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Best Hiking Gear For Women

Women's hiking gear can make or break your enjoyment of the trail. Use these tips to find the best hiking clothing, backpack, boots and all of the gear you need to be a happy and safe hiker.

Also known as the
best walking gear!

The best hiking gear for women depends on your hiking style, and will take a bit of time, effort and brain power to find.

Here's where you can spend a lot of time and money:

  • finding the best womens outdoor hiking gear,
  • figuring out womens athletic clothing for hiking, 
  • searching for backpacking gear ideas,
  • struggling with how to find the right hiking gear gifts.

Unless you're smart! (which you clearly are, since you're reading this)

We'll proceed on advice contained within this old Swedish saying:

          "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing."

To which, let us add, "or bad hiking gear".

Women designed and tested gear

Have you heard about the REI Force Of Nature plan to move toward gender equity in outdoor sports?

Part of this worthy cause involves offering more well designed, high quality hiking gear designed by women.

Wow, now there's a great topic of conversation!

  • Read about some female designed gear here.

And you can use this best hiking gift guide, highlighting 16 REI selections at 3 different price points, to get an overview for what REI can offer you as a hiker (or gift giver).

Don't overlook freebies!

Hiking For Her vividly remembers what it's like to be a hiking beginner.

  • And knows how important it is to keep upping your hiking game, season after hiking season.

That's why the monthly giveaways on this site are focused on only the best hiking gear, outdoor clothing, information and resources to get you on the trail in comfort, confidence and style.

  • Bookmark the HFH giveaway page and visit it frequently for your chance to enter to win some fantastic freebies as a hiker!

Women's hiking gear essentials

For beginner hikers, concentrate on two critical pieces of gear:

  • Your footwear
  • Your socks

If you get this combination right, your happy feet will guarantee that you'll want lots more trail time.

For intermediate hikers who have solved the hiking boot or trail shoe + hiking socks puzzle, turn your attention to this hiking gear:

  • a rock solid backpack
  • trekking poles
  • hiking clothing layering system

From there, you can concentrate on building a gear locker filled with the best hiking gear for women by using the tips on this page.

Use this hiking gear list to be sure you don't overlook anything.

Best hiking gear basics:
What's on your feet

What's the best pair of womens waterproof hiking shoe?

Sometimes it's a boot!

  • Women's hiking boots create a rock solid foundation for a great hike. If your feet ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!

Scouring women's hiking boots reviews are a must-do if you're serious about finding the perfect pair of boots for your feet.

If you're curious about what's on my feet, go here.

If you need a boot buying guide, read this.

Narrow, hard to fit feet? Find the perfect pair of narrow hiking boots with these tips.

Considering waterproof hiking boots? Here's what you need to know.

Winter hiking boots are a different breed, so be sure you get the best winter hiking boots possible. You can wear them in cold, muddy conditions year round.

Vegan hiking boots? Also a different breed.

Don't know where to start on choosing the right hiking boots?

And never, ever underestimate the power of a pair of hiking socks - these can make or break your boots.

Think I'm kidding?

Blisters suck. (Feel free to quote me on that.)

The best backpacks for
women hikers

Here are some basic tips on how to buy a backpack.

Which type of backpack, now that's a long convoluted discussion!

Here are your options:

Still not clear on how to go about choosing womens backpacks?

  • Read up on selecting backpacks with this Backpacks 101 guide.
  • Or investigate backpacking gear for women here.

Backpacks for hiking with babies and kids

Many hikers cherish family hiking as one precious way to share time with loved ones.

But it takes some planning to get the best hiking gear for everyone. These tips will make it easier!

Hiking with a baby?

If you hike with older-than-toddler kids, you need this info to make an informed choice of which pack to choose for your little hikers:

Unless you plan on carrying everything yourself! (insert frown-y face here)

Add this gear for comfort and safety

Now that we've got the fundamentals covered, (literally), consider some "add ons" to keep you comfortable on the trail.

