What To Wear While Mountain Climbing

Similar to mountain climbing and different types of mountaineering activities, possessing the appropriate clothing is as crucial as having the correct equipment.

Having the wrong clothes for the wrong climb could make you very uncomfortable and even put you in some sort of danger.

What to Wear While Mountain Climbing

When mountain climbing, the clothes you have to need to be lightweight as possible, breathable, and have a high degree of mobility. Woolen jumpers and a pair of jeans are not suitable and could leave you super uncomfortable when climbing.

Having clothes that are lightweight allows more ease when climbing up the mountain, having a lot to lug around could tire you out very quickly and make you sweat profusely, this will also add to being uncomfortable.

Although you always want to pack light when you are mountain climbing it is also crucial to make sure you have enough layers to keep you dry, safe, and warm.

Conditions can change very quickly when you are up on the mountain, so even if it seems like a hot day, you will have to take something that’ll keep you warm if needs be.

Protection from the elements is key when mountain climbing, and in this article, we will explore what you’ll need to wear when you go mountain climbing.

Surviving the elements and the risks involved in Mountain Climbing is critical. Having the proper equipment and survival gear is essential. For additional resources check out our friends at outdoor-geek.de for insights and tips.

What Fabrics Are Good For Mountain Climbing?

A lot of what fabrics are comfortable for mountain climbing will all be up to personal preference, you need to make sure that you are as comfortable as possible in the most practical way.

That being said there are a few types of clothing you should avoid and a few that are great for mountain climbing.

As mentioned before, denim is not a good mountain climbing material. It isn’t very flexible at all and would be uncomfortable when on terrain that isn’t flat, you’ll want something that is flexible enough to help you get over rough terrain with ease.

Another fabric that I wouldn’t recommend for mountain climbing is cotton, cotton is designed to keep as much heat in as possible,

but because of this, cotton retains a lot of moisture and doesn’t breathe well, if you hike or mountain climb while wearing cotton you are sure to be soaked with sweat in no time, which will be very uncomfortable.

Synthetic fabrics or wool would be my recommendation when mountain climbing. Synthetics nowadays are very advanced in both affordability and their effectiveness at being lightweight, breathable, and quick to dry.

When looking for fabric and type of clothing you can wear mountain climbing you want clothing that minimizes sweating through breathability, as walking around in sweaty clothes will be uncomfortable.

A full range of motion is also needed to work yourself through challenging terrain, and you also should be going for clothes that dry quickly, as if they get soaked,

whether it is by rain, river, or even swear, you’ll know that they will dry off in time for you to wear again and not be uncomfortable.

How Many Layers Do I Need While Mountain Climbing?

This question is an impossible one, you’ll never know how many layers you need while mountain climbing. There have been times where I have set off on a beautiful day with not a cloud in a sky just to be soaked with rain an hour later,

there have been many times with the opposite as well, dressing for thunderstorms not to have a drop on me. The bottom line with layering is that you have to be prepared for anything,

this means bringing enough layers that if it does tip down or hit freezing temperatures, you’ll be alright because it can be a case of life and death in the mountains.

Even if the temperature and weather conditions aren’t hitting one extreme and then quickly moving onto the next, you will still likely be changing your layers frequently while climbing a mountain.

For instance, you may start with a t-shirt and a light jacket, when it gets warmer due to your exerting yourself climbing up the mountain you may take the jacket off. When you get to the summit,

it is likely to be very cold and windy, and you aren’t exerting yourself anymore, you’ll need a warm jacket so you don’t freeze,

then on your way down you can switch out that jacket for a lighter jacket to stay at a comfortable temperature. All of this is if the weather conditions don’t change, having multiple layers allows you to be dressed comfortably no matter what. 

What to Wear While Mountain Climbing

What To Wear On My Upper Body While Mountain Climbing

When you are looking to buy clothes to take mountain climbing you need to factor in the different parts of your body that will need clothes, you have the upper layer, the bottom layer, the feet, and accessories and additions that you will need in some cases.

Upper Layer

The upper body is where you have the most control over what layers you have on at any given time, this is because it is way easier to remove and add layers to the upper body than it is to the lower body and the feet.

When mountain climbing you will need to change the layering on your upper body, your upper body should consist of a base layer, a mid-layer, and a non-active layer. 

