What to Wear while Hiking in Hawaii

What to Wear while Hiking in Hawaii

What are the most important things you need to carry or wear while hiking in Hawaii? You should check your backpack and see if you have all the essentials with you. Let’s for an instance you took good pair of shoes but they are heavy or you forget sun protection items what then. So, we have decided to let you know about what to wear while hiking in Hawaii.

Here is a quick checklist and after that, we have evaluated it one by one their importance.

Quick recommendation 

  • Hiking boots or trail runners- hiking boots are important for any hike, however, you may go with trail runners or running shoes. But I don’t recommend trail runners or running shoes if you are hiking trails like the Koko crater trail. To conquer a trail like these, you must have a proper hiking boot with good traction control. If you are you want to know to check here some of the best hiking shoes, if you have high arches then you can check here- Best hiking boots for high arches.
  • Socks – socks are very important, it doesn’t matter if you are going for a short hike or a long hike. It protects your feet from blisters. To know more about blisters check out this article – 
  • Thin moisture-wicking t-shirt – wear a thin moisture-wicking t-shirt that keeps it dry from inside. 
  • Hat or cap- If you are hiking in Hawaii, it’s better to wear a cap. More about this is discussed below. 
  • Hiking pants or shorts – you can wear shorts while hiking in Hawaii if you are going in dry weather, hiking pants are important during rain. 
  • Fleece, vest, or zip hoodie – wear fleece, vest, or zipper jacket over a base layer that is a moisture-wicking T-shirt. Layering is very important if you are hiking in the cold on trails like Mauna Loa. 

What to Wear While Hiking in Hawaii

Clothing guide for hiking in Hawaii on warm trails

Hawaii is humid and hiking out there demands proper clothing. You don’t want to get wet or sweaty in your clothes. You will sweat for sure when you hike in places like, with lots of humidity and wetness.  


Hat or cap

The cap is important for hiking in humid weather. It protects you and your hair from sunlight and. 

If you are a woman then that would be a nice option too. Personally, I don’t find that comfortable but this doesn’t mean you will also not. 

Do cover your head or hair when hiking in Hawaii as you may be surrounded by trees and many times insects fall from trees and the cap will protect you from that. 

Moreover, if you have long hair then you will get frustrated as they start falling in front and sweat starts getting down in your eyes. 

If you are taking a hat with you to Hawaii make sure to buy a hat with a clip. Clips on the hat help in keeping the hat stable in high winds. 

Headband for long hair-

If you have long hair then you can wear a headband or carry it with you and use it later when you want to take off the hat. Headband lets your hair stay in one place and also don’t let the sweat run into your eyes. It’s super useful for women. 

Normal moisture-wicking t-shirt or sando

T-shirts work fine for hiking in Hawaii as you need ventilation to avoid moisture. Normal nylon or polyester t-shirt is best suited for this situation. 

You can also wear sando if you are hiking a trail like a Koko crater, as you may get wet. Most people wear fewer clothes on hikes like these because it’s easy to take out clothes and swim under waterfalls

Sun protection Arm sleeves-

This is optional but super-useful in hot weather. 

If you are wearing a t-shirt then your arms may get exposed to the sun and also they are more revealed to attract other elements like – rubbing against tree bricks. Moreover, these arm sleeves also protect you from bugs and insects. 

I personally wear these whenever I go outdoors in summers as this gives me a sense of protection from sun rays and bugs. 

You will see very few hikers wearing this, and some may tell you why not wear shirts instead. Well, a shirt is a bit uncomfortable for summer hiking, and also gives you less freedom of movement on the trail. 

Moreover, shirts are heavy, unless they are made of linen or cotton. But what is worse about these fabrics is that they contain water and sweat, which means they take more time to get dry

Shorts or pants

Shorts are not the best option but not bad at the same time. You will find many hikers or visitors in shorts and many in hiking pants. 

There is a good reason why short is not that good option. The first is that they expose your legs to injuries, you may get scratches, sunburns and not forget about bugs and mosquitoes. Hiking pants are a good option if you are on a humid, rainforest trail. 

Leggings for women

If you are a woman, leggings are best as it will provide you with more comfort and freedom of movement at the same time

Socks (ankle socks) 

Socks are very important when you are hiking in shoes. Socks wick the moisture out and prevent blisters, and also increase comfort. They are good at protection from cold climate.

Light summer hiking shoes 

Hiking shoes are not important for all hikes in Hawaii, trainers or running shoes can also work fine for some hikes like  Diamond Head, which is a short hike and you can easily complete this hike in trainers. It has a simple path with no hurdles or conflicts. 

