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Hiking

The Best Women's Hiking Clothes: Shorts, Tops, Leggings & More

December 5, 2023

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After several years of hiking, I’m sharing my favorite women’s hiking clothing for hot weather!

When you first get started hiking, I recommend wearing whatever you’re comfortable in. Prioritize comfortable hiking shoes and socks before thinking about your clothing. However, if you’re looking for some new hiking leggings, tops and sports bras, here are some brands and styles that I love!

Full disclaimer - Some items listed in this blog were gifted. As always, my opinions are unbiased and my own. Thank you for your support!

Best Women’s Hiking Shorts

Kuhl has the best women’s hiking shorts that I’ve found! They fit perfectly, feel durable and have a great stretch to them. The shorts also have snaps for the back pockets, a tie and a snap for the front fly and spacious front pockets.

Lydia sitting on the edge of a rock and looking out at the Rocky MountainsLydia standing on a rocky mountain top wearing an orange shirt and blue shorts
KUHL Hiking Shorts

The shorts have a great fit that is not too short or tight, but is also not too baggy. The fabric is lightweight and the polyester nylon blend is quick drying and perfect for a hot day. I have the TREKR shorts with a 5.5” inseam and really love them.

Best Women’s Hiking Tops

While I don’t always follow this advice, it is best to wear a synthetic and quick drying material to stay cool and comfortable while hiking.

Lydia standing in front of a waterfall and wearing a blue Patagonia shirt
Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt
Lydia wearing an orange shirt and standing next to rock walls covered in green moss
Girlfriend Cupro Top

One top with a material I love is the Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt. The fabric is really lightweight and dries super quickly. I love the material, but I’m not completely in love with the fit of this shirt. It is very slim fitting and as a woman with curves, I prefer something a bit more loose fitting.

One brand I love for their fits is Girlfriend Collective! Their cupro tops are not the best for sweat wicking and quick drying, but they are silky soft and come in boxy fits that I love. Cupro is a recycled material that is hypoallergenic, anti-static and 100% biodegradable. While these tops are probably best for lounging and light exercise, I sometimes wear them for hiking too.

For the spring, summer and fall especially (but really year round), I really like the REI Shade Hoodies. These lightweight popovers are soft and easy to move in. They feel like a tee shirt, but they offer protection from the sun. These are great to have on hand.

Best Women's Hiking Sports Bras

I love Girlfriend sports bras because they are made of high-quality, compressive materials and offer a good amount of coverage. They have options that extend a few inches down your stomach that are great for wearing on their own with legging or with a lightweight tank with oversized armholes over top.

I have the Paloma racerback bra from Girlfriend and love that it’s full-coverage, made of recycled material, very supportive and has a UPF rating of 45+ to protect from harmful rays.

Other sports bras I love are from Lululemon and Nike. I like to invest in high quality sports bras that are durable and long lasting and wear them for many years.

Best Women’s Hiking Leggings

When it comes to hiking leggings, I tend to look for pockets, a durable material and a stretchy fit that is easy to move in.

Sometimes, leggings are not durable enough to withstand a rock scramble. When I discovered the REI Flash Hybrid Tights, I immediately fell in love.

The REI hybrid tights are made with a soft stretch jersey on the sides and durable stretch nylon on the front and back of your legs. This combination has the comfort of leggings and the benefit of a much more durable fabric to protect from snags and holes.

Lydia standing on top of a mountain peak wearing green leggingsLydia wearing blue leggings on a trail in Colorado
REI Flash Hybrid Tights

Another amazing brand for leggings is Lululemon. They are most known for their yoga leggings, but I love the Cargo Super Rise Hiking Tights. They are easy to move in, super comfortable and have multiple pockets for holding my phone and other items.

One more brand I like for leggings is WoolX. They have various weights of leggings for each season and they are super comfortable. WoolX uses high quality merino wool, which is an incredible insulator in cold weather. A lightweight version will also keep you cool on a warm day. It’s an amazing material.

Best Women’s Hiking Windbreaker

It’s important to carry extra layers when hiking, no matter the weather! I love the Patagonia Houdini Jacket. It is made of a really lightweight material and it packs down very tight. It is designed so you can zip it shut when it’s compact so it stays small.

Lydia wearing a red jacket next to water and a swamp in Florida
Patagonia Houdini Jacket
Lydia sitting on a rock next to a lake while wearing a brightly color blocked windbreaker
Cotopaxi Windbreaker

I also love my Cotopaxi windbreaker. The lightweight material is not the most breathable, but it’s great for a chilly, windy day and packs down very compactly. I love the pockets on the front (there is a zipper pocket along with a hand pocket) and the bright colors!

Best Women's Hiking Jackets

When it comes to women’s rain jackets, my current favorite is from Columbia. The Omni-Tech Ampli-Dry Rain shell is fantastic. It’s lightweight but still insulated enough to keep you warm. For warmer weather, it has an underarm vent to help regulate your body temperature. It also packs down to be small. It’s a wonderful jacket for any time of year.

Lydia wearing a purple coat on the Chimney Top Trail in Red River Gorge
North Face Hydrenalite
Lydia holding a bottle of wine and wearing a green Cotopaxi jacket
Cotopaxi Fuego Jacket

When it comes to down jackets (which are great as insulating layers), I LOVE my Cotopaxi jackets. They are high quality, will last for years and will always keep you warm. Plus, they come in fun colors. I also really respect the fact that Cotopaxi gives back 1% of their profits to communities experiencing poverty.

I have two different weights of Cotopaxi down jackets, the Fuego Jacket and the Capa Jacket. Both are great, the Fuego is heavier while the Capa is lighter.

For even colder trails, I am also loving the Hydrenalite Down Midi Jacket from The North Face It’s super warm with 600 fill recycled waterfowl down, and the longer length is perfect for keeping me covered while hiking!

For advice on purchasing hiking shoes and socks, check out my day hike packing list. It includes information on how to choose your hiking shoes, my favorite hiking socks and more.

This blog will be updated as I continue to try new brands and styles of women’s hiking clothing.

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