KUHL summer hiking clothing for men and women show by a man and a woman hiking on a rocky trail

KÜHL’s Hiking Outfits for Summer: Safety and Comfort

By Ivan Slovic on September 25, 2023
15 min read

I take it you've set your sights on trading the bustling cityscapes for some breathtaking trails this summer. Whether you're a seasoned mountaineer scaling the loftiest peaks or just a laid-back weekend roamer strolling the gentle trails, decking yourself out in the right gear is the name of the game. So, let's dive right into the heart of hiking outfits for summer, harmonizing safety and comfort in one fell swoop. 

After all, the right clothes for hiking in summer can turn a daunting trek into a walk in the park. So, tighten those bootstraps, refill your trusty water bottle, and let's leap right into the fascinating universe of summer hiking gear. It's where KÜHL styles high-five practicality and every thread and fastening pulls its weight.

Key Takeaways

  • Sun Protection, Always: Hats, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing are absolute game-changers. They shield you from those harsh summer rays and keep your hike enjoyable. And don't forget to slap on a good layer of high-SPF sunscreen for that extra defense. I've learned my lesson the hard way - no one wants a sunburn as a hiking souvenir!
  • Safety First: It might be summer, but don't underestimate Mother Nature. Always pack an extra layer for sudden weather changes and invest in good hiking shoes that offer solid grip and ankle support. Trust me, your feet will thank you later.
  • Stay Hydrated: Always carry ample water with you on your hikes. Staying hydrated is just as important as the clothes you wear, and it's easy to underestimate just how much water you'll need under the summer sun.
  • Insect Protection: I can't stress this enough - Insects and bugs can be a real bummer on your summer hikes. Lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, and pants can help protect you from bites. Also, consider treating your clothing with permethrin or pack a good bug spray.


When we talk about hiking outfits, underwear might not be the first thing that pops into your mind, but believe me, they're the unsung heroes of the hiking world. Regular cotton undies won't cut it when you're out there on the trail. They absorb and retain sweat, leading to chafing, discomfort, and even bacterial growth - yuck!

Instead, look for underwear made from moisture-wicking synthetic materials, like nylon or polyester, or natural ones, like merino wool. These fabrics are designed to pull sweat away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable. Look for hipsters, boxer briefs, or trunks that fit well without bunching or riding up. And gents, trust me on this one: go for something with a bit of support, like a pouch or panel design.

Sports Bra

Now, for the ladies, a well-fitted sports bra is an essential part of your hiking gear. Just like with underwear, a sports bra that wicks moisture away from your skin is a must-have. Look for bras with wide, padded straps for extra comfort and better weight distribution. A good hiking sports bra should offer support and limit movement but shouldn't be so tight that it restricts your breathing. 

Styles with a racerback or cross-back design can provide a good mix of support and freedom of movement. And choose a bra with flat or covered seams to avoid chafing. I'm not an expert in wearing sports bras, but I've heard enough from my fellow hiking companions to know they are game-changers.

Stay on the move with a merino wool Valiant™ SS shirt!

Base Layers

Now, we're getting down to the basics - literally! Base layers are the first layers of outdoor clothing in direct contact with your skin, making them an essential part of your summer hike outfit. The main purpose of base layers is to manage moisture and temperature, keeping you cool when the weather's hot and warm when the weather's chilly. So whether you're planning a gentle saunter or an epic summer adventure, remember your comfort, safety, and, let's not forget, the overall hiking experience all starts with the right base layers.


You might think a T-shirt is just a T-shirt, but it’s a whole different ball game when it comes to hiking. Ideally, you want something lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking. Cotton T-shirts are great for a lazy Sunday afternoon but not for a strenuous summer hike. 

Why? They soak up sweat and take forever to dry out. Instead, use synthetic materials like polyester or natural fibers like merino wool. They pull the moisture away from your body, helping you stay dry and preventing chills. 

Look for KÜHL styles like Valiant™ SS for the gents and Konstance™ SS for the ladies.

Tank Tops

Tank tops might be your best bet if you're expecting a scorching summer day on the trails. Offering greater ventilation and less restriction than T-shirts, they're a great option for those looking to minimize tan lines and maximize airflow. 

