It can be hard to decide what to do on a first date, especially if you think it might be an important one. Aka, you really want to impress this person!
Drinks can turn out loud and awkward, dinner means eating while you’re trying to talk, and coffee is just sort of boring. Plus, what happens if it’s going well? How much coffee can one person drink? It’s a dangerous game!
Hiking, however, is an excellent option for that tricky first date that is often overlooked. Of course, it depends on where you live, the time of year, and your fitness levels, but you should be able to find a hike that suits both you and your date if you look online and ask some friends.
Never, and I cannot stress this enough, plan a surprise hike for a first date though. Especially if you’re dating a woman (or anyone who likes to wear impractical shoes). Even on a short hike, being prepared is key to having a good time!
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Why Hiking Is A Good Date?
Hiking is a good date because it’s an activity, but it isn’t too structured. It’s one-on-one, but not too intimate. It’s sporty but won’t leave anyone exhausted. Plus, a hiking date is really customizable.
If you’re both big hiking enthusiasts, you can scale a mountain you’ve had your eye on for ages. On the other hand, if you’re usually inside kids you can go on a nice, easy 5-mile walk in the woods and laugh at one another for being afraid of mud/spiders/the heat of the sun.
Most importantly, a hike gives you something to talk about if the conversation dries up, and leaves loads of room for getting to know one another.
On top of that, undertaking a challenge together (whether it’s big or small) promotes bonding and might even leave you with some good first-date stories to tell people in the future!
Plus there are loads of ways to impress your date on a hike, from finding the perfect spot, to bringing a cheeky romantic picnic, to remembering sunscreen when they don’t.
You could even learn bird calls or the names of local mosses if you want to get your nature flex on!
What Should I Wear On A Hiking Date?
Obviously, dressing for a hiking date is not the same as dressing for dinner and drinks, or going to the beach. That’s one of the reasons I’m so totally against surprise hikes (see above).
Admittedly, it can be tough to find clothes that both look good and work well for a hike. I mean, you probably don’t want to wear your ratty running gear when you’re meeting a Tinder date who might well be the one.
But don’t worry, I have some recommendations that are pretty foolproof!
What Should A Guy Wear On A Hiking Date?
The climate is going to dictate the specifics of what’s best to wear on a hiking date for both men and women, but the basics are the same: you want breathable layers suitable for changing temperatures, and you have to keep in mind the fact you will warm up as you hike.
In cooler climates, you’ll need more layers, in warmer you’ll need fewer layers but still require sun protection (please do not end the hike looking like a lobster from sunburn – this is not sexy and will not impress your date).
A moisture-wicking t-shirt is a good idea on top, but make sure it’s not too tight or a lack of circulating air will lead to you overheating.
I know this is disappointing to those of you who have chiseled gym bodies to show off but is a chiseled gym body enough to offset a bright red face dripping with sweat? I mean, you can carry out some experiments if you like.
There are loads of great, affordable sportswear brands out there. But I recommend you choose something that isn’t overly sporty, so your shirts can still be worn day-to-day or, in this case, on a date.
Look out for a technical fabric that doesn’t have a shiny finish or a plasticky feel. You’ll want something cut to be comfortable and roomy without making you look like you ate your last Tinder date.
A classic button-up tee in particular makes me feel and, I think, look like I’m making a little bit of an effort – and yet I’m still wearing something built to move in!
Comfortable, breathable outdoor shorts and pants are also great. You don’t want to look like you’re ready to run a marathon, but you need room to move and to keep cool.
In fact, some options are so practical they even double up as swimwear. That might sound unimportant on a first date, but what could be more memorable and potentially romantic than a spontaneous dip in a lake?
Now with no awkward changing while hiding behind a rock!
Arguably, looking good for a hike gets tough when you get to ankle level. Wear a decent pair of hiking socks (running socks are fine), and either hiking boots or well-laced and tied running shoes.
I know you want to wear your best pair of sneakers, but firstly, you will encounter mud, water, or sand and have to either hide your annoyance or delicately step around all obstacles during the walk, and secondly, there is absolutely nothing cool about twisting your ankle and having to ask your date for a piggyback.
To avoid these scenarios, get a proper pair of hiking boots. But depending on how extreme your hike is, you can choose from waterproof and over-the-ankle to low-rise and breathable.
The final touches for a hike are shades and a hat. I know these aren’t the accessories you might usually dream of, but they complete the look, so stop grumbling.
