What Clothes to Take on a Camping Trip? – Without Compromising on Style!

what clothes to take on a camping trip 001

There’s usually not much discussion on what clothes to pack on a camping trip. But today, we shall look at the types of clothes and shoes to take on a camping trip.

Generally, the clothes you pack for a camping trip depend on the camp location, conditions and type of camping you plan to do.

For example, backpackers will need a lighter pack and can go simple when packing. On the other hand, alpine hikers will need more substantial garments.

In short, only bring what you’re comfortable with and mix it with some for your inner dare diva. More importantly, your choice of camping clothes should be about function as well as form. Some would argue otherwise but in this article we will tackle more style without compromising on substance

With that said, I’ll share what I usually bring on my camping trips. Note, my choice of clothing gear will always be fashionable because I’m more of functionality with lots of form, and there’s always room for style.

camping ideas for every season

Camping Ideas for Every Season

The biggest determinant of the types of clothes to pack for camping is the camping season.

As you would imagine, Clothes for summer/spring camping are different from those for winter/fall camping.

Clothing gear for summer camping is more breathable and will allow your body to stand up to the swelting summer heat.

On the other hand, clothes for winter are generally more heavy-duty and warm to keep you cozy in the cold weather conditions.

Spring and Summer Camping Clothing Gear

Wearing the right clothes for summer camping can mean the difference between an enjoyable and horrible camping trip.

Generally, the proper camping attire for summer should keep you well-ventilated, protected from the elements, and keep you cool enough.

Failure to dress up appropriately may result in overheating. Also, understand temperatures usually drop at night during summer, so you need the right attire to keep you warm enough.

So, what are the best clothes to pack for summer/spring camping?

clothes to pack camping
Girl sitting in a sleeping bag and drinking hot drink.
1)    Packing clothes for warm daytime

Summer temperatures, especially during the day, can sizzle, so it’s important to bring clothes that will help keep you cool.

My favorite items include:

·         Pants & Shorts

I wear long camping pants from Columbia that zip off at the knee and pack a pair of breathable shorts to slip into.

While the long pants may seem like an invitation to broil, they’re nice because of the added protection from bugs, mosquitoes, and irritating plants. Shorts, well – they just are right!

When I take on the Appalachians, I usually have long pants to protect my legs against Poison Ivy.

Breathable Shorts are also a great option, especially with few bugs and insects.

I’ve Icebreaker merino short. It’s more breathable than my long pants and probably a lot cooler than whatever you’re currently using.

Merino wool is awesome at wicking away the sweat, breathable, and naturally anti-odor.

Another draw with Merino wool is that it’s non-allergic. I’m allergic to wool, and most campers who have problems with traditional wool are generally okay with merino.

It’s awesome and not an itch at all.

* Columbia has a cool technology known as Omni Freeze. It makes the garments cool to the touch even when wet and warm.

shirts and tanks for camping
·         Long-sleeve shirt or tanks

I also have a long-sleeve and ultra-light synthetic shirt for summer camping.

Now, it’s easy to think a long sleeve alone is counter-intuitive for summer camping, but far from that. Pair it up with a tank top and whiz it away when needed. The key is to ensure the fabric is light

The synthetic long sleeves are exceptional during the day as they keep the sun off a bit if I’m hiking over hills and the tank top helps you to top up your tan if the warmth is bearable.

Shirts with SPF sun protection are awesome for young kids on sunny days. They don’t have to worry about sunscreen wearing off throughout the day.

·         Mesh baseball hat

A mesh baseball-style cap is necessary to keep the sun out of your eyes.

Choose those that open up to allow better temperature adjustment

*Material for Warm Daytime
summer gear camping

For the love of God, avoid using cotton for your summer daytime clothes.

While a cotton shirt/pant isn’t bad to wear in hot weather as it helps you keep cooler, the wet cotton clothes usually get heavy and miserable, when camping.

Plus, cotton takes forever to dry, so you’ll feel miserable when it gets wet from your sweat or rain.

Instead, I’d suggest something synthetic. You can never go wrong with nylon.

Nylon keeps you warm in wet and cool weather and doesn’t take long to dry.


The choice of material for summer camping should also have moisture-wicking properties.

The quick-drying stuff is helpful, especially when hiking.

