What to Wear on a Hike In Summer – #1 Guide for Families

Ready to find out what to wear on a hike in summer? Having comfortable, clothing is important when hiking with your family. It’s essential to have the right layers to keep you feeling comfortable.

Related Post: Plan the Perfect Family Hike

What to Wear on a Hike In Summer – Footwear

Lets starts with shoes. What should you look for in good footwear? Look for a shoe that is comfortable, breathable, provides support and is grippy. If you are in a wet climate waterproof shoes are a must.

A summer hiking boot can be too hot. A trail runner or hiking sandal are more breathable. Your shoes needs to be comfortable to walk in, and really protect your feet. If you are going for a short day hike try out your running shoes to see how they handle the terrain.

Once borrowing hiking shoes I bought a pair that have better grip, support and are waterproof. I did use my regular runners for many years and never suffered any injuries. I went with a keens Targhee Vent Hiking Shoe.

For kids, I recommend getting a lightweight grippy runner. They can wear them every day and are easy to put on like Merrell’s trail running shoe. My son has Keen hiking shoes like mine but he finds them hard to put on. I don’t recommend them for young kids, we purchased them for forest school. A closed-toe hiking sandal is perfect for summer you can always add some wool socks if it is chilly in the morning. I recommend either Merrel water shoes or Keen sandals. Check your local buy and sell for a great frugal price.

What to Wear on a Hike In Summer – Socks

When it comes to choosing socks, there are 2 key factors to consider: material and length. Your hiking socks should be quick-drying, and moisture-wicking.

Choose a sock length that is above your shoe to make sure your family doesn’t get any unwanted blisters.

I recommend both Balega brand and Darn Tough. For my kids I have purchased athletic socks at Marshals and Nike outlet that have worked great.

What to Wear on a Hike In Summer – Bottoms

Now that you have picked out some hiking shoes. What should you wear on your legs? You want something that won’t restrict movement. And will protect you from the elements, is breathable and comfortable.

Shorts are the usually choice for a summer wardrobe. Just remember they will leave your legs vulnerable to bug bites, sun burns, scratches and poisonous plants. Knowing the trail will help you determine if pants might be a better option.


There are lots of hiking pants designed for the summer heat. Look for something durable, breathable, quick-dry, and comfortable. These are a great budget option CRZ YOGA Women’s Hiking Pants, MIER Men’s Outdoor Hiking Pants. These pants are great multi-purpose pants. You can also pick convertible pants where the pant can zip into shorts.

For kids it is nice to have a pant that is durable, I can not tell you how many holes my son puts in his pants. Columbia has some great option for kids.


Don’t feel like wearing pants? Leggings are a great option. Choose a fabric with 4 way stretch with athletic fabric not cotton.


If it is hot you might decide to wear hiking shorts. Make sure to choose ones with quick-dry material and that has a tighter fit so they don’t fall down. If you already own running shorts these would be a great choice. Under armor has some nice options with pockets. I think any athletic shorts with pockets would be a great choice for your kids.

What to Wear on a Hike In Summer – Tops

Now that you know what to look for in a bottom. What type of top is best for your hiking outfit. This is where layering comes to play in case there’s a change in the weather.


Lightweight sweaters or windbreakers can make your hike much more comfortable. Layering with a lightweight sweater allows you to adjust your body temperature depending on the weather you’re in. You’ll be a lot more comfortable when the temperature is cold and breezy.

Under your sweater you will want a long sleeve or t-shirt.


Shirts come in an endless number of styles. Which style you select will depend on the weather and bugs. Long sleeves will protect your skin from the sun and bugs in the summers.

I would rather not re-apply sunscreen on my children. There are also mosquitos where we live so my kids wear long sleeve shirts when out hiking. I have purchased sun hoodies from Walmart for under $10. They are nice and breathable, but I have never seen them online, in-store only. They look exactly like this shirt from the Gap.

Columbia also has nice long sleeves designed for fishing. Or you could wear a base layer shirt that you may already own for winter or fall sports. 

For adults, Costco has thin merino shirts that work well not as durable as Smartwool but half the price. Or check out Columbia which has some nice options that don’t break the bank like the Columbia Silver Ridge UV button down.

