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What to Wear Hiking in Colorado During the Summer

Summer is prime hiking season in Colorado. But if you’re planning on hitting the trail, it’s important to be prepared and dress the part. This article shares what to wear hiking in Colorado during the summer, along with recommendations and special considerations to keep in mind when planning your outfit.

Keep in mind that not all Colorado hikes are created equal. There are thousands of hiking trails across the state, and the best clothes to wear will vary depending on where you are, the forecast, and your personal preferences. While I include some of my favorite pieces of hiking clothing in this article, I always encourage you to wear what you have and invest in new pieces as needed!

Woman wearing black leggings and a black hat while hiking in Colorado during the summer.

Table of Contents: What to Wear While Hiking in Colorado During the Summer

What to wear hiking in Colorado during the summer with photos of women's hiking clothing and accessories.

Tops to Wear Hiking in Colorado During the Summer

The best top to wear when hiking in Colorado is going to come down to where you’re hiking and your personal preferences. In general, I would recommend wearing a sun shirt when hiking in Colorado during the summer. It’s hard to understand just how strong the sun is when hiking at high altitudes until you’ve experienced it. Wearing a sun shirt is going to help protect you from harmful UV rays, while keeping you cool on the trail.

My favorite sun shirt is the Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody. I’ve had mine for 4 years and it’s my most frequently worn piece of hiking clothing. You can read my full review of the Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody HERE.

If you’re not interested in wearing a sun shirt, then you can also opt for a short-sleeve shirt, tank top, crop top or sports bra for your Colorado hike. Really any athletic-style top works. The most important thing to keep in mind is the fabric. Opt for a moisture-wicking fabric, like polyester, and avoid fabrics that hold moisture, like cotton (as the old adage goes, “cotton kills”).

Keep in mind that if you’re wearing something like a tank top or crop top, it’s a good idea to pack another layer with sleeves, especially if you’re hiking in the mountains.

Woman wearing a blue sun shirt, blue running vest, sunglasses, and an olive green baseball cap that says "wild" takes a selfie wile hiking in Colorado National Monument.
Wearing the Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody while hiking in Colorado National Monument.

Kate Outdoors Recommends:

Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody | Price: $95 | Sizes: XS-XL

Lululemon Align Tank A/B Cup | Price: $58 | Sizes: 0-20

Lululemon Align Tank C/D Cup | Price: $58 | Sizes: 0-14

Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail Crop T-Shirt | Price: $49 | Sizes: XX-XXL

Bottoms to Wear While Hiking in Colorado During the Summer

You have a lot of options when it comes to choosing hiking bottoms to wear in Colorado during the summer. Consider the temperature, weather, type of trail you’re hiking, and your personal preferences when it comes to choosing hiking pants or shorts.


Some people might disagree, but I personally find leggings to be the best bottoms to wear while hiking. They’re comfortable, they allow you to move freely, and well, they’re cute. If you’re hiking in Colorado during the summer you’re going to see plenty of people wearing leggings on the trail.

The biggest upside to wearing leggings while hiking is that you probably already have a pair (or 10) in your closet. There are also plenty of outdoor brands that make leggings specifically for hiking. The biggest drawback to leggings is that they’re typically not very durable, so if you’re planning on scrambling in the mountains they may not be the best option.

Woman in black leggings looking back at a mountain while hiking in Colorado during the summer.
I pretty much exclusively wear Lululemon Align leggings while hiking strictly for comfort, not for function.

Kate Outdoors Recommends: Lululemon Align Leggings 23” | Price: $98 | Sizes: 0-20

Hiking Pants

If you’re looking for something more durable than a pair of leggings, there are plenty of traditional hiking pants on the market. Look for hiking pants that have some stretch to them to help move comfortably in tricky terrain. Also consider getting pants that are made with breathable fabric and provide UV protection from the Colorado sun.

