Hiking Safely #4 — Clothing

Hiker clothing--staying warm and dry

Camping and Backpacking--staying warm and dry

Deutsch: Offizielles GORE-TEX® Logo
Deutsch: Offizielles GORE-TEX® Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first thing to remember is that “cotton kills.” This may sound dramatic, but that’s what you often hear from hikers and outdoor people. You need to wear synthetics such as nylon or Gore-Tex if you are going to work up a sweat in rainy weather and in cold temperatures. Soaked cotton doesn’t keep you warm and contributes to dehydration. Synthetics wick up sweat and moisture and keep the body warmer.

If you wear soaked cotton, when you stop to camp those clothes will stay wet on your body. They take a long time to dry, and you will remain cold. After a long hiking day, one of the first things I do is change into dry clothes. It’s a great feeling. In the morning, I remove those dry clothes and save them for that night. If clothes from previous days aren’t completely dry, I’ll wear them anyway, just so I can always have a dry change at night to sleep in.

The pictures show my Marmot shell. I’ve said before that a rain/storm shell is my most important piece of clothing. It keeps me dry; it retards the wind and cold. Note the zipper-adjustable vents. No matter where I go, short hike or long, whether the day is sunny or warm, my shell is in my pack for when the weather changes.

The thing to be mindful of are the extremities–fingers and hands, toes and feet, head. You need to keep these areas warm and as dry as possible. I have light Gore-Tex gloves that I usually wear separately, but I can also use them as liners under heavier mittens. You can use an extra pair of socks as mittens if your handwear is lost or drenched. I always carry extra socks because wet socks and blisters go together, and I want my feet to be dry and warm. That’s a Gore-Tex baseball cap under my hood in the pictures. I’ll switch it for a knit ski hat if it gets really cold. I’ve read that there is a lot of heat loss from an uncovered head.

Keep dry, keep warm, and you are on your way to hiking safely.

Published by Ray Anderson

Hiker and writer. Have hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, The Long Trail (Vermont), and some of the Continental Divide Trail. My trail name is "HAMLET." Have written three hiking novels (thrillers). The first one, "THE TRAIL," was traditionally published in 2015. My second hiking thriller, "SIERRA," released Oct 2016. Book three in my AWOL hiking-thriller series, "THE DIVIDE" releases from Turner Publishing 8/18/2020. www.RayKAnderson.com

4 thoughts on “Hiking Safely #4 — Clothing

  1. Hi Ray,

    Interesting information as always. Just sent your blog info to a high school friend in Portland, Maine. John Lovell has done some hiking and has been a writer/reporter/editor for a Portland newspaper over the years. He and a buddy have hiked the area of Chimney Pond in Baxter State Park.

    I hope you’re enjoying Florida :>)

    See you soon,

    1. Thanks, Gin. I remember the Chimney Pond area. That area, just like all of Baxter, is memorable. Nancy saw a moose and her calf near Chimney Pond when she picked me up from my hike. Stay warm. See you in April!

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