Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

What To Wear Hiking In Costa Rica


by Christian Orton



Welcome to the lush and captivating land of Costa Rica, a paradise for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. With its stunning rainforests, awe-inspiring volcanoes, and breathtaking coastlines, this Central American gem offers an array of breathtaking hiking trails to explore. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner looking for an exciting challenge, Costa Rica has something for everyone.


As you embark on your hiking journey in this tropical wonderland, it’s essential to be well-prepared and properly equipped. The right clothing can make a significant difference in your comfort and enjoyment on the trails. In this article, we will guide you on what to wear hiking in Costa Rica, ensuring that you’re ready for whatever the adventure brings.


Before we delve into the specifics of hiking attire, it’s important to consider the climate and terrain of Costa Rica. The country experiences a tropical climate, with two distinct seasons – the dry season (December to April) and the rainy season (May to November). The terrain can range from rugged mountains and dense forests to sandy beaches and rocky coastlines. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose clothing and gear that can withstand varying weather conditions and provide optimal comfort and protection.


Proper footwear is also crucial for a successful hiking experience. The right shoes can prevent blisters and provide stability and traction on uneven terrain. Essential accessories, such as a backpack, hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, will add to your comfort and safety while exploring the beautiful trails of Costa Rica.


Layering your clothing is critical to adapt to changing weather conditions during your hike. The temperature can vary significantly as you ascend or descend mountains, making it important to have versatile clothing options to regulate your body temperature.


Costa Rica is home to diverse flora and fauna, including insects and strong sunrays. Therefore, protecting yourself against insects and sun exposure is imperative. We will discuss effective ways to safeguard against bites and harmful UV rays.


In the following sections, we will provide a comprehensive packing list and guide on what to wear when hiking in Costa Rica. So let’s get ready for an unforgettable adventure amidst the stunning landscapes of this vibrant and breathtaking country.


Best Clothing for Hiking in Costa Rica

When it comes to choosing the best clothing for hiking in Costa Rica, it’s important to prioritize comfort, functionality, and protection. Here are some key items to include in your hiking attire:

  1. Moisture-Wicking and Quick-Drying T-shirts: Opt for lightweight and breathable shirts made of moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester or merino wool. These materials help to wick away sweat and keep you cool and dry during your hike.
  2. Convertible Hiking Pants/Shorts: As the weather in Costa Rica can be unpredictable, it’s advisable to pack convertible hiking pants that can be converted into shorts when the temperature rises. Look for pants with quick-drying and lightweight materials.
  3. Long-Sleeve Shirts and Lightweight Sweaters: To protect yourself from the sun and insects, it’s recommended to have a few long-sleeve shirts made of lightweight and breathable fabrics. Additionally, have a lightweight sweater or fleece jacket for cooler temperatures in higher elevations.
  4. Breathable Undergarments: Choose moisture-wicking underwear and sports bras that provide comfort and prevent chafing. Avoid cotton, as it takes longer to dry and can cause discomfort when wet.
  5. Waterproof and Windproof Jacket: Costa Rica’s rainforests are known for their sudden tropical showers, so having a lightweight and packable waterproof jacket is essential. Look for jackets that are also windproof to keep you warm during gusty conditions.
  6. Socks and Hiking Boots: Invest in high-quality hiking socks made of moisture-wicking and cushioning materials. A good pair of hiking boots with sturdy soles and ankle support is essential for navigating rocky terrain and protecting your feet.
  7. Wide-Brimmed Hat and Sunglasses: Shield yourself from the intense sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat that provides shade for your face, neck, and ears. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses with UV protection to safeguard your eyes from the bright tropical sun.

In addition to the clothing items mentioned above, it’s crucial to pack a swimsuit and a lightweight towel if you plan to take a refreshing dip in the waterfalls or natural pools along the hiking trails. Remember to dress in layers that can be easily added or removed according to the temperature and terrain you encounter during your hike.


By selecting the right clothing for hiking in Costa Rica, you can ensure your comfort, protection, and enjoyment as you immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of this incredible country.


Choosing the Right Footwear

One of the most critical aspects of a successful hike is choosing the right footwear. In Costa Rica, where the terrain can range from muddy trails to rocky paths, it’s crucial to have sturdy and comfortable hiking shoes or boots. Here are some tips to help you select the right footwear for hiking in Costa Rica:

  • Select Hiking Shoes or Boots: Choose hiking shoes or boots that are specifically designed for outdoor activities. Look for options with durable and supportive construction to withstand the rugged terrain of Costa Rica’s hiking trails. High-top boots provide better ankle stability, while low-cut shoes offer more flexibility.
  • Consider Waterproof Features: Given Costa Rica’s tropical climate and unpredictable rainfall, investing in waterproof or water-resistant footwear is advisable. These shoes or boots will protect your feet from getting wet and keep them dry and comfortable throughout your hike.
  • Ensure Proper Fit: Ill-fitting footwear can lead to discomfort, blisters, and even injuries. Take the time to try on different brands and sizes to find a pair that fits your feet well. Make sure there is enough space for your toes to wiggle and that the shoes or boots provide ample arch and ankle support.
  • Break-in Your Footwear: It’s essential to break in your hiking shoes or boots before embarking on a rigorous hike. Wear them around the house or on shorter walks to allow your feet to adjust to the footwear and prevent blisters and discomfort during your hike.
  • Test Traction and Grip: Opt for shoes or boots with a sturdy and reliable sole that offers excellent traction. This will help you navigate slippery and uneven terrain more confidently, reducing the risk of slipping and falling.
  • Consider Breathability: Costa Rica’s tropical climate can cause your feet to sweat, leading to discomfort and blisters. Look for footwear with breathable materials and ventilation features to allow airflow and keep your feet cool and dry.
  • Bring Extra Laces and Insoles: To be prepared for any unexpected mishaps, pack extra shoelaces and insoles in your backpack. This will allow you to replace worn-out laces or add extra cushioning if needed during your hike.

Remember, investing in high-quality hiking footwear is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience in Costa Rica. Take your time to find the perfect pair that fits well and suits your hiking needs. A great pair of hiking shoes or boots will provide the necessary support and protection, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the Costa Rican trails.


Essential Accessories for Hiking

When preparing for a hiking adventure in Costa Rica, it’s important to pack essential accessories that will enhance your comfort, safety, and overall hiking experience. Here are some must-have accessories to consider:

  • Backpack: A good quality backpack is essential for carrying all your hiking essentials. Look for a backpack that is lightweight, durable, and has multiple compartments to keep your items organized.
  • Hydration System: Staying hydrated is crucial during hikes, especially in the warm and humid climate of Costa Rica. Invest in a hydration pack or bring a reusable water bottle to ensure you have access to a sufficient water supply. Consider a water filtration system if you plan to refill your bottle from natural water sources along the trails.
  • Trekking Poles: Trekking poles provide stability, especially on steep or uneven terrain. They help reduce strain on your knees and improve balance during ascents and descents. Look for collapsible poles that are lightweight and adjustable to suit your height.
  • Headlamp or Flashlight: A reliable headlamp or flashlight is essential, especially if you plan to hike early in the morning or venture into areas with limited lighting. It will help navigate the trails and provide illumination during darker hours.
  • First Aid Kit: It’s important to be prepared for any minor injuries or emergencies. Pack a basic first aid kit that includes band-aids, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, pain medication, and any personal medications you may require.
  • Navigation Tools: While some trails in Costa Rica are well-marked, it’s always a good idea to have a map and compass or a GPS device to aid in navigation. Familiarize yourself with the trail route beforehand, and consider using a reliable hiking app on your smartphone.
  • Insect Repellent: Costa Rica is home to various insects, including mosquitos and ticks. Protect yourself from bites by applying insect repellent with DEET or other recommended ingredients. Consider wearing lightweight and breathable long-sleeve shirts and pants to minimize your exposure to insects.
  • Sun Protection: The tropical sun can be intense, even on cloudy days. Protect your skin by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen regularly throughout your hike.
  • Camera or Smartphone: Capture the stunning landscapes and wildlife encounters by bringing a camera or smartphone with you. Share your adventure with friends and family while preserving memories of your hiking experience in Costa Rica.

By packing these essential accessories, you’ll be well-prepared for a safe and enjoyable hiking adventure in Costa Rica. Remember to pack light and only bring what you truly need, as unnecessary weight can hinder your mobility and enjoyment on the trails.


Layering for Varying Weather Conditions

Costa Rica’s weather can vary greatly depending on the region and elevation. It’s important to be prepared for varying weather conditions during your hiking adventures. Layering your clothing is the key to staying comfortable and adapting to these changes. Here’s a guide on how to layer effectively:


Base Layer: Start with a moisture-wicking and breathable base layer. This could be a lightweight and quick-drying T-shirt or long-sleeve shirt. The base layer will help regulate your body temperature and keep you dry by wicking away sweat.


Mid-Layer: The mid-layer provides insulation and warmth. For cooler temperatures or higher elevations, consider wearing a lightweight sweater or fleece jacket. Look for materials that trap heat while still being breathable to prevent overheating.


Outer Layer: The outer layer acts as a barrier against wind, rain, and cold. Invest in a waterproof and windproof jacket to protect yourself from sudden downpours or chilly winds. Look for one with adjustable cuffs, a hood, and ventilation options to ensure optimal comfort.


Depending on the weather, you may need to add or remove layers as you hike. Make sure you have enough room in your backpack to store any additional clothing items that you might shed along the way.


Extra Tip: Don’t forget to pack a lightweight and packable down jacket or vest. This can be a lifesaver during colder temperatures or as an extra layer during breaks or at higher altitudes.


Remember to check the weather forecast for your hiking area beforehand and plan your layering accordingly. It’s better to be prepared for cooler temperatures and rain rather than being caught off guard without proper clothing.


