It's that time of year again—the scent of summer is in the air, and we're all itching to get outside! Now that Memorial Day is officially behind us, we can start dusting off our outdoor gear and hit the trails. As you begin to sort through your inventory, take some time to go beyond the standard equipment, and consider your outdoor clothing. It's essential to have the right layers to keep you warm, dry, and safe as you venture outside.
The Importance of Layers
When you're enjoying outdoor activities and sports, it's imperative to dress in layers. Unexpected turns in the weather prove that those extra layers that you can easily pull on and off can make or break your experience. To avoid being surprised by the elements, it's smart to think ahead by packing, for example, a back-up fleece or thermals. For your safety, outdoor gear goes beyond tents and trekking poles.
Aside from making your experience a lot more comfortable, layers keep you safe. For example, when hiking or camping at higher altitudes, the temperature can fluctuate dramatically. Moisture-wicking and insulating fabrics can protect you from temperature changes as you hike or while camping. Frostbite and hypothermia, even in the summer months, are not uncommon, especially when exploring at higher altitudes or during seasonal storms. Likewise, heatstroke and dehydration can ail outdoorsmen when not wearing proper, breathable layers. Think about these pieces as an essential component of your outdoor gear.
Layering for Summer Hiking
A lot of outdoor activities start in the early morning hours and last throughout the day. This reason alone is enough to convince you to wear layers. Temperatures in the morning can remain cold until mid-morning, or when the sun rises to a certain point. The forest may help protect you at first, but then you hit treeline and battle exposure for the rest of the afternoon. Changes in environment, terrain, and temperature can require changes in clothing.
For summer hiking, it's essential to consider the weather before leaving the house. Use a lightweight pack that can hold layers that you don't need as things change. Wear a wool base layer to protect your skin from moisture, followed by an insulating fabric like wool flannel or fleece to keep you warm. Choose compressible materials so they can fit into your pack without taking up much space. As a final layer, opt for something breathable to protect you from the wind or rain without overheating.
Summer camping is a bit different than hiking. You need more outdoor gear and clothing, as you'll be moving around during the day and sleeping at night. However, the same layering rules apply. The temperature will fluctuate as the day goes on, so it's crucial to stay warm in the morning and cool in the afternoon heat. Moisture-wicking fabrics for sleeping and daytime activities are critical, as are breathable, water-resistant layers while doing other activities, such as hiking, running, or fishing.