Avoid cotton gear because it tends to hold on to moisture and isn’t quick-drying.

2)      Summer clothes for the cool nights

While the summer daytime temperatures might be warm, the nights can get little bit colder, depending on where you are.

You need something to keep you warm at night, especially in backcountry destinations at higher elevations.

Temperatures can drop quite low even in summer when the sun goes down.

Now, I hate to complain about cold at night, but a sleeping bag is overkill during summer. My long-sleeve pants and shirts won’t cut it either.

Enter layers.

Wearing layers allow me to put on extra wet clothes or remove them, depending on the temperatures.

My suggestion for layers includes:

·         Light Wool/fleece t-shirt or a light synthetic tank top

·         Wool/fleece/lightweight hat

·         Wool/fleece sweatpants or synthetic shorts

·         Wool socks

Wool pants in a chino cut are awesome, especially when paired with light synthetic underwear. It keeps my legs warm but not toasty. But considering most of us find extreme temperatures, dress for the weather. Where I live Summer night times are cozily wrapped up in a thin blanket over my au naturel body and mornings are typically tanks and shorts. Temperature permitting, If you are daring enough and in camping places with not many families around, there is nothing more encouraging than your birthday suit – if that floats your boat!

layering tips

An insulating undershirt works wonders, such as merino or wool fabrics but again get ’em light so the Summer warmth doesn’t toast you completely, yes, even at night

Pro Tips for Layering

-Ensure your layer clothes aren’t tight-fitting. They shouldn’t restrict blood flow.

-Ensure you “shingle” your layers. For example, tuck pants into thick socks, and the upper garments (shirts, sweaters, and jackets) into pant waist and mitten/gloves into rain jacket sleeves. It helps preserve body heat.

3) Consider the weather

Having the right clothes for summer/spring conditions is essential. You must also consider other aspects of the weather.

For example, it’s not uncommon to experience light rain during summer.

Check on the weather forecast, and see the daily weather. If you think it’s going to rain, you could bring with you:

·         Raincoat

·         Waterproof jacket

·         Poncho with hood

·         Galoshes

When picking rain gear, I suggest you avoid PVC clothing. While it remains waterproof, it’s not breathable and will make you overheat.

Choose Gore-Tex instead for your raincoat. It keeps you from the water while allowing the free flow of air.

I’ve a Patagonia hardshell raincoat I like. It shields me against wind and water. And when I wear it on top of my fleece sweater, I have a full-blown winter coat.

Other Gear for Summer/Spring Camping

·         Swimsuit/bathing suit if you think there’s a chance of swimming or if the temperature drops. Lets face it – there is always room for a cheeky bikini for a girly girl.

·         Flipflops to wear when swimming or in the shower

·         Bandana to cover your head

·         Synthetic socks for breathability and reducing chances for blisters

·         Beanie for keeping the sunburn away during the day and keeping warm at night

·         Trail runners are better than hiking boots for backpacking. Trail runners don’t get wet and dry quicker

winter gear camping

Winter and Fall Camping Clothing Gear

Clothing for winter and fall camping should protect you against the biting cold.

The clothing packing list for winter is dissimilar to summer in many ways. The choice of materials is also different, and the layering is denser.

Now, let’s jump straight and look at what clothing to pack for winter camping.

Head: The head garment will depend on the temperatures. A wool beanie cap is a great way to start. It’s multipurpose, meaning it can be used to shield your head against the scorching sun during the day and provide a cozy environment at night.

Other options include a balaclava, neck gaiter, and ear muffs. I’m a big fan of the scarf because it holds my long hair and a fair amount of heat.


Like the head, there’re a wide assortment of Gear for the hands. I’ve a couple of fleece gloves to keep me warm.

I also usually pack my thick mitts, especially when the forecast is projecting cold temperatures.

If working with your hands, you could use the palm protectors on your base layer and cover that with a liner glove. Finally, use GorTex waterproof outer layers to keep your hands from getting wet.

Upper Body

I wear the long-sleeve woolen shirt as my inner layer. Then a regular t-shirt and a wool sweater.

I then top it off with the Fjällräven hiking jacket for the outer layer.

Alternatively, I start with my Polypro Long sleeve T-shirt, then wear camping bib pants over it. Next, I wear a short sleeve and puffy fleece jackets over it.

