what to wear hiking in

What to Wear Hiking in Colorado

Colorado is a haven for hiking enthusiasts, boasting stunning landscapes and challenging trails. When preparing for a hike in Colorado, it is important to consider various factors such as weather conditions, terrain difficulty, and altitude. These considerations will help determine the appropriate clothing and gear needed for a safe and comfortable hiking experience.

In terms of weather conditions, Colorado’s climate can be unpredictable, with rapid changes in temperature and sudden weather shifts. It is essential to be prepared for all possibilities, including hot, cold, and wet conditions. Terrain and trail difficulty should also be taken into account, as different trails may require different levels of physical exertion and protection.

Altitude and sun exposure are crucial considerations when hiking in Colorado. With many trails reaching high elevations, the air becomes thinner, making it important to dress in layers to regulate body temperature. The high altitude means increased sun exposure, requiring the use of sunscreen, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats to protect the skin and eyes.

When it comes to clothing, several layers are recommended to accommodate varying temperatures. Base layers should provide moisture-wicking properties and keep you dry. Insulating layers, such as fleece jackets or vests, offer warmth when needed. Outer layers, such as windproof and waterproof jackets, provide protection against the elements.

Choosing appropriate footwear is vital for a comfortable hike. Sturdy hiking boots with good traction are recommended to navigate the diverse terrain found in Colorado’s trails. Don’t forget about accessories, such as gloves, hats, and neck gaiters, which can provide additional warmth and protection.

In addition to clothing, the right gear and equipment are essential for a successful hike. A backpack is necessary for carrying essentials, including navigation tools like a map, compass, or GPS device. Staying hydrated and nourished is crucial, so carrying an adequate amount of water and food is important. Sun protection, such as sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip balm, is necessary due to the high altitude and sun exposure. A well-stocked first aid kit is essential for any unforeseen injuries or emergencies.

By considering these factors and following these tips, you can ensure that you are properly dressed and equipped for an enjoyable and safe hiking experience in Colorado’s breathtaking landscapes.

Key takeaway:

  • Considerations for Hiking in Colorado:
    • Weather Conditions: Be prepared for unpredictable weather, including sudden changes in temperature and precipitation.
    • Terrain and Trail Difficulty: Research and choose trails suitable for your fitness level and experience.
    • Altitude and Sun Exposure: Colorado’s high altitude and strong sun require proper protection, such as wearing sunscreen and a hat.
  • Appropriate Clothing for Hiking in Colorado:
    • Base Layers: Choose moisture-wicking and breathable materials to regulate body temperature.
    • Insulating Layers: Layer clothing for insulation against cold temperatures and wind.
    • Outer Layers: Wear waterproof and windproof jackets and pants to protect against rain and snow.
    • Footwear: Invest in durable, supportive, and waterproof hiking boots or shoes.
    • Accessories: Bring gloves, a hat, sunglasses, and gaiters to protect against cold, wind, and sun.
  • Essential Gear and Equipment:
    • Backpack: Pack a comfortable and appropriate-sized backpack to carry all your gear.
    • Navigation Tools: Bring a map, compass, or GPS device to navigate trails accurately.
    • Water and Food: Carry enough water and food to stay hydrated and energized during your hike.
    • Sun Protection: Use sunscreen with a high SPF, wear sunglasses, and consider a lip balm with UV protection.
    • First Aid Kit: Carry a basic first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.
  • Tips for Dressing Appropriately for Colorado Hiking:
    • Layer clothing so you can adjust as needed throughout the hike.
    • Check the weather forecast beforehand and pack accordingly.
    • Consider the season and elevation of your hike when choosing clothing layers.

Considerations for Hiking in Colorado

Planning a hiking adventure in Colorado? Don’t hit the trails without considering these important factors. From unpredictable weather conditions to challenging terrains and high altitudes, this section covers it all. Discover how to prepare for the ever-changing Colorado climate, navigate diverse trails, and protect yourself from the sun’s intense rays at higher altitudes. Lace up your boots and get ready for a hike that combines the beauty of nature with the thrill of exploration!

