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What To Wear Hiking In Colorado


by Rubie Winton



Colorado is a hiker’s dream, with its rugged mountain trails, stunning alpine vistas, and diverse ecosystem. Whether you’re planning a day hike or embarking on a multi-day adventure, it’s essential to be well-prepared and properly equipped. One crucial aspect of hiking that often gets overlooked is choosing the right clothing.


Wearing the right gear can make a world of difference in your overall hiking experience. Not only does it protect you from the elements, but it also ensures your comfort and safety on the trail. In this article, we will guide you through the key considerations when it comes to selecting the most suitable clothing for hiking in Colorado.


Colorado’s weather can be unpredictable, especially at higher elevations. It’s not uncommon to start your hike in sunny, warm conditions and encounter sudden temperature drops, rain showers, or even snowfall as you climb higher. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a layering system that allows you to adapt to changing weather conditions throughout your hike.


In the next sections, we will delve into the specifics of each layer and provide insights into the best materials and features to look for when selecting your hiking clothing. From base layers to outer shells, footwear, and accessories, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive in and discover what to wear hiking in Colorado!


Choosing the Right Clothing

When it comes to choosing the right clothing for hiking in Colorado, there are a few key factors to consider: weather conditions, terrain, and personal comfort. Colorado’s climate can vary greatly depending on the season and elevation, so it’s essential to be prepared for all possibilities.


First and foremost, pay close attention to the weather forecast for the duration of your hike. This will give you an idea of the expected temperatures, wind conditions, and chances of precipitation. Layering is the key to adapting to changing weather conditions. By wearing multiple layers, you can easily add or remove clothing to regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable throughout your hike.


Start with a moisture-wicking base layer. This is the layer closest to your skin and helps to keep you dry by wicking away sweat. Look for synthetic materials like polyester or merino wool, as they are excellent at moisture management and have anti-microbial properties that minimize odors.


Next, consider your insulating layers. These garments help to trap heat and provide additional warmth when temperatures drop. Fleece jackets or down-filled vests are popular choices for lightweight and insulating mid-layers.


The outer shell layer is crucial for protecting you from wind, rain, or snow. Look for a waterproof and breathable jacket with sealed seams to keep you dry, while allowing moisture to escape. A hood is also a valuable feature to have, as it provides added protection for your head in inclement weather.


When it comes to pants, opt for comfortable, quick-drying materials like nylon or polyester. Consider convertible pants that can be zipped off into shorts for added versatility. Additionally, invest in a good pair of hiking socks made of moisture-wicking material to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters.


Lastly, don’t forget about accessories. A wide-brimmed hat will shield your face from the sun, while sunglasses with UV protection will protect your eyes. Gloves are essential for keeping your hands warm, especially during colder months. And don’t forget to wear sunscreen and carry a sturdy backpack to carry all your essentials.


By carefully selecting the right clothing, you’ll be well-prepared to handle whatever Mother Nature throws at you during your hiking adventures in Colorado. Remember that comfort and functionality should always be a priority, allowing you to fully enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Rocky Mountains.


Base Layers

Base layers are the foundation of your hiking clothing system and play a crucial role in keeping you comfortable on the trail. They are designed to be worn next to your skin and help regulate your body temperature by wicking away sweat and moisture.


When selecting base layers for hiking in Colorado, opt for materials such as polyester or merino wool. Polyester is a popular choice due to its excellent moisture-wicking properties and fast-drying capabilities. Merino wool, on the other hand, not only wicks away moisture but also has natural odor-resistant properties, making it a great option for longer hikes.


Both synthetic and merino wool base layers come in varying weights, from lightweight to heavyweight. The weight of your base layer should depend on the weather conditions and your personal preference. Lightweight base layers are ideal for warmer weather or high-intensity activities, while heavyweight base layers provide extra insulation in colder climates.


Another consideration when choosing base layers is the fit. Look for a snug yet comfortable fit that allows for easy movement and layering. Flatlock seams can minimize chafing and irritation, especially during long hikes. Additionally, consider base layers with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) for added sun protection during high-altitude hikes.


Base layers come in both long-sleeve and short-sleeve options. For cooler temperatures and added sun protection, long-sleeve base layers are a preferred choice. Short-sleeve base layers are great for warmer hikes or when layering with a long-sleeve shirt or jacket.


