Managing Hair on a Hike


Would you consider long hair or short hair to be easier to deal with on a hike? Short hair dries faster and gets in the way less, but you can always just tie long hair up. What’s your opinion?


Great question! Personally, I keep my hair just below shoulder length, and I tie it into two low pigtails. It keeps my hair out of the way, and it is nice and comfortable under my broad-rimmed hiking hat. Braiding your hair can also help keep it clean(er) and neat!

Hope that helps! What do other readers think?

Happy trails!
Hiking Lady

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  1. HippySchist says:

    I learned to French braid my own hair this past winter, well, more or less haha I have medium fine hair just past my shoulders. I’ll be trimming it a few inches before my next big hike (800 miles, Arizona Trail).
    Hoping to keep it in a one side French braid most of the time (a la Katniss Everdeen?) Or have it in a high pony tail but my hair gets damged by wind and sun nowadays, it’s been through a lot so the low side braid will protect it a little.
    I use to have short punky hair or pixie cuts but living outside for so long it was just less hassle to let it grow.
    For big trips like the AZT or a river trip there is usually some fun color in my hair, 2019 will be purples ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Hannah says:

    Long hair, especially long curly hair, can be more comfortable than short hair when hiking (or doing anything else outdoors) in winter. It’s a natural fur hat and pair of earmuffs!

  3. Mary says:

    Very short, punky , oh and purple and teal part line. And I agree with Linda, at an age when I’m just happy being out there

  4. Snotrocket says:

    When my hair is just above shoulder length I love my pigtails! But I’m growing it out now so it’s usually a very messy braid with a hat (I’m a fan of the hole for your ponytail too in hats)My hair is very curly and layered so it doesn’t stay contained long lol. Wish I could learn a french braid! (very uncoordinated when it comes to doing my own hair)

  5. Anna says:

    I have straight medium shoulder length which I do nothing different. The reason being is because I live in Arizona where it gets quite hot. My hair shades my long neck from the sun, thus cooling it.

  6. Linda says:

    Had short, spiky hair ever since I started hiking 10 years ago. A Godsend to wash quickly, pour or spray water on an overheated head on a hot trail and have it air dry as I walk and keep me cool at the same time. Yes, ‘hat hair’ is a problem when removing a brimmed hat or a fleece winter hat, but then I’m not out there for style. I’m 69 and just happy to still be “out there”. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Anya says:

    Hi Renee!
    I have the same type of hairs as I think and I have found my way to avoid the problems: I make one French braid from the very top and far down. For me it is not so heavy as a classical low braid and the head can ‘breeze’ throw the holes between strands. Moreover with the hair style it is very comfortable to use some hat and your hairs will be always protected from the sun.
    Good luck!

  8. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Renee,

    Great question. Have you tried low pigtails below your hat? That’s what I do and it works well for me. A single ponytail is too heavy for me…by the end of the day I have a headache if I do that!

    Happy trails!

  9. Renee says:

    Random follow-up question…I have long and very very thick, dark hair. Living in the south, hikes can become terribly warm and hot with just the sun. I’m looking for hair style ideas to help me from overheating from the weight of my hair. I’ve found that braids are my best bet with a scarf to help reflect the sun. pulling it up in a ponytail or bun traps the heat and becomes unbearable.

    Any style ideas are appreciated!


  10. campin_girl27 says:

    I’ve always had short hair because it’s super fine and tangles really easy. Since I’m always either wearing a sun hat or a Buff, it doesn’t matter. I just get up in the morning and turn my head upside down and scrub my scalp with my fingers to get rid of loose hair and because it feels good! On some trips I even wash it with a little Bronner’s and it dries super fast.

  11. I’ve climbed a lot of mountains with very short hair and a fleece hat shoved on my head and, to say the least, it’s not a very feminine look! And – when you finally take your hat off, you have a really bad case of “hat hair”! Now I’ve spent over a year growing out my hair and I love stuffing my ponytail through the back of my cap – it stays neat and doesn’t look scary when I take my hat off – and. as Megan mentioned, one can really go a lot longer without washing it. (Sahalie now offers a fleece hat and a fleece headband with a “ponytail port” – very cool! So, obviously, my vote is for long hair!

  12. ParaHiker says:

    I either put mine up in a low bun or ponytail. My hair is dyed red so I keep it completely covered with a hat or scarf to ensure no UV bleaching occurs. I use WEN so I only need to wash my hair once a week as it is–doesn’t matter if I’m hiking or not.

  13. Hiking Lady says:

    Kim: hahaa thanks for the feedback Kim! Keep us posted how it goes this summer… happy trails

    Megan: I like you’re thinking! It definitely seems to make sense… more hair = more room for the sweat (that is coming from our scalps) to spread out.

    Amber: French braids? That must look great! That takes a little too much effort for me, but I’m sure your hair looks better than mine out on the trail!

  14. Amber says:

    well honest I just do my two french braids I always do and a hat. I once tired to bring my very light no tangle comb but didn’t work to well. Maybe in different circumstance it would be possible to bring it not sure. Sometimes in the morning I just redo them depends on how crazy my hair looks! All in all it just depends

  15. My hair has been super short for several years, so it’s not been a problem at all. But now I’m trying to grow it out, so we’ll see what I end up doing this summer. If its a pain, the scissors will come back out! LOL!

  16. Megan says:

    I have very long hair (its almost to my elbows), and I find it easiest to just do a side braid. I haven’t had short hair in a long time, so I don’t necessarily know which is easier. But I do know that I haven’t had any problems with mine. I just comb it out every morning and rebraid it. For some reason, I can go almost a week while hiking before my hair gets greasy looking. My theory is that I have more hair for the oil to spread to, but I don’t know if that’s actually scientifically correct.

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