The 7 Best Hairstyles for Hiking (Easy)

What are the best hairstyles for hiking?  French braids, a high ponytail with a fishtail braid, and a braided bun are some of the best hairstyles that will keep your hair out of your face on the trail.

As someone who hikes hundreds of miles each year (it’s one of the best free things to do in Spokane, our current hometown), I can definitely say that finding the right way to keep your hair out of the way is a big game-changer on your outdoor adventures. 

Each of these hairstyles works well with medium hair, long hair, and some even work with short hair (if it’s long enough to pull up out of your face).  And, they all work great with straight or curly hair, whatever your natural hair type.  They’re all simple enough that, with a little practice, you’ll be able to quickly do them on your own hair. 

This guide will go through the pros and cons of these easy hairstyles. We’ll also talk about ways to protect your hair from the sun and some of our favorite hair accessories for the outdoors.   

Braided Hairstyles for Hiking

Our favorite braided hairstyles for hiking include double French braids and a side braid with a claw clip. 

1. Double French Braids

The double French braid is one of the best hiking hairstyles for a long hike or multi-day trip where you’ll be sweating a lot or won’t have the chance to wash your hair, like our recent 4-day Lost City trek in Colombia.    

Splitting your hair into two smaller sections lets you braid more tightly compared to a single French braid, and I’ve never had problems with my French braids coming undone. 

And, double braids are easy to pair with a hat, beanie, or bandana. 

Pros of double French braids for hiking: the more tightly braided hair stays clean for longer and rarely comes undone.  Easy to pair with hats or headbands.

Cons of double French braids for hiking: Can take a long time and are a little trickier to do yourself.  

side view of double french braids
Double French braids are great for multi-day hikes

2. Single French Braid

This simple braid is another outdoor classic.  This braid, compared to the double braids, is a little simpler to do on yourself if you don’t have a ton of braiding experience.  

Because all your hair is in a single braid, the braid tends to be a little looser, so it may not hold up as well for multiple days.  Also, this hairstyle might be uncomfortable if you’re sleeping in your braids and are a back sleeper. 

For really hot weather, this braid can feel a little uncomfortable as it sits right on the back of your neck.  However, I’ve found that using a bandana underneath the braid is an easy way to fix this. 

Pros of the single french braid: Easier to do than a double braid, lots of braid variations, keeps hair pulled back.

Cons of the single French braid for hiking: can feel hot against the nape of your neck, looser braid, can be more uncomfortable for sleeping. 

a single French braid, one of the best hairstyles for hiking
A single French braid is another good option and is a little easier to do

3. Full Crown Braid

This cute hairstyle is very similar to the regular French braid, except that instead of starting at the top of your head and braiding down, this one starts more on the front of your head and wraps around and to the side.

Like the double French braids, this braid is a little trickier to do on yourself. One thing I like about it is that, compared to a regular French braid, it tends to be a little tighter and stay in place better. 

And, because the braid ends on the side, it doesn’t sit on the base of your neck during your hike. 

Pros of the full crown braid for hiking: Tighter braid, the braid wraps around the head, comes to the side, and does not sit on the nape of the neck. 

Cons of the full crown braid for hiking: This is a more difficult braid for those with little braiding experience and may be uncomfortable for sleeping. 

4. Claw Clip With A Side Braid

Claw clips can be a great way to pull up your hair quickly and without a lot of effort.  However, these clips tend to work better for hair that isn’t really long or thick.  

For the side braid, simply braid a small portion of your hair running along the side of your head towards the ponytail.  Then, twist the ponytail up into the claw clip. The small side braid helps keep any layers in place and just looks cute.  

This hairstyle is better suited for a shorter day hike or a hiking date, where you want to look good and aren’t as concerned about your hair staying in place or staying clean for multiple days. Esther wore her hair like this for most of our 14 days in Costa Rica, and it was an easy way to keep it out of the way.    

Pros of a claw clip ponytail for hiking: Looks great, super easy to do, easy to adjust on the trail.

Cons of a claw clip ponytail for hiking: Looser, doesn’t hold up as well.

claw clip hairstyle on a tourist
Esther wore her hair in a claw clip for most of our 14-day Costa Rica trip

Ponytail Hairstyles for Hiking

Our favorite ponytail hairstyles for hiking are a ponytail with a braid or fishtail braid and a simple ponytail with a headband.  

5. Ponytail with Braid

Compared to French braiding, a simple braided ponytail is much easier to pull off and holds up just as well.  Just pull your hair up into a high ponytail, and then three-strand braid the ponytail part.  It’s as easy as that!  For those with shorter hair, simply do the same but with a low ponytail.

Instead of a regular braid, feel free to get creative with a fishtail braid or other variations. 

This simple style works great with headbands, bandanas, and baseball hats.  It doesn’t work as great with beanies unless you buy a beanie with a ponytail hole (yes, these do exist!)