The outer layer material is usually GoreTex or Neoshell. It has incredible waterproofness, yet it’s breathable enough, allowing airflow into my body.

choose camping gear properly
Lower Body

I start with some thin long johns and add a bib over it.

However, I wear camping pants underneath my bib pants

 when the temperatures dip.

A wool base layer and loose canvas pants will do the trick in regular cold temperatures.


Hiking boots over thick, warm foam compressions socks keep my feet toasty.

Thin wool liner socks with heavy wool outer socks and sheepskin insoles are also a great alternative.


Wearing multiple layers is a good way to keep warm in winter. However, it should be well-coordinated to allow you to wear any or all layers in any combo.

My base layer is usually a wicking polyester.

A merino blend base layer is also a nice alternative. And it doesn’t need the ridiculously expensive ones. I usually go for th $30 from Costco, and they work great.

Fleece mid-layers like the Patagonia R1 are usually my go-to mid-layers.

The outer layer or the shell should be awesome for wind and rain resistance. A GoreTex raincoat is sufficient.

Understand that sweat is usually your biggest enemy in the colder months.

While I’m a firm believer in wearing warm, there’s usually a fine line between dressing warm enough and doing it too warm to the extent of getting sweaty and shooting yourself on foot.

I’d recommend that you dress just warm enough to keep your body toasty but not so much that you start sweating.

From what I’ve learned, staying dry is key to staying warm. If you feel like you’re sweating, or the body conditions are getting humid, layer off.

Another note, especially for the women campers like me, is they shouldn’t shy from boy shorts or underwear.

Unfortunately, most women’s winter camping clothes aren’t historically functional. Think about it, when you try to make something aesthetic, there’s a high chance you won’t focus on functionality. But things are changing now in the fashion world -don’t shy away from shopping around

For example, the tight-fitting clothes areic and candy to the eye, but there are brands now that’ll still hold heat.

winter camping girl

Winter Clothing Material

Wool is usually my go-to material for winter camping.

I’m a big fan of wool because it keeps my core temperatures warm.

But the biggest draw to this material is that it doesn’t stop holding heat even when it gets wet or saturated with humidity.

The final thing about winter camping, which goes for everyone, is that if your camping mates start to get irritable, confused, shivery, and finding it hard to reason, try to warm them up.

These are the early signs of hypothermia.

Start by placing a warm blanket over their body, light a fire, provide them with hot meals, and layer them.

Can you Wear a Skirt/Dress for Camping?

Yes, you can wear a skirt for camping. I always do it, and it has been a nice camping experience.

I’ve a “tennis” skirt that I wear along with a tank top and a Patagonia dress.

What I like about this combo is that it’s hella convenient when nature calls. Pants are usually a bit tricky to pee outside for females.

Shorts are easier to take off than pants because you need to take them off, and they often go over your shoes.

What makes a functional skirt for camping are the pockets and a waistband that doesn’t interfere with my hip belt.

Also, pay attention to the strap/shoulder design. Otherwise, some of these dresses have decorative features on the back and shoulder that don’t play well with pack straps.

Regarding the choice of material, generic athletic clothing is a nice bet. It wicks away sweat, doesn’t stay wet, and it won’t catch on branches when fitted enough.

Plus, it’s not easily stained.

What I would advise is you need to stay away from cotton. It’s heavy, bulky, and gets wet easily.

I’d also suggest that you throw some bike shorts or leggings underneath.

Sweaty, dirty thighs can lead to chafing.

Also, a long pair of leggings will help if you expect bugs or bushwacking.

The only drawback I’d think with the skirts is I can’t take the super wide steps without hiking it up. Also, it sometimes twists around without a tight-fitting waistband,  needing constant adjustment.

But not bad as it sounds. After all, some camping pants have problems, such as riding up and bunching in the crotch.

In my opinion, the only real drawback is the limited mobility of making the huge steps. Otherwise, skirts and dresses for camping are pretty much heavenly.

camping shoes

What Shoes to Pack for Camping

If you spend money on camping gear, spend it on boots, especially when camping in wet conditions.

Some summers are usually damp, so a good pair of waterproof hiking boots is key.

