How to Properly Layer Clothing When Hiking

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    How to Properly Layer Clothing When Hiking

    Fabric is all important here. And following the three layer rule.

    Let’s talk fabric first:

    Cotton is nice and comfy, soft and durable. But cotton absorbs and holds onto moisture and takes a long time to dry. Not good for hiking.

    Silk is lightweight, comfy, wicks away moisture well but isn’t as durable as other fabrics but is a good choice to include.

    Polypropylene and other poly type fabrics used for outdoor apparel is also great at wicking away moisture, quick drying, comfy and durable but it does tend to retain body odours.

    Fleece, I just can’t say enough good things about fleece, is lightweight, dries quickly, a superb insulator, great for layering and durable.

    Wool is also a great insulator and the merino wool is not itchy, resists body odours, is lightweight, great for layering, quick drying and a staple in my hiking apparel.

    Gore-Tex is the ultimate in rain and wind resistance. It is waterproof and breathable, two key features when you are caught in a rain storm.

    These are all the basic fabrics I would consider taking on any hiking trip.

    The Three Layer Rule:

    The Base Layer is the layer of clothing closest to your skin. Avoid cotton here. The base layer provides you with extra insulation if you need it and needs to be able to wick away moisture ie. body sweat.

    The Mid Layer is the layer that provides additional insulation, protection from the sun, should be quick drying, comfy, durable and lightweight.

    Here you’ll find your hiking shirt, hiking pants and hiking shorts. I also consider hiking socks as part of my mid layer and they are worth a special mention. Don’t hike in cotton socks. Even the best hiking boots will ache and blister your feet without the right hiking socks. My preference is a good merino wool pair of socks. My feet thank me every time.

    The Outer Layer This layer needs to protect you from wind, rain and sometimes snow. As mentioned above Gore-Tex really is tops in my mind but if you can’t afford it, look for fabrics that offer breathability along with being waterproof.

    Hats deserve mention here too. You need to protect your head from sun, rain and cold. I bring a fleece hat for cold and a waterproof brimmed hat for sun and rain that has a drawstring to keep it from blowing off my head in windy weather.

    The best hiking boots for your feet deserve honourable mentions here too. Your feet need to be comfy, stay dry and keep your feet stable.

    Have you heard of the hiking sandal? These are my comfort item for any trek once I’ve reached our base camp.

    Hiking is a lot more enjoyable when you have the right hiking clothes that keep you warm, dry and comfortable. Nobody wants to be stuck on top of a mountain with wet, soggy clothes that leave you shivering cold. Follow this advice on fabric choice and layering for a much more enjoyable hiking trip.

    Happy Trails!

    Leanne Arnott invites you to read more articles about taking your family camping or going on a family hiking trip at

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