With a canopy of colored leaves overhead and a chill in the air, fall is the perfect time of year for hiking. However, a jaunt through nature in the quickly changing autumn weather requires a little extra planning. You might be tempted to bring extra clothing and accessories to suit fluctuating temperatures, but all that equipment can really weigh you down. Here are four tips to dress for a brisk fall hike with minimal baggage.
Ditch Your Heavy Backpack
A good backpack is a hiker’s best friend, but all that weight on your back can distract you from the scenery and leave you achy at the end of the day. Swap your bulky pack for a smaller knapsack or shoulder bag. If you can travel even lighter, consider using a fanny pack to bring along just the essentials. You can also fold up your gear inside a sweatshirt and carry it by the sleeves for a double-duty solution.
Layer it Up
Fall is the season for layers. Wear a light cotton t-shirt or a Florida camo microfiber shirt underneath a jacket, sweatshirt or vest so you can peel off the outer layer when the mercury rises. You can also reverse this look by throwing a short-sleeved shirt over a long-sleeved tee. For chilly nights and mornings, try layering jeans or khakis over long flannel underwear or wool tights.
Pocket Your Walking Stick
A walking stick is a must for any hiker, but those long sticks can sometimes be a burden to carry around. Get a collapsible walking stick for stability when you need it and convenience when you don’t. Just pop your walking stick out to full length for hiking on rough terrain, then collapse and store it in your pocket when walking on smoother ground or taking a break.
Lighten Up Your Jacket
You definitely need outerwear for autumn hikes, but a heavy winter coat is likely to leave you sweating. Choose a light, breathable jacket with a waterproof coating to stay warm and dry on your fall excursions. Look for a thin jacket with zipper closures, a drawstring hood, polyurethane outer shell, and soft cotton lining.
Remember, always choose function over fashion when dressing for a fall hike. That green flannel coat and skinny jeans might look cute, but how will it hold up out in the elements? Make sure to purchase your hiking clothes from a sporting goods or outdoors store and skip over trendy fashion retailers.