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15 Expert-picked Summer Hiking Clothes From $20

Being at the lake or on a trail on a hot summer day can leave you sunburnt, blistered, and tired, if you’re not dressed appropriately in garments that will keep you cool, comfortable, and protected from UV rays and the heat. It’s important to have a set of high-quality pieces that you love with the right combination of sun protection and temperature regulation. 

After years of testing products on my own time and as a professional gear outfitter, I’ve collected the perfect pieces of clothing for my summer hiking expeditions. Most outdoors-lovers don’t have an unlimited budget, so it’s important to find apparel that you can mix and match, rewear, and enjoy all season long. Even better, this list of options for both men and women will allow you to get all of your hiking clothing into a carry-on for your next big adventure.

Keep scrolling for my favorite hiking clothing picks. And if you’re anything like me, I’m certain these will be a part of your summer rotation in no time. 

Teva Women’s Hurricane Xlt2 Sandal


The perfect summer sandal can be tough to find, but for many, the Teva Hurricane Xlt2 is the way to go. This pair’s simplicity is its biggest strength — with secure velcro straps around the ankle and toes, it’s easy to dial in a perfect fit without any fuss. I’ve always been impressed by the grippy rubber on Teva’s outsoles which inspires confidence on any terrain. I’ve taken a pair of Tevas hiking along rocky cliff sides all the way down to pristine sandy beaches below without so much as a stumble. Plus, with dozens of colors to choose from, these make a perfect companion for any summer fit. 

Patagonia Women’s Baggies Shorts

Of my entire summer wardrobe, my Patagonia Baggies might be the piece that sees the most wear. As soon as it gets warm, I practically live in these shorts. I don’t go easy on my clothing, but the super-durable recycled nylon construction has stood up to season after season of hard wear. With a variety of fun summer colors to choose from, they manage to look great, too. I’m embarrassed to say it, but my Baggies collection has only grown from year to year — I love that I can wear them straight from brunch with friends to a riverside hangout, so I need to have a pair for every outfit! If you’re planning to spend any time near the water this summer, the water-resistant coating and mesh pockets for drainage make them a no-brainer.

Amazon Essentials Women’s Tech Stretch Short-sleeve Crewneck T-shirt (2-pack)


If you’re just starting to fill out your summer hiking wardrobe, this two-pack of active-fit tops from Amazon Essentials is a great pick. Four-way-stretch fabric allows these lightweight, moisture-wicking shirts to move as you do, preventing discomfort and chafing even when worn with a heavy pack. When building a capsule wardrobe, I always prioritize quick-drying pieces like these tops. Traveling light often requires rewearing clothing throughout a trip, and the ability to wash and dry a shirt quickly can make all the difference. Of course, this two-pack takes some of the pressure off, since you’ll always have an extra shirt on standby!

Kuhl Women’s Freeflex Roll-up Pants


I’m a big advocate for long hiking pants even when it gets toasty out, but keeping cool despite the extra coverage takes a special pair of pants. For many, KUHL’s Freeflex bottoms are that pair, and I can vouch for them myself. Their particular fabric blend makes them shockingly light and breathable, all while providing UPF 50+ sun protection. Zip-off pants are the classic versatile hiking option, but I really like the roll-up system on these pants — when I need to cross a stream or create a bit of extra ventilation, I often don’t want to ditch the extra sun protection of my long pants by turning them into shorts, so rolling them up into capris is a stellar compromise. And of course, they look great off the trail, too. 

Vuori Women’s Energy T-shirt


Folks who have tried Vuori products before almost certainly don’t need to hear this, but if you’ve never worn a Vuori product before, I’m sorry in advance — once you try one of their ultra-soft, wildly comfortable pieces of apparel, you’ll be spoiled for life. Being buttery-soft doesn’t mean this top doesn’t pack some serious specs, with the stretch breathability, and UPF protection that you’d expect from any other rugged hiking wear. When building a capsule wardrobe, it’s important to find pieces that cover a lot of bases, so I also really appreciate Vuori’s attention to style with this top. Its cropped, boxy fit is functional and stylish while offering just enough coverage to stay cute and comfortable for long days in the sun.

Altra Women’s Lone Peak 7 Trail Running Shoe


I know plenty of gearheads with strong hiking footwear opinions, but I’ve never heard so many people describe a shoe as having “saved their feet” as I have when chatting about Altra’s Lone Peak 7. Having tried this shoe myself, I understand the hype. These trail-runners are super lightweight, stay cool and dry quickly, and boast thick rubber lugs for all-terrain use. They’re a fantastic sporty summer shoe — I’d happily take these on a short day hike or stroll around the neighborhood, but I also know thru-hikers who have worn their Lone Peak 7’s along the entire Appalachian Trail. If you’re prone to blisters, this may be the pair you need, as Altra’s spacious toe-boxes are known for solving hikers’ toe woes. 

Darn Tough Women’s Light Hiker Micro Crew Lightweight

After years of hiking experience, I’ve worn a ton of socks on the trail ranging from the most basic department store packs to pricey performance-oriented pairs. All that’s to say, I think Darn Tough makes some of the best socks on the market, and when I’m not wearing my sandals, these stay on my feet all summer long. Wool may seem like a strange pick for hot weather, but because it naturally regulates body temperature and wicks moisture and smell, this lighter-weight version of Darn Tough’s classic sock is my choice for all-season wear. If you’re hiking anywhere where brambles and ticks may be an issue, Darn Tough’s micro crew height sits just above the ankle to protect from these nuisances. And amazingly, they still offer a lifetime warranty — if you ever manage to wear your socks out, simply send them back for a new pair. (Guys, you can grab the men’s version of my favorite hiking sock at Amazon, too, for just $24).

