What to Wear Camping – Camping Clothes for Women
What to wear camping
A wise person once said: There’s no such thing as bad weather. There’s only bad gear. I completely agree. Well-designed technical clothes will make your camping or hiking trip a lot more enjoyable. Trust me. After a long of trial and error, I’ve found that it’s best to pack lightweight layer-able pieces, so you can add or remove layers as needed. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to get decent weather-appropriate camping apparel. In fact, there are many affordable options on Amazon that are guaranteed to serve you well on your outdoor adventure.
Here’s the clothing I recommend packing for your camping or hiking trip:
- A non-cotton tank top or t-shirt
- Non-cotton leggings or pants (or shorts, but be prepared for colder-than-expected evenings)
- A rain layer
- A warm layer, like a fleece or puffer jacket
- A thermal or base layer
What about shoes? That’s a post for another day, but I prefer water resistant trail runners for hiking and camping.
- You don’t need to buy clothing that is specifically designed for the outdoors. In fact, most gymwear will work well for camping.
- Loose pants tend to offer better bug protection, compared to leggings.
- If you splurge on anything, make it your rain jacket and shoes. These 2 things are disproportionately responsible for a lot of your comfort when you’re outdoors.
Choose a non-cotton shirt for your main layer
For your main layer, I recommend an athletic shirt that is not cotton. What’s wrong with cotton? Cotton easily absorbs water, and this includes sweat or environmental moisture like rain or mist. Once wet, cotton is slow to dry and will not provide any insulation or warmth. If you get caught outdoors in even moderately chilly temperatures, wearing a wet cotton garment can quickly lead to hypothermia. While cotton is fine for everyday wear, it’s not a fabric you want on a camping or backpacking trip. By contrast, synthetic shirts are quick-drying and moisture wicking.
Depending on your weather and location, you can choose a tank top, t-shirt, or long sleeve. If you prefer a more natural fabric, merino wool or silk is the best choice.
Pro tip: Choose a medium to dark color for your main layer. Clothes tend to get dirty when camping, and stains are amplified and more obvious with lighter colors. Heathered or marled shades also work well, for this reason.
Bring a fleece jacket or puffy coat for chilly temps
You’ll want to pack a warm layer to go over your main layer. Whether you choose a fleece or puffy coat is up to you. I like both, but for different circumstances. If I’m car camping and not worried about carrying my backpack very far, I usually opt for a cozy fleece. But if I’m backpacking and need to reduce my load’s weight as much as possible, I tend to pack a packable puffy jacket instead. They are lighter and pack down very small.
Always pack a rain jacket so you’re prepared for any weather
As noted above, a rain jacket and shoes are disproportionately responsible for a lot of your comfort when you’re outdoors. Don’t forget this very important layer!
Pack a thermal base layer, which doubles as pajamas
Even if it is hot during the day, you’d be surprised at how chilly the air gets once the sun goes down. I always like to pack a layer just for sleep, so that it’s free of bug spray and sunscreen.
Wear comfortable pants that protect from heat and bugs
What about leggings? Are they ok to wear camping? Technically, yes, but keep in mind that you may get more bug bites since mosquitos can easily bite through clothing that sits directly on the skin. I personally prefer to wear loose pants, which can be rolled up during the hottest part of the day. But there’s nothing wrong with wearing leggings if that is your preference! And leggings are still a much better option than cotton sweatpants or jeans.