However, they expose your shoulders, so don't forget to slather on the sunscreen! As with T-shirts, materials that wick away moisture will provide the most comfort. Look for options that incorporate UV protection for an added layer of safety, like Konstance™ Tank.

Mid Layers

Contrary to what you might initially believe, summer hiking doesn't always call for bare arms. Nature can be as unpredictable as a plot twist in a contemporary thriller novel, and temperatures may vary drastically while you're trekking up those mountains. This is where the utility of mid-layers shines through.

Long-sleeved Shirts

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Long sleeves in the summer? Really?" Absolutely! But I'm not talking about your run-of-the-mill cotton tee here. We're looking at lightweight, breathable materials that wick away sweat, keep you cool, and offer top-tier sun protection. Materials like merino wool or technical synthetics are your summer hiking pals—they're like a refreshing breeze on a sizzling day.

A good long sleeve hiking shirt offers UV protection to save you from the sun's harmful rays. Do you know those annoying little bugs that just love to party on warm days? A long-sleeved shirt can serve as a line of defense against them too. Plus, long sleeves can protect your arms from scrapes and scratches if you find yourself trekking through dense, brushy areas. 

Who said long sleeves weren't for summer, eh? So, don't underestimate adding a well-designed long-sleeve shirt like Airspeed™ LS  or Konstance™ LS to your summer hiking arsenal—it's a multitasking hero waiting to spring into action.

Conquering Alaskan summits in Konstance™ LS.

Outer Layers

Yes, there's nothing like the thrill of setting foot on a trail, sunlight dappling through the trees, and the crunch of dirt under your boots, but before we venture too far, let's chat about something often overlooked in the excitement of summer hiking: outer layers. 

You might be thinking, "It's summer; do I really need to bother about that?" Well, my friend, the answer is a resounding yes. It's all about being prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. So, let's dive in.

Fleece or Hoodie

Think of the humble fleece or hoodie as your shield against that occasional chilly summer morning or a sudden drop in temperature as you gain elevation. Mountain weather can be fickle even during summer, and temperatures can drop unexpectedly, especially in the shade or after sunset. 

You'll want something that can keep you warm without being too heavy or bulky. Enter the lightweight fleece or hoodie - breathable, quick-drying, and conveniently packable, M’s AirKÜHL™ Hoody and W’s AirKÜHL™ Hoody make for a great outer layer during your summer hike. Plus, they can double as a comfy pillow during those impromptu rest stops.

Jacket or Windbreaker

And now, let's consider the case for a jacket or windbreaker. You may scoff at the idea of carrying one during a summer hike. But consider this: a sudden summer downpour or a gusty wind on an exposed ridge. These are real possibilities when you're out on a trail. 

And in those moments, a light, water-resistant windbreaker can be a real game-changer. Enter M’s The One™ Jacket and W’s The One™ Jacket. Not only does it offer protection against the elements, but its compact design won't take up too much space in your pack. The design has good ventilation features to keep you cool while offering much-needed defense against unpredictable weather.

Explore the Oregon Redwoods Trail with AirKÜHL™ Hoody.

Hiking Bottoms

When gearing up for a summer hike, your choice of bottoms plays a significant role in both your comfort and safety out on the trails. Your decision should factor in the kind of terrain you'll be traversing, the anticipated weather conditions, and your individual comfort preferences. 

There's a whole world of summer hiking pants out there to explore, but your selection typically boils down to three main categories: Pants, Shorts, and Leggings. Each offers its unique advantages, so let's dive into KÜHL summer pants to see which might be your perfect fit for those sun-soaked treks.


While you might think that pants are a bit too much for the summer heat, there's a reason many hikers swear by them. Summer hiking pants can provide excellent protection from sunburn, bugs, and abrasive plants. Look for pants made from breathable materials like nylon or polyester, with features such as a UPF rating for sun protection, and moisture-wicking capabilities to keep you dry and cool. One of the best KÜHL pants for hot weather is Revolvr™ for gents and Splash™ Roll-Up for ladies. 

Also, consider pants with zip-off legs that transform into shorts for added versatility.


