A popular topic in the outdoors is clothing options for backpacking, hiking, and camping. It’s a huge subject because there are a lot of different ways to approach it.
In reality, your clothing choices aren’t that important as long as you have enough to cover your needs. More important are some of the other gear choices you make, like choosing a hiking boot or backpack.
Wearing clothing while outdoors isn’t just about comfort, it’s about safety and preparedness as well. And that’s what this article is all about.
Here are some of my opinions on clothing, based on years of experience in the outdoors. I’m by no means an expert, just someone who loves being outside and wants to share his experiences with others so they can get out there too.
When it comes to clothing, the first layer you put on should be your base layer. Your base layer is the workhorse of your outfit as it gets worn against your skin and regulates temperature throughout the day.
What Will You Be Wearing?
When choosing a base layer for backpacking, hiking, or camping, you have to take into consideration what kind of activities you’ll be engaged in during your trip. If it’s only light walking, like day hiking or trail walking, you can get away with a lightweight base layer made of merino wool or polypropylene (synthetic).
But for any type of strenuous activity, you’ll want to use a base layer made of wool. Wool is great because it’s warmer than polypropylene for cold weather, but not as heavy as cotton, which can be deadly when wet.
Don’t Wear Cotton
You shouldn’t wear cotton anyway just because it gets soaked easily and takes forever to dry. But the bigger reason to avoid it is that even when dry, cotton remains cold. It doesn’t insulate well, which makes it dangerous if you get wet and then start hiking or moving around.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the outdoors (and life), wearing cotton is like playing Russian roulette with your clothes on. There’s just no reason to do it, and I avoid cotton at all costs, even in my normal life.
What To Wear?
You should opt to wear something made out of wool while backpacking.
The nice thing about wool is that it’s a great insulator even when wet. So you can wear a wool base layer under your waterproof shell and be fine, so long as you keep hiking or moving.
If it’s going to be really cold out, swaddling yourself in multiple layers of wool isn’t a bad idea. It’s a great insulator and as long as you keep moving, it’ll keep you warm.
The downside of wool is that it doesn’t breathe well, which means your sweat can’t escape from inside the garment. This could cause you to become uncomfortable in warmer weather because the layers next to your skin will get damp and stay damp.
There are a few different types of wool, and which you choose depends on your activity and what kind of warmth you need. For instance, if you’re going to be hiking in the snow, steer clear of using 100% merino wool clothing because it’s not as warm as something that’s blended with a synthetic fiber.
But for traditional outdoor activities like hiking, backpacking, and camping, you’ll be fine wearing 100% merino wool base layers. It’s a really versatile fabric, and it’s my first choice for backpacking.
Switching from polypropylene to merino wool base layers has been a game-changer.
I hope that this article was informative and helped you to understand the different options in your base layer. The right base layer can be the difference between being comfortable or not, which is why it’s important to make sure you make the right choice.