading, here are a few things you absolutely need to have for your next big outdoor adventure.

1. Day Hike Essential: Proper Footwear

An enjoyable adventure starts with the right foundation. When you’re going on a hiking trip or a safari, your shoes provide the foundation you need to support your travels. If you are planning to spend any time on foot, invest in a good pair of hiking boots. In addition to properly supporting your feet and the rest of your body, a good pair of boots will protect you from things like rocks, thorns, snakes, scorpions, insects, etc.

Don’t skimp on quality. Look for a pair with thick, non-slip soles. Choosing a pair that’s waterproof is also a good idea. If you’re hiking in high altitudes or adventuring during cold weather, be sure to find a pair that is rated to keep your feet warm in low temperatures.

If you are going on a safari and will spend most of your time in a vehicle, safari sandals are a suitable option. They will help your feet stay cool while still protecting your soles. Look for a pair that has thick, non-slip soles, and make sure they fit properly. Skip the flip-flops and opt for safari sandals that strap to your feet securely.

Don’t forget about socks if you are wearing boots. Wearing two pairs of socks reduces your risk of blisters and provides an extra degree of protection against snake and insect bites. Wear a pair of thin cotton socks to absorb sweat and a thicker pair that you can pull up over your ankles.

Essentials day hike

2. Day Hike Essential: Long Pants

When choosing bottoms, think more about function than style or temperature. Shorts may be cooler on an African safari, but, if you are exploring on foot, pants provide more protection from wildlife, biting insects, and the elements. Long pants are usually a good idea for hiking and other outdoor adventures as well for the same reasons.

If you’re going to be in an area where temperatures are expected to change significantly or you’re going to be spending some time in vehicles or in other situations where long pants aren’t really needed, look for a pair of convertible pants. These pants have zippers that allow you to remove the lower legs to convert them into shorts. They’re comfortable and convenient for outdoor adventuring.

Cargo pants are a good option for just about any type of adventure. If you don’t want to be burdened down with bags, the pockets found on cargo pants provide the perfect storage solution for cell phones, cameras, maps, water bottles, and other essential gear. Make sure the pair you choose is comfortable and fits well. Also, look for pants made from breathable material to help cut down on sweating and prevent overheating.

3. Day Hike Essential: T-Shirts

T-shirts are cool and comfortable during hot weather, and they’re the perfect base layer to help you stay warm during cold weather. Look for polyester or polyester blends. They wick away moisture better than 100% cotton tees, and they dry quickly. Polyester shirts are also less prone to wrinkling, so, no matter how many you cram into your luggage, they will still come out looking good and ready to wear.

While a short-sleeved shirt may be more comfortable, there are several reasons you may want to opt for long-sleeved tees instead. For starters, long sleeves provide an excellent base layer when adventuring in cold climates. They have their benefits in hot climates, too, though. When you are on a safari, you will spend a lot of time in the direct sunlight. Long sleeves help to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays. If it’s simply too hot to handle a long-sleeved shirt, you should, at the very least, slather yourself in high-quality sunscreen.

Day hike essentials

4. Day Hike Essential: Protective Headwear

While often overlooked, the right headwear is an important component of any outdoor adventuring outfit. The skin on your scalp is extremely sensitive, so, if you will be spending a lot of time in the blistering sun—like on a safari—you will need a good hat to prevent sunburn. A safari hat with a wide brim to keep sunlight off your face is a good investment. If a safari hat isn’t quite your style, though, a regular, light-colored cap works as well. Here's more about choosing the best sun protection hat.

If you are visiting a cold climate, you need something to keep your head warm and prevent heat loss. Winter hats come in a wide range of styles, and they are must-haves when hiking in high altitudes or cold weather. Knitted caps, ski masks, and similar styles all work well.

5. Day Hike Essential: Use Insect Repellent

While insect repellant isn’t really an article of clothing, it may just be one of the most important things you put on that day! This is going to keep you happy and itch-free. Insect repellent is available at most sporting shops and convenience stores and in a variety of different scents and strengths, so you can find the perfect one for your body and hike style.

The CDC recommends products containing at least 20% DEET for maximum protection against mosquitos as well as other insects, like ticks and bees. While shopping, it is crucial that you find an insect replant that is registered with the EPA, meaning it has been tested and is proven to be effective. If you are hesitant about what exactly to buy, it is best to ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend the safest option for you.

The most effective way to apply insect repellent is before you get dressed for your hike that day. You’ll want to apply it to all exposed skin and allow it to dry before getting dressed. If you plan to also wear sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first and allow it to dry, then apply the insect repellent. Remember, you will need to reapply as directed on the product’s label or as instructed by your physician.

You might also consider homemade insect repellents – they can be surprisingly effective.

A Note About Colors

When packing for your next outdoor adventure, put function above fashion. This is true in terms of colors as well as style. If you are going on a safari, shades of khaki, brown, and olive are the colors of choice. These colors help you blend into the environment, and they are less likely to show the dust and dirt you are sure to accumulate.

You’re generally advised to avoid wearing red, white, and Day-Glo colors, as they make you more visible to certain animals and may attract insects.

Wearing the right colors also helps you blend in when hiking and during other outdoor adventures. Skip the bright colors that can be seen from miles away and opt for shades of green, tan, brown, and black to blend in with your environment.

When preparing for any outdoor adventure, pack light and choose clothing that is appropriate for multiple uses. Choose garments that are appropriate for your destination and which will protect you from the elements while remaining comfortable. The last thing anyone wants is to have their expedition ruined by something as silly as the wrong clothing choice.

Day hiking gear

Here are some of our favorite GoPro backpack mounts – perfect for vlogging your hike.


Brenda KimbleBio: Brenda Kimble is a writer and wellness blogger. She is also a mother of 2 daughters and a son. When she is not writing, she is typically hiking, enjoying the outdoors with her kids, or strolling the streets of her quaint neighborhood in Austin, Texas.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GudGear - and is working to make it the best resource for outside gear. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with Bryan and Dena.

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