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What To Wear When Hiking In Arizona


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Lida Gerdes



Hiking in Arizona offers adventure enthusiasts the opportunity to explore stunning landscapes, from the magnificent Grand Canyon to the picturesque Sedona red rocks. The diverse terrain, ranging from desert trails to mountainous regions, provides a thrilling experience for hikers of all skill levels. However, before embarking on a hiking adventure in Arizona, it is crucial to be well-prepared with the right hiking attire.


Proper hiking attire not only ensures comfort and functionality but also provides protection from the elements and potential hazards. When dressing for a hike in Arizona, it is essential to consider the weather conditions, expected temperatures, and the specific trail’s characteristics. This article will guide you on what to wear when hiking in Arizona, whether you are exploring the arid desert trails or venturing into higher elevations.


From hot summers to chilly winters, Arizona offers a wide range of weather conditions throughout the year. It’s important to dress appropriately to stay comfortable and safe during your hiking adventure. Whether you’re tackling a popular trail like Camelback Mountain in Phoenix or exploring the hidden gems of the Coconino National Forest, here are the key factors to consider when choosing your hiking attire in Arizona.


Why Proper Hiking Attire is Important

Hiking in Arizona can be a physically demanding activity, especially when facing challenging terrains and unpredictable weather conditions. Proper hiking attire is crucial for several reasons:

  • Comfort and Mobility: Wearing the right clothing allows for optimal comfort and freedom of movement during your hike. It prevents chafing, blisters, and discomfort, allowing you to fully enjoy the experience.
  • Protection from the Elements: Arizona’s climate can be unforgiving, with scorching heat, sudden rainstorms, and even chilly temperatures in higher elevations. Proper attire shields you from the sun’s harmful rays, keeps you dry in the rain, and provides insulation in colder conditions.
  • Safety: Hiking attire designed for outdoor activities often includes safety features such as reflective elements that enhance visibility, essential when hiking during dawn or dusk. It also includes clothing made from materials that are less likely to catch fire in case of accidental contact with flames.
  • Prevention of Injuries: Wearing the right gear can reduce the risk of injuries. For example, sturdy hiking boots with ankle support can prevent twists and sprains, while moisture-wicking socks help prevent blisters. Additionally, clothing made from breathable materials and equipped with ventilation systems prevents overheating and moisture build-up.
  • Leave No Trace Principles: Hiking attire can also align with the Leave No Trace principles, minimizing your impact on the environment. For example, wearing light-colored clothing can help reduce your carbon footprint by keeping you cool and reducing the need for excessive air-conditioning.

Neglecting to wear appropriate hiking attire can result in discomfort, injury, and a diminished hiking experience. It is important to invest in quality outdoor gear that is suited to the specific conditions of your hike in Arizona. With the right clothing, you can fully enjoy the natural beauty this state has to offer while prioritizing your comfort, safety, and the environment.


Considerations for Hiking in Arizona

When planning a hiking adventure in Arizona, there are several important factors to consider before selecting your hiking attire:

  • Weather Conditions: Arizona’s weather can vary greatly depending on the region and time of year. Summers can be scorching, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while winters can bring snow and freezing temperatures in higher elevations. Check the weather forecast for your hiking destination and plan accordingly.
  • Trail Difficulty: Arizona offers a wide range of hiking trails, each with its own level of difficulty. Consider the terrain, elevation gain, and length of the trail when choosing your clothing. Steep trails may require more durable and supportive footwear, while longer hikes may necessitate layering options.
  • Sun Exposure: Arizona is known for its abundant sunshine. Protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is crucial, especially during long hours of sun exposure. Opt for lightweight, breathable clothing that covers your arms and legs, along with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for added sun protection.
  • Water Availability: Hydration is essential when hiking in the arid Arizona climate. Consider the availability of water sources along the trail and plan to carry enough water to last your hike. Lightweight and moisture-wicking clothing will help keep you cool and minimize the risk of dehydration.
  • Wildlife and Plants: Arizona is home to a variety of wildlife, including snakes, insects, and cacti. Dress in long pants and sturdy boots to protect yourself from potential encounters. Additionally, be aware of any specific plant hazards, such as poison ivy or thorny bushes, and avoid contact if possible through proper clothing choices.

By taking these considerations into account, you can make informed decisions about your hiking attire that prioritize your safety and comfort, ensuring an enjoyable experience on the Arizona trails.


Clothing for Warm Weather Hiking

When hiking in Arizona during the warmer months, it is crucial to choose clothing that will keep you cool and protected from the intense heat. Here are some clothing essentials for warm weather hiking:

  • Lightweight and Breathable Fabrics: Opt for clothing made of moisture-wicking and quick-drying materials, such as polyester or nylon blends. These fabrics help to keep sweat away from your body and allow for better airflow, keeping you cool and comfortable.
  • Long-Sleeve Shirts: While it may seem counterintuitive to wear long sleeves in hot weather, they actually provide protection from the sun and help to regulate body temperature. Look for lightweight, loose-fitting shirts with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) for added sun protection.
  • Convertible Pants: Consider wearing convertible pants that can be transformed into shorts when the temperature rises. These versatile pants are lightweight and provide protection for your legs while allowing you to adapt to changing weather conditions.
  • Sun Hat: Protect your face, head, and neck from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Look for hats made of breathable materials and with a UPF rating for maximum sun protection.
  • Protective Sunglasses: Invest in a pair of sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from the sun’s glare. Look for glasses that wrap around the sides to provide additional coverage.
  • Light-Colored Clothing: Choose light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight, keeping you cooler compared to dark-colored attire that absorbs heat. Light colors also make you more visible to others, especially in remote areas.
  • Moisture-wicking Undergarments: To prevent chafing and discomfort, opt for moisture-wicking underwear and socks that will help keep your skin dry and blister-free.

