The best gear for summertime outdoor activities

Long days, powerful sunshine and dry weather make summer the most popular season for a wide range of outdoor activitiesHiking, camping and backpacking are especially fun when the weather’s great since you can go longer distances with less gear — plus, the scenery usually looks better in full sunlight.

Although you don’t need bulky sleeping bags or thermal clothing during the summer, there are some types of gear that are essential for staying comfortable and safe when the temperatures go up. Lightweight, breathable clothing and footwear that doesn’t suffocate your feet will make a huge difference during long trips in hot weather.

Shop this article: Gildan Men’s Softstyle Cotton T-shirtsColumbia Men’s Bonehead Long-sleeved Shirt and ExOfficio Nomad Women’s Shorts

Best clothes for summer hiking and camping

best Gildan Men’s Softstyle Cotton T-Shirts

Gildan Men’s Softstyle Cotton T-shirts

Since they’re relatively thin and made entirely from cotton, these basic T-shirts offer the best evaporation properties and give your body the best chance of fighting the heat. There are several sizes and a wide variety of colors to choose from.

Sold by Amazon

best Gildan Women's Softstyle Cotton T-Shirts

Gildan Women’s Softstyle Cotton T-shirts

These T-shirts have the same effective, minimalist design and low price as the men’s version. Be aware, though, that they run nearly two sizes small, so order accordingly.

Sold by Amazon

best Columbia Men’s Bonehead Long-Sleeve Shirt

Columbia Men’s Bonehead Long-sleeved Shirt

Plenty of ventilation, a baggy fit, multiple front pockets and adjustable sleeves make this one of the most versatile hiking shirts available. It’s 100% cotton, too, so it helps make the most of sweat and other moisture on hot days.

Sold by Amazon

best ExOfficio Women's Nomad 7-inch Shorts

ExOfficio Nomad Women’s Shorts

Not only are these shorts great at keeping you from overheating, but they’re also moderately water-resistant in case you get caught in a downpour. They sport convenient zippered pockets and come in light gray, dark gray and tan.

Sold by Amazon

best Free Soldier Men’s Cargo Shorts

Free Soldier Men’s Cargo Shorts

They come in either 10 or 12 inches long and a selection of muted colors, but the most important parts of these versatile shorts are their lightweight, rugged construction and low cost. They also include a belt made from ultralight nylon webbing.

Sold by Amazon

best ExOfficio Give-N-Go Men’s Boxer Briefs

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Men’s Boxer Briefs

Men’s underwear doesn’t get much lighter or better at wicking away moisture while also offering this much support. While they’re not cheap, these are some of the best boxer briefs around.

Sold by Amazon

best Ruby River Women’s Long Sleeve Shirt

Ruby River Women’s Long-sleeved Shirt

This stylish long-sleeved shirt comes in two plaid patterns and is made from a cotton and polyester blend that’s great for keeping you cool and comfortable. There are two pockets on the front, and it uses convenient snaps instead of traditional buttons, making it easy to put on in a hurry.

Sold by Backcountry

best Stoic Women’s Venture Tank

Stoic Women’s Venture Tank

This simple, modest and cute tank delivers comfort and durability at a low price. It’s perfect for staying cool in direct sun while also preventing your upper back from chafing due to your backpack.

Sold by Backcountry

best Outdoor Research Echo Women’s Tank Top

Outdoor Research Echo Women’s Tank Top

This full-length tank top is about as lightweight as a shirt can get. It’s great at minimizing heat buildup because although it’s so thin, it’s made of a breathable polyester fabric that’s more durable than cotton.

Sold by Backcountry

best Outdoor Research Echo Men’s T-Shirt

Outdoor Research Echo Men’s T-shirt

While cotton does an excellent job at maximizing the effectiveness of sweat, an ultra-thin polyester shirt offers better airflow and lets you feel the wind directly on your skin. This synthetic men’s T-shirt fits that bill and comes in several colors and sizes.

Sold by Backcountry

best Ferrosi Convertible Pants

Ferrosi Convertible Pants

At dawn and dusk, they’re effective polyester pants that regulate temperature and protect you from mosquitoes and thorns. When the sun is overhead, zip off the legs, and you’ve got a pair of super-cool shorts. We’ve highlighted the relatively form-fitting women’s version, but they also come in a men’s cut.

Sold by Backcountry

best ExOfficio Give-N-Go Bikini Brief

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Bikini Brief

Comfortable and dependable with just the right amount of stretch, this two-piece set minimizes chafing during long hikes.

Sold by Amazon

best Vayager Cotton Cargo Shorts

Vayager Cotton Cargo Shorts

They’re relatively lightweight for cargo shorts, plus they’re made of tough cotton that can stand up to the great outdoors. There are six pockets altogether, in addition to 5 muted color options.

Sold by Amazon

best Little Donkey Andy Women’s Convertible Pants

Little Donkey Andy Women’s Convertible Pants

The stretch fabric these are made of feels significantly more high-quality than their price suggests. These have the women’s cut, and the men’s version is every bit as worthwhile.

Sold by Amazon

Columbia Bora Bora Booney

Columbia Bora Bora Booney

This wide-brimmed hat is perfect for keeping your face in the shade. It’s generously ventilated and designed to pull uncomfortable sweat away from your forehead.

Sold by Amazon

best Camptrace Fishing Hat

Camptrace Fishing Hat

This bucket hat comes in a wide selection of colors and is made from waterproof material that’s perfect for staying comfortable in sudden summer storms.

Sold by Amazon

best Keen Arroyo II Hiking Sandals

Keen Arroyo II Hiking Sandals

Nothing else offers the same combination of ventilation, comfort and durability as these premium sandals. We’ve highlighted the men’s version, but the Arroyo II Women’s are just as great.

Sold by Amazon

best Merrell Moab 2 Hiking Shoe

Merrell Moab 2 Hiking Shoe

These low-top hiking shoes come from one of the most respected names in outdoor footwear. Whether you need men’s or women’s sizes, it’s hard to go wrong with these well-ventilated kicks.

Sold by Amazon

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals. 

Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2023 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.