However, I don’t recommend trainers or running shoes for trails like –  Maunawili falls(2.4 miles hike with waterfall) in Oahu. It is a muddy trail and if you are visiting there after a rain you will need proper hiking boots with waterproofing, traction control, and stability. You also need to pass rivers during this hike, which are slippery and demand waterproof hiking boots. 

If you are going in summer then you may want light hiking boots. But it is so hard to find light hiking boots with good stability and traction control. But don’t worry, I have already written an article on the best summer hiking boots that are light and you can definitely wear while hiking in Hawaii

Cold wear guide for hiking in Hawaii

Mostly, people think that you need light clothes for hiking in Hawaii. But that is not true, if you are hiking to places like Big Island’s Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, where the temperature gets pretty low. For hikes like these, you need to wear winter clothes. So, let’s see what you can wear while hiking in Hawaii in the cold. 


Bunny – If it’s cold in Hawaii, then switch your hat to a bunny that will provide you with more warmth in the cold. 

Scarf – This is optional but I personally prefer this, especially if you are not adapted to cold temperatures. Just roll the scarf around your neck to get the warmth. 

The moisture-wicking base layer – for with teri you need to 

Fleece – fleece works best for the second layer, 

Fleece provides you with insulation and keeps you warm. 

Later if you feel cold then you can also wear a mid-insulated jacket over fleece. 

Gloves – Most hikers don’t need gloves. But carrying thin or mid-insulated gloves with you is never a bad idea while hiking in the cold. Our hands get cold easily and when they feel warm our body also feels warm, if hands feel cold then our body will also feel cold. 



Thick hiking pants 

Wear synthetic hiking pants if it’s too cold. Though our legs don’t need that much insulation because they generate too much heat and we also feel less cold there. 


To protect your ankles or lower legs from cold, you can wear gaiters. Gaiters are optional but I recommend them if you are hiking below 30 degrees F

Merino wool socks

Protection and safety are two important things that you need to keep in mind. Before hiking, make sure you have packed the well-fitted wool socks that are a great support in winters especially. Different kinds like angle hiking socks, crew length socks are available to protect from snow and safety during rough trails.

Winter hiking boots

Hiking boots are one essential item that can’t be missed at any cost. The boots are specially designed for hiking to provide great comfort during rough hikes, ankle support, and excellent traction control downhill and uphill. Heal comfort in high arches and waterproof hiking boots make it easy to hike in snowy areas.

Extra essential you need to carry while hiking in Hawaii

Pair of slippers or flip flops

Pair of flip flops always prove good when you visit a place like Hawaii. You can hike in flip flops on short and easy hikes, though it’s not a good option if you are not used to hiking in flip flops. 

But you can use it for walking on a plain surface. Take old flip-flops with you as you don’t need to break them. New flip flops may feel uncomfortable or can lead to rubbing. 


If you are hiking there is no way you forget to carry water with you. It doesn’t matter if you are hiking one of the shortest trails of Hawaii, water is very important because it’s too humid in summers. 

Most people carry water bottles with them, but what I recommend is to carry water in a backpack. If you have a backpack with a water reservoir or water bladder then that is the perfect way to carry water as it will cut down the weight of the water bottle. 

Moreover, you can also carry more water if you are going on a long hike in Hawaii. 

Insulted  or rain jacket

Well if you are unlucky you may see rain during your hike. And for such situations, you should always have a backup.

Carry an insulated rain jacket or snow jacket with you in case it starts raining mid-way during a hike. 

Rain and snow jackets come in different forms, some are more insulated than others. But you don’t need a fully insulated jacket, instead, carry a mid-insulated rain jacket. 


Using sunscreen is very important before a hike if you are in Hawaii. Use a 50 fps sunscreen that has fewer chemicals in it. 

Sunscreen is also helpful in sweat control. So, always wear sunscreen. 

Use genuine sunscreen that can really protect your skin

Bug spray

Bug spray is also important to carry with you if you’re hiking in Hawaii because there are so many of them on trails, especially if you are on a rainforest humid trail. Spray that on you before starting your hike. 


The towel is for people who want to swim or bathe under waterfalls. Most of the hikers who visit trails with waterfalls in Hawaii, do baths or swim in the water. So, you need a towel for that. 

Extra underwear or bottom wear 

You will cross many waterfalls and beaches while hiking in Hawaii and in the meantime if you want to take a dip in the water, you must have an extra pair of underwear and bottom wear with you. 

You don’t want to continue your hike in wet clothes, especially in those which take a long time to dry, for example, cotton shorts. 

Carry a plastic bag so that you can store your wet clothes in them and later hang them on a holder when you go back to your hotel. 

Dry snacks

Dry snacks are best on a hike like where the humidity level is high and you are surrounded by bugs and mosquitos. 

If it’s a short hike then eating the right food before the hike is good enough. Check here what is best to eat before hiking, to avoid bloating or vomiting.