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What To Wear Hiking In Seattle


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Arlen Horton



Hiking in Seattle is a thrilling adventure that offers breathtaking views, lush forests, and seemingly endless trails to explore. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or new to the activity, it’s crucial to be prepared and dress appropriately for the unpredictable weather conditions that Seattle is known for. The key to a successful and enjoyable hiking experience lies in selecting the right attire.


Seattle’s climate is characterized by its famous drizzles and occasional downpours, even during the summer months. It’s not uncommon to experience a variety of weather conditions throughout the course of a single hike. As such, it’s essential to have a well-thought-out clothing strategy to stay comfortable and protected during your outdoor excursions.


In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of choosing the right attire for hiking in Seattle. From selecting the appropriate footwear to layering techniques and essential accessories, we’ll provide valuable insights to ensure you’re well-equipped for your hiking adventures in the Emerald City.


By following our expert advice and taking the time to optimize your apparel choices, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the stunning trails and diverse landscapes that Seattle has to offer. So, let’s dive in and explore the importance of proper attire when hiking in Seattle!


Importance of Proper Attire while Hiking

When embarking on a hiking adventure in Seattle, the importance of wearing the right attire cannot be overstated. Hiking is a physically demanding activity that requires you to be comfortable, protected, and prepared for any weather conditions you may encounter. Here are some reasons why proper attire is crucial:

  • Comfort: Wearing comfortable clothing and footwear is essential to ensure an enjoyable hiking experience. Moving through rugged terrain and spending long hours on your feet can take a toll on your body. By wearing attire that is designed for outdoor activities, you can minimize discomfort and focus on the beauty surrounding you.
  • Protection: Proper attire provides protection against various elements you may encounter on the trail. This includes protection from rain, sun, wind, and even insects. Additionally, wearing sturdy footwear reduces the risk of injuries such as sprained ankles or blisters.
  • Regulating Body Temperature: Seattle’s weather can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature and weather conditions. Wearing appropriate layers allows you to adjust your clothing to maintain a comfortable body temperature throughout the hike. This is especially important during early morning or late afternoon hikes when temperatures can vary significantly.
  • Visibility and Safety: Wearing brightly colored clothing enhances your visibility on the trail, making it easier for other hikers or wildlife to spot you. This is particularly important if you’re hiking in areas where hunting is allowed. Additionally, proper footwear with good traction reduces the risk of slips and falls, ensuring your safety.

By understanding the importance of proper attire, you can make informed decisions when selecting your hiking gear. Remember that even though it may seem cumbersome to pack and wear specific clothing for hiking, the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience. So, before you hit the trails in Seattle, ensure you have the right attire to keep you comfortable, protected, and ready to embrace the beauty of nature.


Choosing the Right Footwear

When it comes to hiking in Seattle, one of the most crucial aspects of your attire is choosing the right footwear. The terrain can be varied and sometimes challenging, so having appropriate shoes is essential for your comfort and safety. Here are some factors to consider when selecting your hiking footwear:

  • Support and Stability: Look for hiking shoes or boots that provide excellent support for your ankles and foot arches. This is especially important on uneven terrain or during steep ascents and descents. Opt for mid or high-cut boots if you anticipate hiking on rocky or mountainous trails.
  • Traction: Seattle’s trails can be wet and slippery, especially after rainfall. Choose footwear with a reliable outsole that offers good traction on various surfaces, including mud, rocks, and wet terrain. Look for shoes or boots with lugs or a specialized sole pattern designed for hiking.
  • Water Resistance: Given Seattle’s reputation for rain, it’s wise to invest in waterproof or water-resistant footwear. Look for shoes or boots made with materials like Gore-Tex or treated leather to keep your feet dry and comfortable, even in wet conditions.
  • Comfort and Fit: Ensuring the proper fit of your hiking footwear is crucial to avoid discomfort or blisters during long hikes. Take the time to try on different brands and models to find the one that suits the shape of your feet best. Consider factors such as toe room, arch support, and overall cushioning.
  • Breathability: As much as you want your shoes to be waterproof, it’s also essential for them to be breathable. Look for footwear with breathable materials such as mesh panels or breathable membranes that allow moisture to escape, keeping your feet dry and preventing the accumulation of sweat.

Remember to break in your hiking shoes or boots before embarking on a long hike. Wear them for shorter walks or hikes to allow the shoes to mold to your feet and minimize the risk of blisters and discomfort. Additionally, consider wearing moisture-wicking socks that help keep your feet dry and reduce friction.


Investing in high-quality hiking footwear may seem costly, but it is a worthwhile investment for the comfort, durability, and protection they provide. Proper footwear will enhance your hiking experience in Seattle and allow you to focus on the stunning scenery and the joy of being in nature.


