There is nothing quite like getting outdoors and enjoying the fresh air, beautiful landscapes and changing weather – especially in the summer months. If you really want to enjoy the countryside and get involved with some outdoor activities, like hillwalking, mountain biking and long distance trekking, it’s advisable to get some good quality outdoor clothing, that will protect you from the elements and allow you to keep going all day.
The two most important pieces of outdoor clothing you will need are a good pair of walking boots and a waterproof jacket. But how should you know what’s important to look for? Well, that’s where we come in.
Best Outdoor Clothing – What are the essentials?
Firstly, you need to think about applying a layering system to your outdoor wardrobe. This is widely accepted as the best way to monitor, manage and control your body temperature to provide the optimum working conditions in which you can be most comfortable, and help extract the most from your energy reserves. Some key concepts to consider are;
- Design and Features
So why are these important? When you are venturing outdoors, it is best to create a layer system with your clothing, as you can add and remove items depending on how hard you are working. An ideal layer system would include a base layer, a mid layer and an outer layer. Let’s look each of these in more detail.
A Base Layer is the first contact point between your skin and clothing system and has many jobs. In winter, a base layer helps trap heat, while in summer its primary purpose is to keep you cool. A good base layer should work hard to move moisture away from your skin (term: wicking) and dry quickly, allowing your body to remain within a comfortable operating temperature whatever the weather conditions or temperature.
A Mid Layer is an extra layer worm primarily for warmth, usually a fleece or lightly insulated synthetic layer. You want this layer to be fitted, but not tight, allowing good freedom of movement while not getting in the way. Many mid layers also incorporate a degree of weather protection such as wind resistance or light water repellency.
An Outer Layer is your first line of defence against the elements and can vary dramatically in the level of protection on offer and the end purpose for which they are designed. It is very important that you buy a fully waterproof jacket. Many jackets claim to be water repellent, and during a short light shower these will be fine, but in persistent rain they will quickly wet out. Lastly, look for a good hood, preferably with drawcords to cinch the hood close in to your face for a good snug fit when the weather turns nasty.
When purchasing any outdoor clothing, always try them all on at once if possible to ensure that you’re comfortable layered up and that all of the pieces complement each other. This way you will be able to test your range of movement and make sure that there is enough room to move, without the layers being too loose.
Now let’s discuss footwear. If you want to explore the outdoors, outdoor clothing is important but a sturdy pair of walking boots are a must. Here at 4 steps to ensuring you get the best possible pair for you:
- Size. Getting the right fit will ensure you will be comfortable, supported and avoid blisters. To test the fit, there should be a finger width of space between the end of toes and the front of the boot or shoe. It’s important to remember that you will normally wear a thicker pair of socks, when exploring the outdoors and you will need extra room in your shoes for them. Try before you buy!
- Spend some time walking around in them. Hills and mountains aren’t paved, so check that your boots are comfortable when walking up hill or on a slant. You can also look for small stones to try balancing on, this will give you a sense of how the midsole will perform on rougher terrain than a carpet!
- Check the inside. Feel around the inside of the shoe or boot, for rough patches. If the lining has rough patches – especially at the heel – this will rub and cause blisters.
- Are they suited to your needs? There is no point buying a flexible pair of trainers for scrambling, and no sense in buying stiff heavy boots for walking the dog, if in doubt, just ask. Any good outdoor store will happily advise you on which would be best for you.
Your layering system and footwear are the first things you should consider when planning outdoor pursuits, but is there anything else you should consider? Yes! Make sure you find loose fitting trousers, or shorts – skinny jeans and mountain treks do not mix.
Ideally you can find trousers which have zip off sections, making them very versatile for the outdoors. Socks are also important when walking and taking in a lot of exercise. Cotton socks are a very poor choice – they will hold moisture and keep your feet feeling sweaty and uncomfortable.
Try woollen or synthetic nylon socks, as they are the most breathable and will help regulate the temperature inside your boots as well as moving moisture away from your skin, a major cause of blisters and skin damage while walking.
Now you’re all set! Get out there, buy some out door clothing and enjoy all the countryside has to offer.