The key to a successful road trip wardrobe is comfort and versatility — you want to be ready for hiking in the morning and dining out in the evening. Well, fall is here, and Matador Network is ready to keep you cozy and kitted out with road trip essentials during your leaf peeping adventures. Instagram can make road trips look glamorous, but it’s no secret that traveling for hours may not be all it’s cracked up to be. That’s why grabbing the road trip essentials is just that, essential! Whether you don flannels or fleece, this fall road trip gear guide contains Matador Network’s recommendations for what to wear when on the road during golden season.
We hope you love the road trip essentials we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.
Patagonia R1 Fleece Pullover
Midlayers are perfect for fall, and we’ve fallen for the Patagonia R1 Pullover. Road trips go hand-in-hand with exploring, and that can lead to varying degrees of body temperature. We support a proper layering system for this very reason, and the R1 is the ideal fall weather adventure companion. Lightweight but warm, this versatile, sweat-wicking layer is built from Polartec Power Grid fabric with HeiQ Fresh durable odor control. This makes the R1 the answer to keeping you comfortable while adventuring on the road because after a day of exploring, you’ll still smell fresh when dinner comes around.
Cotopaxi Abrazo Hooded Full-Zip Fleece Jacket
We emphasized creating a versatile layering system, and if you’re heading to chillier weather on your fall road trip, you want to layer up with the Cotopaxi Abrazo Hooded Full-Zip Fleece Jacket. A full-zip ensures you can properly ventilate when on the move, and elastic bindings allow you to create the perfect fit at the collar, cuffs, and hood. Not only is it beautifully crafted, but it is made from 100% recycled fabric.
Fjällräven Kanken Hip Pack
Style isn’t the only reason we’re including the Fjällräven Kanken Hip Pack. Keeping track of sunglasses, keys, money, and your phone is a lot harder than it sounds (shout out to the black hole between your seat and center console). While keeping your items organized with a main compartment, inside sleeve, key clip, and two exterior zipper pockets, it doesn’t matter if you wear the Kanken around your hips or torso — it’s sure to keep everything in one place and allow for easy access to the essentials.
Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts
We know some road trippers are out there to hike and run through golden aspen groves— that’s why we’ve included the Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts on this list. While boasting durable, water-repellent fabric, these shorts are also ultra-lightweight and come with a center-back zipper pocket (talk about versatile). Not only that, but the Nine Trails are Fair Trade Certified, meaning that they were made in a facility that promotes safe working conditions and sustainable livelihoods. Talk about win-win.
It’s best to have versatile layers when hitting the road in fall, and the Indyeva NAOKO Thermal Hoodie is just that. Perfect for layering over a flannel or under a puffy, the Indyeva NAOKO is a full-zip hoodie made from fast drying Thermal Pro Polartec (if you’re new to adventures, quick drying layers are a must to ward of the chilly breezes and smell that sweat can bring). Whether you’re throwing it over a pair of hiking leggings or designer jeans, the NAOKO provides both form and function— a sleek fixed hood and fabric make the NAOKO city chic and trail ready.
Orvis Classic Tipped Wool Sweater
Ever heard of sweater weather? That’s why the Classic Tipped Wool Sweater from Orvis was born— this sweater is made from recycled plastics and oyster shells derived from the food industry. It sports some of our favorite road trip features— while it is moisture wicking to reduce sweat and odor, the Classic Tipped looks like it could be found in the ocean front restaurants of Cape Cod and feels like something you want to snuggle up in for a long drive. Pro-tip: our testers have noted that the Classic Tipped Wool Sweater from Orvis can be pulled comfortably around hands to keep you warm and prevent bunching under layers. We repeat, this sweater does not ride up!
Price: $89.00 — $149.00
Fjällräven Canada Shirt
Fall is synonymous with flannels, but not all flannels are created equal. If you’re looking for a thick flannel that offers flexibility, then look no further. The Fjällräven Canada Shirt features a wool blend to provide warmth and durability while offering that soft, cozy material we all crave in fall. Whether you see it as a heavy shirt or a light jacket, the Fjällräven Canada Shirt is perfect for hiking through crisp autumn air in the mountains or dining on salmon in a seaside town.