Clothing for Different Weather Conditions

Seattle’s weather can be quite unpredictable, with significant variations in temperature and rainfall throughout the year. When preparing for a hike, it’s important to choose clothing that is suitable for different weather conditions you may encounter along the trail. Here are some guidelines for dressing appropriately:

  • Warm and Dry Weather: During the summer months, Seattle experiences relatively warm and dry weather. On these days, lightweight and breathable clothing is ideal. Opt for moisture-wicking shirts and shorts or lightweight hiking pants to keep you cool and comfortable. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
  • Cool or Overcast Weather: Seattle is known for its frequent cloudy and overcast days. Layering is key in these conditions. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep you dry, then add a lightweight, long-sleeve shirt or a sweatshirt for warmth. Bring a waterproof and windproof jacket or shell to protect you from rain and wind.
  • Cold Weather: Seattle winters can be chilly, so it’s essential to dress appropriately for the cold. Layering becomes even more critical. Start with a thermal or wool base layer for insulation, followed by a mid-layer such as a fleece jacket or a down vest for extra warmth. Top it off with a waterproof and insulated parka to protect you from cold winds and snow.
  • Wet Weather: Seattle is known for its rainy days, no matter the season. When hiking in wet conditions, it’s crucial to have waterproof clothing. Invest in a waterproof jacket with a hood and sealed seams to keep you dry. Pair it with waterproof pants or rain gaiters to prevent water from seeping into your shoes or legs.

Remember to check the weather forecast before your hike and dress accordingly. It’s better to bring an extra layer or rain gear and not need it than to be unprepared for unexpected weather changes. Layering allows you to adjust your clothing to maintain a comfortable body temperature, so you can keep hiking comfortably regardless of the weather.


Additionally, choose clothing made from quick-drying materials, so if you do get wet, they will dry faster, preventing discomfort and hypothermia. Avoid cotton as it absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry, which can make you feel cold and clammy.


By selecting the right clothing for different weather conditions, you’ll be able to adapt to the ever-changing Seattle weather and enjoy your hiking adventures throughout the year.


Layering Techniques for Variable Weather

Seattle’s weather can change rapidly, even throughout the course of a single hike. To stay comfortable and adapt to these variable weather conditions, mastering the art of layering is key. Layering allows you to regulate your body temperature by adding or removing clothing layers as needed. Here are some layering techniques to keep in mind:

  • Base Layer: The base layer is the foundation of your clothing system. It should be moisture-wicking and lightweight, designed to keep you dry by moving sweat away from your skin. Look for synthetic materials or merino wool for optimal moisture management and insulation.
  • Mid-Layer: The mid-layer adds insulation and helps retain body heat. Fleece jackets or synthetic pullovers are excellent options for this layer. They provide warmth and are lightweight, making them easy to pack and adjust based on the temperature. Depending on the weather, you can choose a thicker or thinner mid-layer accordingly.
  • Outer Layer: The outer layer serves as a barrier against wind, rain, and snow. A waterproof and windproof jacket is a must-have for hiking in Seattle. Look for one with breathable properties to prevent overheating and moisture buildup inside the jacket. It’s also helpful to have a jacket with a hood for added protection.
  • Accessories: Don’t forget to layer your accessories too. Hats, gloves, and neck gaiters provide extra warmth and protection from cold winds. Opt for moisture-wicking and quick-drying materials for these accessories as well.

Remember that layering is not just about piling on multiple thick layers. It’s about strategically adding and removing layers to regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable. Be mindful of how you feel during your hike. If you start to feel too warm, unzip your jacket or remove a layer. If you feel cool or the weather worsens, add a layer to trap heat and stay cozy.


Another advantage of layering is its versatility. You can easily adjust your clothing throughout the hike as temperatures and conditions change. It’s important to have the right balance of insulation and breathability to avoid overheating or feeling too chilly.


By mastering the art of layering, you’ll be prepared for the ever-changing weather on Seattle’s hiking trails. It allows you to adapt to varying conditions, ensuring that you stay comfortable, dry, and able to fully enjoy your outdoor adventure.