Remember how unsexy sunburn is! And who doesn’t look good in a classic cap, anyway?
Sunglasses are also essential – not only to protect your eyes from the sun but also to hide the pain in them from your date when you’re on the final ascent of the hike you said you totally do all the time, but actually have only finished once, a year ago, when you were in much better shape than you are now.
‘Sporty’ shades are another item of clothing that can be less than attractive, so I like to go with something classic and timeless like a Wayfarer.
Most eyewear brands have options ranging from high-end designer pieces to ones that are more affordable yet still stylish and perfect for everyday wear.
What Should A Girl Wear On A Hiking Date?
A lot of the advice about layers, loose-fitting garments, and having enough stretch applies to everyone.
Traditionally, women tend to be expected to make more of an effort on a first date (I know, I’m sorry about the patriarchy! I’m trying to help where I can!) and a hiking date could be seen as leveling the playing field, or just making things really hard for women!
That being said, there’s a lot of great sportswear out there for women, so there’s definitely more room to show personality on a hike.
Most outdoorsy brands offer moisture-wicking tech-fabric essentials for women as well as men, as well as slim-fit, high-waist joggers that are really flattering for all figures.
Alternatively, gym/running tights are really great for hiking. Men look, frankly, pretty ridiculous in workout tights, but they’re pretty much a fashion item for women and can be put to practical and aesthetic use on a hiking date.
If you’re on a chilly walk, or things turn cold close to the peak of a mountain, then pack a lightweight, breathable hoodie. I recommend something cropped to graze the top of your joggers or workout tights, avoiding that baggy, swamped look that many sweaters offer.
A stylish hoodie also avoids that awkward moment where your date offers you his jacket even though his teeth are visibly chattering and you only said, ‘It’s getting a bit cold, isn’t it?’!
When it comes to sunglasses for women, you need high-quality polarized lenses at prices that won’t break the bank (or leave you weeping if you drop them in a fast-running stream or down a crevasse).
A tortoiseshell pair can add a patterned pop to otherwise potentially visually boring workout gear.
You’ll also need sturdy shoes of course. These can be hiking boots or your regular running sneakers, depending on the terrain.
What Should I Bring On A Hiking Date
Nothing shows up a novice hiker like bringing a full 20-gallon backpack on a five-mile hike. So, avoid over-packing! You’ll be pretty embarrassed about bringing the kitchen sink when you’re sweating bullets ten minutes in.
Of course, you do have to be prepared when you’re heading off on a hike though. Bring a full water bottle like a Nalgene or similar, or more than one depending on the weather or length of the hike.
On a date, bringing a little extra is a good idea just in case your hiking partner gets through theirs and needs you to come to the rescue (or you know, needs you to be nice and share).
Maybe bring a couple of snacks (like a few Clif Bars) if it’s a longish hike, and if you’re going to do the ‘spontaneous’ swim thing then you could pack a travel towel (sure, it blows the spontaneity lineup, but you can both dry off instead of shivering back to the car).
I don’t want to sound like your mom bringing the sun up again, but even if it doesn’t seem too bright out remember your sunscreen! As an Aussie, I have way too many favorite sunscreen brands to list, but choose something for sensitive skin so you can share it with your date.
If you have them, a second hat, sunglasses, or spare fleece layer can also work out great when your date has forgotten its own. A cute beanie could even make a great gift, if you’re upping your game.
Finally – make sure you charge your phone! Or for backup, grab a portable charger. It’s your lifeline in emergencies, but also how else are you going to document the hike for social media (and… your potential future grandkids???). Plus, exchanging hike pictures is the best way to make contact the day after your date!
To my mind, a hiking date is one of the best options for the early days of dating someone new, alongside other offbeat activities like an ice-skating date or an outdoor movie. You get an exercise endorphin buzz, and the joy of doing something new together, plus it’s basically free.
And if you enjoy yourselves there’s nothing to stop you from extending things and going for a well-earned meal or drink once you’re done. And if things go wrong? Well, as long as you’re safe, dressed for the hike, and have your water, phone, and (yes I’m mentioning it again) sunscreen with you a bit of adversity makes a great story and a great bonding experience.
I mean, is there a more iconic romantic scene than running through the rain to a shelter? There is not! So be brave, and lace up those hiking boots. Or those running sneakers with a good, strong tread.
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