Best Items to Wear When Exploring

m. swigart photo

Last Updated on April 28, 2021

The world awaits to be explored! The reward of venturing outdoors comes with incredible experiences and a plethora of lessons to learn. While you might be physically and mentally prepared to take on the adventures that the world holds, are you properly equipped? The items worn on your journey can make or break the entire experience. Not only will clothing be crucial to the comfort of your trip, but bringing appropriate attire also plays a role in survival. With the vast types of outdoor clothing to choose from, the most important items are presented below to ensure the best experience on your next outdoor adventure.

Check the Forecast

Many of us have learned this lesson the hard way, a trip shorted, aborted, or otherwise affected by adverse conditions that were not accounted for. The climate and weather of your destination is the springboard for planning proper daily attire. Check the forecast to determine the number of layers you will need, or if waterproof wear will be necessary. If the climate is temperate and the forecast looks unpredictable, make sure to wear many layers and bring a pack to store your unwanted or needed clothing. After all, no one wants to be caught in the cold or the rain when there are many more miles to explore.

Start with the Shoes

Altra shoes by M.Swigart

My go-to hiking shoe, women's Superior by Altra

When venturing on foot, shoes are like the tires for your journey. Footwear could then be considered the most curtail element to your comfort. Avoid painful blisters by carefully selecting the best footwear for your trip. The general rule of thumb is to wear a size larger than normal to accommodate the natural swelling of the feet after walking many miles. Ankle boots are a great choice for rocky and uneven terrain to protect your ankles from rolling. Over easier terrain, light-weight trail shoes will not burden you on long journeys. I personally prefer a wider toe box in my shoes, such as the Altra brand because of the space provided around my toes create maximum leverage. The right shoes should keep you going for miles without even being noticed, as well as protect you from deeper injuries in the feet and ankles.

Bottoms: Pants, Shorts, Both?

Working our way up, the pants are an attire which seems to be simple, yet there are many options to choose from. While it might be tempting to grab your favorite pair of jeans, if rain hits, those jeans are the last things you want on. For a lightweight and comfortable attire for your bottom half, shorts and pants made of a thin waterproof or quick-drying material are the best option. Despite the fashion taboo they might be, utility cargo shorts and pants are a great for keeping items handy. I personally love my hiking pants that transform into shorts. Though my husband and friends despise these pants, they are a wonderful way to be prepared for all types of weather.

m. swigart photo

Flaunting my sun protection while carrying plenty of water on a backpacking trip to Havasupai Falls.

Seasonal Shirts and Jackets

Whether the weather is warm or cool, the best approach to shirts and jackets is to layer. Even if the forecast is predicted to be hot and sunny, a long-sleeved shirt can protect your skin from the sun, as well as act as a cooling agent. Bring along a waterproof jacket or a lightweight poncho if you are traveling over several days or if there is any chance of rain. It is always better to be safely over-packed than lacking while on adventures.

Importance of Accessorizing

In a category of their own, these smaller clothing items play a big role in the comfort and safety of an outdoor adventure.

  • Gloves- Gloves are one piece of attire that really comes in “handy.” In all seriousness, gloves offer the extra protection from the weather and elements encountered outdoors. For example, if you are using hiking poles, gloves will keep your hands from developing blisters. Additionally, gloves allow your hands to stay warm and able to complete intricate tasks in cold weather. No matter the forecast, it is a good idea to pack gloves.
  • Hats/Sunglasses- Sun protection is a key to comfort and safety while outdoors. Bringing a hat, sunglasses, will prevent overexposure to the elements, including harmful UV rays.
  • Bandannas/Buff - In addition to hats and sunglasses, bandannas can also block natures harmful elements. A bright-colored bandanna can also be used to draw attention to yourself in the case of an emergency.
  • Flip Flops or Lightweight sandals- Depending on your destination, distance, and the locations in between, lightweight sandals or flip-flops can be useful. Such footwear can protect your shoes and socks from sandy beaches and flooded areas. If nothing else, flip-flops and sandals can offer a break from your hiking shoes, and allow your feet to dry out, reducing the chance of blisters.
  • Socks - Make sure to bring along a pair of socks for each day that your trip entails, moisture wicking will keep the blisters to a minimum, and high socks will also protect against brush when wearing shorts. Bringing along an extra pair is always a good idea.
  • Gaiters- Rough and rocky terrain can cause unwanted rocks, dirt and sand to find their way into your shoes. Gaiters are the answer to keeping these pesky perturbations out of your footwear.
  • Belt- Besides holding up your pants, a belt can be an incredibly useful item to have. Attach needed items to the belt to create a makeshift utility-belt, or use the belt as a tourniquet in emergency situations.


With the fitting attire, comfortably and safely enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery your journey has in store!


Do you have a favorite item you wear with exploring? Or, do have an experience with outdoor attire that you learned from? Leave a comment below, we would love to hear from you!

About the author

Mariah Swigart

Mariah Swigart is often found camping, climbing, hiking, and kayaking in her home state of Arizona. She loves exploring new locations for her outdoor hobbies, and believes each trip is an opportunity to try a new piece of outdoor gear. Check out to read about her most recent adventures.

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