Hiking Clothes/Brands - 1. The Basics
I want to start by saying that I spend weeks researching something before I buy it - I am very particular about what I wear/use when hiking and I've been through a lot of crap before finally finding good quality/reasonably priced things. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Hiking Clothes - Moderate Weather
My favorite topic! Hiking clothes! - Most women love high heels and dresses, I love Vibram sole boots and zip off waterproof pants. Knowing how to dress yourself for each situation you put yourself in is key. Your comfort and ability to maneuver is the first step to enjoying yourself. Today I'm going to talk specifically about dressing for moderate weather - I consider this Spring and Fall (in Pennsylvania).
BUY LESS. CHOOSE WELL.
This photo is of me and my favorite hiking outfit of all time - I have worn this clothing combination so many times I should be embarrassed. (I'm not, it's amazing)
Tops: I wear mainly Columbia Brand hiking clothes - I have worn this brand for 6 years and have never had to throw anything out for being too worn. Their shirts fit comfortably and are perfect for all weather.
Bottoms: Again, Columbia has never let me down, these are their zip off to shorts pants and I have worn these on ever trip I've ever taken (probably over 500 times) and I still love them! They've been rained on, snagged on jagger bushes, stained, shoved in backpacks and sprayed with copious amounts of Deet and every time I wash them they look brand new. The zip off part is especially important to me because I get hot easily and can turn them into shorts.
Socks: SMARTWOOL! I wear smartwool socks during all seasons - They have lightweight socks for summer and thick socks for winter - Either way, they feel like you are walking on a cloud and keep your feet safe from blisters and hot spots.
Boots: I am the most particular about the brand/fit of my hiking boots - Protecting your feet when you're hiking is one of the top priorities. I wear Vasque brand boots, I went to REI and tried on every single brand of boot they carry and wrote down what fit the best, then I went to Cabela's and tried on a few more and finally settled on Vasque. I have a bit of a wide/flat foot so I need a big toebox and a nice arch to make up for what I don't have. The shoes I currently wear are the original Vasque Breeze GTX which has been discontinued and replaced with the Vasque Breeze 2.0 which are great quality but fit just a bit differently - I continue to get my shoe that is no longer sold in stores from places like Ebay. I suggest you go and try some pairs on to see what feels best for you - Every boot brand tends to a different type of foot.
Sandals: Keen has been my hiking/camping/kayaking sandal brand of choice for about 5 years now. I can't speak enough about these shoes. They have a closed toe box (protection that I've been happy to have several times), back straps to keep them securely on your feet and a slip proof bottom that has kept me from being whisked away down a river multiple times. I wear the Newport H2 due to the extra wideness and less straps for more air circulation. (I've had the same pair for 5 years)
Hiking Color: Yes, this is a thing - A very important thing to some hikers (me). Your hiking color expresses who you are and should make you feel happy! My moms hiking color is Pink/Grey, Sharon's is Green, Karen's is Purple, Mine is Turquoise.. Etc. For me, my hiking color is a nice way to stay organized and have my hiking "collection" look uniform and clean. Choose a color that makes you happy and run with it - You'll find that when you start to search for brands/supplies/equipment, they tend to lots of colors knowing that you're probably searching for one. (I have blue of mostly everything, including my cutlery, jetboil cover, sleeping pad and trekking poles, all to be covered/reviewed and explained in later blogs).
This is my hiking partner and one of my best friends, Karen - You will see her a lot in upcoming posts because she is who I primarily hike/explore with - She has her own hiking style which I call "camera ready" and I want to take a moment and talk about her clothing which is both fashionable and comfortable. I have the problem of only looking for comfort and sometimes forget to look cute - Karen helps me with that.
Karen's Tops: Karen is not as hot temperature'd as I usually am, so she can dress normally in moderate weather - Here she has on a columbia base layer and a Columbia Vest (isn't that vest fabulous Kurt?!). She got this cute top combo at the Columbia outlet store in Grove City, PA. We like to make trips out there every 6 months or so and see if there are any new cheap-o deals! (there ALWAYS are!).
Karen's Bottoms: A new brand of extremely comfortable and soft tights called "Balance Collection" and "Marika Tech" (same company) has been found at Marshals and Karen bought every one in Pennsylvania (not really, she bought 2 pairs) - They don't cut into your stomach, like every single pair of tights I've ever tried on does, they hug your curves nicely (butt lift!) and they move with you which is excellent for hiking!
Karen's Shoes: Karen is not a high top hiking boot girl like I am - She is most comfortable in tennis shoes or low top hiking shoes - Merrell has a nice line of hiking shoes (see below).
Honorable Mention: My Prana headband! (I told you I wear that shirt a lot)
The headband you see here one of my most prized possessions.
First, because It holds some of my greatest hiking memories, secondly, it is my hiking color, but mostly because I can't find another one anywhere!! I bought this headband 5 years ago while preparing to hike the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail in Ohiopyle State Park, PA at their outfitters store as soon as you drive into the park. My friend Sharon and I went in to see if we needed any last minute items - This headband was in a bin on the counter in clearance and I grabbed it just because Sharon warned me that I would be sweating a lot (lol) - I didn't even know about hiking colors yet, so this became the first piece of my hiking gear. It is now currently stretched out, dirty and hanging on my bedroom mirror because I'm too afraid to wear it anymore (it should be in a glass case). Sound a bit crazy right? (no). If you can find me another one I will give up obsessing about my original (I will not).
The list below is to give you ideas of where to start and what style/brand I stand by because they are good quality and last! - I don't suggest that you pay full price for anything until you look for sales/used items. - For instance, I got my Merrell Hiking Shoes (gently used) from Poshmark.com for $12. Look for deals, they're out there!
Websites I go to for used/clearance hiking clothes!!
**Also, I have gotten A LOT of my hiking clothes from consignment stores (primarily Goodwill) - There is a lot of (brand name and not) gold to be found at second hand stores! Check there first!
And MOST IMPORTANTLY - These suggestions are just so you're comfortable and ready for the weather, the FIRST STEP is wanting to get outside regardless of what you wear! There is a beautiful/untouched world that God made for you to explore, find and experience! Go see it!