Base Layer

Your base layer is the layer that everything else goes on top of, this is the layer that will never come off. Due to your base layer being on constantly you’ll need it to be very lightweight,

lightweight enough so that you can wear it comfortably even in the hottest weather. As well as being lightweight, this also needs to be a very comfortable and breathable layer for you.

What I recommend is a simple t-shirt, possibly a long sleeve shift if you are prone to sunburn or you are in an area that has a lot of bugs. 

This shift is definitely going to get sweaty when you’re walking with your backpack pressed against your back. This means that you want a light shirt that will let the moisture out when it can and dry quickly when you have taken your backpack off.

A lot of shirts also have a seam down the back, which can be irritating when there is a backpack pressed against it, so it may be best to avoid those.

The great thing about the base layer is if you don’t want to buy a shirt that is specifically for mountain climbing, then any old workout or athletic shirt will do fine as a base layer as long as you are comfortable in it.

Mid Layer

The mid-layer is designed to keep you fairly warm but not overheated, because of this, the mid-layer needs to insulate well but be very breathable and allow moisture to escape.

When mountain climbing you will use the mid-layer either when you aren’t exerting any energy and it is quite cold outside, or when it is cold and you’re exerting little energy. 

Any reputable sports store will offer mid-layer clothing, normally fleece material that will keep you insulated and won’t limit airflow.

When purchasing a mid-layer for your mountain climbing, you should stay away from materials such as cotton that, although will keep you warm,

will not be breathable enough to feel comfortable. You also want a mid-layer that is quite adaptable, you’re going to be wearing your mid-layer in various temperatures, so a mid-layer with a deep zip will be very useful.

Non-Active Layer

The non-active layer basically does what it says, it is designed to keep you nice and warm when you have stopped moving.

Having a good non-active layer is essential to your own comfort and safety, if things get too cold or too windy you’ll need something that can insulate heat very well.

When looking at a non-active layer you need to search for warmth and convenience. It is very important for the non-active layer to be as warm as possible for when you have stopped exerting energy,

but you also need to carry it up the mountain, so it must be easy to pack too. We recommend looking at synthetic down jackets that are both lightweight and great at insulating heat, you can buy these from any reputable sports store.

Lower Body

You don’t need much layering on the lower half of your body, mainly because it’s quite hard to put on and take off layers when you have shoes on.

This does however mean that you will need to be careful when picking the right pants, as these will be staying on for the whole of the mountain climb. 

Any sports store or outdoor apparel company will have a good pair of hiking pants. Make sure to try the pants on when you purchase them and stretch them out to the full range of motions.

You need pants that will be breathable, and dry quickly when they are wet too. You can also pick up a pair of shorts that will be easier to stretch in, however, this could get cold and I wouldn’t recommend it.

When the colder weather hits you may want to find a second layer for your lower half in thermal underwear, they can be very comfortable and also keep you insulated when climbing in the cold.

Be careful not to wear them when it is too hot however because the sweat can become uncomfortable.

What to Wear While Mountain Climbing


The right footwear is the most important thing to purchase when mountain climbing, you’re going to be doing a lot of steps over the course of a single day or a couple of days.

Make sure you know your foot size and find a shoe that is a tight fit, when you are walking uphill and downhill you really don’t want your feet to be sliding around in your shoes as this could cause chaffing. 

You need your shoes to be breathable, your feet are going to sweat a lot so it is important that they can exert some of that moisture and not be too uncomfortable for you.

It is up to you whether you want your shoes to be waterproof or not, I for one prefer mine to be waterproof as having wet feet can be very uncomfortable.

Another important thing to consider is the socks that you wear. You should purchase socks that are specifically for hiking and climbing, as then you will have less of a chance at blisters.

Accessories And Rain Gear

When you go out hiking you need to be prepared for all weather conditions. Getting caught in a downpour of rain is not fun, walking around with soaking wet clothes isn’t fun either.

Any good rain jacket will do, just make sure it is lightweight, as you will be spending most of your journeys carrying it.

Our recommendation is to take a rain jacket with you whatever the weather is looking like, as rain can come in an instant.

It is also a good idea to make sure it is breathable as well as waterproof, there’s no point in saving you getting soaked from rain if you’re going to be soaked from sweat in the meantime.

If it’s a sunny day, then a baseball cap is a great accessory to bring with you on a hike. Not only will it allow you to look out over the amazing views at the summit,

but it will also protect your face from harmful UV rays. Any cheap but comfortable baseball cap will do as it is likely to get dirty or possibly blown away.

Kevin Macey
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