What to wear on a day's trek

Ultimately, it’s quite hard to answer the question “what should I wear on a typical days trek?” Not only is it hard because the temperature will vary for each location, day and time of year for your specific trek, but it’s all about personal preference too. Do you prefer tight gym leggings to walk in, or looser-fitting trousers etc.

One thing I will say, there are very limited ways to look ‘cool’ or ‘stylish’ whilst wearing a dodgy sunhat and bulky walking boots.. this is probably why I love trekking as it allows me to effortlessly stick to my mantra of dressing for comfort. I’ve listed some of my favourite items to have with me, or wear, on a day’s trek and hopefully, this will be useful to help you with assembling your own kit list and plan.

Planning what you will wear each day of your challenge will really help with preventing any overpacking. It’s really easy to think “ah I’ll chuck in 5 pairs of trousers and 15 tops for my 6-day trek and see what I feel like wearing”. But, realistically, when you have a small kit bag, with a sleeping bag, Thermarest and lots of snacks to fit in too, you should really attempt to pack as little clothes as possible. After several treks, I’ve learned the art of the mix-and-match, as I’ll attempt to show below.

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On the left, you’ll see a photo of me and Emma on the first day of the Machu Picchu trek.
The first item you’ll 100% need on a day’s trek is a reliable sunhat. I’m a fan of a wide-brimmed one, as this not only protects your face but also the back of your neck too. They may not look amazing, but they really add to the look of “I’m trekking in Peru and don’t care what I look like”.

You’ll see Emma and I are wearing similar outfits here. This would be a typical warm day’s outfit. A reliable t-shirt, preferably non-cotton (exercise top materials can help to wick away sweat quicker and keep you at a comfortable temperature), I went to Sportsdirect the day before my first ever trek and picked up about 4 t-shirts in different colours and they were perfect for wearing on their own, under a fleece or over the top of a thermal.

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On the right, again, you’ll see Emma is modeling a typical warm day trekking outfit. Pairing her sunhat and t-shirt with a classic hiking shorts/zip-off trouser combo.
These hiking trousers are dreamy on a trek- you can head off on a cold morning and as the sun comes out later in the day, you can easily zip off the bottom to have a cooler short alternative. One thing I will say on this one is to try to get some trousers with a flared bottom (or a zip alongside the bottom of the trouser) – this makes it easier to slip the trouser leg off and over a boot. The tighter fitting trousers involve having to take your boot off and can be a bit of a faff on a quick water stop.

So, onwards to the cooler parts of a trek. How do you stay warm and comfortable? First things first, we always suggest you should start a little cold when you’re walking (as you are bound to warm up and don’t want to have to keep stopping to remove layers). On this particular occasion (pictured left), I made the mistake of wearing thermal leggings, a thermal long-sleeve and a coat – I got far too hot throughout the first hour that I started to feel quite unwell. So as much as it’s important to dress for the temperature, it’s important to dress for the temperature you’ll be whilst hiking up a big old hill!

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As you can see from the photo, Phoebe and I are donning 2 similar, but different, outfits. We have both opted for hiking trousers, Phoebe has paired hers with a t-shirt under a “mid-layer”, or a thin fleece that is the perfect light-weight item that can easily be popped in a day pack if you get too warm along the way. She’s also opted for a winter hat, which is great for staying warm, on this day, however the sun was still extremely strong so I had opted for my sunhat to keep protected and prevent any burn. I’ve got a buff around my neck for extra warmth, a buff is one of (if not the) most essential item for a trek. You can wear it in SO many different ways, so it’s ideal for an ever changing atmosphere (one minute you may wish to wear it for sun protection e.g. the “hood”, or the next you may simply wish to keep your hair out of your eyes e.g. the “headband”).

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You can see from the photo on the left, there are a couple of different ways people dress for the cold. I always opt for a thermal, the one I’m wearing above is just a cheap sports shop buy- but it did the trick perfectly. On the left, I’m wearing a Helly Hansen thermal- this one is actually my Grandad’s so is baggier than an actual “thermal” but it was great for acting as a thin jumper/layer. I also slept in it as it was warm and comfortable!

Overall, hopefully you can see from this blog that as long as you have some essentials in your kit bag, you should be ok for any weather. On top of these essentials, as long as you have some waterproofs and some suncream you should be fine for your trek!

Lucy DalglishComment