Houdini Wadi Pants
Leggings aren’t the answer for everyone, and that’s why we have to share some of our favorite outdoor adventure pants. Though the Houdini Wadi Pants are marketed as a lightweight pant for warmer weather, our gear testers have noted they loved these for fall weather road trips. Stitched from a fabric named “Liquid Rock,” the Wadi is extremely durable while having a soft, dry touch on the skin. Even more, their relaxed fit and quick-drying nature provides the versatility we look for when scouring brands for the best road trip clothing. The Houdini Wadi Pants are a hidden gem — and we’re here to make sure you know about them.
Cotopaxi Fuego Down Vest
If there’s one thing we know, it’s that fall weather can be unpredictable. That’s why we recommend having the Cotopaxi Fuego Vest in your trunk of road trip essentials. This water repellant down hoodie is perfect for keeping your core warm when the weather changes. It’s slim enough to layer under a raincoat but is also designed to fit comfortably over a flannel, all while providing your arms more freedom of movement. With a water-resistant stuff sack, this 800-fill-power goose down vest feels good on the trails and looks good around town. New fall-themed colors are now available too, which truly makes it a perfect fall road trip layer.
Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Sock
Road trips are filled with unexpected adventures — small town coffee shops, hikes through sweet-smelling pines, and cozying up in the passenger seat while wild landscapes pass by. That’s why you need a sock that is versatile, comfortable, and ready for anything. The Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew socks are perfect for any road trip because they are crafted from merino wool, a fabric known to wick away moisture while regulating temperature. In other words, these socks will minimize the chances of stinky feet while slipping your toes into both sandals and hiking boots.
COSTA Pescador Polarized Sunglasses
A good pair of sunglasses are crucial for keeping your eyes happy and healthy and are a no-brainer when thinking of road trip essentials. And why not choose a pair that do good for the environment, too? The COSTA Pescador Polarized Sunglasses look good on trails or in town, and they are made from 100% recycled fishing nets. They’re also equipped with polarized lenses to decrease eye strain, mineral glass scratch resistant lenses, and PLUSfoam recyclable nose and temple pads to keep your face cushioned. Not only that, but COSTA lets you add prescription lenses to your frames. A win for you and a win for the ocean.
Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Gloves
Too often to do we see fall hikers and city adventurers with hands crammed in pockets thanks to unexpected cold. Our fingers are often one of our first body parts to get chilly— but for some reason, they’re the last thing we remember to cover. We would be remiss not to include a lightweight glove, and the Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Gloves fit the bill. Breathable Alpin-wool offers warmth and dries quickly while touch-screen compatible fingertips enhance finger dexterity. Do your hands a favor and get these, they will thank you.
Rumpl NanoLoft Puffy Travel Blanket- Pyro Tri-Fade
Whether you’re cozying up in the car for hours of driving, sitting in Acadia National Park at sunset, or munching a sandwich looking out over Yosemite Valley, comfort is key. The Rumpl NanoLoft Puffy Travel Blanket is water-resistant and durable. The NanoLofts stuff sack means it won’t take up much room in your backpack or backseat, and it can be washed easily so you can keep taking it on adventures. This blanket is sure to keep you bundled in the fall weather while making your road trip just a little bit more snuggled. You can’t skip this on your list of road trip essentials and it also makes an excellent gift for the adventurer in your life.
BUFF CoolNet UV+ Multifunctional Headware
BUFF Neckwear is one of the most versatile accessories on the market — they can be worn in any season and in a variety of ways. The CoolNet UV+ BUFF offers UPF 50 sun protection, and enables you to quickly add or take away warmth. Not only is the CoolNet lightweight, but it’s easily packable and comes in colors ranging from solid to colorful patterns. Perfect for fall weather due to their quick-drying capabilities, we recommend always having a BUFF in your vehicle — not just during road trips.