Overall, base layers are a fundamental component of your hiking wardrobe in Colorado. They provide moisture management and temperature regulation, keeping you dry, comfortable, and prepared for the ever-changing weather conditions in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.


Insulating Layers

Insulating layers are essential for providing warmth and insulation during cooler temperatures, making them a vital part of your hiking clothing ensemble in Colorado. These layers help trap heat close to your body, keeping you comfortable and protected from cold mountain winds.


A popular choice for insulating layers is a fleece jacket. Fleece is lightweight, breathable, and offers excellent insulation even when wet. Look for fleece jackets made from synthetic materials like polyester, as they are quick-drying and durable. Opt for a mid-weight fleece jacket that provides warmth without adding too much bulk.


Another option for insulation is a down-filled vest or jacket. Down is known for its exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio, making it perfect for colder temperatures. It is highly compressible, meaning it can be easily packed into your backpack when not in use. However, down insulation loses its effectiveness when wet, so be sure to also pack a waterproof shell layer to protect it in case of rain or snow.


When it comes to choosing the appropriate insulating layer, consider the expected weather conditions and your activity level. For colder temperatures, layering a fleece jacket or down-filled vest under a waterproof shell will provide optimal warmth and protection. In milder conditions, a lightweight fleece or a thin down jacket may suffice.


Remember that layering is key, so ensure there is enough room in your hiking outfit to accommodate your insulating layers without feeling restrictive. This will allow you to add or remove layers as needed to regulate your body temperature during your hike.


Insulating layers are a vital component of your hiking attire, helping you stay comfortable and warm while exploring the breathtaking trails of Colorado. Choose the right insulating layers based on the expected weather conditions, and you’ll be able to enjoy your hiking adventures no matter the temperature.


Outer Shell

The outer shell layer is your ultimate defense against the harsh elements you may encounter while hiking in Colorado. It is designed to protect you from wind, rain, and even snow, ensuring you stay dry and comfortable throughout your outdoor adventures.


When selecting an outer shell, look for a jacket that is both waterproof and breathable. Waterproof materials such as Gore-Tex or eVent are excellent choices as they effectively keep water out while allowing moisture vapor to escape, preventing you from getting soaked from the inside due to sweat.


Sealed seams are crucial to prevent water from seeping through any stitching holes. These are often taped or welded to enhance the jacket’s water resistance. Pay attention to the jacket’s waterproof rating, typically measured in millimeters (mm), which indicates how much water pressure it can withstand. A higher rating indicates greater water resistance.


While staying dry is essential, breathability is equally important to prevent overheating. Look for outer shells with pit zips or underarm vents that provide additional airflow and ventilation to regulate your body temperature during high-intensity activities or warmer weather.


A hood is a valuable feature to consider in an outer shell layer. It provides protection for your head and face during rain or snowfall. Make sure the hood is adjustable and can be tightened to fit snugly around your head without obstructing your vision.


Other features to consider include adjustable cuffs and a cinchable hem to keep out cold drafts, as well as multiple pockets to store essentials such as a map, compass, or snacks.


When it comes to fit, choose an outer shell layer that allows for comfortable movement and easy layering. You should have enough room to wear your base and insulating layers underneath without feeling restricted.


Remember that the weather can change rapidly in Colorado, especially at higher elevations. Having a reliable and durable outer shell layer ensures you are prepared for any unexpected weather conditions that may arise during your hiking adventures in this beautiful state.



Choosing the right footwear is crucial for a comfortable and safe hiking experience in Colorado’s diverse terrain. The right pair of hiking boots or shoes will provide traction, support, and protection against rocky trails, uneven surfaces, and changing weather conditions.


When selecting hiking footwear, opt for shoes or boots that are specifically designed for hiking. They should have a sturdy construction, durable materials, and a robust outsole that offers good traction on various terrains.


Consider the type of hiking you plan to do to determine the style of footwear that best suits your needs. For day hikes on well-maintained trails, lightweight hiking shoes with a flexible sole may be sufficient. They are comfortable, breathable, and offer ample support for less challenging terrains.


For more rugged trails and multi-day hikes, hiking boots are recommended. Look for boots that provide ankle support to prevent twisting and protect against rocky terrain. Boots should have a waterproof membrane, such as Gore-Tex, to keep your feet dry in wet conditions.


