Must Have Hiking Apparel

Hiking is a wonderful activity many people enjoy. For beginners, day hikes are a perfect way to get your body conditioned to moving through different kinds of terrain.  For more experienced hikers, you may want to turn it into a weekend and do some camping along the way.  Whatever your plan, be sure you are prepared.  We’ve compiled a list of must have gear essential for your adventure. 

Hiking boots

Putting on the miles in all different types of terrain, your most important piece of gear will involve supporting your feet. Finding the perfect fit will prevent injuries while you are hiking.  Keep these tips in mind when choosing an ideal hiking boot:                     

  • Know your size.  Having a specialty store measure you first is a great starting point.
  • Feel it out.  The boots should feel snug, but not tight.  Walk around the store; try them out on an incline.
  • Plan your search.  Going shopping at the end of the day when your feet are slightly swollen is best.  Make sure you bring the type of socks you will hike with when trying on boots. 
  • Sick with what you know.  If there is a brand you’ve worn before, odds are you will be familiar with their reputation and the way they fit.
  • Be sure to break in your purchase.  Do not let the first time you wear your new hiking boots be a 10-mile hike in the mountains!
  • Considering winter hiking?  Be sure to also add insulation to your list.  Find a boot that is well insulted for the frigid day and night temperatures.  Remember those socks.  Wool socks are recommended, just not too tight. Your blood needs to be able to circulate! 

Hiking Jackets

Bottom line is: be smart and know the environment.  Each hike will require different expectations when it comes to keeping cool or warm.  In any instance there are numerous choices.  Any situation where you are hiking in high altitudes or overnight you must be prepared for cold, no matter the month.  Expect the unexpected.  Thru hikes will require a much broader frame of mind when deciding on warmth, weight, etc. 

Basic tips that seasoned hikers will tell you are:

  • Do not pack on the pounds.  You do not want added weight to your body if you are already carrying a backpack.  You also do not want added weight to your backpack for the times you are warm and do not need your jacket!  You should find a jacket that has all the features and warmth you want bundled in the lightest form possible. 
  • Again, feel it out.  You want to be comfortable.  Warmth does not mean bulky.
  • Soft shell vs. hard shell.  Many prefer one or the other for various reasons.  Hard shell jackets are usually made of 3 layers.  This option can be good for serious hikers but they will cost much more.  Soft shell jackets will be more breathable but in considerably damp or rainy weather it really will not “have your back.”
  • Rain shell jacket.  This option seems to be most popular among hikers.  Cost, weight, waterproof ability, breathability, and features seem to make this a good overall choice for keeping warm on your hikes. 


As we’ve continuously learned, all situations are different.  So let’s list a few points to keep in mind:

  • Running shorts.  If your destination is free from bugs, running shorts are a good option for a nice warm day. They are airy to help dry the sweat and increase blood circulation.
  • Pants.  Choose between airy pants for warm weather and fleece/wool pants for colder seasons. Summer trekking is better with pants that shield you from too much heat and bugs. Wool clothes should make you warm enough without going overboard. You see, climbing will make your body produce heat too. If too much heat is trapped, you’ll start sweating, which then makes you cold when you are not active.
  • Layering.  Layering means overdressing. You should have many clothes to give you options and rescue in a cold weather emergency. Start with the tightly knitted attire that does not allow air in; insulated clothes perhaps. Wear other things inside, camisoles, t-shirts, etc. Once again, make sure these items are not tight. 


If you are hiking for days, you will need a bag that can accommodate clothing.  It is essential to bring enough clothing to last you through whatever weather could arise. 

  • Weight.  Considering you are doing a little camping, your backpack will be just one of the substantial pieces you will need.  (We will get to the other pieces in a minute.) You do not want extra weight when it comes to your pack.  Shorter hikes will not require large packs.  Check out our Hydration Pack for a light, convenient, and affordable option. 
  • Fit.  As with everything we’ve discussed, fit is important.  Make sure you try that pack on before buying or measure your torso and hip size before ordering.  If ordering online, always be aware of the return policy.  You’ll want to try it on when it arrives and be able to return it if the fit is not acceptable. 
  • Material.  Quality material is just as important.  Ripstop Nylon is the material used most often and it has proven to be the smart and reliable choice. 
  • Features.  This is different for everyone.  Waterproofing should be one of your number one concerns.  Generally, no pack is completely waterproof, but you’ll want the best you can get.  Water bottle pockets, mesh pockets, padded shoulder straps, and hydration ports are all things to keep in mind as well. 

Camping While Hiking

As I said, day hikes are wonderful for beginnings, families, or a day out with friends.  When you’re ready to take your hiking to the next level and keep the pace going for days, you will need to be prepared for sleeping in the wilderness. 

OutdoorsmanLab has you covered for this part of the equation!  Browse our selection and read our reviews and you will be sure that our products are perfect for your weekend trip or that thru-hike you are planning!


Our 3-person tent is all you will need for you and your hiking partner or small family.  It is 33% lighter (6 lbs. vs. 9 lbs.) than other tents on the market.  It also packs smaller than most 2-person tents.  The ventilation is superior, and the durability is guaranteed.  

Sleeping Bag

As with your tent, you want your sleeping bag to be light, accessible, and avoid taking up too much room in your backpack.  Our sleeping bags fit the bill; they are lightweight but do not skimp on on the features or warmth. (Survival temperature rating of 32F, comfort at 45F).  Our Ultralight Mummy bag is a great choice.  The ultra-soft breathable liner coupled with the silk-like cotton filling guarantees your best sleeping bag experience or your money back. It is roomy, comfortable, and sure to keep you warm; three of the biggest qualities you want in an outdoor sleeping bag. 

Sleeping Pad

A Sleeping pad is essential for comfortable outdoor sleeping.  You want it to be easy to inflate, lightweight, durable and above all comfortable.  The OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight Sleeping Pad has all these qualities.  You will want to turn your hiking excursions into weekend adventures, or better yet, life-changing thru-hikes when you realize how comfortable outdoor sleeping is with our pad.  

Keeping these tips in mind will get you started on being prepared for your next hiking and camping adventure.  Knowing you are well-prepared will allow you to do what hiking intends: enjoy the view, enjoy nature, and create your own adventure!