Weather Conditions

When hiking in Colorado, consider the weather conditions for a safe and enjoyable experience.

1. Be prepared for sudden changes: Colorado’s weather is unpredictable, with rapid shifts in temperature, wind, and precipitation. Always check the forecast before heading out and be prepared.

2. Dress in layers: Layering is crucial in Colorado’s ever-changing weather. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to stay dry and comfortable. Add an insulating layer for warmth and finish with a waterproof and windproof outer layer for protection.

3. Protect yourself from the sun: Colorado’s high altitude means increased sun exposure and higher UV levels. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, UV-protective sunglasses, and apply high SPF sunscreen. Remember to reapply regularly.

4. Be aware of lightning risks: Thunderstorms are common in Colorado, particularly in summer. Seek shelter immediately if you hear thunder. Avoid open areas, high points, and isolated trees. Wait 30 minutes after the last thunderclap before resuming your hike.

5. Watch for signs of hypothermia: Colorado’s elevation and changing weather increase the risk of hypothermia. Look for symptoms like shivering, confusion, and difficulty moving. Carry extra layers, a hat, gloves, and a thermal blanket for emergencies.

Fact: Weather conditions in Colorado can vary dramatically throughout the day, with temperature differences of up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit between morning and afternoon. Be prepared for these fluctuations to stay safe and comfortable during your hike.

Terrain and Trail Difficulty

In Colorado, hikers must be prepared for the challenging terrain and trail difficulty. The state’s rugged and mountainous landscape offers a variety of trails with different levels of steepness, elevation gain, and technical sections.

Hiking in Colorado involves navigating rocky terrain, and it is important to carefully place your feet. Hikers should be aware of trail conditions, including snow, mud, or fallen trees.

It is essential to be physically prepared for hiking in Colorado, especially considering the high altitude, as it can lead to shortness of breath and fatigue. When planning a hike, consider the length and duration of the trail, as longer hikes may require more endurance.

Understanding and evaluating the terrain and trail difficulty will allow hikers to have a safe and enjoyable experience in Colorado’s wilderness.

Altitude and Sun Exposure

Altitude and sun exposure are crucial factors to take into account when hiking in Colorado. Altitude sickness, which can cause symptoms such as mild headaches and fatigue, is a potential concern due to the state’s high altitude. To acclimate to the altitude, it is recommended to start with shorter hikes and gradually increase elevation. Staying well-hydrated and avoiding excessive exertion are also imperative in preventing altitude sickness.

In Colorado, there are over 300 days of sunshine each year, leading to an increased risk of sunburn and long-term skin damage. The higher altitude and thinner air in the state result in greater exposure to UV radiation. To safeguard against this, it is important to wear sunscreen with a high SPF, as well as hats and sunglasses.

Both altitude and sun exposure can contribute to dehydration. It is essential to drink ample water before, during, and after hiking to ensure proper hydration. It is vital to carry enough water on the trail since water sources may be limited.

The time of day greatly affects the intensity of sun exposure. Starting your hike early in the morning is advisable to avoid the peak hours of sunlight and the highest temperatures. This helps minimize the risk of heatstroke and sunburn.

By considering the effects of altitude and sun exposure, hikers in Colorado can adequately prepare for the challenges they may face and have a safer and more enjoyable experience.

Appropriate Clothing for Hiking in Colorado

Appropriate Clothing for Hiking in Colorado - What to Wear Hiking in Colorado

Photo Credits: Jasonexplorer.Com by Daniel Smith

When it comes to hiking in Colorado, choosing the right clothing is crucial. In this section, we’ll dive into the world of appropriate hiking attire, covering everything from base layers to footwear and accessories. Get ready to discover the essential gear and clothing tips to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience in the breathtaking landscapes of Colorado. So, let’s gear up and explore the perfect outfit for your next outdoor adventure!

Base Layers


Base Layers

Base Layers Material Properties Best Options
Merino Wool Natural fiber, breathable, moisture-wicking Icebreaker, Smartwool
Synthetic Lightweight, quick-drying, good moisture management Patagonia Capilene, The North Face
Polypropylene Good insulation, moisture-wicking Helly Hansen, Under Armour

When choosing base layers for hiking in Colorado, consider the material, properties, and best options available.

