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Advice for good hiking shirts/layers


I need some hiking clothing advice if possible! My husband and I are doing a hike in the Scottish Highlands next September. We are going at the end of the month and I understand the weather can be sketchy. I have purchased a weatherproof jacket for him from here but what are some good layers for underneath? We are new to the hiking world so any info helps!


Thank you!!


5 Replies

@Pipcam outside of the possible "sketchiness" of the weather, your trip sounds like an amazing adventure!

We have a great Expert Advice article on what to wear hiking, which will give some high-level themes on layering and materials to wear/not to wear. Here are a few specific suggestions as well:

  • A waterproof outer layer is a great place to start, and it sounds like you're all set here! This layer will not only protect against water but also wind; you might even consider a thin pair of waterproof pants, as they're small to pack and can significantly increase comfort if the weather is cold/wet/windy.
  • In the middle, we typically recommend a thin insulated layer - anything with a little "puff" to it, as the insulation traps your body heat and helps keep you warm. You can consider either down or synthetic insulation - something like the REI Co-op 650 DownPatagonia Nano Puff, or Arc'teryx Atom would be great options! 
  • Closest to your skin should be your base layer - either wool or synthetic (definitely not cotton) - to keep you warm and wick moisture away from your skin. You might consider a midweight - Smartwool, Patagonia and REI all offer great options - and you can also go to a heavyweight or lightweight, depending on the temperatures you're expecting.

We hope this helps to get you started; if you'd like to chat with an REI employee about your trip, we do offer free virtual outfitting appointments. Also, feel free to post again with follow-up questions, and we expect you'll get other advice from members of our community!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

JenK nailed it.  I would just add that I am a fan of fleece full zip  jackets, very easy to adjust to variable conditions.  I also dote on long sleeve synthetic fabric shirts, with at least two pockets - same reason.  I generally prefer a full brim hat - keeps sun or rain off equally well.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

One last thought  Get out and use your stuff several times before your trip.   It really helps to know, and have, confidence in your gear....

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

To add to the excellent advice you've gotten already, keep in mind that weather in the Highlands can be unpredictable year-round. When I was last there, in June 2019, it rained all week with snow, sleet and wind near the mountain peaks. OTOH the last time I was there in September (some years ago) it was warm and sunny the whole time.

So in addition to lots of layers as mentioned above, bring waterproof rain pants, gloves, a fleece cap, etc. You never know. 


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Hi @Pipcam .  So far the responses above are spot-on.  In my opinion, the 3 key things to adhere to is layers, layers, and layers. To elaborate a bit on what @hikermor mentioned, definitely take some "practice" hikes to learn how your body responds to the exertion and the amount of insulation.  I have found that even a moderately strenuous hike can result in my body warming up rather quickly, which can lead to sweating, which can lead to getting chilled.  I hike by the mantra "Be bold; start cold." and carry my puffy and shell layers to throw on as conditions dictate and for when I stop for a snack to keep from getting chilled.

Some of my preferred items are a Patagonia R1 fleece, an Outdoor Research Ferrosi soft-shell jacket, an REI Co-op Xerodry GTX rain jacket, and also the REI 650 Down that @REI-JenK  mentioned.  I also love my Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants, which REI doesn't seem to carry right now.  My base layers are an assortment of wool and synthetic items, of various weights.  I would recommend the lightest weight base-layer suitable for the ambient temperatures you expect to encounter.

I've been to Northern England and Edinburgh in late fall/early winter, and it was chilly, but not bitter cold.  I haven't visited the Highlands yet, but hope to before too long.  Your trip will be amazing, regardless of the weather conditions (or maybe because of them).

Good luck and enjoy!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.