Hiking in Southern California leads to the best sunsets

What to Wear on a Day Hike in Southern California

So you’ve set the date for your day hike, you’ve read our hiking tips on getting started with hiking, and you’re ready to leave for your next adventure. But do you wear? What hiking gear do you bring? Should you bring a hiking hat? What are the best hiking boots? Weather can be fickle on hikes so how do you plan for it? Southern California happens to have one of the best hiking weathers to get out there all year around but you need to make sure that all of your gear is in order to be safe and comfortable.

But don’t worry, I have your back. Here are some tips on what to wear on your next hike:

  • Hiking Shoes: Depending on the difficulty of the hike, you can either pick sneakers or hiking boots. When it comes to hiking, I usually pick boots as they give the best grip on slipper surfaces and best protection against water. That said, some of the best hikes in Los Angeles and other areas in SoCal are fine with just sneakers. If you are looking for the best hiking boots to wear, you should check out this awesome guide on how to choose the perfect hiking boots.
  • Hiking Socks: When it comes to hiking socks, what you want is to avoid blisters. So depending on the length of your hike, you definitely want to start considering your hiking conditions. Do you need lightweight hiking/backpacking socks for a quick walk under the sun, or mountaineering socks to keep you warm? Then consider the material options: wool is definitely the most common, but have you thought about silk, cotton, etc.? Once again, when it comes to hiking and backpacking socks, you won’t go wrong with REI.
  • Hiking Pants: There are many things to consider when trying to choose what are the best hiking pants for you. Pick shorts if it’s hot, and long pants if you expect lower temperatures. Definitely remember to wear them before leaving, and generally avoid jeans. When in doubt, pick pants over shorts if you are planning to hike through woods or high grass. If you are looking for anything more specific on how to choose hiking pants, here is a useful link for you.
  • Hiking Shirt: I normally prefer performance shirts like Nike and Under Armor that minimize sweat and maximize comfort. But you can always go for a more classic hiking shirt. As always, it’s about what is best for you and while I know that style in LA is of paramount importance, when you’re hiking you need to make sure comfort comes first.
  • Hiking Jacket: This is my absolute favorite: it’s waterproof, extremely lightweight and heavy enough to stop the wind. But when it comes to hiking jackets you really have a multiple options. A shell jacket is your first layer of protection against wind, rain, and snow. A soft-shell jacket is perhaps the most versatile with its soft, flexible body material, and it can be worn as a mid-layer in severe weather or as an outer layer in moderate weather. Here you can find an awesome intro to Outdoor Jackets. In the summer in LA jackets are rarely needed on hikes but they can be a godsend in colder season.
  • Hiking Hat: When it comes to a day hike, my first choice is definitely the classic baseball hat (up to you on which team you support). But if you really cannot resist picking a proper hiking hat, you might want to check these awesome 6 tips to choosing an outdoor hat.

At the end of the day, versatility is what you are looking for. If your hike is on a “75 and sunny” day, you can severely limit what you’re bringing with you. But if the weather is hard to predict and can change during the day, versatility is what you should aim for: a pair of pants with shorts underneath, a long sleeve shirt that you can take off, and possibly a light jacket. Just don’t rush out buying everything new  remember you are just getting started…


Pictures by Lyvly Ambassador: Suzanne K.