Protecting Yourself from Rain and Moisture

When hiking in Seattle, it’s almost certain that you will encounter rain and moisture at some point. To fully enjoy your outdoor adventure, it’s crucial to be well-prepared and protect yourself from the elements. Here are some essential tips for staying dry and comfortable:

  • Waterproof Jacket: Investing in a high-quality, waterproof jacket is a must for hiking in Seattle. Look for a jacket with a waterproof membrane and sealed seams to ensure maximum protection from rain. Adjustable cuffs and a hood are also beneficial for keeping water out.
  • Waterproof Pants or Rain Gaiters: In addition to a waterproof jacket, consider wearing waterproof pants or rain gaiters to protect your legs and shoes from getting wet. These will prevent water from seeping through and keep you dry and comfortable throughout the hike.
  • Avoid Cotton: Cotton clothing absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry, making it uncomfortable to wear when wet. Opt for moisture-wicking and quick-drying materials such as synthetic fabrics or merino wool. These materials help move moisture away from your skin and dry faster.
  • Tuck in Layers: When it’s raining or moisture is a concern, tuck in your base layer into your pants to prevent water from dripping down into your clothing. This simple step can help keep you dry and minimize discomfort caused by wet clothes.
  • Dry Bags: Keep your gear dry by using dry bags or waterproof stuff sacks. These can be used to store extra clothing, electronics, or any other items you want to protect from rain and moisture. It’s always a good idea to have a dry change of clothes in case you do get wet.
  • Footwear Care: To keep your feet dry, apply a waterproof treatment to your hiking boots or shoes. This will help repel water and keep your feet comfortable. Additionally, wearing waterproof or water-resistant socks can provide an extra layer of protection for your feet.

Remember that even with the best rain gear, some moisture may still find its way in. It’s important to have a positive mindset and embrace the adventure, knowing that you’re prepared and can handle the rain and wet conditions.


By taking these precautions and protecting yourself from rain and moisture, you’ll be equipped to handle the unpredictable weather in Seattle. Embrace the beauty of the rain-soaked forests and stunning landscapes without worrying about getting wet or uncomfortable.


Selecting the Appropriate Bottoms

Choosing the right bottoms for your hiking adventure in Seattle is just as important as selecting the right footwear and upper layers. The ideal bottoms should provide comfort, flexibility, and protection against the elements. Here are some factors to consider when selecting your hiking pants or shorts:

  • Material: Look for pants or shorts made from durable, quick-drying, and moisture-wicking materials. Nylon or polyester blends are excellent choices as they offer breathability, flexibility, and the ability to dry quickly if they get wet.
  • Weather Conditions: Consider the weather conditions you’re likely to encounter. For warmer days, opt for lightweight hiking shorts or pants with zip-off legs, allowing you to convert them into shorts if needed. For cooler weather or areas with dense vegetation, choose long pants to protect your legs from scratches, insect bites, and exposure to the elements.
  • Fit: Find bottoms that fit well and allow for a wide range of movement. Look for pants or shorts with a comfortable, elastic waistband or a built-in belt for easy adjustment. Consider the fit around your thighs and knees to ensure it allows for freedom of movement when hiking uphill or scrambling over rocks.
  • Protection: If you’re hiking in an area with a high risk of ticks or other biting insects, consider pants that offer additional protection. Look for bottoms treated with insect repellent or those with a tight weave to prevent insects from reaching your skin. Tucking your pants into your socks or wearing gaiters can also provide extra protection against ticks and other crawling creatures.
  • Additional Features: Some hiking bottoms have useful features such as multiple pockets for storing essentials, zippered vents for added ventilation, or reinforced knees and seat for durability. Consider these features based on your specific needs and preferences.

Ultimately, the right hiking bottoms will depend on the specific requirements of your hike and personal preferences. It’s also essential to consider layering and how your bottoms will work with other clothing layers, especially during cooler or wet conditions.


Before hitting the trail, ensure that your bottoms are clean, in good condition, and suitable for the weather and terrain. This way, you’ll be comfortable and protected, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Seattle’s hiking trails.


Picking the Right Upper Layers

When it comes to selecting the right upper layers for hiking in Seattle, versatility and adaptability are key. The weather in Seattle can change quickly, so having the appropriate layers can make a significant difference in your comfort and enjoyment on the trail. Here are some tips for picking the right upper layers:

  • Base Layer: Start with a moisture-wicking base layer that fits snugly against your skin. Look for materials such as synthetic blends or merino wool that will keep you dry by wicking away sweat. This layer helps regulate your body temperature and prevents the buildup of moisture that can lead to discomfort.
  • Mid-Layer: The mid-layer provides insulation and warmth. Fleeces, down jackets, or synthetic insulated jackets are excellent options for this layer. Consider the weight of the mid-layer based on the expected temperature range. For cooler conditions, opt for a thicker mid-layer, and for milder weather, go for a lighter one.
  • Outer Layer: The outer layer provides protection against wind, rain, and snow. A waterproof and windproof jacket is essential for hiking in Seattle’s variable weather conditions. Look for a jacket with sealed seams, adjustable cuffs, and a hood for maximum protection. Additionally, ensure the jacket is breathable to prevent overheating during physical activity.
  • Ventilation Options: Choose upper layers with ventilation options, such as zippered vents under the arms or mesh panels, to regulate your body temperature during strenuous hikes or warmer weather. This allows you to quickly cool down if you start to overheat without having to remove layers completely.
  • Layering Compatibility: Consider the compatibility of your upper layers for effective layering. Ensure there’s enough room to comfortably wear your base layer and mid-layer under your outer layer without restricting your movement. It’s important to strike a balance between insulation and the ability to move freely.

