FOR SOME reason, fashion and the woods do not have an understanding. Not yet.
Hiking clothes have improved from the early years, when high-waisted, ill-fitting pants were the norm, but there still is plenty of room for growth. I have converted some yoga clothes to outdoor hiking; it’s not a perfect system. There are no convenient pockets for lip balm, nor is there waterproofing that can stand up to the Northwest’s rain-soaked trails.
So, I return to the trusted brands that keep me warm, dry and safe. And with cheerful colors and improved fit, these are some of my favorites for this year’s trails:
Patagonia Merino 2 Lightweight Henley, $100
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Wool is always a great choice for fabric; it keeps you warm when wet and doesn’t smell. I love the coral stripes, and the henley style means you can unbutton and cool off without stopping to remove a layer. There is a reason it’s known as Patagucci; comfort yourself with the fact it will last a lifetime (www.patagonia.com).
Patagonia Women’s Layering Racerback, $49
This tank with the fun racerback and ruching on the back is definitely a cut above your average hiking tank top. This one also gives you a fighting chance for your mountaintop photo opps (www.patagonia.com).
Marmot Women’s Variant Vest, $140
A good vest is the perfect layer to keep your core warm on chilly hikes. Wear it over a long-sleeve shirt or under a shell. The pop of color details on this Marmot vest make it stand out from the rest (http://marmot.com).
SmartWool socks, $20.95
Hiking socks often stand out as the cutest part of a hiking outfit, thanks to SmartWool, which has, hands down, the best patterns and colors around. SmartWools are durable and great quality — warm, sweat-wicking and not itchy (www.rei.com).
prAna Halle Pants, $75
Conversion zip-off pants are super functional and great for hikes that go quickly from cold to hot. When it comes to fashion sensibility, however, they are not our first, second or third choice. These prAna pants give us hope. You can roll up and secure the cuffs, surely a cuter way to stay dry and semi-stylish on the mountains (www.rei.com).
Arcteryx Gamma MX Jacket, $299
Arcteryx looms large over the technical clothing world as some of the best gear out there. You’ll pay for it, too. If you’re willing to take the leap, this soft-shell is wind- and moisture-resistant and breathable while also keeping you looking sharp on the trails (arcteryx.com).
Marmot PreCip Jacket, $100
If you’re going to express yourself wandering in the woods, the Marmot PreCip is a solid choice. Affordable and waterproof with a cut designed for women, it comes in vibrant, fun colors for you to share your sense of style while staying warm and dry (http://marmot.com).
Outdoor Research Radar Pocket Cap, $27
Keep the sun out of your eyes with this lightweight cap. It’s durable enough for the trail and stylish enough for the transition to a post-hike beer (www.rei.com
Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.