Attire for the great outdoors

About this article

This article was originally published in the September/October 2016 issue of M-North Atlanta, a publication of the Forsyth County News. To read the entire magazine, click here.

As the days start to cool and the leaves begin to turn, hikers across the state are breaking out their fall gear. But for those who may be new to the activity, what to wear — and how to do it fashionably — is an essential question.

Outerwear

Patagonia is one of the leaders in fashion for the outdoors. Their trendy pullovers are a must-have staple in any fashion hiker’s closet, and the brand’s “nano puff” jackets and vests — windproof, waterproof and warm — are also well-loved.

Their raincoats come in all sizes and colors, with some dual-colored — a perfect match for your navy leggings. These coats are also packable, so when the rain clears, you can shed the jacket.

Marmot, another fashion brand, has a lot of the same items, though touts its plush fleece “luster jacket.”

For those who love flannels, marmot is the way to go, with different colors to go with your different palates.

Tops

The best hiking clothes are not made of cotton, contrary to what you might think. Rather, synthetic materials like polyester will keep you dry as you start to sweat. Cotton traps sweat and moisture and on those cooler days, you don’t want your clothes, damp with sweat, cooling you down.

Athleta, a popular activewear brand, has shirts and tanks perfect for any-length hike.

Their “mesh chi” tank provides ample ventilation and is ultra-lightweight, giving you breathability and lightness on the trail and in your step.

Athleta’s “fastest track” top combines the brand’s “unstinkable” technology and chafe-free fabric to leave you smelling sweet and feeling sweeter. This long-sleeved shirt also has thumb pockets and gripper dots along the hem to keep it from riding up.

The company also offers hoodies, sweatshirts and vests not quite thick enough to pass as outerwear, but warm enough to keep a chill from getting to you.

Bottoms

Whether bare legs are your thing or you like to have them covered, wearing the proper shorts or pants is essential.

Shorts provide more freedom, as your legs aren’t contained by material, preventing you from propelling yourself upwards off that boulder. As the weather cools, however, shorts become increasingly hard to find in stores. For the super-stylish, Athleta offers skorts, giving you the look of a skirt but the between-the-leg coverage of shorts.

Leggings and hiking pants are often preferred as the temperature drops, and they prove useful for protection against poison ivy, sharp brush and potentially dangerous bugs, like ticks. Also, if you happen to trip and fall, pants often protect you from skinned knees and shins.

Both Patagonia and Athleta provide leggings, tights and pants to keep your legs warm and irritant-free.

Patagonia’s “happy hike studio” pants have elastic calf/ankle cuffs at the bottom of the pant leg to keep any critters from crawling up your leg. The pants are loose elsewhere, but have another elastic band around the waist to keep them from falling down. They also provide 50 upf sun protection.

The company also has leggings — both capri-length and full-length — intended to hug your legs while still providing the elasticity needed for hiking. Many people also wear leggings on a day-to-day basis, making them fashionable on and off the trail.

Athleta offers “trekkie” pants, also available in capri and full length, with wicking material to keep you cool but comfortable. The company highlights their ease-of-movement as the pants have a two-way stretch.

Socks

Like clothing, you don’t want cotton socks. They’ll keep your feet damp and wrinkle your toes, making you one unhappy camper (or hiker.)
Wool, nylon, elastic and mesh — and preferably a combination of the four — are your best bets. Toe and heel padding don’t hurt, either.

Shoes

The problem with many hiking boots and shoes is that the most comfortable ones aren’t particularly fashionable. However, if you’re serious about hiking, it’s worth taking the time to find a pair that feels good, even if they may not be showstoppers. The most debilitating factor of any exercise, as any new shoe-owner knows well, is blisters. They slow you down, make your feet swell and produce gross boil-like bumps on your feet. You can look and feel great everywhere else, but without comfort, you’ll never step onto a trail again — putting your well-earned, newly-spent-on-clothes money to waste.

That being said, timberland boots — and their original yellow boot –— are very popular, and can also be worn with a laid-back, everyday outfit. Their “wheelwright” waterproof hiking boot resembles their classic style with the comfort and practicality required of hiking shoes.