If you and your kids want to wear a tshirt choose an athletic sports t-shirt. Or a merino wool t-shirt which can help regulate your body temperature while you’re hiking. Just remember to reapply sunscreen.

Rain Jacket

For summer hiking a rain jacket or a poncho is great to have in your pack. One that is packable is super handy.

What to Wear on a Hike In Summer – Accessories

What to wear on a hike in summer? Here are a few needed accessories for your family hike!

Why not equip yourself with the right hiking accessories? They will make your time on the trail a whole lot easier. Plus, it’s a great way to tie your outfit together.


Eye protection is important if you are going to be outside in the sun for a long period of time. Sunglasses are a must for your hiking gear

There are a few things you will want to look for in hiking sunglasses.

UV protection

You will want sunglasses that block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays with uv400 protection. Cheap sunglasses can offer this protection. But not all will so please double check before buying.

Shatter Resistant

This is important as it is so easy to drop your sunglasses when hiking. And don’t get me started with kids dropping there sunglasses.  A polycarbonate lens is what you want to look for. And a flexible frame is perfect for kids.

I like Raybands they are good quality and have always fit my face well. For a cheap extra pair Goodr sunglasses are really nice.

For kids, we have a pair of Babyaitors that are supposedly unbreakable. But my son did break them they offer a free pair, however, you have to pay for shipping which was $15. We bought them 5 years ago and there are so many more options now these look nice and the strap would be great for hiking COCOSAND Sunglasses.


When the sun is at its strongest, protecting yourself with a hat is essential. A hat will protect you from harsh rays and the heat, so you can enjoy the warm weather.

There are a few different styles to choose from:

  • Caps:

If ventilation and breathability are your top priorities then choose a cap. One made from a breathable fabric and extra mesh for airflow would be perfect. They do not offer the most sun protection. Because they are not covering your neck or ears so make sure to re apply your sunscreen. If you already have a running hat, I would use that. If, not outdoor research has some nice hiking caps.

Columbia also has a hiking cap with a neck cape my son who is 5 years old has this hat and likes it (it is adult size but has a toggle at the back) .

  • Wide-brimmed hats:

A wide-brimmed hat offers more protection from the sun which is important in the summer. If you don’t already have a hat check out Sunday Afternoon they have really nice hats for the whole family. They are lightweight made of moisture-wicking fabric and are breathable. They can pack in a bag which not all hats can, without getting wrecked.


My sister has gifted us all buffs and they are so handy. Perfect for under helmets in cold weather. But they can also be great in the summer as well to keep you cool. If you or a family member is getting too hot just wet the buff and put it on as a headband.

These headwraps allow you to wear them in a whole bunch of different ways. As a do-rag, headband, bandana, or balaclava. You can even use them as a face mask in a pinch.

They come is lots of patterns and my kids love them!

What to Wear on a Hike in Summer – Best Fabrics

When you’re looking for hiking clothes, moisture management, and breathability is important. Feel and fit also make a difference. The hot air and sweat affect materials.

You want to buy clothes that are moisture-wicking. This means that they do not become wet and heavy after sweating. And breathable, which means that it allows air to flow easily through the fabric.

Below, are the most common fabrics found in hiking clothes.


When to wear it: If you are hiking in rain, or high humidity.

Polypropylene can be waterproof. It is used in base layers, rain jackets, underwear, and socks. Like polyester, polypropylene is very durable and wrinkle-resistant. It’ll keep you dry when hiking in a humid or wet climate.

Merino wool

A lot of hiking clothes are made of a blend of Merino wool and polyester. This results in clothes that are more durable and less expensive. Merino wool has the ability to keep you cool in the warmer months, making it a great fabric.


Polyester is a synthetic fiber found in most hiking and workout fabrics. Polyester is durable, wrinkle-resistant, and moisture-wicking. It is breathable and lightweight, exactly what you want in hiking clothing. When you sweat it won’t absorb and you’ll stay relatively dry.

Thats a Wrap

Now that you’ve got a better idea of what to wear when your family goes out on the hiking trail. Remember moisture-wicking materials will help you stay cool and dry. And of course, it’s important that you feel good in what you’re wearing – at the end of the day, it’s all about your comfort.

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