Kate Outdoors Recommends:

REI Trailmade Pants (Women’s) | Price: $69.95 | Sizes: 0-22W

REI Trailmade Pants (Men’s) | Price: $69.95 | Sizes: 28-50” waist, 30-34” inseam

Hiking Shorts & Skorts

Shorts and shorts make great summer hiking attire, especially if you’re hiking in lower-elevation areas like Grand Junction or in the foothills of Denver. Any athletic shorts or skorts will work on the trail as long as you’re comfortable. You can also find

As someone with a small waist and thicker thighs, I often find it challenging to find hiking shorts that fit well and look flattering. My favorite pair of hiking shorts are the Patagonia Fleetwith Shorts. They fit similarly to typical gym shorts with an elastic waistband, but they’re made with thicker fabric and plenty of pockets.

Woman wearing a sun shirt and hiking skirt next to a river in a canyon while hiking in Colorado during the summer.

Kate Outdoors Recommends:

Patagonia Fleetwith Shorts | Price: $79 | Sizes: XS-XXL

Vuori Clementine Skirt | Price: $68 | Sizes: XS-XL

Outerwear to Carry or Wear Hiking in Colorado in the Summer

One of the most important things to remember about hiking in Colorado in the summer is that the weather can change in an instant. Afternoon thunderstorms are common during monsoon season in Colorado, which lasts throughout the summer.

I’ve been caught in surprise hail storms on days that were otherwise beautiful. Even if bad weather isn’t in the forecast, mountains can form their own mini weather systems, so it’s important to be prepared to encounter a variety of weather conditions on the trail in Colorado.


While you won’t need a jacket on most hikes during the summer, remember that you can encounter snow and cool temperatures year-round in Colorado. If you’re climbing a mountain or hiking at high elevations during the summer, it’s a good idea to pack a puffy jacket. Even if it’s hot in Denver, it can be chilly on top of a 14’er. The general rule of thumb is that you lose 5.4℉ for every 1,000 ft. of elevation gain you climb.

In my opinion, it’s always better to have a jacket and not need it, then not have one when you do. I like the Patagonia Nano Puff because it’s lightweight and packs down into itself, so you can easily just toss it in your pack. 

Kate Outdoors Recommends:

Patagonia Nano Puff (Women’s) | Price: $239 | Sizes: XXS-XXL

Patagonia Nano Puff (Men’s) | Price: $239 | Sizes: XS-XXXL


While Colorado is known for its sunshine, afternoon thunderstorms are common in the summer in Colorado. You probably won’t need to break out a raincoat on most Colorado hikes, but it doesn’t hurt to carry one, especially if you’re hiking in the mountains or rain is in the forecast.

Kate Outdoors Recommends:

Patagonia Granite Crest Jacket (Women’s) | Price: $279 | Sizes: XS-XL

Patagonia Granite Crest Jacket (Men’s) | Price: $279 | Sizes: XS-XXL

Women flashing a peace sign in a blue rain jacket while backpacking in Colorado in the summer.


If there’s one thing you shouldn’t underestimate when hiking in the mountains of Colorado, it’s the wind. While you may luck out and hike on a calm day, it’s very common to experience windy conditions on the trail, especially if you’re hiking above tree line. 

Having a lightweight windbreaker can help to soften the blow from harsh winds. If I had to choose between packing a raincoat or a windbreaker, I would pick the windbreaker, assuming rain isn’t in the forecast.

Kate Outdoors Recommends:

Black Diamond Alpine Start Hooded Jacket (Women’s) | Price: $185 | Sizes: XS-XXL

Black Diamond Alpine Start Hooded Jacket (Men’s) | Price: $185 | Sizes: XS-XXXL

Woman wearing a maroon windbreaker with the hood on stands on top of a red mountain with other mountains in the background holding a cardboard sign that says "Redcloud Peak."
Layering with the Black Diamond Alpine Start Jacket on the summit of Redcloud Peak.

