Helping You Find the Right Gear for Your Adventure
What you wear hiking and camping in the woods is vital to your comfort and utility. You want a combination of clothes on your body and in your pack that will leave you prepared for all weather and terrain, without sacrificing the mobility you desire. Especially at the bookends of the season, when temperature shifts will be the most dramatic between night and day, it is always important to dress in layers. This will allow you to be comfortable in a variety of conditions by adapting as needed—just peel off or add on a layer. The conditions you will be facing will also greatly impact the footwear you choose to put on. Check out the sections below to help you decide what you need.
Different conditions will call for different types of hiking shirts. Heat and sun will play a large factor, as you want to keep yourself as cool as possible without overexposing yourself to the sun’s rays. Best to go with a moisture wicking and UV protective fabric that will help move sweat and heat away from your skin as you exert yourself on the trail.
Pants and Shorts
Much like shirts, the choice to go with either shorts or pants will depend largely on how hot it is and your sensitivity to the sun. Furthermore, if you plan on conquering more challenging terrain, it might be smarter to go with pants to avoid exposing your skin to rocks, branches, brambles and other natural elements. Convertible pants offer the ventilation of shorts and the protection of pants without requiring another garment. While you may be tempted to choose canvas pants for their durability, just remember that when cotton garments get wet they get quite heavy and take a long time to dry. Most backpackers choose synthetic pants over canvas ones today.
The layer closest to your skin is arguably the most important, as it is what will work the most to keep you dry and insulated. There are a variety of high quality performance sock fabrics that accomplish this goal, and allow you to adapt to different temperature and moisture conditions. Overall, these fabrics will help move perspiration away from your skin, keeping you more comfortable. Hiking in wet socks that do not dry quickly can lead quickly to discomfort.
Your whole kit rides on your feet. Skimp on shoes or boots for a long trip, and your fate may be sealed before you even hit the trailhead. For day hike excursions from a base camp, low trail shoes are ideal. If you will be out on a light overnight carrying minimal gear, the same shoes may be perfect. For more miles further into the backcountry, boots provide support and protection from scrapes on your ankles. Multi-day trips carrying lots of supplies demand backpacking boots to support your body’s ability to shoulder the weight of a full pack. Hot weather may dictate ventilated models, while wet travel may require waterproof shoes. Just remember to protect your feet by taking care of hot spots before they become blisters, and wash, stretch and drying them every night.