What Clothes to Pack For Summer Camping

What Clothes to Pack for Summer  Camping

Planning to pitch a lakeside tent this summer? While you no doubt have put a lot of effort into planning which national park or local campground you’ll be escaping to this summer, there are a number of other things to consider in order to ensure your outdoor adventure is as enjoyable as it can be.

There’s a lot that needs to be prepared for camping adventures including planning out meals, packing all the equipment you’ll need for the outdoor activities you wish to enjoy, and taking precautions to ensure your safety. One thing many campers often overlook is the importance of choosing the right clothing for temporarily living in nature. Spending an extended period of time in the outdoors presents challenges you normally don’t face at home.

Having proper camping attire is essential to making sure that you stay protected from the elements and outdoor hazards that can affect you during the summer months. Dressing for the outdoors is less about fashion and more about comfort and safety. Check out our tops tips for what clothes you should pack for your next summer camping adventure.

Summer Camping Clothing Basics

Before you even begin to think about packing your camping clothes, make sure that you check the weather forecast for the dates that you will be camping. Knowing what weather you’re likely to experience will help you to select more appropriate attire. It’s also important to remember that summer doesn’t necessarily equate to hot temperatures depending on which region you are camping in. One of the most important strategies to dressing for outdoor camping adventures is to dress in layers. The three-layer system of wearing a base layer, mid-insulating layer, and outer shell layer works best. You want to choose clothing that is lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking. 

When it comes to layering, your base layer should be designed to wick sweat and moisture away from your body which will allow your skin to stay dry and you to stay warm. Reducing moisture will also help to prevent chafing and blistering. Your middle-insulating layer will help keep you warm during cooler evenings or when summer cold fronts push in. This mid-layer can be put on or taken off depending on whether or not you need to trap more body heat. If nature’s elements aren’t behaving, an outer-shell layer can be added to protect you from rain or heavy winds. Your summer outer layer should consist of water-resistant pants and a lightweight windbreaker jacket.  

Clothing for Hiking

You most likely will be doing some hiking and other outdoor activities while camping, so it’s important to pack clothing that is rugged enough to stand up to the outdoors and won’t restrict your movements. This means you should leave the skinny denim jeans and white dresses at home.

While cotton may be one of the most common clothing materials out there and popular for everyday life, camping enthusiasts will tell you that it doesn’t make for the best outdoor clothing due to the fact it retains water and takes a long time to dry. Wearing whites isn’t advised for the obvious fact they will get dirty, however, darker colors should be avoided if you expect to experience a lot of sun and heat since they will absorb the sunlight more. Stick to lighter non-white colors to stay cool or light-colored clothing with patterns if you’re worried about concealing dirt and stains.

Clothing should be rugged but not restrictive. Wearing clothing that is too tight will make hiking and even sitting around camp uncomfortable and can lead to chaffing. Wear breathable underwear and socks and stick to synthetic fabrics like polyester or polypropylene for your shirts and pants as these fabrics will help regulate your body temperature and dry fast. Natural merino wool is another great choice for keeping a comfortable body temperature in both warm and cold weather. Fleece makes a great mid-insulating layer; while you’ll want to look for an outer shell layer that has a high hydrostatic rating that will keep you dry all day and a high degree of breathability to prevent you from over-sweating.  

Camping Sleepwear

Your normal everyday cotton pyjamas probably aren’t the best choice for camping sleepwear as they may not keep you well-insulated during cooler nights and may cause you to sweat during warmer evenings. It’s crucial to stay dry while sleeping. Be sure to start off correctly by changing out of your dirty sweaty clothes you were in all day before settling into your tent or sleeping bag for the night. This will ensure you go to bed dry. Stay dry throughout the night by wearing synthetics or smart wool clothing to bed

If you plan on using a sleeping bag, make sure you know what its temperature rating is. You don’t need to wear bulky insulating clothing to bed if your sleeping bag is rated to withstand quite cold conditions. This will only lead to overheating during the night.

Don’t forget to pack an eye mask in case there’s a full moon or when camping in extreme northern latitudes during the summer where the sun may only go down for a few hours each night, if at all. Having earplugs is another good idea to block out the sounds of nature such as crickets, wind through the trees, and early bird song.

One last piece of advice is to avoid sleeping in clothing that may have absorbed campfire cooking odors. This may attract bears and other critters to you tent. It is also wise to store any scented toiletries outside your tent as they too can attract wildlife.


Whether you plan on hiking or not, you should plan on taking a quality pair of durable shoes to wear around camp. If wet weather hits, campsites can get muddy and littered with puddles. Choose a pair of hiking boots that are both waterproof and durable, offering ankle support if you do plan on doing extended hikes.  Make sure to slowly break in newly purchased hiking boots well in advance of your camping trip in order to avoid getting blisters during your holiday.

If you plan on camping lakeside or beachside, you may want to think about packing a pair of swim or beach shoes which can offer protection against broken, glass, fish hooks, or poisonous sea creatures. A pair of sandals can come in handy for when you’re simply relaxing back at camp or when using communal camp showers.

Protection Against the Elements

We covered this earlier, but it’s wise to always pack a waterproof/windproof layer in case the summer weather turns sour. While the weather forecast may have predicted pleasant weather, this can change quickly in places like the mountains. And while you may think t-shorts and shorts are the only think you’ll need when it gets really hot, you may want to consider packing a long-sleeved shirt and pants to shield you from the sun. This is especially important if you do happen to get sunburned during your trip and need to avoid making things worse by exposing your skin to even more sun. You may even want to consider wearing a shirt with SPF protection so you don’t have to keep reapplying sunscreen. A wide brimmed hat is a good idea to keep the sun of your face.

Protection Against Outdoor Hazards

Other outdoor hazards that you may need to dress for include poisonous plants and insects. Wearing long pants is recommended for hiking in case you come into contact with poison ivy or other poisonous plants. Long pants will be your first line of defense against dangerous plant oils or stinging hairs harming your skin. You will want to make sure to remove your hiking clothing back at camp before settling into your tent, as poisonous oils from your clothing can be transferred to other materials including your skin.  

Pants and long sleeved shirts are also advised if biting insects are numerous. This will deter mosquitoes and biting flies from being able to bite you. A pair of waterproof canvas gaiters is another recommended outdoor gear item to pack if you plan on doing some hiking through dense brush. Gaiters help deter ticks or at least make them more visible to spot and remove before they make their way under your clothing and onto your skin. Specially designed snake gaiters can potentially save your life should you be bitten by a venomous species. Many brands have been tested against some of the most deadly snakes on the planet.

Always perform a tick check at the end of each hike or before you go to bed. You should also attend to any cuts and scrapes as soon as possible to prevent possible infection. Pack a first-aid kit to treat any minor injuries such as insect bites, minor cuts, and sunburn.

For more helpful advice, be sure to check out our handy guide to Gearing Up For Your First Outdoor Camping Adventure.


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Author: Michael Jerrard

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