Comfortable, breathable yet warm, your outfit while hiking must check all these boxes. I suppose “not being cotton” is also one of the boxes, a very important box actually.

This post isn’t going to discuss the minutia of the perfect backpack or the perfect layering of fabrics to make up a sleeping bag. This is about the basics, things that can often be overlooked. It’s about shirts, shorts, socks, boots, and – most importantly – underpants. This gear is going to keep your temperature in check and it’s going to allow you to move around freely. It’s all you could ask for, really.

Boots

We’ve almost always had Zamberlan Vioz boots. They’ve been all around the world with us. In fact, we never want to go back to anything else. We’re already on our third pair!

Of course, they have great ankle support. They have great arch support. They come in Men’s and Women’s as well as a wide foot option, which you don’t always get. It’s a full leather upper and GORE-TEX lining for breathability and waterproofing.

Hiking Boot
Hiking Boot
Socks

Great, breathable boots mean nothing if your socks are no good. It’s like buying an Armani suit and wearing a t-shirt underneath. We like a nice mid-weight merino wool sock. There are lots of different places to get Merino socks, but the real key is a liner sock. That’s right, TWO layers of socks.

Your feet need to be well taken care of when you’re out on the trail, especially on longer backpacking trips. A liner sock will help prevent blisters and wick sweat away. Try Wigwam’s liner socks; we love them.

Liner sock
Liner sock
Shorts

OR’s Ferrosi Shorts. These. Shorts. Changed. Our. Lives. Light and stretchy would be the best way to describe them. They come in men’s and women’s and are also offered in a ¾ length or Capri style as well. All day comfort is practically guaranteed. They are tough and flexible enough to allow you to quickly negotiate a scramble up some scree, or just jam the pockets full of apples. Guys, you never know when you’re gonna need an apple.

Shorts
Shorts
Shirt

There is no perfect shirt. It has to be merino wool and you have to feel comfortable in it. The secret isn’t in what brand you buy it’s in how you layer it. We usually have a long sleeve zipper (usually a pullover style with a zipper that goes down half the shirt), then we pair that with a light short sleeved merino shirt. Patagonia, Smartwool, and Icebreaker all do great version of both.

T-shirt
T-shirt
Underwear

We saved the best for last, guys. This is the #1 most important gear out there. If you’re still buying bulk-cotton-drawers from Costco this is your intervention. Remember the Armani suit simile from the bit about the socks? Well buying good gear and then cheaping out on underwear before a hike is like buying an Armani suit, covering yourself in honey and wearing live bees as a shirt.

For underwear we recommend the Phase SL series by Arc’Teryx. They also make two different styles for women and a bra. It’s pricey, but it is 100% worth it. A good pair of underwear can make all the difference.

Underpants
Underpants