Merino wool is a popular choice for base layers. It is breathable, moisture-wicking, and made from a natural fiber. Icebreaker and Smartwool offer high-quality merino wool base layers.

Synthetic materials, like those in Patagonia Capilene and The North Face base layers, are lightweight, quick-drying, and have good moisture management. They are ideal for hiking in Colorado’s changing weather conditions.

Polypropylene base layers from Helly Hansen and Under Armour provide good insulation and moisture-wicking capabilities. They are great for colder temperatures or high-intensity activities.

When selecting your base layers, consider the weather conditions and activity level. Layering is essential for hiking in Colorado, and base layers are the foundation of this system. They should fit snugly against your skin to ensure proper moisture management and insulation.

Pro tip: Avoid cotton base layers as they retain moisture and can cause discomfort and hypothermia in cold conditions. Opt for merino wool, synthetic, or polypropylene materials for optimal performance during your hike.

Insulating Layers

Insulating layers are crucial when it comes to hiking in Colorado. They play a significant role in keeping you cozy and at ease in different weather conditions. Here are some important factors to consider when selecting and using insulating layers:

1. Fleece jackets: These jackets are highly versatile and offer warmth without adding bulk. Make sure to opt for materials that are quick-drying and breathable for optimal comfort.

2. Synthetic or down vests: These vests are excellent for layering as they provide core warmth and allow for freedom of movement. Synthetic vests are lightweight and provide insulation even when wet, while down vests offer exceptional warmth in extremely cold temperatures.

3. Thermal base layers: These layers are designed to regulate body temperature by wicking away moisture. Look for materials like merino wool or synthetic fabrics that offer both warmth and breathability.

4. Insulated pants or leggings: These items provide additional warmth for the lower body in colder conditions. It is advisable to choose pants or leggings with water-resistant or waterproof outer layers to protect against snow or rain.

5. Neck gaiters or balaclavas: These accessories shield the neck, face, and head from cold temperatures. Opt for insulating materials such as fleece or merino wool for optimal effectiveness.

6. Layering principles: It is important to follow the principle of “wicking, insulating, and protecting.” Begin with a moisture-wicking base layer, add an insulating layer, and finish with an outer layer that is resistant to wind and precipitation.

Remember, the specific insulating layers you choose will depend on the current weather conditions and the intensity of your hike. Conduct thorough research on the forecast and plan accordingly. Ensure that you stay warm, comfortable, and make the most of your hiking experience in Colorado!

Outer Layers

When hiking in Colorado, outer layers of clothing are necessary for protection. Here are key considerations and suggestions for choosing the right outer layers:

1. Waterproof and Windproof Jacket: Colorado weather is unpredictable, so a waterproof and windproof jacket is essential for staying dry and protected from gusts. Look for jackets made with waterproof materials like Gore-Tex.

2. Insulated Mid-Layer: Even in summer, temperatures can drop at higher altitudes. An insulated mid-layer, such as a fleece or synthetic jacket, provides extra warmth. Choose lightweight and breathable options to prevent overheating.

3. Convertible Pants: Colorado trails often have varying temperatures and terrains. Convertible pants with zip-off legs are versatile, allowing for easy adaptation to changing conditions. Look for durable and quick-drying materials.

4. Moisture-Wicking Base Layer: Regulating body temperature and staying comfortable during the hike is crucial. Look for moisture-wicking base layers made of merino wool or synthetic fabrics to effectively remove sweat.

5. Gloves and Hat: Protecting extremities is important for maintaining warmth. Bring hiking socks and a hat made from insulating materials. For colder months, choose thicker options for extra insulation.

6. Sun Protection: The high elevation in Colorado means increased sun exposure and a higher risk of sunburn. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, use sunscreen with a high SPF rating, and consider wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

When selecting outer layers, prioritize comfort, functionality, and durability. Choose clothing that allows for a wide range of motion and is suitable for the specific trail and weather conditions. Check the weather forecast before heading out and adjust layers accordingly. By being prepared with the right outer layers, you can fully enjoy your hiking experience in Colorado.