For the hiker who relishes the feel of the sun on their skin and the breeze against their legs, shorts are the ticket. They promise exceptional freedom of movement and are a surefire way to keep cool when the summer heat cranks up. The ideal pair should be crafted from durable, quick-drying fabrics to stand up to whatever Mother Nature throws your way; styles like Freeflex™ Short and Kontour™ Short would be perfect for the job. 

Keep in mind, though, that opting for shorts means your legs are vulnerable to sunburn, pesky insects, and the occasional thorny bush, so you might want to pair them with reliable gaiters or summer hiking pants for a bit of added protection. 


Lastly, let's talk about leggings - or hiking tights, as some may call them. These are a fantastic option for hikers who want to combine the mobility of shorts with the coverage of pants. Look for a pair made of moisture-wicking and breathable materials, ideally with a bit of stretch for comfort and unrestricted movement. High-quality hiking leggings will also often incorporate reinforced panels in high-wear areas for added durability. They offer a snug fit, reducing the chance of snagging on branches, and can be combined with shorts for those desiring a bit of modesty.


Choosing the right footwear for your summer hike can be the difference between a memorable trek and a painful ordeal. It's vital to consider the terrain, your personal comfort, and of course, the heat.


Don't underestimate the power of a good pair of hiking socks! Opt for moisture-wicking materials like merino wool or synthetic blends, which not only keep your feet dry but also reduce the risk of blisters. A pair with a snug fit and ample cushioning can be a real game-changer on those rocky inclines. Pro tip: always pack an extra pair just in case.

Hiking Shoes

When the terrain isn't too demanding and the weather is hot, hiking shoes are a great choice. They're lightweight, breathable, and offer good traction for most trails. A popular option is the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator, known for its comfortable fit and durable Vibram sole. However, if you're considering hikes on more challenging terrains or multi-day adventures, you should consider how to choose hiking shoes for increased support and stability.

Hiking Boots

You might need the extra ankle support and sturdy soles that hiking boots provide for more strenuous hikes or uneven terrains. For example, the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX is renowned for its superb stability and weather resistance. But remember, boots tend to be warmer than shoes or sandals, so opt for a pair with breathable material for those summer hikes.

Hiking Sandals

Finally, for the adventurous souls venturing near water or facing scorching summer heat, hiking sandals like the Teva Hurricane XLT2 could be your go-to. They offer good support, decent traction, and the ultimate breathability. However, be aware of your surroundings; hiking sandals leave your toes exposed, so they may not be the best choice for rocky or thorny paths.

Rain Gear

Rain gear is an essential part of your summer hiking wardrobe, no matter how clear those skies look when you step out your door. You see, summer showers can sneak up on you, especially when you're winding your way up those mountain trails.

First off, let's chat about rain jackets. You're going to want something lightweight, breathable, and waterproof. You’re going to want Stretch™ Voyagr’s, a champion of men’s outdoor wear in welterweight division. The rain jacket features material that hits all those marks, providing you protection from the rain while still allowing your body heat to escape, so you're not left stewing in your own sweat. The KÜHL rainwear also has an adjustable hood to keep your noggin dry too.

Then we have waterproof hiking boots. Wet feet can lead to blisters, and nobody wants to hobble their way down a trail. Choose boots with a good tread to prevent slipping on wet surfaces and make sure they're well-insulated to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

Hiking in California in KÜHL summer clothing.

Sun Protection

As we set out on those sun-drenched summer trails, there are a few essential items we shouldn't forget to pack. This gear isn't just about looking cool (although they certainly don't hurt your style points), they're also key to staying safe and comfortable under the hot sun. 


First up, sunscreen. It's like armor for your skin against those brutal ultraviolet (UV) rays. Make sure you go for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. SPF 30 or higher should do the trick, but if you're fair-skinned, feel free to crank that up a notch. Reapply every two hours or so, especially if you're sweating up a storm or crossing through any bodies of water. This isn't a step to skip, my friend, unless you fancy a nasty sunburn or increased risk of skin cancer.


Next on the list is a trusty hat. Consider something with a wide brim for optimal coverage - a baseball cap might keep the sun off your face, but your neck and ears are left exposed. An ideal hiking hat is lightweight, breathable, and has UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) fabric. Don't forget, it should also fit well so it doesn't blow away with the first gust of wind on the trail.


