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Hiking in Linen - Why I Seriously Love It

Updated: Jan 26


hiking in linen

Wearing the TLK tank top and HARVESTER shorts by Charlie Darwin


Why I'm off of dry-fit and I've switched to hiking in linen:

Over the past few years, I've watched as hiking clothes have become increasingly made of synthetic (plastic) fibers. I'll admit that synthetic clothing like dry-fit is conveniently lightweight for packing on trips, but in my experience, I don't like the way it causes me to stink more, it's usually sold in terribly unnatural colors, it looks so sporty, and it just feels like I'm wearing plastic on my skin.


I've always been an avid hiker-- going on trips that range from a few hours up to entire days. And until recently, I'd been trying to make dry-fit clothing work for me. I sort of accidentally fell into hiking in linen when I started doing fashion photography in the woods. We'd meander a few hours before finding a place to shoot, and as the over-committed entrepreneur that I am, I sometimes am carrying 15 garments, photo equipment, and water on my back in the process. If you ever wonder if linen holds up and keeps you cool on a hike-- just check out my photoshoots!


Since linen has proved to be great for hiking, I've now worn it on more massive adventures, like climbing Mount Olympus and Vikos Gorge in Greece!


woman hiking in linen

I'm wearing the Charlie Darwin linen SALTWATER shirt and OLENE pants, plant-dyed in tea grey.

 

It's clear to me now that hiking in linen is THE BEST, and here are my top 7 reasons:

 

I'll go ahead and break these reasons down a bit more.


1. Linen is lightweight but opaque:

Linen (depending on the type used in the garment), can be incredibly lightweight while still retaining its opacity. For me, this means that my linen shirt can be worn without a bra (because it's not see-through) but weighs barely more than a dry-fit shirt.

hiking in linen

2. Linen is breathable:

Because it is not a plastic fiber trapping my body heat, I naturally sweat a bit less in linen, but even when I do, it is evaporated quickly from the surface of the shirt. Linen is a naturally antibacterial substance, which means that it doesn't provide germs with an ideal breeding environment for body odor. Because of this, I can also wear a long sleeve linen shirt on a 90F day to protect myself from getting sunburnt, without having a heat stroke.

My boyfriend and I, wearing the LICHEN BUTTON long sleeve linen button-up shirt


3. Linen looks good wrinkly:

The only time I iron is when I sew the clothes-- other than that, I pretty much am a walking wrinkle and I love it! One of the most coveted features of linen fabric is its rich texture -- when it wrinkles, it adds dimension to the outfit. So when I get my linen clothes out of a smashed backpack, they are the BEST kind of wrinkly!

hiking in linen

My friend Sydney, wearing the JUBA pullover and MOONSEED shorts by Charlie Darwin


4. Linen blends in with nature:

This will depend on where you buy your clothing - but all of my clothes from Charlie Darwin Textiles are naturally dyed using pigments from plants, so they are literally colored with earth tones! I personally don't like being on a hike and seeing someone in a bright red or neon green shirt/hat/bag/etc. --it takes away from the experience and beauty of the earth I'm trying to absorb visually.

hiking in linen

Wearing the SALTWATER 2-piece romper (plant-dyed in tea grey), and the embroidered POCKET


5. Linen washes easily and is hard to stain:

In all of my photoshoots where I'm wearing white linen pants, skirts, gowns, etc. I have repeatedly plopped through mud puddles, sat on mossy rocks, hugged the trail next to a muddy dog, and as un-glamorous as this is to say, I've smacked mosquitos straight into the fabric. It's a part of hiking that you often just can't avoid and don't want to spend your energy worrying about. Luckily, linen is not a delicate fabric and can be washed with hot water (as long as the fabric has been pre-washed by the brand), making it easy to wash out stains. Plus, it is easily mendable (see my next point!)...

hiking in linen

Wearing the TLK tanktop and SWALLOWTAIL pants by Charlie Darwin


6. Linen is easily mendable:

What would you do if a thorn ripped through your dry-fit shirt? Unfortunately, you would likely have to throw it away depending on the hole. That slippery stretchy fabric just won't be able to be mended by stitching or patching because it will just keep ripping once it starts. But linen is the exact opposite! Because it is a woven non-stretch, it is super easy to sew on a patch that will stay in place and become even more durable than it was before (and that's why I include matching fabric and a mending kit with each of my clothing orders).

hiking in linen

Wearing the JUBA linen pullover (plant dyed in tea grey), and SALTWATER shorts


7. Linen is better for the earth:

Ultimately, linen is made from fibers that come from a flax plant. When stitched together with cotton thread and dyed with pigments from plants, linen is 100% biodegradable and can start to compost within just 2 weeks back into the soil! Your dry-fit shirt would likely take up to 500 years to do the same, releasing tons of microplastic fibers along the way. Hiking in linen means less plastic waste that's filling our landfills.

human in a nest

Wearing the SATELLITE kimono by Charlie Darwin


Are you convinced yet?

Will you try hiking in linen on your next big adventure?


P.S. If you are feeling extra adventurous -- try hiking in a linen dress! There is nothing quite as breathable and freeing (although I recommend you wear good underwear for when you're scaling rocks above your hiking partner ;) )


Check out more of our linen adventure outfits at CharlieDarwinTextiles.com/Clothing


 

Want to get updates when we release our newest linen hiking clothes?



 

3 Comments


Jana Shaver
Jana Shaver
Sep 11, 2023

Agree. I camp and hike in mostly linen and wool. Because it is what I have and it works.

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Guest
Aug 19, 2023

In my country there are mountainous regions that used to be traditionally inhabited by shepherds. Their "outdoor" clothing from 100-200 years ago was: hard-wearing hemp or wool trousers, a linen shirt, a wool vest / jacket and a hat. These guys spent much more time in the hills than I do and it worked for them. Natural fabrics are great and I'm also moving away from plastic. Thank you for the article.

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I totally agree with you about not liking the material the hiking clothes are made of lately. I do love merino wool, but it can be too warm sometimes. So this summer I will make sure to give linen a try. Thanks for the tip. 🙂

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