Footwear is crucial for a comfortable and safe hiking experience in Colorado. Here are some considerations for selecting the best hiking footwear:

1. Sturdy construction: Opt for hiking boots or shoes made with durable materials and solid build. Look for reinforced toe caps and ankle support for added protection on rugged terrains.

2. Traction: Choose footwear with excellent traction for rocky or slippery Colorado trails. Look for outsoles with deep lugs that provide grip on various surfaces, including loose rocks or muddy sections.

3. Waterproofing: Invest in waterproof or water-resistant boots for unpredictable Colorado weather. Consider additional waterproofing treatments for non-waterproof footwear.

4. Breathability: Look for footwear with breathable materials, such as mesh panels or Gore-Tex linings, to enhance airflow and prevent discomfort during challenging terrains and altitude changes.

5. Proper fit: Ensure that your footwear fits well and provides ample toe room without being too loose. Wear Alaska hiking socks for blister prevention and extra cushioning.

6. Break-in period: Before long hikes, break in your footwear by wearing them on shorter hikes or walks. This allows your feet to adjust and helps identify discomfort or areas needing adjustments.

Selecting the right footwear significantly enhances your hiking experience in Colorado. Prioritize comfort, durability, and weather-appropriate features to ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure on the trails.


When hiking in Colorado, it is important to consider the right accessories to bring along. These accessories are essential for enhancing your hiking experience and ensuring that you are well-prepared. Here is a comprehensive list of accessories that you should bring with you when hiking in Colorado.

1. Backpack: An essential accessory for any hiker, a sturdy and comfortable backpack is necessary for carrying all your gear and supplies.

2. Navigation tools: To navigate the trails and stay on course, it is crucial to bring along navigation tools such as a map, compass, or GPS device.

3. Water bottle or hydration pack: Staying hydrated is especially important in Colorado’s high altitude. Therefore, it is recommended to bring a reusable water bottle or hydration pack.

4. Sun protection: Colorado’s sunshine can be intense, so it is vital to protect your skin and eyes from harmful UV rays. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.

5. Hiking poles: Hiking poles provide stability and support, particularly on steep or rocky terrain. They are highly recommended for a safe and more enjoyable hiking experience.

6. Headlamp or flashlight: As visibility can be limited during evening and early morning hikes, it is essential to carry a reliable light source such as a headlamp or flashlight.

7. First aid kit: Accidents can happen while hiking, so it is crucial to have a well-stocked first aid kit. This will allow you to promptly treat any minor wounds or ailments that may occur.

8. Insect repellent: Some areas in Colorado are prone to mosquitoes and other insects. To protect yourself, it is advisable to bring insect repellent and keep these pesky creatures at bay.

By considering these accessories and packing appropriate clothing, you will be fully prepared for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience in Colorado. Don’t forget to choose the right accessories based on the specific demands of your hike.

Essential Gear and Equipment

Essential Gear and Equipment - What to Wear Hiking in Colorado

Photo Credits: Jasonexplorer.Com by Russell Rivera

Gear up for your Colorado hiking adventure with these essential items. From a sturdy backpack to reliable navigation tools, we’ll explore the must-haves for a successful hike. Don’t forget to pack enough water and food to keep you energized, and don’t skimp on the sun protection to shield yourself from the high-altitude sun. We’ll touch upon the importance of carrying a well-stocked first aid kit to handle any unexpected bumps along the trail. Get ready to hit the Colorado trails fully prepared!


When hiking in Colorado, having the right backpack is crucial for carrying your gear. Consider the following when selecting a backpack:

1. Size: Choose a suitable backpack appropriate for your hike’s length and the gear you plan to carry. A backpack of 20-30 liters is ideal for shorter hikes, while longer multi-day hikes may require a larger backpack of 50-70 liters.

