Updated: Sep 13
Fall and early Winter are undoubtedly the best time for hiking. The cool weather and fall foliage make it the most popular time of year to get outside and on the trail. As you start to plan your Fall hikes, it's essential to make sure you have all the layers you need for any kind of weather.
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It could snow in October as easy as it could be 80 degrees and sunny. It's important to dress in layers so you can easily adjust what you're wearing to fit weather changes. Starting from base layers to accessories, here are all the layers you should plan to wear and fit into your hiking backpack:
First, wear a thin, comfortable base layer. The base layer that you wear for the entire hike should be something you're comfortable in, since it's the only layer you won't be able to change. Athletic leggings or comfortable hiking pants make the best bottom layer. These REI Trailmade Hiking Pants are super comfortable and come in sizes from 0 to 26.
For colder weather hikes, try wearing fleece-lined leggings for a warm base layer that isn't bulky!
A sports bra with a t-shirt or thin long-sleeve shirt should be your top base layer. This Amazon basics cotton long sleeve makes a great base layer for your Fall hike. You will often get warmer than you expect on Fall hikes, so make sure your base layer is cool enough. It's always easier to put more layers on!
Make sure to bring a rain jacket for wet weather. Rain is definitely possible during Fall, and a cold rain at that. Make sure to wear or pack a rain jacket. A light jacket like this Columbia windbreaker can also be used for protection from cold breezes.
Bring a packable puffer jacket to layer over your base layer for dry, colder weather. Puffer jackets are the perfect size to pack in your hiking backpack, and it's easy to throw on if you get too cold in your base layer. This also serves as the second layer under a snow coat for very cold hikes.
A thick, fleece pullover is often the warmest layer that you'll need in Fall to early Winter. This thick Patagonia fleece, combined with your long sleeve base layer, will block out all the wind on a cold day.
Now that you have all the layers for your body, let's talk about your feet. Thick hiking socks are the #1 way to prevent blisters, and also help keep your body warm during cold hikes. All of my hiking socks are Darn Tough hiking socks that have a lifetime warranty. And I haven't ever had a pair get a hole!
Durable hiking shoes or hiking boots are essential for any hike, and especially in Fall and early Winter when it could snow. If you live in a mountainous area, I suggest always wearing study hiking boots. If your Fall hikes look more like relaxing walks through the woods, you could also consider hiking shoes that are still grippy but less heavy, like these Columbia hiking shoes that I use.
The final clothing items you will layer on cold hikes are accessories like gloves and a hat. These are small and easy to fit in your backpack and will definitely come in handy during chilly hikes. I like using a Carhartt beanie because I know this brand is made for people who work outside, and it will definitely be warm enough for a hike. Lastly, I would wear running gloves for hiking because they won't be as bulky as other winter gloves, like snow gloves.
These are all the layers you should bring with you on Fall hikes! Since it's easy to get too warm in early Fall, I would suggest wearing your base layer and a windbreaker when you start your hike, and pack warmer layers if the weather is going to be wet, cold, or windy. Thank you for reading I hope you have a great hike! Let me know where you're hiking this Fall in the comments!