Always check the weather forecast before your hike to determine the appropriate layers to wear. It’s better to be prepared with additional layers than to find yourself cold and uncomfortable on the trail. Remember to consider factors like the time of year, elevation, and specific trail conditions when choosing your upper layers.


By picking the right upper layers, you’ll be prepared for changing weather conditions during your hike in Seattle. You’ll stay comfortable, dry, and protected, allowing you to focus on the stunning surroundings and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Pacific Northwest.


Essential Accessories for Hiking in Seattle

When embarking on a hiking adventure in Seattle, having the right accessories can greatly enhance your overall experience and ensure your safety on the trails. Here are some essential accessories to consider bringing along:

  • Hiking Backpack: A sturdy and comfortable backpack is essential for carrying all your gear, water, snacks, and extra layers. Look for a backpack with a hip belt and adjustable straps for proper weight distribution and support.
  • Navigational Tools: Carry a map and compass or a GPS device to help you navigate the trails. Familiarize yourself with the route before your hike and know how to use these tools effectively.
  • Hydration System: Staying hydrated is crucial during hikes, especially in Seattle’s variable weather. Bring a water bottle or a hydration bladder to ensure you have access to clean drinking water. Consider filtering systems or water treatment tablets for longer hikes where water sources may be limited.
  • Snacks and Food: Pack lightweight and nutritious snacks such as energy bars, trail mix, or fresh fruits to keep your energy levels high during the hike. For longer hikes, bring a packed lunch or additional food options to fuel your body.
  • Sun Protection: Even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays can still be harmful. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat or a cap to protect your face and neck, and sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sun’s glare.
  • First Aid Kit: Carry a basic first aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medications. It’s important to be prepared for minor injuries or emergencies that may occur on the trail.
  • Insect Repellent: Seattle’s forests are home to mosquitoes, ticks, and other biting insects. Apply insect repellent to exposed skin and consider wearing lightweight, breathable clothing that covers your arms and legs to minimize insect bites.
  • Headlamp or Flashlight: If you plan on hiking during early morning or late evening hours, or if your hike extends into the night, a headlamp or flashlight is essential for visibility and safety. Make sure to pack extra batteries as well.
  • Emergency Shelter: It’s always wise to carry a lightweight emergency shelter such as a compact tent or a space blanket, especially for longer hikes or in case of unforeseen circumstances where you may need to spend the night outdoors.

Additionally, it’s important to pack a fully charged cell phone, a whistle, and a multi-tool for any unforeseen situations that may require assistance or quick repairs.


By having these essential accessories, you’ll be well-prepared for your hiking adventure in Seattle. Remember to plan ahead, pack accordingly, and always prioritize safety while enjoying the beauty of the outdoors.



Proper attire is crucial when it comes to hiking in Seattle. With its unpredictable weather and diverse terrain, being well-prepared and dressing appropriately can make a significant difference in your overall hiking experience. By selecting the right footwear, layering your clothing, and considering the weather conditions, you can ensure comfort, protection, and enjoyment on the trails.


Start by choosing the right footwear that provides support, traction, and weather resistance. Your feet are your foundation, so investing in high-quality hiking shoes or boots is essential. Next, consider layering your clothing with a moisture-wicking base layer, insulation with a mid-layer, and protection with a waterproof outer layer.


Seattle’s weather can change rapidly, so it’s important to be prepared for rain and moisture. Use waterproof jackets, pants, and accessories to keep yourself dry and comfortable. Don’t forget to select bottoms that are suitable for the weather conditions and upper layers that offer versatility and adaptability.


Additionally, essential accessories such as a backpack, navigation tools, hydration system, sun protection, and first aid kit are crucial for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. Having these items on hand ensures you’re prepared for any situation that may arise during your adventure.


In conclusion, proper attire and accessories are essential for hiking in Seattle. By taking the time to choose the right gear, layer your clothing effectively, and pack the necessary accessories, you’ll be well-equipped to explore the stunning trails and landscapes that Seattle has to offer. Remember to always check the weather forecast, familiarize yourself with the trail, and prioritize safety throughout your journey. Hiking in Seattle is an adventure like no other, and with the right attire, you can fully immerse yourself in the beauty of nature while staying comfortable and protected.