Remember to apply sunscreen to any exposed skin, including your face, neck, and arms, to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Hydration is key, so carry plenty of water and consider using a hydration pack or water bottle with a built-in filter to replenish your supply at water sources along the trail.


By dressing appropriately for warm weather hiking in Arizona, you can stay cool, protected, and comfortable throughout your adventure.


Clothing for Cold Weather Hiking

When hiking in Arizona during the colder months or in higher elevations, it’s important to dress in layers to stay warm and protected from the chilly temperatures. Here are some clothing essentials for cold weather hiking:

  • Base Layers: Start with a moisture-wicking base layer that will keep sweat away from your body to prevent chill. Look for thermal or merino wool tops and bottoms that will provide insulation while remaining breathable.
  • Insulating Layers: Add an insulating layer, such as a fleece or down jacket, to trap heat and keep you warm. Opt for lightweight and packable options that can be easily layered or removed as needed.
  • Outer Shell: Wear a waterproof and windproof outer shell, such as a Gore-Tex jacket, to protect against rain, snow, and wind. Look for a jacket with sealed seams and adjustable cuffs and hood to provide maximum protection.
  • Warm Pants: Choose hiking pants made of thick, insulating materials such as fleece or synthetic blends to keep your legs warm. Consider pants with reinforced knees and seat for added durability and protection.
  • Wool Socks: Layering is just as important for your feet. Wear thick, moisture-wicking wool socks to keep your feet warm and dry. Consider using liner socks beneath your wool socks for added insulation and blister prevention.
  • Gloves and Hat: Protect your extremities by wearing insulated gloves or mittens and a warm hat. Choose gloves that are touchscreen compatible so you can still operate your devices without having to expose your hands to the cold.
  • Scarf or Neck Gaiter: Greatly reduce heat loss by wearing a scarf or neck gaiter to cover your neck and lower face. This will help prevent cold air from entering your jacket and provide extra protection from wind and snow.

Properly layering your clothing allows you to regulate your body temperature and adjust as needed during your hike. Be prepared for quick weather changes by packing extra layers in your backpack, along with hand warmers for added comfort.


Additionally, don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun’s rays even in cold weather. Apply sunscreen to any exposed areas and wear sunglasses to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays reflected off the snow.


By dressing appropriately for cold weather hiking in Arizona, you can stay warm and comfortable, ensuring an enjoyable hiking experience even in low temperatures.


Essential Hiking Gear and Accessories

In addition to appropriate clothing, there are several essential hiking gear and accessories that you should consider bringing with you on your hiking adventures in Arizona. These items will enhance your comfort, safety, and overall experience on the trails:

  • Hiking Backpack: Invest in a sturdy, well-fitting hiking backpack that can comfortably carry all your gear. Look for a backpack with adjustable straps, multiple compartments, and a hydration bladder sleeve for easy access to water.
  • Navigation Tools: Carry a detailed hiking map, a compass, and/or a GPS device to navigate the trails, especially in remote or unfamiliar areas. Familiarize yourself with the route before setting off to avoid getting lost.
  • Headlamp or Flashlight: Always carry a headlamp or flashlight, even for daytime hikes. It can be invaluable in case you encounter unexpected delays or need to hike in low-light conditions.
  • First Aid Kit: Be prepared for minor injuries and medical emergencies by carrying a well-stocked first aid kit. Include essentials such as bandages, antiseptic ointment, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medication.
  • Multi-tool or Pocket Knife: These versatile tools come in handy for various tasks, including cutting rope, repairing gear, and opening food packages. Choose a lightweight and compact option that won’t add much bulk to your backpack.
  • Emergency Shelter: Pack a lightweight emergency shelter, such as a bivy sack or space blanket, to protect yourself from cold temperatures or unexpected overnight stays on the trail.
  • Snacks and Water: Carry high-energy snacks like granola bars, trail mix, and fresh fruit to keep your energy levels up during your hike. Also, ensure you have enough water to stay hydrated throughout the journey.
  • Whistle: A whistle can be a lifesaver in case of an emergency. It can be used to signal for help if you get lost or separated from your hiking group.
  • Camera: Capture your memories and the breathtaking landscapes of Arizona by bringing a camera or smartphone with a reliable waterproof case. Just be sure to respect the natural environment and not disturb the wildlife.

Remember to pack items specific to the duration and difficulty level of your hike. Additionally, dress in layers so you can remove or add clothing as needed, and always check the weather forecast before heading out.


