What to wear hiking in 60 degree weather, does it matter?
Picture this: you read about a hike in the White Mountains that you think would be perfect for your family—your spouse and kids love hiking together on the weekends. You look at the weather app on your phone, and it predicts 60 degrees and sunny on Saturday. Perfect! Throw on some hiking pants, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes, and you’ll be good to go, right?
Saturday rolls around, and you and the family are out on the trail, having a great time. Then you notice clouds starting to gather, and a few raindrops splatter on your bare arms. As you continue climbing, the temperature starts to drop. Now you’re wishing you’d dressed differently…
Weather in New Hampshire, especially in the spring or fall, can vary greatly. You want to take advantage of good weather and beautiful landscapes, but you also want to be prepared for shifting weather conditions.
What to Wear: The Basics
You can stay comfortable and focus on having fun if you properly prepare before heading out on that hike. Here is a list of clothes you might like to wear hiking in 60-degree weather:
• Headwear: wear a baseball cap or other brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face and neck. If hiking in higher elevations, or at a time of year when snow is possible, it’s always a good idea to bring a warm winter hat in your pack. You won’t regret the extra few ounces.
• Top: layers are key in 60-degree weather! Start with a T-shirt and bring a light sweatshirt or jacket in your pack. Also, bring a rain jacket or windbreaker to stay dry and comfortable.
• Pants: Long pants are always the best choice for hiking, especially in New Hampshire, where there are ticks, other insects, and poisonous plants that could bother your skin. Try to find a material that wicks moisture and allows your skin to breathe; you can easily work up a sweat even in mild weather. Many hikes in New Hampshire also include stream crossings or may have puddles of meltwater from snow on the trails. To stay comfortable, you’ll want pants that will keep your legs dry. Make sure the material is comfortable as well—hiking in denim jeans or other stiff fabrics can cause chafing and discomfort.
• Footwear: Always opt for proper hiking boots. Although it’s tempting to let your feet breathe when the weather starts to warm up, open-toed shoes leave you vulnerable to injury. Good hiking boots will fit snugly enough to provide support for your foot and ankle and will have good traction on the soles to help you grip different surfaces as you walk. If you don’t have hiking boots, wear other athletic shoes that are sturdy and that you don’t mind getting dirty.
What about the kids? If your family or hiking group includes young children, it’s important to know how to keep them comfortable on your hike. The same clothing guidelines apply to adults, but kids can get cold more easily, so you’ll want to make sure you bring plenty of layers for them. Remember, it’s always easier to take off layers if the child is too warm; if they’re too cold and don’t have any more layers to add, that’s a more serious problem.
Here are a few tips when hiking with children in 60-degree weather:
• Have them wear a hat. It will keep the sun, rain, and bugs away from their face.
• Bring a change of clothes for them, if possible. Especially if there’s any chance your children will be in the water during your hike (say, exploring a waterfall or swimming hole), it’s important to have dry clothes for them to change into. Wet clothes and a long trek back to the car are a miserable combination.
• Layers, layers, layers! Always make sure you have extra, warmer clothes for the kids. Core layers are especially important—the clothes that keep your torso warm—so pack an extra sweater, long sleeve shirt, or fleece zip-up.
• If they’re old enough, have them carry their extra clothes in their own pack, along with water, snacks, and other essentials. This way, they can easily add or take off layers along the way without needing to search through your pack.
Consider Your Location
When thinking about what clothing is appropriate to wear in 60-degree weather, it helps to consider where exactly you will be hiking. How much elevation gain will there be? Is the trail shaded, or exposed to the sun and wind? Are you hiking around a lake, along a river, or up a mountain?
Different trail conditions and environments might require bringing different gear. If you’re hiking at lower elevations, you may not need to bring as many warm clothes. The key will be to bring or wear a few light layers, and always have rain gear in your pack—at least a rain jacket, but rain pants are great too if you have them. A rain suit, including a hooded jacket and pants, can be found at affordable prices online and in stores.
If you’re gaining a lot of elevation on your hike or hiking into the mountains, it can get a lot colder towards the peak than it was at the trailhead. Consider bringing a heavier jacket, a winter hat, and gloves or mittens. Even warm spring days can turn to snow and ice in the mountains, given the right weather conditions, so it’s best to be prepared. Once again, always bring rain gear, no matter the terrain or elevation. You’ll never regret having it once it starts drizzling!
Other gear to bring in 60-degree weather is sunscreen and bug repellent. At this temperature, it’s likely that insects will be out and about. Sunscreen is a good idea at any time of year; prevention is key when it comes to sunburn.
Materials and Fabrics
One last aspect think about is the materials your clothes are made from. Certain fabrics are better than others for outdoor activities like hiking.
Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and nylon, are often best for moisture-wicking and staying comfortably dry. Look for this in your shirts and pants.
Wool is also a great option if you want a natural fiber that will keep you warm and dry. Look for woolen hiking socks, which will help your boots fit snugly and comfortably without rubbing and chafing. You can also find wool base layers or shirts to keep on reserve, in case the temperature starts dipping below that balmy 60 degrees.
Whatever you do, try to avoid cotton! It absorbs moisture from your sweat and does not dry easily, so you will likely stay damp and uncomfortable. This can make you feel warmer in higher temperatures, and if the temperature starts to drop, it can make you feel cold and even contribute to hypothermia. While you don’t need to go out and buy a brand new outfit for hiking, look through your clothing options and try your best not to wear any cotton clothes.
To sum it all up: when you’re hiking in 60-degree weather in New Hampshire, remember to expect the unexpected. Dress comfortably, in clothes that will keep you dry and help regulate your temperature. Bring extra layers, including rain gear and warm clothes, especially if you are hiking at higher elevations. Wearing sunscreen, hats, and long pants and sleeves will help you be protected from insects and weather. Now get out there and enjoy the day!