Hiking Shoes to Wear Hiking in Colorado in the Summer

Having the right shoes and socks is essential for an enjoyable hiking experience. If you’re new to hiking and are trying to figure out what gear you really need to invest in, I always recommend starting with a quality pair of hiking shoes with good traction. Trails in Colorado are typically rocky and can have loose terrain, so having traction is essential to avoid slips and potential falls.

Hiking Socks

Wearing a good pair of hiking socks is key to keeping your feet happy when hiking in Colorado. I was resistant to spending $20+ on a pair of socks for years, but once I finally made the upgrade I realized the error of my ways. Wool socks will help keep your feet cool and dry in the summer, and warm during the winter. A good pair of hiking socks can go a long way, especially if you purchase from brands with lifetime warranties like Darn Tough.

Kate Outdoors Recommends:

Smartwool Targeted Cushion Low Ankle Socks | Price: $19 | Sizes: S-L

Darn Tough Vermont Beartown Socks | Price: $24 | Sizes: S-L

Hiking Boots & Trail Running Shoes

Like most other pieces of hiking clothing, the best hiking shoes are incredibly subjective. Wearing shoes with good traction is essential, especially when hiking in the mountains, but whether you wear traditional hiking boots or trail runners is going to depend on your personal preference.

When it comes to hiking boots, there are tons of options out there. I recommend going into an outdoor gear store, like REI, to try on a variety of pairs of hiking boots to find what’s best for your feet. 

I’ve been wearing trail running shoes to hike in for the past 5 years and find them to be much more comfortable than traditional hiking boots. I love Altra Lone Peaks because they have a wide toe box, but they also have a zero-drop heel, which can take some time for your feet to adjust to if you’re not accustomed to that. You can read my full review of Altra Lone Peaks HERE.

Kate Outdoors Recommends:

Altra Lone Peak 8 (Women’s) | Price: $140 | Sizes: 5.5-12

Altra Lone Peak 8 (Men’s) | Price: $140 | Sizes: 7-13

Merrell Moab 3 (Women’s) | Price: $120 | Sizes: 5-12

Merrell Moab 3 (Men’s) | Price: $120 | Sizes: 7-15

Wearing Altra Lone Peaks and Darn Tough socks on the summit of San Luis Peak.

Accessories For Hiking in Colorado in the Summer

When you head out on a hike in Colorado during the summer, you may also need to bring along some accessories. Again, what you need to wear or carry on a particular hike will depend on the trail you’re hiking, the elevation, and forecast.


It’s generally a good idea to wear a hat while hiking in Colorado during the summer for some extra sun protection. There are a bunch of different styles of hat you can choose from, including baseball caps, five-panel hats, and wide-brim sun hats. 

It’s unlikely that you’re going to need to wear a warm hat, like a beanie while hiking in Colorado during the summer. However, if you’re climbing a 14’er or getting an alpine start to your hike, you might want one.

Kate Outdoors Recommends:

Pura Vida Outdoorsy Gals Hat | Price: $28

Woman wearing a sun shirt and leggings with her arm up while hiking in the mountains in Colorado during the summer.


There are few things better than hiking on a sunny, bluebird day during the summer. But all of that sunshine can be blinding, don’t forget your sunglasses at home (if you’re leaving the house before sunrise make sure they make it into your pack the night before). Choosing a pair of sunglasses with polarized lenses is going to be best for hiking because they help to reduce glare, but any pair will do in a pinch.

Kate Outdoors Recommends:

Goodr OG Sunglasses | Price: $25


You really don’t need gloves for most summer hikes in Colorado. However, if you’re planning on climbing a 14’er and are getting an early start, it can be nice to have a pair of lightweight gloves on hand (pun intended) to help stay warm. It can also be helpful to have a pair of durable climbing gloves if you’re planning on doing a hike that requires significant rock scrambling.

Kate Outdoors Recommends:

Black Diamond Crag Glove | Price: $21.95 | Sizes: M-L

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