  • Trekking poles are a great idea, ergonomically speaking (meaning they'll protect your knee joints from nasty shocks going downhill, and distribute your weight better). I consider them an essential on the "best hiking gear" list.

Going to be hiking in muddy, sandy, snowy or soggy conditions? I hope so!

Best women's athletic clothing
for the trail

I recommend only what I use, and over the decades that I've been hiking, I've used just about every brand out there.

  • It has to be good to make the cut and get onto my A list.
  • Good means durable, well made, easy to wear, and offered at a reasonable cost by a reputable manufacturer.
  • And I want you to know about the best! That's why I write this stuff!

    The best hiking clothing for women definitely qualifies as outdoor hiking gear, working hard to keep you dry, temperature regulated and comfortable in all seasons.

    Women's athletic apparel runs the gamut from functional to fashionista.

    Athletic clothing for women satisfies all tastes and styles, not to mention color preferences. I have plenty of suggestions if you click that "athletic clothing" link!

    Then you can begin to explore your possibilities for individual items of the best hiking clothes for women.

    Your goal: to build a hiking clothing layering system that you will use through all four seasons on the trail.

    • If you are dedicated to stopping excess UV radiation exposure on your skin with UPF sun protective clothing, read these tips.

    You have a range of possibilities to explore

    Many women make the mistake of wearing every day fabrics and cuts on a hiking trail.

    This can lead to chafing, frustration and worse.

    To avoid this endless loop of problems, take a look at your choices for the best hiking gear a.k.a. clothing:

    Hiking clothing: what to wear on top

    ... and on the bottom

    Female hiker using the best hiking gearTypical day on the trail, making the best hiking gear work hard for me.

    The best rain gear for hiking
    (and the flip side for sun protection)

    What happens when the raindrops start to fall?

    • Hiking rain gear to the rescue!
    • Why not consider carrying a hiking umbrella? Read all about them here.

    Once the sun comes out, whip out those sunglasses, because squinting sucks. Protect your peepers with the the correct lenses for your type of hiking activity.

    And with the sun comes the bugs. Dig out the insect repellents!

    And can't forget the sunscreen, any time of year.

    Once the sun sets, dig out the headlamp.

    Getting the idea that the best hiking gear in your pack depends on preparation and forethought?

    • A prepared hiker is a well fed, warm, dry and comfy hiker, thanks to her choices of the best hiking gear.

    Essential backpacking gear for
    safety and comfort

    Staying overnight or longer on the trail?

    You'll need a tent!

    Or at least a backpacking tarp.

    Not ready to commit to buying a tent?

    • Why not rent one for your first few trips?

    A sleeping bag, possibly with a sleeping bag liner, will keep you toasty warm.

    • Here's how to pick the best backpacking sleeping bags for your hiking plans.
    • Or maybe a backpacking quilt is more to your liking!
    • Never considered a quilt? These quilt facts will get you up to speed.

    Don't forget your sleeping comfort on a backpacking trip:

    A sleeping pad or an air mattress is essential for a good night's rest on a backpacking trip.

    A backpack chair might be nice, too, to rest your weary bones so you can go hard again the next day.

    And don't forget about dinner! The best backpacking titanium cookware is going to make it easy to make and clean up.

    Navigational aids for hikers

    If you've never pondered why there are different types of hiking maps, make a little time and room on your best hiking gear list for these.

    To navigate safely to your camp site, maps are essential. 

    • Use them to select reasonable and attainable hiking destinations.
    • Double check your position on the trail frequently, especially at decision points on the route.
    • Estimate distance and trail difficulty, and compare these against remaining hours of daylight.

    Consider a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) to give yourself the best chance of being found if you go into the backcountry.

    Or use a Satellite Messenger instead of your cell phone.

    Hydration options for hikers

    A water filter will come in handy when you need to fill your water bottles.

    Read my review of a portable, easy to use water filter + water bottle combination here: Lifestraw Go.

    Trying to save space?

    • Use collapsible soft water bottles, like these.

    How to manage female hiker hygiene on the trail

    What about hygiene on the trail?