Finally, let's talk sunglasses. Think of them as sunscreen for your eyes. They should block out 100% of UVA and UVB rays to protect your peepers from cataracts and other eye-related issues. Wraparound styles offer excellent side protection, and polarized lenses help to reduce glare. Brands matter less than the protective features, but it's worth spending a little extra for a pair that's durable and comfortable for long days on the trail.

Our Tips on Preparing for Summer Hikes

Summer is knocking on our doors and that can only mean one thing - it's time to dust off those hiking boots and hit the trails. Now, when it comes to gearing up for those sun-soaked journeys, we've got a few top tips to share.

  • Timing is Everything: To beat the midday heat, try to set out early in the morning or late afternoon - your body (and sweat glands) will thank you.
  • Stay Light and Bright: Light-colored clothing will reflect the sun's rays rather than absorb them, helping you stay cool. Bonus, they'll help you stand out against the foliage, making it easier for your group to keep track of each other.
  • Breathability is a Must: Choose lightweight, breathable materials like synthetic and moisture-wicking fabrics. Remember, cotton and denim are no-nos; they absorb and hold moisture, making you uncomfortable and potentially causing chafing
  • Desert Hiking Clothing is Your Friend: Opt for apparel with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating if you can. These clothes are designed to protect your skin from the sun's harsh UV rays, and are a hiker's best friend. So when assembling your clothing list, make sure UPF items are high on your list. 
  • Bug Spray is a Necessity: A solid bug repellent can keep pesky insects at bay. Nobody wants to pause every five minutes to swat at flies!
  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: I can't stress this enough. Always pack plenty of water, and consider bringing a sports drink or hydration tablets to replenish your electrolytes. It's a game-changer, believe me.
  • Pack smart: A lightweight backpack with only essentials allows you to move more freely and reduces the risk of transforming a pleasant walk into an endurance test. 
  • Don't Forget the Gloves: A good pair of waterproof gloves can be a lifesaver, even in summer. You never know when you'll have to scramble over wet rocks or through dense, dew-covered vegetation.
Seattle Hiking Trails 3
Fremont Lookout Trail. Discover other Seattle hiking trails. Photo by: khomlyak.

Final Thoughts 

So, now you know what to wear when hiking in summer. Whether you're trekking through the lush Pacific Northwest, ambling over the craggy Appalachians, or venturing into the sweeping landscapes of the Southwest, there's an adventure just waiting to jump off the map and into your life. So, before you lace up those hiking boots and answer the call of the wild, take a look at what KÜHL has to offer. 

Their gear has seen me through many trails and they could have just what you need to make your next journey as comfortable as it is thrilling. Let's get you ready for that unforgettable escapade you're about to embark on. Here's to exploration, comfort, and safety—here's to your next great adventure!


Should you wear pants hiking in summer?

Definitely! Lightweight, breathable hiking pants can protect you from the sun, bugs, and prickly plants, all while keeping you relatively cool. It's all about choosing the right material - skip the jeans and go for something synthetic and quick-drying.

Can you wear normal clothes to hike?

Sure, you can hike in normal clothes, but it might not be as comfortable or safe. Specialized hiking clothes, like moisture-wicking fabrics and UPF gear, are designed for outdoor comfort and protection. So, for a more enjoyable hike, it's worth investing in some dedicated hiking attire for summer.

Can I wear black on a hike?

Sure, you can wear black, but it's not ideal for hot weather hiking. Black absorbs more heat, which can make you feel hotter. Instead, opt for light-colored clothing which reflects the sun and helps keep you cooler on the trail

Can I wear yoga pants for hiking?

Absolutely! Women's hiking clothing should prioritize comfort and flexibility, and yoga pants certainly fit the bill. Ensure they're made from quick-dry, breathable fabric and not cotton, to maintain comfort throughout your hike. Every trail is different, so it’s imperative that you learn how to dress for hiking in summer.

Do hikers wear deodorant?

Yes, many hikers wear deodorant. However, some opt for natural or unscented kinds to avoid attracting wildlife or bugs. It's all about your personal preference and staying comfortable on the trail!

Ivan Slovic
Ivan Slovic

Trying to escape the concrete confines as much as I can but I always end up traveling to different cities. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


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