I am a self-proclaimed hiking professional. I mean no one pays me to hike, but a girl can dream, right? In all seriousness, I am a born and bred Alaskan and have the outdoor experience that goes along with it. I hike 2-3 times a week on average during the summer and try to get in at least 5 backpacking trips before it gets too cold. Because of my love for the outdoors, I have developed a good grasp on what should and shouldn’t go in my pack for each trip. So if you are looking to start exploring the outdoors more this summer and aren’t sure exactly what clothing you should be purchasing or packing, check out my top ten must-have clothing items for camping and backpacking.
1. Base layer bottoms
If I am hiking overnight, there will be a pair of base layer pants in my bag. It doesn’t matter if the daytime is 75 degrees, which isn’t likely in Alaska, I will need a warm layer in the night. I also wear these for day hiking during the shoulder seasons like September or May.
2. Quick dry pants
Never hike in jeans if you can avoid it. You need something that is breathable and dries fast, especially if you are in cooler climates. I wear my Northface hiking pants 90 percent of the time because they are cool in warm weather and can work as a top layer over the base layer I mentioned earlier.
3. Long sleeve base layer
Can you see a theme developing here? Maybe it’s because Alaska is more likely to be cold than hot, but either way I think investing in quality base layers is smart. If you get a nice base layer top, you can wear it on it’s on for cooler hikes, sleep in it on warm nights, or layer it up for those rainy chilly days.
4. Long sleeve sun shirt
This is an item I didn’t realize was important until I backpacked thru Peru. When you are exposed to the sun all day long, you risk getting sunburnt and zapped of all your energy. Having a shirt that breaths but protects from UV rays can be key in climates that get a lot of sun. Also, these shirts are great for keeping the bugs from eating you alive.
5. Wool socks
I have so many pairs of wool socks, it’s getting a bit ridiculous, but they are so important for hiking. If your feet are cold and wet, your entire body will suffer. Have a good pair of socks for during the day and another for the nighttime. This will give your daytime socks a chance to dry in the night and give you nice clean socks to sleep in.
If you are traveling anywhere outside of the desert, a good raincoat should be at the top of your list. And please, for your sake, buy a quality one. Make sure it is completely waterproof, because if it isn’t, you will end up with wet clothes, and that is miserable. Also, make sure your raincoat is big enough to fit all of your layers under it so that everything stays dry.
7. Polar fleece or sweater
This is more for backpackers or those who hike when its lower temperatures, but if that’s you, you will want to pack either a polar fleece pullover or a warm material sweater. Some of mine are wool and alpaca… It doesn’t need to be Patagonia but it does need to be warm.
8. Non-cotton tank
Yay! Something for warm weather! On those rare days in Alaska when it’s hot out, it’s nice to have a quick dry tank top to put on instead of your long sleeve. I mean I am all for hiking in a sports bra, but if that’s not your thing, a tank top is a must.
9. Sun Protection
This will be either a bandana, baseball hat, sunglasses, or whatever you can think of. The point is, pack something that shields your face from the sun.
Anytime I can get some warm sunlight on my legs, I take it. So, for me, I have to pack a good pair of hiking shorts. These are not jean shorts, they are not tight, they dry quickly, and they are comfortable. Think cute khaki safari shorts rather than daisy dukes.