By layering your clothing appropriately, you can ensure that you’re ready to tackle any weather conditions that come your way. This flexibility will allow you to fully enjoy your hiking experience in Costa Rica, regardless of the changing climate.


Protection Against Insects and Sun

When hiking in Costa Rica, it’s important to protect yourself against insects and the strong rays of the tropical sun. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:


Insect Protection:

  • Apply Insect Repellent: Use insect repellent on exposed skin to deter mosquitos, ticks, and other biting insects. Look for repellents containing DEET or other recommended ingredients. Apply it generously and reapply as directed.
  • Cover Exposed Skin: To minimize the risk of insect bites, wear lightweight and breathable long-sleeve shirts, pants, and socks. Tuck your pants into your socks to prevent insects from crawling inside.
  • Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Times: Mosquitos are most active during dawn and dusk, so plan your hikes accordingly. Consider wearing additional protective clothing during these times, such as a mosquito net hat or a head net to protect your face.
  • Check for Ticks: After your hike, thoroughly check your body for ticks, especially in hard-to-reach areas. Removing ticks promptly reduces the risk of tick-borne illnesses.

Sun Protection:

  • Wear Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with a high SPF to all exposed skin before starting your hike. Reapply every few hours, especially if you’ve been sweating or swimming. Pay attention to commonly overlooked areas like the ears, back of the neck, and tops of the feet.
  • Wear a Hat and Sunglasses: Protect your face, neck, and eyes by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection. This will shield you from the sun’s harmful rays and reduce the risk of sunburn and eye damage.
  • Seek Shade: Take advantage of shaded areas along the trails when the sun is at its strongest. This will provide relief from intense heat and minimize sun exposure.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is crucial to staying hydrated and keeping your body cool. Carry a hydration pack or a reusable water bottle with you and sip regularly throughout your hike.

Costa Rica’s tropical climate and dense rainforests make insect and sun protection essential for a comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience. By taking the necessary precautions, you can minimize the risks associated with insect bites and sunburn, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the region without discomfort or harm.


Packing List for Hiking in Costa Rica

When preparing for a hiking adventure in Costa Rica, it’s important to pack strategically and efficiently. Here’s a comprehensive packing list to help ensure you have everything you need:

  • Moisture-Wicking and Quick-Drying T-shirts
  • Convertible Hiking Pants/Shorts
  • Long-Sleeve Shirts and Lightweight Sweaters
  • Breathable Undergarments
  • Waterproof and Windproof Jacket
  • Socks and Hiking Boots
  • Wide-Brimmed Hat and Sunglasses
  • Backpack
  • Hydration System or Water Bottle
  • Trekking Poles
  • Headlamp or Flashlight
  • First Aid Kit
  • Navigation Tools (Map, Compass, or GPS)
  • Insect Repellent
  • Sunscreen (High SPF)
  • Wide-brimmed Hat and Sunglasses
  • Camera or Smartphone
  • Swimsuit and Lightweight Towel
  • Extra Laces and Insoles
  • Quick-drying Towel
  • Energy-boosting Snacks

In addition to these items, consider packing a lightweight poncho or rain cover for your backpack, a small travel towel for wiping off sweat, and a mobile charger for your electronic devices. It’s also a good idea to bring a garbage bag for any trash you accumulate along the trails, as leaving no trace is crucial for preserving the pristine beauty of Costa Rica’s natural environment.


Remember to prioritize lightweight and compact items to ensure ease of movement and minimize the weight of your backpack. Packing smartly will allow you to enjoy your hiking adventure in Costa Rica without being weighed down by unnecessary items.


Before you embark on your hike, always double-check your packing list to ensure you haven’t forgotten any essential items. Being prepared will not only enhance your comfort and safety but also allow you to fully immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes and diverse ecosystems that Costa Rica has to offer.



As you conclude your journey through this comprehensive guide on what to wear hiking in Costa Rica, you are now equipped with the knowledge and insights to prepare for your adventure in this exotic paradise. By choosing the right clothing, footwear, and accessories, you can ensure your comfort, protection, and enjoyment while exploring the incredible hiking trails this tropical wonderland has to offer.


Remember to select clothing made of moisture-wicking and quick-drying fabrics, and layer appropriately to adapt to Costa Rica’s varying weather conditions. Don’t forget to invest in sturdy and comfortable hiking shoes or boots that provide ankle support and traction on different terrains.


Essential accessories such as a backpack, hydration system, trekking poles, and navigation tools will enhance your convenience and safety on the trails. It’s crucial to protect yourself against insects by using repellent and wearing appropriate clothing, as well as shielding yourself from the strong rays of the sun with sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.


By following this packing list and taking these tips into consideration, you’ll be well-prepared for a remarkable hiking experience in Costa Rica. Immerse yourself in the captivating rainforests, stunning volcanoes, and picturesque coastlines while staying comfortable, protected, and respectful to the environment.


As you embark on your adventure, enjoy the magical moments and breathtaking views that Costa Rica has in store for you. Create lasting memories while respecting and preserving the natural beauty and ecosystems. Happy hiking!