What Not To Wear Camping (Don’t Make These Mistakes!)

Some clothing items are universally essential for camping such as those that provide you with protection from the sun, and clothing made of moisture-wicking material. On the other hand, you have some things that you just shouldn’t or don’t need to wear when you are camping.

So, what should you not wear while camping? You should not wear clothing that is not suitable for the environment that you are camping in. All clothing items you take and wear while camping should serve a specific purpose.

Today I will be providing you with a list of clothing items that I have seen other people wear while camping that I believe did not serve a good purpose. Some of your decision about what not to wear camping should include functionality, and civility.

By the way, If you are in the market for some new hiking shoes, then you should click hereOpens in a new tab. to see the ones I recommend on Amazon.

Socks With Sandals

Besides being kinda funny looking, wearing socks with sandals straight up doesn’t make any sense. The two items serve opposite purposes and therefore work against each other. Sandals are meant to be open and allow your feet to breathe and cool down. Socks are intended to do the opposite. Socks are meant to contain your feet’s heat and not let them breathe.

So combining the two just doesn’t make any sense. It makes even less sense when you are camping since you are guaranteed to kick up dirt while walking around and get the socks extremely dirty. Sandals just fine to be used while camping if you are lounging around and want to let your feet breathe. Sandals are not too great for getting around the terrain of your campground.

Your best option for wearing sandals while camping is to just wear them when you are sitting down and then switch to socks and closed-toed shoes when you get up to walk around. That way you can keep your feet and your socks from coming into contact with excessive dirt and you can allow your feet to breathe occasionally.

Offensive Attire

What is deemed offensive attire is something that is constantly being blurred in today’s time So it would be a bit unfair for me to define what is considered offensive attire. At the same time, I also believe that you can’t just live your life hoping not to offend anyone because there is always someone out there that will be offended by just about anything.

Beyond that, there are some basic common sense things that most of us would find offensive or lewd. This is especially important if you are camping in a campground because everyone is welcome there and in order to be a functional society, we must have some kind of respect for each other.

It is best to avoid clothing depicting violence, profanity, nudity, sexual innuendo, drugs, etc. This should be common sense. Especially since when you are camping there is bound to be children camping as well.

Birthday Suit

Unless you are camping in a nudist colony, no one needs to be exposed to your birthday suit. Not only does not wearing any clothing leave you vulnerable to the elements but it is also obscene to others. Never do this in a public campground or even a private one where you are not completely alone.

I understand that there is something about being outside in the great outdoors that makes you want to feel free, but unless you go dispersed camping where you are all alone, keep some clothes on. Oh, by the way, if you want to know more about what dispersed camping is, I wrote a full article on it that you can read here.

Flip Flops

Flip flops, thongs, plakkies, zories, shower shoes, whatever you want to call them, are not very appropriate for camping. They are an inferior form of sandals for camping situations. You could use them for just lounging around, but beyond that, they are very unreliable for camping. They always break, the rubber material can easily be pierced, and they are always misplaced somehow.

I would advise you to just not bring them camping with you at all since there really isn’t any situation where they could be useful to you when you are camping. If you want to wear sandals it would be best to wear “dad sandals”. You know those ones that strap around your foot and actually stay on your feet.


Denim is generally a poor clothing material to choose while camping. It’s heavy, it holds onto moisture, and doesn’t wick any of your sweat. Most of the downsides are associated with the way it reacts to water. Rain, sweating, and getting wet is always a concern when you are camping.

First off denim such as jeans will soak up sweat, rain, water from a puddle, anything and hold onto it. So not only is denim already a heavy cotton fabric, but it can become significantly heavier because it will hold onto moisture. Then the fabric will not dry for a very long time, depending on how wet it is.

If you have ever washed and dried your jeans with other clothes then you have probably discovered that the jeans were the last thing to properly dry. The same holds outside of the home. It’s best to avoid bringing denim if you are going to be doing any strenuous activity or there is a risk of getting wet. Beyond that, they are only good for lounging around a campfire, but there is certainly more comfortable clothing for that.

Excessive Jewelry

In my opinion, I would not wear any jewelry when you go camping, but small things like earrings and jewelry are generally not a problem. The thing is, when you are outdoors it is really easy to lose things, especially small things. You don’t want to lose any of your jewelry in the outdoors because it may never be found.