Pros of a braided ponytail for hiking: Super easy to do, stays in place well, easy to wear with hats and headbands. 

Cons of a braided ponytail for hiking: Hard to sleep with, doesn’t work well with a beanie or hiking hats without a ponytail hole. 

braided ponytail hairstyle
This hairstyle is incredibly easy and the one I most frequently use

6. Pigtails with Elastics

Pigtails are another great hiking hairstyle, especially for shorter hair that doesn’t fit into a ponytail or French braid.  

I really love this variation, which uses elastics to portion off sections of hair along each side. You could also substitute this with a small braided section of hair.

side view of pigtails with small elastics

Pros of pigtails for hiking: better for shorter hair that won’t stay in a French braid or ponytail.

Cons of pigtails for hiking: doesn’t keep hair up and out of the way, especially for those with long hair. 

Updo/Bun Hiking Hairstyles

7. Messy Bun

Messy buns are great for those who don’t like a ponytail swinging around and really like to have their hair up and out of their face.  

For a messy bun, simply pull your hair up into a ponytail and secure it with an elastic.  Then, twist the ponytail a few times, wrap it around itself into a ball, and secure it with another elastic.  I like to further secure any loose strands of hair with bobby pins. 

This hairstyle works especially well for those with thinner hair, as it’s easier to make a tight bun that will stay in place.

Pros of a messy bun for hiking: easy to do, no braiding required

Cons of a messy bun for hiking: hard to sleep with, can come undone, especially for those with thicker hair. 

messy bun hairstyle as seen from the back
A messy bun is a great way to keep your hair off your neck while hiking

8. Braided Bun

This is a simple variation on the messy bun, and I love it for hiking because the bun portion tends to stay in place better.

Simply braid your ponytail before twisting and securing it into a bun.  

Pros of a braided bun for hiking: the braided bun helps keep loose hairs secured

Cons of a braided bun for hiking: takes a bit more time than a regular bun, hard to sleep with

braided bun with a headband as seen from the back
A braided bun is another updo variation to keep your hair out of the way on the trails

Tips for Styling Your Hair For Hiking

  • Comb it out first: Getting rid of the tangles before trying to braid your hair makes things so much easier.
  • Keep it out of your face: In general, pulling your hair back and out of your face is a better idea when you’re on the trail.  This will keep you more cool and comfortable. 
  • Use hats to protect your hair from the sun: UV light can damage hair, and a hat, handkerchief, or headband is a great way to keep it protected from the sun’s rays. 
  • Always bring an extra headband and a few bobby pins: Along with my favorite hiking gadgets, I always carry a few of these extra hair accessories in my bag.  
A close-up photo of a headband with a baseball cap in the background
I always bring an extra headband with me. These are great for keeping loose hairs out of the way.

Best Hiking Hair Products

These hair products are perfect for long trips or multi-day hikes.  

  • Dry Shampoo: a travel-sized bottle of dry shampoo is a great way to keep your hair looking fresh on multi-day treks
  • Hair ties: Metal-free hair ties are the best option here. They are so versatile, and I always bring a few extra with me. 
  • Headband: A cheap cloth headband is a great way to keep fly-away baby hairs out of your face and protect your hair from the sun. 
  • Bobby Pins: I really like the super grip bobby pins from Beauty Rageous.  They’re so small and lightweight that I always bring a few extras with me. 
  • Travel-sized Hair spray: If I’m not trying to cut down on pack weight, I’ll bring a travel-sized mini can of hair spray.  This, apart from using a headband, is the best way to prevent fly-away hairs from tickling my face.
  • Small Rubber Bands: these tiny bands are perfect for hairstyles with smaller sections.
  • Large Claw Clip: this is a fast way to pull up your ponytail and get your hair completely off your neck. 
  • Beanie: beanies are great for keeping your hair in place during cold-weather hikes, one of my favorite things to do in Spokane in the winter 
travel-sized can of hairspray sitting on a table
I like taking a travel-sized hairspray with me if I’m not concerned about pack weight
a pile of small black rubber bands
These tiny rubber bands are useful for dividing hair into sections or small braids.

Best Hairstyles for Hiking FAQ

How Do You Hike With Long Hair?

The best way to hike with long hair is to pull it up into a high ponytail, messy bun, or French braid.  All three of these beautiful hairstyles will keep it out of your face during your outdoor adventure.  In addition, bringing along a headband or handkerchief to keep loose strands out of your face is always a good idea. 

How Do I Protect My Hair While Hiking?

Hats, headbands, and handkerchiefs are all excellent ways to protect your hair from the sun while hiking.  In addition to blocking the sun’s harmful UV rays, wearing a hat or headband will help keep loose strands of hair out of your face.  Hiking hats are especially beneficial as they also help take the strain from the sun’s light off your eyes.