Hiking can take you to a variety of scenic landscapes from local trails in the parks, along raging rivers, through beautiful desert vistas and to the top of mountains with sweeping views. These environments provide you with beautiful sights, but also provide you with changing elements. What should you wear to hike in 70 degree weather so you are comfortable and prepared?
For 70 degree weather you want to opt for lighter more breathable base layers, light hiking pants, carry an extra down jacket to keep yourself warm if it cools down, and pack a rain jacket to protect you from the wind or an unexpected rain. This set of clothes will ensure you are comfortable and are able to adapt to the changing elements.
After hiking for many years this system of clothing has proven comfortable and adaptable time and time again. Whether it be hiking on a freezing cold morning in the Grand Canyon or in the Summer Heat in Yosemite, this set of clothes has worked flawlessly. Below we will cover the main considerations for each piece of clothing so you can make the best purchase with no regrets.
What to wear for Top Layers
The base layer is the most important layer as its the one that touches your skin. For base layers you want to buy breathable and moisture wicking shirts. As you sweat during your hikes you want your sweat to be guided away from your body so you can retain heat and reduce chafing. For my base layer I always have a t-shirt and a long-sleeve that are both breathable.
Having a t-shirt and a long sleeve can help you with one more layer. Sometimes a down jacket is too warm or the rain jacket isn’t breathable enough, so having a long sleeve comes in handy to be just warm enough. Once you have a base layer you like the next level is your mid-layer.
Mid-layers make a huge difference when the weather is cooler. This layer is made to keep you warm and help your body retain its heat. Hikers typically wear mid-layers in the morning when its colder then layer down as the day warms up. Mid layers can either be fleece layers or down jackets.
You can change your mid-layer depending on the season and opt for thicker down jackets in the Winter and thinner down jackets in the Spring and Summer. You want to find a down jacket that is pack-able as it will likely be in your backpack for 70 degree weather.
The last top layer to focus on is the outer layer. The outer layer is to help protect you from the wind and rain. If the weather suddenly turns on you despite a sunny forecast then you will be prepared to keep yourself dry and warm from the elements.
For outer layers you want to get a rain jacket that is breathable and wind resistant. Another thing to consider is how small it gets and how much it weighs. Since you will typically only wear the outer layer in windy or rainy conditions then it will be in your pack most of the time.
What to Wear Bottom Layers
The clothing you wear on your legs requires just as much planning as your top layers. For 70 degree weather you want to wear light weight pants that are breathable. Breathability is important to help keep your legs cool so they don’t overheat.
You can opt to wear hiking pants, zip-off pants, or leggings as 70 degrees is not too cold and not too hot. You will be just warm enough to feel discomfort but nothing to worry about. I always wear hiking pants that have zip off legs so I can adjust my pants in case it does get warmer than expected.
When it comes to hiking clothes, people typically imagine rain jackets, down jackets, and hiking pants, but it feels like underwear is a piece of clothing that is forgotten. Picking the right underwear is so important for your comfort.
For 70 degree weather you want breathable and moisture-wicking underwear. Since you will be hiking your hips, thighs, and groin will be rubbing during your hike. This can create a lot of friction and discomfort, so its important to get moisture-wicking underwear so you can lessen chafing in this area.
The last piece of clothing to consider is getting the right socks. For 70 degree weather you want to have socks that will keep your feet comfortable and breathable. Socks tend to also be neglected when it comes to choosing the best clothing for your hikes, but are probably the most important as they are on your feet!
For socks your best bet is to get lightweight and breathable wool socks made for hiking. In 70 degree weather you don’t need thicker wool socks as you will end up with extra sweaty feet. As the weather cools you can change your socks out for thicker socks.
What Should You Not Wear While Hiking?
The Material to Avoid When Hiking
Now that you know what to wear for your top and bottom layers, there are some materials you should avoid before you buy anything. The number of material you should avoid when hiking is cotton. Cotton shirts, pants, and socks are the worst for hiking. Cotton is an absorbant material so any sweat you have gets held in the fabric. This is bad because you will feel colder if there are any drafts and you can potentially get blisters easier on your foot since your socks are basically a wet sponge.
When people start hiking they typically wear the shirts and socks they already own, only to soon find out how uncomfortable they feel when they hike. Once you get breathable polyster or wool clothing you will never go back. These materials make a huge difference in comfort on your hikes.
Types of Pants to Avoid When Hiking
Now that you know not to wear cotton, the pants you should avoid wearing to your hikes are jeans, sweats, or any other non-breathable pants. Jeans are very restrictive and will absorb all of your sweat. You will hike slower and feel discomfort as you hike. Sweat pants may seem like a good idea because they are comfortable, but once your legs start sweating they will feel too hot and humid during your hike.
Types of Shoes and Socks to Avoid When Hiking
For hiking you should immediately put away your cotton socks. Cotton socks are too thin, non breathable and absorbant to be a good choice. Wearing cotton socks can lead to blisters on your feet. The cost to upgrade to wool socks may seem steep at first, but it definitely worth it and will make a huge difference in your feet comfort.
Hiking in 70 degrees is a treat. The weather feels just right as its not too hot and not too cold. However depending on the landscape and the altitude you are hiking in, things can change quickly. By wearing a breathable base layer, flexible down jacket, protective rain jacket, lightweight hiking pants, breathable underwear, and wool hiking socks, you will be able to adapt to the elements and feel comfortable during your hike.
The suggestions above took me many hiking trips to try out. I tried many different brands and materials before I found what worked for me, so enjoy the journey of trying out different tops and bottoms before you find what works best for you. Have a great hiking trip!