Can You Wear Cotton While Hiking?

You’ve probably heard people bashing cotton clothing for outdoor recreation. People say that you’re not supposed to wear cotton while¬† hiking, or in cold weather. Wearing cotton while hiking, backpacking, or camping is more than a faux pas, it’s a threat to your safety, right? If you step foot on a trail, you need technical clothing and outdoor apparel. Well, sometimes cotton clothing is fine. You don’t always need outdoor technical clothing when you head outdoors.

How does “cotton kill”?

There are a few good reasons why people say you shouldn’t wear cotton when hiking or spending time outdoors.

  • Cotton fibers absorb moisture easily and quickly.
  • They retain moisture and take a long time to dry.
  • Cotton does not insulate when wet, and actually pulls warmth from the body.

These qualities make cotton a dangerous choice in cool temperatures (think hypothermia). To put it simply, do not wear cotton clothing outdoors if you’re going to be exposed to cold temperatures.

When do cotton and hiking mix?

Cotton is a good choice for extreme heat and arid climates. We sweat because it helps our bodies stay cool in hot weather. Outdoor technical clothing is good for wicking away moisture and drying quickly, but that’s not necessarily what you want in hot weather.

Not only are cotton t-shirts more comfortable than synthetic shirts while dry, but they also stay wet longer, which helps keep your body cooler in hot temperatures.

You shouldn't wear cotton in cold, wet climates, but cotton's a great choice for hot, arid conditions. Click To Tweet

While cotton is a good choice for hot weather hiking, not any cotton will do. You don’t want to wear your dark denim blue jeans out on the trail. A cotton t-shirt, however, will do just fine. Outdoor technical clothing is still king in cool weather, but it can sometimes come up short in hot weather when compared to a simple cotton t-shirt.

We sell outdoor technical clothing from popular brands such as Outdoor Research, but we also have a great selection of comfortable cotton t-shirts from some great local brands like Fayettechill and nativ! Stop by and see us at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters in Fayetteville, Arkansas to check out our selection!

One Comment

  1. […] can hike in blue jeans or cotton pants or shorts in warm weather. Cotton isn’t the fiber you need for tough hikes or climbs, but it’s great for comfort in […]

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