Having the right combination of backpacking clothes is essential to any hike or adventure. Whether you are going for a walk in the Lake District or a hike in the Himalayas, your backpacking gear is basically the same.
Choosing the right backpacking gear and backpacking clothes is no small challenge and requires a lot of thought and research. You need to think about a mix of travel essentials that will allow you to overcome any weather conditions you may face.
Having a solid packing list is imperative and we’re here to help. Here are the 10 backpacking clothes essentials you should be packing.
Wear A Base Layer T-shirt
When it comes to your base layer, you need a short sleeves and a long sleeves base t-shirt. This mix allows you to adapt to the weather. If it’s warm, you can wear the short sleeves. In the cooler climates, you can wear the long sleeves. If the sun is blazing, you can also use your long sleeves.
Choosing the right material for your base layer t-shirt is important because staying warm and dry whilst hiking is imperative. However, you’re going to sweat in your base layer even in cold climates so the type of material is also a big factor to consider.
This base layer t-shirt from Smartwool is made from ultra-fine merino wool (no itch) interlock knit. It is designed to give you breathability and thermoregulation for any climate. It also has a natural odor resistance so you can be a fresh-smelling backpacker.
Get it here: Smartwool Men’s Base Layer Top
Make Sure You Have A Shirt On
When it comes to backpacking clothes, a good shirt is a travel essential. You need a good shirt that will keep you comfortable and dry. You also want a shirt that isn’t going to stink up quickly. After all, your hiking buddies will not be impressed if they are downwind for a few days.
There are a few different materials to decide from but woven nylon or polyester is probably your best bet here.
Get a shirt from REI that is lightweight, made from stretchy nylon, and perfect for hiking. The material is UPF 30 to protect from the harsh sunlight. A very handy feature is the keep-drying underarm panels. This shirt is definitely worth putting on your packing list.
Throw On A Pair Of Pants
Your pants are an integral part of your backpacking gear. It’s important to focus on the construction, comfort, breathability, and water-resistance. You want a pair of pants that are easy to adapt to any environment and most importantly, don’t rub you the wrong way. Imagine hiking the Appalachian trail with pants that rub…no thanks!
You could spend months looking for the right pair as the world is abundant with trek pants. To make life easier, here are the best all-round hiking pants.
These tough but stretchy hiking pants from Outdoor Research are perfect for hikes of all difficulties and will suit any backpacker. The flexibility in the knees allows for tough rock climbing and allows you to feel comfortable whilst stable. They are also completely water and wind resistant so you won’t get those legs of yours cold.
Get it here: Outdoor Research Men’s Equinox Metro Shorts
Wear Shorts And Not Short-Shorts
When the sun comes out and the temperature rises, you will want to get into a nice pair of shorts. When battling against the wrath of nature including 100% humidity and spring rainfall, you need a good pair of shorts. You want a pair that are made of stretchy-spandex-like material for natural movement and preferably a pair with an adjustable waist.
These trek shorts from Prana are perfect for avid trekkers and are a backpacker essential. It features moisture-wicking properties and UPF 50 protection. It has a very useful adjustable waistband for extra comfort and a ventilated inseam gusset. Make sure you put these on your packing list because they won’t let you down!
Keep Warm With A Mid-Layer
When it comes to backpacking essentials, a mid-layer is a must. A mid-layer can include a fleece top, puffy insulated jacket, or softshell. When you are looking for warmth, this is where you start. A good mid-layer is imperative for those trekking through cool and harsh snowy conditions. Also, if you’re an avid backpacker, it’s recommended that you take two mid-layers. A good mid-layer is an essential backpacking gear, don’t underestimate the power of packing a top-quality mid-layer.
The Patagonia Nano-Air has the perfect balance of comfort and breathability. The soft and stretchy synthetic material allows for good movement and flexibility whilst walking. This all makes the Nano-Air the perfect mid-layer during winter months and perfect out-layer for the warm winter days.
