Hiking Apparel

By Curt Weinhold

Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall all challenge the outdoorsman with a variety of weather. Therefore, a hiker needs to consider a variety of apparel to dress for maximum comfort and safety.

Although the temperate climate in the area where the STS is located does not have the extremes of weather known in some parts of the world, sub-zero winter nights are not unknown, nor are uncomfortably hot midsummer days. But now and then a winter day is as warm as 50 degrees, and occasionally a summer day may not be much warmer than that—sometimes with a cool drizzle.

Cotton clothing such as the favored blue jeans and cotton T-shirt are comfortable, and are fine outdoors until rain falls or morning dew wets the fibers. Cotton absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry. Wet clothes are poor insulators. The discomfort of wet clothing is unpleasant enough, but could endanger your life by fostering hypothermia when the temperature is only moderately cold.

Synthetic fibers and wool are much better when wet. There is an old saying about wool: "Even when it's wet and cold, it's always warm and dry." Wool's springiness retains warmth, and synthetic fibers such as nylon and fleece will not absorb water. A wool-synthetic blend will dry rapidly.

For serious hiking in inclement weather it is recommend one wear nylon pants. A polypropylene T-shirt or long sleeved shirt under fleece, plus a windshell and lightweight water resistant parka prepares a hiker for most weather. A good sock choice is a wool-synthetic blend because pure wool socks soon wear through. If wool against your skin makes you itch, simply wear a synthetic garment under the wool garment.

There is much more; with a bit of research one will fill in the blanks.

Visit the following websites for further information:

  1. Backpacking Lightweight
  2. REI
  3. L.L. Bean
  4. Northern Mountain
  5. Moosejaw