WHAT TO WEAR HIKING IN WASHINGTON
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.
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Here are my top recommendations for what to wear hiking in Washington. Keep it mind that these are 3 season recommendations, not winter.
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 Running Shoe.
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, Smartwool, and Icebreaker are the most durable, least smelly and most comfortable for hiking.
What you wear for bottoms is a personal preference. If you’re a pant kind of person then I would suggest the Arc’teryx Gamma LT Softshell Pant or something similar. If you prefer leggings then I would suggest the Backcountry Active Leggings (with side pockets!) If you’re more of a shorts person then you can’t go past the Backcountry Olympus Lightweight Short. I personally prefer to keep my legs covered to protect from sunburn, tics, mosquitoes, and scratches. Another option is wearing convertible pants that you can easily switch to shorts, such as the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pant.
For hiking shirts you can either go with short sleeve, long sleeve, or a tank options. 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 150 Long Sleeve Top. Otherwise you will usually find me in one of the Icebreaker Tech 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 Patagonia Baggies Brimmer Hat. If you just want to keep hair out of your face then I would recommend a headband like the Prana Jacquard Headband.
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 RAEN.
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 LEKI Voyager Trekking Poles and the Black Diamond Trail Sport 2 Trekking Poles.