By carrying essential hiking gear and accessories, you’ll be well-prepared for any situation that may arise during your Arizona hiking adventures.


Footwear for Arizona Hiking

Choosing the right footwear is crucial when hiking in Arizona’s diverse terrains. The right hiking shoes will provide comfort, support, and protection for your feet throughout your adventure. Here are some factors to consider when selecting footwear for Arizona hiking:

  • Hiking Boots: Invest in a quality pair of hiking boots that are designed for rugged terrains. Look for boots with ankle support, a durable outsole with good traction, and waterproof capabilities to keep your feet dry in wet conditions.
  • Trail Running Shoes: For lighter hikes on well-maintained trails, consider trail running shoes. They offer a balance of cushioning, flexibility, and performance, allowing for a more agile and nimble hiking experience.
  • Proper Fit: Ensure that your footwear fits well and provides enough wiggle room for your toes without being too loose. Try on hiking shoes in the afternoon when your feet are slightly swollen, as this reflects their true size during the hike.
  • Material: Hiking shoes are typically made of leather, synthetic materials, or a combination of both. Leather offers durability, while synthetic options often provide better breathability and faster drying times. Choose the material that best suits your needs and preferences.
  • Break-in Period: It’s important to break in your hiking shoes before embarking on a long hike. Wear them around the house or on shorter hikes to allow your feet and the shoes to adjust and mold to each other.
  • Socks: Wear moisture-wicking and breathable hiking socks made of merino wool or synthetic blends to prevent blisters and keep your feet dry. Avoid cotton socks, as they retain moisture and can lead to discomfort and blisters.
  • Gaiters: Consider wearing gaiters, especially when hiking in areas with sandy or rocky terrain. Gaiters protect your feet and lower legs from debris, moisture, and potential snake bites.
  • Spare Laces: Pack an extra pair of shoelaces in your backpack as a backup, in case the ones on your hiking shoes break or become undone while on the trail.

Remember that the terrain and weather conditions in Arizona can vary greatly, so choose footwear that is appropriate for the specific trail and season. It’s also advisable to try out your footwear on shorter hikes before tackling more challenging or longer trails.


Properly fitting hiking footwear will provide the necessary support and comfort to keep you going, ensuring an enjoyable and safe hiking experience in Arizona.


Sun Protection for Hiking in Arizona

When hiking in Arizona, protecting yourself from the strong and relentless sun is vital. The desert climate and high elevation of many hiking trails increase the risk of sunburn, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. Here are some essential sun protection measures to follow:

  • Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (at least 30) to all exposed skin, including your face, neck, arms, and legs. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if you are sweating excessively or come into contact with water.
  • Protective Clothing: Cover your skin with lightweight and breathable clothing that provides ample coverage. Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, and skirts made of UV protective fabric with a tight weave. This helps to shield you from the sun’s harmful rays while allowing for airflow to keep you cool.
  • Wide-brimmed Hat: Wear a wide-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck, and ears. Look for hats made of lightweight and breathable materials, such as cotton or straw, that provide maximum sun protection.
  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from harsh UV rays by wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection. Look for sunglasses that cover a larger area to minimize glare and prevent sun-related eye damage.
  • Seek Shade: Take regular breaks in shady areas, especially during the peak hours of sun intensity between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Look for trees, rock formations, or other natural shade sources along the trail to rest and cool down.
  • Hydration: Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly throughout your hike, even if you don’t feel thirsty. The dry Arizona climate can lead to increased dehydration risk. Pack enough water to last your entire hike and consider using a hydration pack or water bottle with a built-in filter to replenish your supply at water sources along the trail.

Remember that even on overcast days, the sun’s rays can still penetrate through the clouds and cause sunburn. It’s crucial to practice sun safety measures regardless of the weather conditions.


By following these sun protection tips, you can enjoy your hiking experience in Arizona while minimizing the risk of sunburn and other sun-related health issues.



When embarking on a hiking adventure in Arizona, proper attire is essential for comfort, safety, and enjoyment. The unique climate and diverse landscapes of this beautiful state require careful consideration when choosing your hiking attire.


Whether you’re hiking in the scorching desert heat or exploring the higher elevations with chilly temperatures, it’s important to dress appropriately. In warm weather, opt for lightweight, breathable clothing and sun protection gear to stay cool and shielded from the sun’s rays. When facing colder temperatures, layer your clothing to stay warm, and choose insulation that provides ample protection from the cold.


Alongside the right clothing, don’t forget about essential hiking gear and accessories. A well-fitted backpack, navigation tools, headlamp or flashlight, and a first aid kit are all crucial items to have on your hiking checklist. Proper footwear, such as hiking boots or trail running shoes, will provide support and protection for your feet on the challenging Arizona terrain.


Lastly, remember the importance of sun protection when hiking in Arizona. Apply sunscreen, wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and seek shade when needed to prevent sunburn and heat-related illnesses.


By considering these factors and preparing accordingly, you can embark on a safe and enjoyable hiking adventure in the stunning landscapes of Arizona. So, lace up your boots, pack your gear, and hit the trails to explore the natural wonders and breathtaking beauty that this state has to offer.