2. Features: Look for a backpack with adjustable shoulder straps, a padded hip belt, and a sternum strap. These backpack features distribute the weight evenly, reducing strain on your shoulders and back. Choose a backpack with multiple compartments and pockets to organize your gear.

3. Weight: Consider the weight of the backpack. Lightweight materials like nylon or polyester are preferred to minimize the load you have to carry.

4. Durability: Opt for a backpack made of durable materials that can withstand the rugged conditions of hiking in Colorado. Look for reinforced stitching, sturdy zippers, and water-resistant fabric.

Try on and adjust the backpack to ensure a proper fit. A well-fitting backpack distributes the weight evenly, making your hike more comfortable. Pack your backpack efficiently to maximize space and gear accessibility.

Navigation Tools

When hiking in Colorado, it is crucial to have reliable navigation tools for a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential navigation tools to consider:

1. Map: It is important to carry a detailed topographic map of the hiking trail or area you will be exploring. This will help you navigate through different terrains and identify landmarks along the way.

2. Compass: A compass is a valuable tool to orient yourself and accurately determine directions. It should be used in conjunction with your map for better navigation.

3. GPS Device: A handheld GPS device is highly recommended. It provides precise coordinates, tracks your route, and helps you stay on track. Make sure to fully charge it and update the maps before your 30-degree weather hike.

4. Phone with GPS: Carrying a fully charged smartphone with a hiking or GPS app is a smart backup navigation tool. It can also be used for emergency communication if needed.

5. Trail Markers: Pay attention to signs, blazes, or cairns along the hiking trail. These markers are crucial for staying on the correct path, especially in areas with multiple intersecting trails.

6. Guidebook: Consider bringing a guidebook specific to Colorado hiking trails. It will provide valuable information on landmarks, points of interest, and potential hazards.

Having these navigation tools will greatly enhance your hiking experience in Colorado by keeping you on the right path and ensuring you reach your desired destinations safely. It is important to familiarize yourself with using these tools effectively before embarking on your hiking adventure.

Water and Food

Water and food are essential for hikers in Colorado to stay hydrated and maintain their energy levels. Proper planning and packing are crucial for a successful hiking experience. Here is a table outlining the important aspects of water and food for hiking in Colorado:

Water Food
Carry enough water to stay hydrated throughout the hike. Pack lightweight, non-perishable foods that are high in energy and nutrients.
Avoid relying on natural water sources, as they may be contaminated or limited. Include snacks like trail mix, energy bars, and dried fruits for sustained energy.
Consider carrying a water filtration system or purification tablets for treating natural water sources. Include ready-to-eat meals or sandwiches for longer hikes or overnight trips.
Monitor your water intake and drink regularly to prevent dehydration, especially at higher altitudes. Pack foods that are easy to consume on the go, without needing cooking or refrigeration.
Plan for extra water if hiking in hot weather or exposed areas with limited shade. Remember to pack utensils and containers for food storage and consumption.

By considering these factors and ensuring an adequate supply of water and nutritious foods, you can properly fuel your body and stay hydrated during hiking adventures in Colorado. Remember to pack out any trash or leftover food to preserve the natural environment.

Sun Protection

Sun Protection

When hiking in Colorado, sun protection is essential for safety and to prevent sunburns or other skin damage. Consider the following for sun protection:

1. Wear sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to all exposed skin areas, including face, neck, arms, and legs. Reapply every two hours or more often if sweating or in water.

2. Protect your head: Wear a wide-brimmed hat or a cap with a neck flap to shield face, ears, and the back of the neck from the sun’s rays.

3. Cover up: Wear lightweight, breathable clothing that covers arms and legs. Choose long-sleeved shirts and pants made from UV-protective fabric for additional sun protection.

4. Use sunglasses: Protect your eyes from harmful UV rays with sunglasses that block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Look for sunglasses with a wraparound style for full coverage.

5. Seek shade: Take breaks and find shade whenever possible, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, the peak sun hours.

6. Use lip balm with SPF: Protect lips from sunburn by using lip balm with SPF to keep them moisturized and shielded from the sun.

