One of the most immersive ways to get into the fall season is to head out on a hike. When you hit the trails, you’ll put yourself in the heart of the colorful season. Imagine bathing in a sea of gold, red, and orange hues. However, hiking in fall can be a little tricky on the wardrobe. The sun may be shining, but the temps are cooler. So, should you wear one of your favorite flannel shirts or a fleece pullover for your next fall hike? We’ll dive into what to wear on a fall hike to stay cozy and calm.
The biggest thing to know before you strap on your hiking boots is the forecast. What does the weather look like in your area? Sometimes fall can be quite balmy, and you may not want to wear your women’s fleece jacket or even a flannel shirt. Other times, you’ll want to have plenty of layers to stay toasty. So before you decide what to wear, know the weather. Also, be sure to understand weather patterns. Does the area typically get rain in the afternoons? Do storms appear suddenly? Is snow possible? Understanding what it’s like in the area you plan to hike in will help you make informed decisions about what to wear.
When it comes to deciding if you should wear flannel or fleece on a hike, the answer is going to be fleece almost every time. Flannel is a type of cotton, and cotton absorbs sweat, meaning your favorite flannel can actually hold watery sweat and become wet. This can keep you cooler—which may leave you exposed to the possibility of hypothermia. So unless you’re going on a leisurely walk, just a mile down a mellow trail, then you’ll want to leave the flannel at home.
Fleece, however, is a great layer to bring with you as you hike. Fleece vests and jackets are an excellent mid-layer that keeps you warm without becoming soaking wet. Since fleece has some loft, it allows air to pass between your perspiring body and the fabric, which wicks sweat away instead of building it up. Chances are you’ll be carrying a fleece layer and using it only if you are cold. Once you start to sweat, stash your fleece layer in your pack until you stop, then put it back on to keep your body warm while you rest on a fall hike.
Since fall can be a fickle season, you’ll want to come prepared. First, try to wear either synthetic layers or merino wool layers while you hike. Wear either a lightweight long-sleeved shirt or a synthetic T-shirt while you hike. These lightweight layers keep you cool while you work up a sweat. Next, you’ll want a mid-layer, like a fleece, if it’s chillier than anticipated. It’s also helpful to have a women’s down jacket or puffy layer as a just-in-case layer to ensure you won’t get cold. Next up is a women’s rain jacket. This layer is essential for safety. If the weather turns, you are protected, and you can also use a rain jacket to keep the biting wind at bay.
Flannel brings the fall vibes to your wardrobe. Not to mention it’s a cozy, comfortable look that is pumpkin-spice ready. However, it’s not that excellent at regulating your body temperature during a workout like hiking. If you want to sport your flannel, then bring it along for that post-hike hangout so you can easily transition from trail to town. Or you can take your favorite flannels along for a fall camping trip. If you’re only going on a leisurely hike where you won’t get your heart pumping too hard, you can certainly bring a flannel shirt along. However, just be sure to have a base layer underneath—like a T-shirt—if you overheat.
Fall is arguably one of the best seasons to go for a hike. A colorful forest is absolutely magical, and hillside views alight with the colors of autumn will put your jaw on the floor. Be prepared by bringing a small bag to keep snacks, plenty of water, sun protection, a small first aid kit, and a flashlight or headlamp. Always pack a few extra layers like a hat, gloves, and even a scarf if it gets colder than anticipated. Lastly, don’t forget to wear sturdy footwear that you’re comfortable walking in for hours. Keep your feet feeling fresh with wool or synthetic socks specifically designed for athletic pursuits.
Now you’re ready to rock the fall hiking season with your favorite fleece jacket. Be sure to hike in the early morning light for the extra glow from the changing leaves.