Columbia Unisex Bora Bora Booney Fishing Hat


No matter how much sunscreen you apply, the best way to avoid the harmful effects of the sun is always keeping it off your skin in the first place. They’re not always the most fashionable, but it’s hard to beat a wide-brimmed hat for summer hiking since it keeps sunburn at bay, especially on your face and neck. This hat from Columbia is a great pick, with a lightweight, packable construction that’s easy to stow away in a pack for extra protection on the go. In a clever design decision, Columbia built a sweat-wicking headband into the lining which makes this hat a breeze to wear, even on the hottest days of the year.

Baleaf Men’s Sun Protection Hoodie Shirt


I’m a recent convert to the world of sun hoodies, and I truly didn’t know what I had been missing. After a lovely waterfall hike, I found myself chatting with some friends in the trailhead parking lot for a couple hours, totally exposed to the sun. It was a learning experience, to say the least, and now I swear by this style of top. With UPF 50+ sun protection, long sleeves, and a lightweight hood for head and neck coverage, this Baleaf sun hoodie will ensure that your summer adventures never need to slow down. Wearing long sleeves in the sun might feel foreign to some, but super-breathable, moisture-wicking fabric will keep you cool and protected, no matter the occasion. Similarly, you can shop this best-selling women’s UPF 50+ outdoor shirt for just $23.

Prana Men’s Stretch Zion 8-inch Shorts II


Stylish shorts can already be hard enough to find; when you want a pair that can also stand up to long days on the trail, it becomes next to impossible. That said, I don’t know what sort of magic the folks over at prAna are practicing, but their Stretch Zion shorts check both of those boxes with flying colors. Built with stretchy but durable nylon and elastane, these shorts give you all the freedom of movement you’d want from hiking bottoms with a casually flattering cut. I’m not always a fan of built-in belts on my hiking apparel, but the low-profile webbing on these shorts does a fantastic job keeping everything in place without getting in the way. Die-hard fans of this pair also celebrate their reinforced, flexible gusset, which allows you to move your legs in any which way without restriction.

Merrell Men’s Moab 3 Hiking Boot


Sandals are the way to go for many warm-weather escapades, but when the trail really starts getting rough, I always recommend having sturdier footwear on standby. The Merrell Moab 3 is a legend in the outdoor industry, and it lives up to the hype — it’s an exceptional all-rounder boot, ready for practically any terrain. High-quality Vibram rubber soles provide fantastic traction on wet or dry ground, and the vented leather upper sheds heat and moisture while remaining sturdy for long-term wear. I often recommend the waterproof version of these shoes, but for summertime, I would go with the classic version for better ventilation. I’ve seen these shoes everywhere from city streets to backcountry trails, and for good reason. To sweeten the deal, they’re currently more than 40 percent off.

Icebreaker Men’s Central Classic Short-sleeve Wool Shirt


Anyone who knows me has heard my pitch about the wonders of wool. There’s a well-known hiking adage that “cotton kills,” and it’s not totally untrue — on the trail, pure cotton clothing dries slowly, doesn’t breathe well, and traps odors. Merino wool, on the other hand, is the opposite, remaining breathable and fresh, even in the summertime. It’s one of my favorite materials for summertime travel and hiking, and Icebreaker is one of my favorite brands for quality merino wool clothing. This wool and cotton blend top is no exception, combining the best of both materials into one highly-functional piece of clothing. If you’re going to be on the move this summer and want a shirt stands up to heavy wear (and even re-wear), this is the way to go without sacrificing an ounce of comfort. 

REI Co-op Men’s Sahara Convertible Pants


REI Co-op’s Sahara Convertible pants have been a staple in the outdoor company’s lineup for years, and the reasoning is pretty plain and simple — they’re exceptional for practically every outdoor activity, and they also happen to be one of the most budget-friendly pairs out there. That cheaper price point doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice any features, though. These pants boast a sturdy yet comfortable construction that stays cool and dries quickly. If things start to heat up, have no fear — they zip off to breathable shorts in seconds without any hassle. If you’re building out a summer capsule wardrobe, this pair is two for the price of one. Even better, they’re marked down 30 percent on REI’s website. 

Chaco Men’s Z/Cloud 2 Sandal


If you’re familiar with Chacos, then you’re probably familiar with the debate that has raged on for years: Chacos or Tevas? As a fan of both, I can confidently say that each style of sandal has tons to offer. Instead of velcro straps, the Chaco Z/Cloud 2 uses a single piece of webbing threaded throughout the sole to allow maximum customization. The setup on these sandals isn’t quite as simple as it is on the Tevas, but for many, the ability to completely personalize your fit is worth it. I wore my Chacos practically daily on a backpacking trip around Europe last summer — once I had my fit figured out, I was just as confident wearing these sandals on uneven cobblestone streets and hot, dusty trails as I would be in a much heftier boot. If you have high arches, these are definitely worth a look, as Chacos have some of the best arch support of any hiking footwear I’ve tried. 

BUFF CoolNet UV Neck Gaiter

Even the most experienced hikers in the world are always tweaking and adjusting their summer wardrobe, and a cooling neck gaiter from Buff is an unbeatable add-on for the hiker who has it all. I’ve recently incorporated a Buff into my summer fits, and I’ve been shocked by how much cooler it keeps me — even with a wide-brimmed hat and a long shirt, you’d be surprised by how many rays still hit your neck, and a comfortable Buff is the perfect solution. These elastic tubes are incredibly versatile; I usually wear mine around my neck like a scarf, but Buff advertises twelve different ways to style them, and I’ve seen countless creative uses for these gaiters on the trail.  With Buff’s special HeiQ cooling technology and polygiene odor control, you’ll never want to take yours off!

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