Remember, the sun’s rays can still be strong and harmful even on cloudy or cool days. Prioritize sun protection for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience in Colorado.

First Aid Kit

When hiking in Colorado, it’s crucial to have a well-stocked first aid kit for emergencies. The first aid kit ensures trail safety and peace of mind. Here are the essential items to include in your first aid kit:

Adhesive bandages: These are useful for covering small cuts, scrapes, and blisters.

Gauze pads: They are necessary for dressing larger wounds or stopping bleeding.

Antiseptic wipes: These wipes help clean wounds and prevent infection.

Tweezers: Keep them to remove splinters or ticks.

Moleskin: It is essential for preventing and treating blisters.

Pain relievers: Always include ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain relief.

Allergy medication: If you have known allergies, be sure to include antihistamines.

Medical gloves: These gloves protect both you and the person you are helping.

Emergency blanket: It is crucial for staying warm during unexpected weather conditions.

Triangular bandage: This versatile item can be used as a sling, to secure splints, or as a tourniquet if needed.

Remember to check your first aid kit before each hike. Familiarize yourself with basic first aid and learn how to use the items effectively. Being prepared with a first aid kit gives you confidence and ensures safety while hiking in the Colorado wilderness.

Tips for Dressing Appropriately for Colorado Hiking

When hiking in Colorado, it is important to dress appropriately for comfort and safety. Here are some tips for dressing appropriately for Colorado hiking:

Layer up: Colorado’s weather can be unpredictable, so dress in layers for changing temperatures. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer. Add a lightweight and breathable mid-layer for insulation. Top it off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer.

Wear sturdy footwear: Invest in hiking boots with ankle support and break them in before your trip.

Protect your head and eyes: Wear a wide-brimmed hat or a cap to shield your face from the sun. Don’t forget sunglasses for UV ray protection.

Choose moisture-wicking clothing: Opt for clothing that pulls sweat away from your body to keep cool and dry.

– Bring adequate sun protection: Apply high SPF sunscreen and regularly reapply. Use lip balm with SPF for lip protection.

Pro tip: Check the weather forecast before hiking in Colorado. Be prepared for changing conditions. Stay safe and enjoy your hiking adventure!

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of clothing should I wear when hiking in Colorado?

When hiking in Colorado, it is important to wear moisture-wicking clothing, such as synthetic or wool fabrics, to resist water penetration and dry quickly. Avoid wearing cotton as it absorbs and holds onto moisture, which can be dangerous in Colorado’s climate with temperature shifts and sudden storms. Layering is also essential for varying weather conditions.

What are the recommended footwear options for hiking in Colorado?

For hiking in Colorado, it is recommended to wear trail running shoes or hiking boots for support and comfort. Sneakers are also an option, but most beginners prefer more ankle support. It is crucial to have closed-toed footwear with ankle support for safety.

What kind of outer layer should I bring for hiking in Colorado?

It is essential to have a rain jacket that is both water and windproof when hiking in Colorado. A lightweight shell jacket is also recommended for layering during cooler weather. Cotton sweatshirts should be avoided due to their nature of absorbing moisture.

What are some suggestions for other clothing items to pack for a hiking trip in Colorado?

In addition to moisture-wicking base layers and outerwear, it is recommended to pack clothes such as synthetic or cotton t-shirts, hiking shorts or pants, synthetic or wool socks, a winter hat, a baseball hat, a swimsuit, and sandals for relaxation. Layering midlayers like a fleece sweater or vest is also helpful.

What items should I include in my day pack when hiking in Colorado?

Your day pack should include essentials such as water bottles, trail-friendly snacks, extra clothing (moisture-wicking underwear, socks, synthetic long pants), a rain jacket, a mini first-aid kit, a camera, a map and compass, a flashlight or headlamp, a pocketknife, and trekking poles or a hiking stick for assistance.

Where can I find outdoor clothing and gear for hiking in Colorado?

Outdoor clothing and gear for hiking in Colorado can be found in various places such as REI, Amazon, and discount stores like Target. These stores offer a wide range of options for footwear, clothing, backpacks, and other necessary hiking gear.

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