Stay Dry With A Rain Jacket
Every serious backpacker needs one. It’s one of the most important and smartest choices you can make before heading out into the wilderness. The rain jacket—you want the important mix of durable, lightweight, stretchy, and most importantly, waterproof.
Getting caught out in the rain, whether it’s April rain whilst walking Mount Snowdon or winter showers whilst hiking in Nepal, is not fun. Especially if you’re on a multi-day trip. When it comes to a rain jacket, it needs to be water-resistant, windproof, and lightweight.
This incredible rain jacket from The North Face is all of the above and more. It’s a true all year rounder. No matter the weather, this jacket has your back. It is ‘ultra-soft, unbelievably light, and impossibly dry.’ The three-layer GORE-TEX shell ensures complete safety from rain and wind.
Get it here: The North Face Men’s Apex Flex Gore-Tex Jacket
Get Comfy Socks
Socks are backpacking essentials. Whatever you do, don’t skip on the socks! Blisters, frost, and moisture can ruin your hike. Finding the right pair of hiking socks is imperative before any hiking trip starts. Make sure you don’t forget them on your packing list and put a few pairs in your hiking bag.
Your socks should be your best friend. After all, they will be protecting your feet for days on end. Therefore, choosing a solid pair of hiking socks is important. You should consider cushioning, shape, fit, and the time they take to dry. Socks are backpacker travel essentials, make sure you get a pair you love.
These socks from Darn Tough have it all. Amazing cushioning, soft, breathable, and quick-drying. They won’t let any backpacker down even when faced with the harshest of conditions. The extended cushioning over the Achilles is also a delight.
Look Cool With A Hat
Did you know the human body loses 7-10% of its heat through the head? So, you can understand the importance of a good hat whilst out on the mountains or trekking through the frost.
When it comes to a hiking hat, you want one that is quick-drying, moisture-wicking, and breathable. You also need to consider insulation so it effectively traps the body-warmed air. Merino Wool is becoming more and more popular and for a good reason. It is incredibly soft, moisture-wicking, and for the most part, odorless.
The cuffed beanie from SmartWool is the perfect choice for winter expeditions. It is made from 100% Merino Wool, so it’s very comfortable. The fabric is thick so it keeps you warm but it is moisture-wicking and breathable still. It’s very versatile and could be worn for any outdoor activity in the cold.
Make Sure You Have Comfortable Boots
If you spend a lot of time hiking, then you spend a lot of time walking, which means choosing the right hiking boots is pretty important. Good boots are a backpacker’s travel essential that require a lot of thought. Whether you’re climbing Kilimanjaro or taking a long walk through the redwood forests of California, having the right boots makes that experience so much more enjoyable.
There is a wide range of hiking boots available for all manner of niche adventures. However, if you want an all-round good pair of boots that will cover you for most outdoor treks and conditions, then we have the boots for you.
The Quest 4D’s from Salomon is the multi-use king of the hiking boot world. They are a great all-rounder with a sturdy design. Also, they are comfortable, lightweight, and breathable. Salomon says they have designed this pair to reduce fatigue. You may find yourself dancing to the campsite in these boots.
Get it here: Salomon Quest 4D 3 GORE-TEX Men’s Backpacking Boots
Protect Yourself With Sunglasses
Not many people think about the protection of their eyes when hiking but it is very important. Of all the body parts exposed to the harsh conditions we face whilst hiking, the eyes are the most fragile.
When looking for a pair of hiking glasses, you need to consider weight, multi-purpose use, and durability. There is nothing worse than your glasses breaking 4 hours into your 3-day trek. If you have poor eyesight, it’s also worth buying a pair that you can have your prescription lens put in.
These glasses from Oakley embody all the requirements listed above. They are lightweight with enhanced lens coverage and optimized with High Definition Optics™. You will struggle to break them and you can have your prescription lenses added. Perfect for all conditions, these glasses will help keep you protected no matter the weather.