    Female hiking hygiene can get tricky, right?

    • Put together your personal hygiene kit using these tips.

    If skin chafing is an issue for you, take a close look at whether your undergarments are playing nicely with your hiking clothes.

    Or maybe you need to apply a skin lubricant in selected areas.

    Dip into my decades of
    trail experience to find
    the best hiking gear

    Over the past 40+ years, I've tried a lot of womens hiking gear AND found some great sources for high quality, reasonably priced equipment used for hiking that enhanced my trail time.

    I've also found some hiking camping equipment along with backpacking gear that promised to be the best stuff ever designed for women hikers (i.e. designed to fit people with hips), and it failed miserably.

    It's a jungle out there!

    You've got to figure out the type of hiking you want to do, and then which gear you'll need, followed with reliable how to buy gear strategies.

    For a quick summary of how to buy the best hiking gear for a beginner hiking, read this.

    Just interested in womens hiking clothing? This is for you.

    • Read this if you're interested in how to build a hiking clothing wardrobe for your level of hiking.

    For a bare bones Hiking Equipment List that covers what I wear and carry in my pack, go here.

    For a hiking camping equipment overview, this is for you!

    For my best sources for hiking gear reviews, read this.

    For my own opinionated, thorough hiking gear reviews, go here.

    Is discount hiking gear
    the best hiking gear for you?

    If you are hunting for a bargain on discount hiking gear, look no further!

    But be aware that in hiking, as in all things in life, you get what you pay for.

    The perennial question: Buy it cheap now while knowing that it will need to replaced quickly, or invest for the future?

    Also, be prepared to upgrade your hiking gear regularly as your trail skills (and appetite for adventure) grow.

    My approach:

    • I tend to buy my hiking gear in phases, paying a bit more each time as my skill level increases.
    • I make it a habit to hunt for quality over price, because I keep my hiking gear for a long, long time until not even duct tape or my crude sewing skills can rescue it from the junk pile.
    • This investment strategy has worked well for me.

    To get some backpacking gear ideas, you could dip into some of the hiking magazine "gear" editions, then hunt for discount hiking gear armed with a list of "need this" as opposed to "sure would love to have this".

    And the very best deal you can score?

    • Buying used outdoor gear and gently "broken in" hiking equipment.
    • Just be sure it's fit for purpose before relying on it.

    Because sometimes, cheap turns out to be expensive in more ways than one on a hike.

    All the gear in the world
    won't matter...

    ...if you can't handle what the trail throws at you.

    Expensive top of the line gear with fancy logos and the latest color choices won't make up for lack of stamina or absence of endurance on a hiking trip.

    So when you're done looking at the gear tips, check out my tips on nutrition, hydration, and hiking food, too.

    If you want more tips on female hiking hygiene, read this.

    The best day hiking tips are right here.

    Why you should try snowshoeing

    One more little tip!

    Don't hang up your boots once the snow flies.

    • Snowshoeing is just another name for winter hiking, and it's a blast!

    Good news: you can use most of your three season hiking gear to get outdoors for some fantastic winter scenery.

    • Double check that you have the best gear for snowshoeing.
    Female snowshoer near Mt. RainierLots more miles to go toward Mt. Rainier, but no problem because I've got the best hiking gear!

    Hiking gear questions

    Just starting out and wonder how to buy hiking equipment? Here's a plan for you.

    Or try this for some ideas on how to buy hiking gear.

    Once you've got some great gear, it's prudent to plan ahead for hiking gear malfunction.

    Have a specific question about the best hiking gear? Dip into the hiking questions archive to see if I've already answered it.

    Or ask your question to me directly, and I'll be happy to answer it.

    Use this CONTACT link.

    Happy Best Hiking Gear on the Trails!

    But really, why stop here?

    In your quest for the best hiking gear and tips, why not keep going?

    You can enjoy a monthly dose of detailed hiking tips in the free Happy Trails newsletter.

    And the freshest coupons, gear deals, discounts, freebies and Hiking For Her giveaways in a weekly email update.

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