An essential part of your hiking essentials is the clothes you choose to wear. When it comes to the choice of hiking pants, many hikers, especially new hikers, wonder if it’s okay to wear jeans while hiking.
The short answer is no. Jeans aren’t suitable for hiking because it’s not an excellent moisture-wicking fabric. They’re also not flexible or breathable, so you should invest in comfortable hiking clothes.
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Levi Strauss invented blue jeans for people who needed durable pants, and while they’re durable, they aren’t very comfortable for some outdoor activities. While jeans are perfectly fine for short hikes, wearing jeans is not advisable for longer hikes. Here are some reasons why hiking in jeans is a bad idea.
The last thing you want to do is trudge through the forest in wet jeans. Jean fabrics contain a little cotton, and cotton soaks up water very quickly. This makes jeans a dangerous choice, especially when it rains. Wet jeans don’t retain body heat or provide insulation in cold weather.
Jeans are already abrasive but become much more abrasive when wet. Hiking in jeans will most likely leave you with abrasions.
Jeans are made from heavy denim materials. Due to this, wet jeans do not dry quickly. They stay moist for extended periods, making them difficult to wear on hikes because you need to feel as comfortable as possible in whatever you wear on a hike. Jeans also freeze solid when cold and wet. Also, the extra weight you’d acquire from carrying an extra pair isn’t worth it.
Due to how they’re weaved, a small hole in a jean can cause them to rip very easily. There is a high chance of your jeans ripping if you stumble, leading to an embarrassing scene.
If you must hike in jeans, stretchy jeans are your best option. Loose-fitting jeans are also a good option since they’re breathable and more comfortable. Skinny jeans are a no-no as they’re uncomfortable.
Hiking in jeans is best suited for short hikes in cool, dry weather. Also, for hikes on even ground that doesn’t have steep inclines and descents. If you’re going to be hiking a challenging trail, it’s best to get more suitable hiking pants.
Wearing denim jeans or cotton fabrics is an absolute no while hiking. The famous saying that “cotton kills” is because it holds water which can kill you in the cold and can be very uncomfortable in hot weather as it soaks up your sweat.
Most novice hikers wonder about the best material to pick when choosing hiking clothing in place of cotton materials while hiking. The best choice is synthetic fabrics. Pants from synthetic materials are more suitable than cotton blends or other fabrics. Below are some fabric choices.
- Merino Wool: Wool is a top choice for colder climates. A pair of wool leggings will make a massive difference if the temperature drops suddenly. The fine fibers of this material make it soft, breathable, and less likely to cause skin chafing. Merino wool doesn’t retain moisture so it won’t smell.
- Polyester fleece: This material is what fleece jackets are made of. They’re not water or windproof. However, their soft, thick fibers make them a great choice to wear hiking in winter.
- Polyester/Nylon Clothing: These are made from recycled materials and are more affordable. Regarding hiking pants, synthetic material pants are right there at the top. Most hikers prefer to wear pants made from polyester. However, polyester absorbs other moisture, such as oil which accounts for a more significant percentage of sweat. This means that compared to nylon, polyester develops unpleasant odors faster.
While picking out your hiking attire, there are several things to consider. For people with sensitive skin, cotton or clothes made from the same materials may be a good choice since cotton is hypoallergenic and is less likely to cause skin irritation. However, seek professional medical advice if you have a severe case of skin sensitivity.
- Wicking: When choosing a base layer of apparel like underwear that touches the skin, you must consider its ability to wick moisture. Wicking refers to a fabric’s ability to pull water, e.g., sweat, away from your body and take it to the fabric’s outer surface to dry.
- Insulation: If you’re hiking in frigid temperatures, you want clothes that will retain your body warmth.
- Water Resistant: Critical in wet weather as you don’t want to be hiking in wet clothing. You must pay attention, especially to outer layer clothes
When choosing hiking pants, put the weather into consideration. Walking pants are great for fair weather since they’re lightweight and breathable. Pants made from Gortex are hard-wearing and quick to dry if they get wet. Rain pants are less breathable but provide the best protection in the rain and in the event of a river crossing to avoid wet clothes.
Hardshell pants are best worn over wool leggings as they’re best suited for the cold. They are less breathable and aren’t conducive for walking in warm weather as you’ll likely sweat profusely. They’re also made from waterproof fabric.
While you can hike wearing jeans, it isn’t the ideal choice, especially for longer hiking trails.