However, I find the heavy-duty mountaineering boots a bit bulky, and after trying the trail running shoes, I don’t think I’d look back again.

However, trail running shoes don’t offer the ankle support and tougher sole of mountaineering boots.

So, the choice between the two will ultimately come down to the conditions you’re exploring.

Boots are ideal for wet, marshy conditions, while trail hiking shoes are nice for most other conditions.

Trail camping shoes have much more versatility than hiking boots.

When picking the ideal trail camping shoes, pick something comfortable and durable.

You need a pair that won’t cause foot blisters or hurt you after miles of hiking. Similarly, it should be durable enough so that it doesn’t fall apart on you after miles f hiking.

Now, regarding the specific types of trail hiking shoes, there’re three types you should pick from.

There’s no right or wrong choice. It’s just but a personal preference, different for different campers and camping conditions.

·         High tops vs. low tops

I like the extra ankle support the high-tops provide. They don’t look well with shorts, but again, that’s another topic of debate. Plus, while camping, it’s personal choice and not always functionality over form.

On the other hand, the low tops provide more freedom and tend to be comfy.

Get a low top if you can only get one pair of shoes-they look good with pants stacked, with pants rolled and no socks, and look great with shorts. It’s the versatility for me.

However, if you’ve weak ankles, they’re probably not a great option.

·         Waterproof vs. non-waterproof shoes

Waterproof boots keep your feet dry in the wettest conditions. The problem is they’re not breathable, so you’re likely to sweat.

Conversely, the non-waterproof boots will dry out much quicker when wet and are highly breathable.

·         Leather Vs. Synthetic

Leather boots are long-lasting but tend to be rigid, so they are not as comfortable as those with a synthetic outer.

My idea of finding the ideal boot or hiking trail shoe is to visit the local outdoor gear retailer and try the available options.

See how the shoe feels. The good thing is most retailers have a ramp you can walk up and down to get a feel of how they’ll perform in the field.

clothes you shouldn't pack

Clothes and Gear you Shouldn’t Pack for your Camping Trip.

I’ve been camping for several decades, and I’ve come across campers with hilarious and gag-worthy attires.

While there’s nothing wrong with that, common sense dictates that you should pack with functionality and a bit of style in mind.

Unfortunately, most campers don’t.

To be clear, I try not to make fun of anyone’s sense of style, body shape, or financial situation.

But here’re a list of clothes you shouldn’t bring for camping.

1)      Socks with sandals

Sandals are great, especially when camping at the beach. They allow your feet to breathe.

On the other hand, socks are great for keeping your feet warm and toasty.

But the two don’t mix.

2)      Attires with drugs, nudity, or alcohol prints
camping woman attracting attention

Nothing wrong with these attires, but it’s also a good way to catch the attention of rangers and campground officers.

It’s simply a short version of “hi, keep an eye on me!”

3)      Poor-fitting swimwear

It goes to both men and women.

Find something that snugly fits you. It’ll help with better performance and everything.

4)      Nothing

Yes, it happens fairly often.

For Pet’s sake, have some pants on. You’re in a public space.

5)      Too much clothes

You don’t have to layer up so much that you’re sweating profusely.

6)      Flip flop

Flip-flops should be used only when visiting the washroom and not for hardcore camping.

They’re likely to break or tear when used for roughing the outdoors.

Tips and Tricks for Packing Clothes for Camping

Here is a sum up of everything to consider when packing clothes for camping;

·         Don’t over pack clothes. Using the same camping clothes in a row is better than dragging a bulky backpack.

·         Take a test on your camping gear before you head out

·         Avoid cotton at all means. Once it gets wet, it takes forever to dry

·         Try to break your boots before the actual hike

·         Bring extra wear socks-not cotton

·         Don’t bring denim jeans for your camping

·         Moisture-wicking clothing is perfect for the wet weather

wrap up camping

Wrap Up

That’s a wrap for today’s topic.

We’ve already seen the clothes you must bring for your next camping trip.

Even then, how many camping clothes you pack will depend on how long you’ll be out, weather conditions, and the type of hiking you’ll be doing.

In short, there’s no clear-cut answer.

Personally, I usually focus more on functionality with form.

I don’t consider how I look when packing for a camping trip because nothing is worse than having miserable Gear in the wild.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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