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Upper Body

Your upper body is your core. It is the most important part of your body to keep warm. Be sure to do a long test hike in your clothing before you head out to the trail. Make sure everything is warm and comfortable. Better to get any kinks worked out now rather than on the trail.

Base Layer

Long sleeved polyester thermals are the most common base layer for your upper body. Your base layer should hug your upper body snugly, but not make you uncomfortable or itchy. For a warmer option, you may consider polypropylene uppers (like Under Armour).

Summer Layer

This is the layer you’ll be wearing most often. You’ll want to be sure its loose and comfortable. Any short sleeved, non-cotton T-shirt will do. A runner’s shirt that wicks well and doesn’t chafe is a great choice. You’ll be wearing it in most of your pictures too, so choose a color and style you like. Remember, this is the shirt you’ll be wearing when you are hot, sweaty, and wishing for shade, so make sure it is thin and breathes well.

Warmth Layer

This is the most important layer for your upper body. Its purpose is not just to keep you comfortable, but to keep you alive in cold weather. There are short-sleeved and vest options available, but we recommend something full sleeved. The most common options are down jackets and fleece sweaters. Down is lighter, but more expensive (and remember, you cannot allow it to get wet). Fleece is a little heavier, but it’s cheaper and handles moisture better. The weight and thickness of the layer should be determined by your comfort level and how well you handle the cold.

Wind & Rain Shell

The Wind & Rain shell for the upper body is commonly the most overbuilt piece of clothing in a person’s pack. Your rain shell needs do nothing more than keep your upper body dry. It doesn’t need built-in warmth (that’s what your warmth layer is for), or 20 pockets, or be able to hold up while army-crawling under barb wire. Keep it simple.

  • Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket – Women’s

    Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket – Women’s

    11.4 oz

  • Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket – Women’s

    Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket – Women’s

    13.2 oz

  • Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket – Women’s

    Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket – Women’s

    5.5 oz


Has the information above changed? Know something other hikers should know? Leave a comment below.



A man standing atop a mountain with a beautiful view A man and a woman sitting on the edge of a beautiful mountain lake