In Love with fall hiking
I love hiking in fall. Or running in fall.
Being outside when the trees are changing colours, when the air is feeling fresher and crisper. You can wear different clothing after the summer months and reading good books when it is raining outside.
What to wear hiking in fall
“Dress like an onion”
Layering is the code word for autumn and also winter. Or also in the mountains, where weather can change quickly.
– Base layers
– Middle layers
– Outer layers
Depending on where you are living fall can be everything between sunny and warm and rainy and cold. Or everything like sunny and warm and rainy and cold in one day.
Starting well layered is the “secret” for a comfortable fall hike. Wear a little more at the start of your tour to feel comfy and warm (but not sweaty warm). Lightweight clothing you can quickly take off and on whenever you need, would be the best choice.
A real Plus if you are a runner: you can wear most Outdoor Apparel for hiking AND running!
Best materials for fall hiking apparel
It is important to buy clothing with the right material for fall hiking.
Cotton or denim is a no-go, like for any other sweaty outdoor fitness. They keep moisture and you will get cold soon. That could actually become dangerous if you get too cold.
Read more about Hypothermia in my blogpost about hiking in winter.
Synthetics or wool-blends are the best materials for hiking (and also running) because they are moisture -wicking and quick drying.
Merino is a plastic free/natural option, that needs less washing, and is very durable. Though not a choice for people who live vegan.
Choose from sustainable brands and wear the clothes (every piece, not only the woolen one) as long as they last. That’s one way to be more sustainable when it comes to fashion.
You can also check if you can find certain stuff second hand. Outdoor Gear can be very expensive. So buying Second Hand Gear is a great way to save money and resources.
Or look out for other natural materials starting to pop up on the market e.g. fabrics made from wood pulp like Tencel.
Please be aware that synthetics made from plastic (fleece, polyester, nylon, etc.), even from recycled plastic/nylon will shed tiny microfiber (microplastic) when you wash them.
So if you don’t want to wash micro-plastic-fiber down the drain and into the oceans/rivers, think about using a Guppyfriend-Washing Bag for your synthetic clothings.
Base Layers for fall hiking
A good base layer for hiking does two things: keep you warm and dry and regulate your body temperature.
You don’t won’t get overheated or hypothermic wearing wet clothes that cling to your body.
Base Layers are maybe the most important parts of an autumn hiking outfit (very important also in winter). They are closest to your body and can be supplemented if necessary.
Try it out next time you get on trail.
I can really recommend the Active Silver Tech Wear from Organic Basics if you are looking for Sustainable Active Wear. They use recycled nylon and I love to wear my leggings and bra for hiking.
Check out their Silver Tech Active Wear*. You can find Leggings, Bras, Undies, Socks, Long Sleeves and more, perfect for being sustainable active! Great as base layer when hiking in fall.
Read my review for the Silver Tech Leggings and Bra in this Blog Post here.
The base layer is closest to your skin so you want something not itchy, that wicks away your sweat and keeps you dry and warm.
Whether you choose a shirt made from synthetics, recycled nylon* or wool/merino is up to you.
Warm but breathable leggings/pants
As temperatures are dropping you might want to swap your summer leggings with something a little warmer.
Warmer running tights for fall/winter are always my choice because I can wear them for my runs too.
Great at a base for winter too.
Don’t choose cotton leggings as they won’t dry quickly after getting wet.
Middle Layers for fall hiking
Middle layers for the upper body should be breathable and insulating.
Lightweight items with good insulation to keep the warmth, are the best choice here.
Long sleeve shirt
Tight but not too tight (because you might want to wear it over a base layer) should the middle layer be.
A front zipper could be great to get some ventilation if needed without taking off the whole shirt.
An insulated vest* is great for colder fall days. It will keep your important body parts warm but will let your body room to breathe too.
If the vest is not too tight you can easily wear it on top of a outer layer hoodie to get some extra warmth.
A vest is also the best choice for people who sweat easily. If you are easily freezing rather than sweating you could also opt for a lightweight but insulated puffer jacket.
Outer Layers for fall hiking
Last but not least the Outer Layers should protect you against wind and rain. Even if you might feel hot most of the time, that extra packed wind-jacket could potentially save your day if the weather changes, a wind comes up or the clouds start to hide the sun. Carrying something extra is definitely better than starting to freeze while still 2 hours away from the warm cover of your car or house.
The eco-friendly and sustainable choice for rainproof apparel could be a brand that uses eco-treatment for rainproof jackets (and pants, backpacks, etc.)
Chemicals that get used for treatments on jackets and other garments to repel water (PFC) have potential toxic consequences for both humans and the environment.
Great to see that more and more eco-conscious brands are starting to use eco treatment and phasing out PFC.
A lightweight, insulating but breathable hoodie (like this one from Arc’teryx*) can become your best friend. Look out for one that is water resistant. You can not use them as a rain jacket, but it will hold you dry if you get caught by a short and light rain.
A rain jacket is important if you like to get out there no matter the weather forecast.
It will protect you against rain and wind. And with the right layering you will feel comfy and warm when the rain catches you.
(Look out for rain jackets made from recycled materials and using eco-treatment*)
Sometimes (depending on where you are) a lightweight wind jacket can be enough to carry. If your base and mid layers are warm enough. I always have my wind jacket that I use for my runs too in my backpack when hiking, even in summer in the mountains (I quickly cool down on lunch breaks) or when kayaking.
The right boots for fall hiking
Waterproof hiking boots
Cold and wet feet are awful!
While I don’t mind getting my feet a little wet when I am running, having wet and cold feet on a hike is really uncomfortable. Not only because of the cold feeling but wet and soggy boots/socks can cause bad blisters quickly.
Luckily you can get waterproof hiking boots (and also trail running shoes) to enjoy any kind of fall hikes in the rain, no matter how long you will be out there.
(Need any tips on how to find the right Hiking Boots? Check my guide here.)
Accessories for fall hiking
Some people get cold hands or ears quicker than other, so all other kinds of equipment or accessories are very personal and different.
I always need gloves and some ear protection against cold winds.
Should not forget sun protection, as the sun can still be strong in fall.
We also enjoy having a hot cup of coffee, tea, or even soup when out in colder weather, so a good thermos bottle is nice to have.
Gloves are lightweight to pack. If you are using your phone for GPS or Photos choose some gloves with “Touch-Screen Fingertips”.
Gloves also come handy when you need to pick up litter on trail.
A buff is one of the most versatile utensil for any kind of outdoor adventure.
Protecting neck, ears and face against cold wind, dust, or used as sun protection.
(Or even as a “mouth-nose-protection” when you need to get something from a store during a corona-virus-pandemic.)
I have seen many made from recycled materials* already (my mom bought one made from old fishing nets), so whenever I need a new one I know what I’ll choose.
Yes, humans lose heat through the head.
That’s why beanies are definitely recommended on cold weather hikes and runs. Take it off when you feel hot, but wear them if you make a break or if a cold wind picks up.
We learned that saying no to cotton is important when on trail and even more important during the colder months.
Woolen socks will keep your feet nice and warm on fall hikes.
I mostly wear running socks plus handmade woolen socks from my boyfriends granny. I am even mending them, if the have holes.
Thermos bottles for coffee or tea in fall and winter is a must have for us. Warm beverages will warm you up on trail.
If you like to have some hot food for lunch there are nice thermos container for that too. With wider openings for eating and cleaning.
Happy and warm Fall Hiking
Now tell me about this one item you really don’t want to miss on your next fall hike!