For those who are new to hiking and mountaineering, it is very easy to overlook the two simple facts of hiking clothing to keep them warm.
Firstly, clothing that you use for hiking is designed to keep the cold out but retain the heat from the main source of heat, which is yourself.
Secondly, you have to realize that wearing hiking clothing for warmth means that you are not trying to be warm as possible. This clothing is only for you to reach a thermal balance, which is a state wherein your body’s production of heat comes close to the heat that you lose.
Functionality and Versatility of Hiking Clothing
Your hiking clothing should be versatile so that you can easily achieve the heat balance that your body needs in accordance with the ever changing weather conditions.
You should be able to make adjustments by taking off some layers when it gets too hot or be able to wear more when it’s cold.
In many cases, doing this can be inconvenient and impractical so it is essential that your clothing can handle the different weather situations that you go through. Not to mention the fact that being on the move or keeping still can also affect the temperature.
Hiking clothing should not be absorbent of the moisture so that it will not be damp when you sweat heavily. This will not be able to keep you warm because it will no longer hold dry air to insulate your body.
Meanwhile, the body will continuously draw heat from your body to turn sweat into vapor. This causes an after-exercise chill which can last up to 2 hours when one is wearing absorptive material while non-absorptive materials only causes negligible chill.
Three Layers of Hiking Clothing
To avoid chill and ensure comfort outdoors, the three-layer hiking clothing system became famous as each layer has a unique function to help you cope with the changing conditions.
1. The first layer of hiking clothing is all about moisture management, or the next-to-skin layer. This layer keeps cool in the summer and warms you in the winter by keeping you dry
These are usually made from polypropylene or other synthetic fabrics. These are fabrics which wicks away the moisture quickly to the outer surface for it to evaporate.
2. The second layer is known as the insulating layer and traps air to insulate and keep you warm. This is usually made from natural fibers or fleece which are reliable in keeping you warm.
Natural fibers however are more efficient in warmth-weight ratio but they have to be kept dry so that it will retain its warmth. Fleece dries faster and has a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than wool. This fabric is a favorite among backpackers because they’re breathable, lightweight and can insulate even when wet.
3. The third layer should act as a windbreaker and a rain jacket at the same time. These are usually made from Gore-Tex material for breathability. This third layer of hiking clothing should be properly ventilated for avoiding condensing perspiration inside your shell.