Hiking hot – is it just us?

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Home Forums General Forums Philosophy & Technique Hiking hot – is it just us?

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    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I switched from shorts to long pants/shirt – bugs, sun

    I initially worried I would be uncomfortably warm, but I don’t know that the long pants and shirt are actually worse in warm weather

    The pants/shirt will get wet from sweat and evaporatively cool.  Helps if they’re loose.  You need lightweight fabric that dries easily.  Tight weave nylon is good for sun/bugs.

    Paul Magnanti
    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado Plateau

    I only wear shorts on well-maintained trails in summer and spring at this point.  Any walks the involve my typical off-trail hiking or scrambling? I’ll be in long pants. I’ve not done any extensive off-trail hiking in the humid southeast or similar, however with all the insects (ticks!), I’d still opt for long pants if I were to venture in the deep brush vs. a trail.

    I “kinda” wear long sleeves for backpacking as I like the versatility as a very light wind layer and can roll the sleeves down. But I tend to roll them up most of the time. The collar protects my neck and the button-down shirt allows ventilation.  However, I don’t think my forearms (or my hands) have ever become sunburnt a day in my life. For day hikes, I tend to wear a short sleeve button down.


    Diane “Piper” Soini
    BPL Member


    Locale: Santa Barbara

    I have found that long pants and long-sleeved button-up shirts made of high-performance nylon-based fabrics form a microclimate around my body. The sweat on my sleeves will cool me just like the sweat on my skin, while the sleeves will protect me from baking in the hot sun. Skin exposed to the sun is less able to temperature-regulate than skin protected from the sun. As a PCT hiker I wore the long-sleeves and pants for the entire trail, in 100+ degrees and in temperatures that would have my hands go numb. As long as I kept moving, I was comfortable.

    Paul McLaughlin
    BPL Member


    I have been wearing long sleeves for anything out doors for some years now, mostly to save on sunscreen. My Irish ancestry leaves me very vulnerable to sunburn and skin damage especially at the altitudes where i like to be. Recently I have switched to lomg pants as well, same reasons.

    Interestingly, as I move into my new fifties, I find I run much cooler than I used to when stting still, while still running as hot on the move as ever. So base layer shirt and light pants are still fine hiking at 40 degrees, but I need more warmth for rests and in camp than I used to, and if I start out cold it takes longer to warm up. Plus I have had thermal injury to my hands (chilblains) ,  as well as some Reynauds Syndrome, and have to be more careful to keep them warm.

    Mark Verber
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    As we have seen… some people run “hotter” than others. In the fall/spring I will be wear shorts and a featherweight tee shirt unless I expect to need to push through brush which will tear up my skin. My wife will be wearing mid-weight tights, turtleneck, wind shell, and a hat, and a friend of ours will be wearing hiking pants, mid-weight base and a  light down jacket?!  People need to figure out what works for them and hike their own hike.  For example, I have found that I need around 5/8 the insulation that richard’s estimating garment comfort suggests except when I am sleeping.

    Brian W
    BPL Member


    I hike in long pants when hiking trails with poison ivy. I also do this if the trail is exposed. I hate sunburn on my calves.

    If I’m warming up on a trail, it usually means that I’m out of shape. The better cardio shape I’m in the longer it takes me to warm up hiking. Gear doesn’t replace fitness.

    Finally I’ll wear a long sleeve shirt if I don’t have enough sunscreen or bugs are bad.

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