Lost jewelry could end up looking like something to eat for an unsuspecting critter, especially if it’s shiny. Or it could be a lucky token for another camper that discovers it. When jewelry falls into the dirt it can easily get covered up and lost. I would even go as far as to recommend that you keep your wedding and engagement rings at home.

Expensive Clothing

I first have to admit that camping specific clothing can get pretty expensive on its own. However, that is not the kind of expensive clothing that I am referring to. I mean expensive name brand fashionable clothing. It’s generally a bad idea to bring expensive fashion clothing camping because it can easily get messed up, dirty, or torn in the great outdoors.

There are probably not going to be any fashion shows when you are camping so you can leave the designer label clothing at home unless you want it to get messed up. Dress for function, not fashion when you go camping.

White Clothing

White clothing and really light colors and general are poor choices for camping. That’s because unless you are extremely careful, you are going to get dirty. We all know too well that once while clothing gets stained or dirty it is extremely difficult to clean. Avoid the headache and try to choose darker colors to bring camping with you.

Vinyl Clothing

Vinyl clothing is also known as PVC (polyvinyl clothing) clothing. It is a shiny plastic-coated fabric that you don’t really see every day unless you are in the fashion or entertainment industry. Still, it is probably common sense if you know what kind of clothing this is that it should not be worn camping.

Excessively Tight Clothing

Comfort and function should be at the forefront of your mind when you are choosing what to wear on a camping trip. If your clothing is too tight then both of those things are going to be significantly negatively impacted. So choose clothing that is of appropriate size for you.

Excessively Loose Clothing

Just as excessively tight clothing hinders comfort and function, so does excessively loose clothing. Beyond sleeping, there is no good use for really loose clothing when you are camping.

Strong Scented Items

Anything that you wear with a strong scent such as cologne, perfume, lotion, deodorant, etc. could end up being an unintentional invite for critters to seek you out. From insects to squirrels to even bears. Avoid wearing strongly scented items that could be mistaken for food items by wild animals.

In fact, you want to be extra cautious when you are camping in bear country because they will eat anything that even closely resembles food. It doesn’t mean you should abandon your personal hygiene, but maybe think twice about rubbing your entire body with cocoa butter before bed. 


Cotton is usually regarded as a poor clothing item for camping because it is not breathable and is not a moisture-wicking fabric. You will be fine wearing camping if you are just hanging out around your campsite but if you will be engaged in physically strenuous activities like hiking then there are much better fabric choices for this out there.

Other Clothing Not Appropriate For The Weather/Location

Anything else that I did not cover above can be accounted for here. Not every camping situation or camping trip is the same. The kind of clothing and accessories that you should or shouldn’t bring are going to be highly dependent on several factors including weather, location, and season.

It is up to you to make the best decision for your camping trip. Exercise some common sense and do your research before your trip so that you can ensure that you are prepared the best that you can be for your upcoming camping trip. Check the weather and know the terrain of your camping spot before you go.

Oh, and if you need some guidance for what to pack for a camping trip then I highly recommend that you read this article that I wrote with a complete camping checklist of what to bring camping with you. There is even a free PDF checklist for you to download. Happy camping!

Related Questions:

What do you wear for summer camping?

The most important thing to wear for summer camping is clothing that can protect your skin from the sun while also allowing your skin to breathe and ventilate. Long sleeve shirts, pants, hats, and sunglasses are generally a good combination for summer camping.

What shoes do you wear camping?

The best kind of shoes to wear camping is closed-toed shoes with venting properties. Boots, trail runners, and running shoes are generally a good choice to take camping with you. Bring more than one pair of shoes to ensure that you are prepared for multiple camping situations.

My Favorite Camping Gear

  • Air Mattress: click hereOpens in a new tab. to check out my favorite on Amazon.
  • Tent: click here Opens in a new tab.to see my favorite tent available on Amazon.
  • Sleeping Pad: click hereOpens in a new tab. to check out the one I love on Amazon.
  • Sleeping Bag: click here Opens in a new tab.to see the one I recommend on Amazon.
  • Camping Stove: click hereOpens in a new tab. to see the best camping stove on Amazon.

Zachary Smith

Zach is an avid outdoorsman that loves going camping with his Prius every chance he gets. He also regularly enjoys hiking and fishing. When he's not outside you can probably find him writing about it on this website. See his full bio here

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