Leaf-peeping season is one of the most popular hiking times of the year. As the temperatures start to dip, it’s fairly easy to get caught in the backcountry unprepared for the conditions. Suddenly, an experience that could be idyllic becomes uncomfortable or even dangerous. Equipping yourself with the best women’s fall hiking gear is one good way to mitigate this issue.

Fall hiking in an EMS down coat

The Gear Women Need for Fall Hiking

Fall Hiking Jackets

One of the most important pieces of gear that hikers should bring on fall adventures is a jacket. Jackets provide extra insulation and warmth that can be vital to your comfort and well-being if the weather takes a turn for the worse. One phenomenal jacket for these purposes is the EMS Women’s Feather Pack Hooded Jacket. This jacket is made with 800-fill water-repellent down to deliver excellent warmth in a variety of conditions. Weighing just under a pound (14.5 ounces), this jacket packs down to a small sizeand some serious warmth.

When paired with a classic rain shell like the long-time favorite EMS Women’s Thunderhead Rain Jacket, users can expect to stay warm and dry in inclement weather.

The EMS Thunderhead a classic piece of fall hiking gear

Fall Hiking Pants

Fall is the perfect time to trade your hiking shorts in for a lightweight, breathable pair of hiking pants like the Outdoor Research Women’s Cirque II Pants. These pants are intended to be technical, allowing hikers to head into the alpine zone and scramble through scree fields without issue. They also work extremely well in environments where you really need thermal regulation. In fact, these pants make use of OR’s ActiveTemp Thermoregulating Technology to wick moisture and keep your body dry even when you’re working hard.

Those who prefer to wear hiking pants with a little bit more give might appreciate the Prana Women’s Halle Pant II. Made with 95% recycled nylon and 5% elastane, they come with just enough elasticity to support dynamic movement in the mountains. Plus they come with a DWR finish to keep external moisture from penetrating the material and are UPF 50+. In other words, they’re great, rain or shine!

Base Layers and Fleece for Fall Hiking

Fall temperatures are volatile. One day, it might feel like summer. On another, it might feel more like winter. Because of the unpredictability of the season, it can be really helpful to pack insulating base layers or even a vest.

The Smartwool Women’s Merino 250 Base Layer Pattern 1/4 Zip Pullover is one of Smartwool’s more popular base layers. It takes the wool materials that every backcountry goer loves and turns them into a fashionable and warm garment that’s prepared for anything. Plus, it’s designed to be moisture-wicking, which makes it a great companion for active fall hikers.

On colder days, adding a fleece vest like the Cotopaxi Women’s Amado Fleece Vest is a great way to round out your hiking kit. The Amado Fleece Vest is made with recycled fleece that keeps you cozy and wicks moisture, letting you feel great on the trail and about your purchase. Both the Amado Vest and the 1/2 Zip Pullover are staples for anyone trying to stay prepared for the looming cold.

Another Cotapaxi to fall in love with is the Women’s Teca Fleece Pullover. Let’s face it, some of us run really cold, which can make fall hiking a pretty unalluring experience. The Teca Fleece Pullover exists for this reason. This pullover is made with the warmest polyester fleece to help you wick moisture while retaining heat. This fleece functions well as both a midlayer in extremely cold conditions and as a jacket, giving hikers the warmth they need to make it through their journey.

Wearing Smartwool at camp
Image Courtesy of Smartwool

Fall Footwear

It’s often difficult to outfit yourself for shoulder seasons since you’re never quite sure what to expect from the mountains. In situations like this, it’s usually better to hit the trails overprepared instead of underprepared. For this reason, a pair of Gore-Tex or waterproof shoes can give you an extra layer of insulation and protection in the fall.

The Salomon Women’s Sense Ride 4 Invisible Fit GTX Trail Running Shoe is a great shoulder-season shoe because it incorporates that extra layer of warmth and moisture protection. But it’s also rugged and prepared to tackle almost any hiking terrain. We also love that these shoes use the Invisible Fit version of GoreTex, which means that it doesn’t feel hard and crinkly like some waterproof barriers.

When the threat of snow and ice becomes more prevalent, some hikers may also find that they’d prefer a burlier shoe option. The Lowa Women’s Renegade GTX Mid WS Hiking Boot is a good GoreTex option with over 25 years of testing and the durability to show for it. While ultralight hikers tend to shy away from heavier boot options like these, they tend to perform more consistently in winter-like conditions, which makes them a good pick for shoulder season.

Gloves and Other Accessories

A commonly overlooked part of the fall hiking gear collection, gloves like the Outdoor Research Women’s Vigor Midweight Sensor Gloves can help you maintain your finger dexterity even when the wind picks up. These gloves are the perfect midweight insulation option for those who can’t stand cold hands. With 93% polyester and 7% spandex construction, these perform really well in wet or moist environments and they have just enough give to allow you to easily move your hands no matter what you’re doing.

Pair your gloves with a winter hat to add even more warmth and versatility to your fall hiking kit. The Smartwool Beanies like the Women’s Cozy Cabin Hat are toasty on frigid fall mornings and in uncooperative weather and a staple on autumn trails. A neck gaiter, like the Turtle Fur Women’s Stria Totally Tubular Headwear, is another nice addition for cool fall days.

Women's hiking gear
Image courtesy of Cotopaxi

Why Pack Properly

Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, drawing hikers into the woods and mountains to revel in the display of color. With the right gear, hikers can guard against discomfort while hiking in shoulder-season conditions and focus on foliage. Packing extra layers during this time of the year can help make the hiking experience memorable in the best way possible.