Proper fit is essential when it comes to hiking footwear. Your boots or shoes should have enough room in the toe box to wiggle your toes comfortably, without your heel slipping. It’s also important to try on hiking shoes or boots with the socks you plan to wear on your hikes to ensure a proper fit.


Break in your footwear before embarking on a long hike to avoid blisters and discomfort. Wear them on shorter hikes or around town to allow the materials to mold to your feet and ensure a more comfortable fit on the trails.


Invest in quality hiking socks made of moisture-wicking materials such as merino wool or synthetic blends. These socks will keep your feet dry and help prevent blisters during long hikes. Avoid cotton socks, as they tend to retain moisture and can cause chafing and discomfort.


Remember to inspect and maintain your hiking footwear regularly. Clean off any dirt or debris after each hike and check for any signs of wear or damage. Proper care and maintenance will extend the life of your hiking shoes or boots.


By choosing the right footwear for your hiking adventures in Colorado, you’ll have happy feet that can confidently take on the miles of breathtaking trails this beautiful state has to offer.



When it comes to hiking in Colorado, the right accessories can greatly enhance your comfort, safety, and overall experience on the trail. These small yet essential items can make a big difference during your outdoor adventures.


A wide-brimmed hat is a must-have accessory for hiking in Colorado’s sunny and high-altitude conditions. It provides shade for your face, neck, and ears, protecting you from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Look for a hat with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating for maximum sun protection.


Another crucial accessory is a good pair of sunglasses. Choose sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection to shield your eyes from the intense sunlight at high altitudes. Polarized lenses can also reduce glare and improve visibility, especially around bodies of water or snowy terrain.


Gloves are essential for keeping your hands warm and protected during colder months or at higher elevations. Look for gloves that are insulated yet flexible, allowing you to maintain dexterity while hiking. Waterproof gloves are also recommended for wet conditions or snow hikes.


Sunscreen is an accessory that should not be overlooked. Even on overcast days, the sun’s rays can still be harmful. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher to exposed skin, including your face, neck, and hands. Don’t forget to reapply regularly, especially if you’re sweating or spending extended periods outdoors.


A sturdy backpack is a vital accessory for carrying all your hiking essentials. Look for a backpack with padded shoulder straps and a waist belt for added comfort and weight distribution. Choose one with multiple compartments and pockets to keep your gear organized and easily accessible.


Other essential accessories include a map and compass, especially if you plan on exploring more remote or unmarked trails. These tools will help you navigate and ensure you stay on the right path. Additionally, consider bringing a headlamp or flashlight, a whistle for emergencies, insect repellent to ward off pesky bugs, and a first aid kit for any minor injuries or discomforts that may arise.


Lastly, stay properly hydrated by carrying a water bottle or hydration reservoir. In Colorado’s dry climate and higher elevations, it’s important to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Consider using a water filter or purification tablets if you plan on refilling from natural water sources.


The right accessories can significantly improve your hiking experience in Colorado, providing essential protection, convenience, and safety while allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the outdoors.



Choosing the right clothing and accessories for hiking in Colorado is essential for a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable outdoor experience. The unpredictable weather and diverse terrain of the Rocky Mountains require careful consideration of your hiking attire.


Layering is key when it comes to dressing for hiking in Colorado. Start with moisture-wicking base layers, such as polyester or merino wool, to keep you dry and comfortable. Insulating layers, like fleece jackets or down-filled vests, provide warmth when temperatures drop. For protection against wind, rain, or snow, invest in a waterproof and breathable outer shell layer.


When it comes to footwear, choose hiking shoes or boots that offer support, traction, and durability. Proper fitting and quality hiking socks are essential for foot comfort and preventing blisters during long hikes.


Don’t forget about the accessories that can enhance your hiking experience. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses protect you from the sun’s rays, while gloves keep your hands warm. Sunscreen, a sturdy backpack, a map and compass, and other essential items like a headlamp, insect repellent, and a first aid kit should also be included in your hiking gear.


Remember to always check the weather forecast, pack accordingly, and prepare for changing conditions. Dress in layers to easily adjust your body temperature as needed. Stay hydrated, follow trail etiquette, and leave no trace to preserve the natural beauty of Colorado’s trails for future generations.


By selecting the right clothing and accessories, you’ll be well-equipped for your hiking adventures in Colorado, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes and experience the wonders of nature.