Camping is an activity that is exciting and fun! But beware, if not properly dressed, the entire experience could be marred with memories of feeling too hot, shivering cold or worst of all, really damp. Find out what the proper camping attire is in this article.
The simplest way to ensure a pleasurable trip is packing the right clothes in the right amount.
The most important aspect of dressing while camping is being comfortable and protected. No point looking stylish but feeling sick!
So, let’s gear up to get the best ideas and advice on what to wear for rocking the camping scene.
First of all, to decide the kind of clothes to pack, you need to figure out the type of place you are going to camp, the kind of trails that you will take, how long you will be hiking and most importantly the weather there.
But, no matter whether you are going for a 2 day hiking getaway or a 2 month camping trip, the fundamentals remain the same with basic variations to address the environmental conditions.
The clothing choices depend on two main factors of functionality and weight.
The garment must be made from fabric that is fast drying and moisture proof. Clothes that offer sun protection, insects repelling properties and odor prevention are useful. Other functionalities like pockets, zips, vents, hoods and such details should be considered.
While camping, a major consideration is weight. Some clothes may offer great comfort but may be really heavy. So, clothes with a right balance of required features and light in weight would be the best choice.
The most commonly used fabrics for camping garments are synthetics like polyester and nylon. These fabrics dry quick, absorb less moisture and are durable. The only flip side is that they may stink more than the natural fabrics.
Cotton is a great fabric for summers but not while hiking. Since it is hydrophilic, it absorbs moisture and can become damp from sweat. Therefore, cotton should be used only for low activity times and maybe as sleepwear.
Silk feels great against the skin and is very light weight. Chemical treated silk can have enhanced moisture-wicking properties too. But it can be prone to odor and vulnerable to abrasion. So, silk should be considered only for cool-weather low intensity activities.
Wool is a good option for winter camping time but adds weight to the luggage. Ultra-fine merino wool is getting popular for having breathable, light weight and moisture-wicking capacities.
The rule of thumb for dressing while camping is layering. It doesn’t matter whether the climate is hot or cold, layering is the answer. Moreover, while camping, weather can vary significantly as the day progresses and layering allows you to quickly adapt to the change in temperatures. When you start to sweat, you can remove a layer and when you feel a nip in the air, you can snuggle into one.
The most effective way to stay protected from weather changes is to use 3-layer clothing technique.
The base layer is the one that is going to touch your skin. It is vital to choose the best quality garment for the base. While it is tempting to wear a nice cotton t-shirt since it feels great on the skin, it is the least desirable choice as a base layer. Cotton traps moisture and makes the clothing heavier and more abrasive. This will make you feel wet and uncomfortable in heat. More dangerous would be when the temperatures drop since you would get chills if the base layer is damp.
Synthetic material like polyester or polypropylene is the best choice for the base layer.
A skin hugging synthetic tee will keep you dry in hot weather and warm in colder times. Moreover, such fabrics allow the skin to breathe since air is able to easily permeate these fibres.
A base layer with merino wool is the best choice if you plan to go camping in winter.
Merino wool keeps the moisture away along with providing some warmth and an added benefit of odorless material. If that is not available, a base layer with the blend of wool and synthetic fabric would work too.
It is important to also have a bottom base layer while camping during colder times. A trouser that provides a balance of warmth and perspiration resistant is the perfect partner for a long hike on a chilly day.
Once the base layer is set, there are lot of options for the middle layer. The mid layer is basically the layer that would be seen since the outer layer is used only if necessary.
It is imperative to select something that is casual and comfortable. It would be ideal if this layer has some good secure zip pockets.
A tee or a shirt would be perfect for a summer hike. But longer sleeves are advisable to prevent sun burn and scratches.
In case of cooler climate, a light or medium weight fleece would work as an excellent middle layer. A pullover or hoodie made from breathable material could also work great for optimal comfort.
For winter camping, a wool sweater or a heavy weight fleece should be used as the mid layer. This will keep the heat locked in and make you feel cozy. The ideal layer would offer warmth along with compressibility.
The third and the outer most layer is the most versatile layer. It should act like a wind cheater and rain jacket as well as an extra layer of warmth and protection.
It is important for the outer layer to be water resistant and have a bit of thermal property. The best jackets let the moisture out without letting precipitation in. Another salient feature of the outer most layer should be stretchability to provide better freedom of movement.
For the lowers, choose a comfortable pair of shorts for hotter places since shorts are the most comfortable attire for hiking. But for colder sites or trails with vegetation, a durable set of pants made from material like nylon or spandex would be ideal to protect your legs from hazards as well as keep you warmer.
A great choice of lower wear would be convertible or rollup pants where you can have best of both the worlds with zipped-off/rolled-up shorts and zipped-on/rolled-down pants.
A very essential aspect of camping attire is footwear. Two important aspects to consider when choosing hiking shoes are fit and type of trail.
The wrong boots can make the whole experience painful and cause serious blisters. Also, choose the type of shoes based on whether the hiking trails would be more wet and muddy or more rough and rocky. For wet trails, durable boots with waterproof material are obviously best while for bumpy paths, higher shoes with ankle support would be a great fit.
Quite underrated but extremely important are the socks that must complement the shoes. Correct choice of socks should be made of breathable and fast dry material that keep your feet and toes relaxed.
A nice pair of shoes and socks will keep your feet dry and non-painful. As it is said, “Happy feet make happy campers”.
Along with the right clothes, certain accessories are a great addition to the attire.
A nice hat is one of the most useful accessory since it protects from sun and keeps the heat locked up when the day gets cool. Best hiking hats are full-brimmed, water resistant and breathable that keep sunlight and rain out of your face while keeping your head warm. A knit cap is a great add on if you’ll be camping in cool weather. It is compact and protects from wind and cold.
Stretchable gloves that resist moisture and offer some warmth can be very handy. For cooler times, mittens can be worn though they offer less dexterity.
A multi-purpose headband can be taken as an added adornment that can work as a bandana and neck gaiter.
In conclusion, the best way to guarantee a pleasant time while camping is to plan properly and clothe correctly.
As Karl Lagerfeld says, “Don’t dress to kill, dress to survive”!