The thru hiker uniform

Clothing for a hike doesn’t need to be expensive. Bargain hunters can comb through thrift stores and find nearly everything they need for pennies on the dollar. A synthetic button-up shirt and running shorts are usually pretty easy to find at Goodwill, and as long as you’re not grossed out by the thought of wearing used clothing, I suggest going that route.

I do all my hiking in a pair of black running shorts (black doesn’t show dirt/sweat stains) and prefer inseam lengths that leave little to the imagination. Having fabric restrict the movement of my legs, even a tiny bit, drives me nuts. That’s why I tend to wear short shorts. They look goofy as hell, but I’m not out there to win any fashion awards. Besides, my legs are my most attractive feature, and I don’t mind showing some stem. I worked hard for these muscles! Many running shorts have a small zippered key pocket at the rear of the waistband, but I cut that off before starting a hike. Having a little pocket seems like a good idea (you could put tater tots in there!) but the placement of the zipper can abrade your backpack and cause a hole.

Collared button-up shirts have been my go-to torso covering for over a decade. Being able to unbutton the front and maximize airflow is a blessing on a hot summer day, and the loose fit of these shirts is the most comfortable option I’ve found. A t-shirt just kinda sticks to your body and feels gross. Another positive aspect of the button-up shirt is how it makes you appear in town. When you’re a 200lb heavily tattooed meathead, a collared shirt (in a nice bright color) helps alleviate peoples fear that I may be an ax murderer.

“Surely a criminal deviant wouldn’t be sporting a nice blue plaid button-up shirt! Why, he looks like someone who goes to my church!”

Unfortunately for anyone picking me up on a hitchhike into town to resupply, my pleasant outward appearance is quickly forgotten when they get a whiff of that shirt. To the laundromat, please!

Why did I write this little piece on hiker clothing? Well, I’m starting to experiment with Amazon affiliate links. The way that works is when people use these links, I receive a tiny percentage of the sale. YOU pay the same amount, but Amazon kicks down pennies to me as a way to incentivize my writing about things they sell. Since I use Amazon a lot, I have a large list of hiking gear from them that I use all the time. I’m not sure this even works, but click on the blue links to the shirt and shorts I got from Amazon before my last hike.



4 Replies to “The thru hiker uniform”

  1. Hi Lint,

    Huge fan of yours, thanks for sharing your insights and creating this content. Not only does it break up the monotony of sitting in the office, but also refocuses my mind on my upcoming escapes to the wilderness.

    Quick question (or maybe a few). What are your thoughts on liners on shorts for hiking? Do you wear underwear/boxers underneath them? Do you have any problems with the liners climbing up the inside of your thigh, thus uncomfortably wrapping your nethers like a dolphin caught in a fish net? If not how do you allay this constant annoyance which plagues others? Also, do you feel with a liner you experience less inner thigh friction and chaffing? Or do you just slap on some body glide and call it a day?

    Sorry for the stream of consciousness style questioning, but this is just a part of hiking I could never really solve. I usually wear either shorts or pants with boxers, but am not entirely satisfied with my current system.

    Thanks again for everything you do here.

  2. For years, I’d always cut out the liner of my running shorts and wear synthetic or merino wool boxer briefs underneath. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with the Kinetic shorts from Saxx, which have a built-in brief with a unique pouch in the front. My explanation couldn’t possibly as good as theirs, so check their website.

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