Defining your taste in Outdoor Clothing can be a process of trial and error in the beginning (both the informed and the ill informed!) until you find combinations that work for you.
The Outdoor Clothing System
When ever and where ever you go hiking in New Zealand, you need to keep in mind that the weather can change fast, particularly the higher you go, so you need to always be prepared for all weather conditions.
The way I see it, there are essentially three layers in Outdoor Clothing that must always be in your pack;
- Layer 1 – On the skin
- Layer 2- Over the skin layer
- Layer 3- The Hard shell or Outer shell
1.) The Skin layer
Further divided into two sub groups;
- Hot weather: Fabrics that are ultra good at helping you loose heat, (particularly when wet) while offering good levels of sun protection. Common fabrics include: Cotton, Lycra and Polyesters mixes.
- Cold Weather: The “thermal” layer, fabrics that are extremely good insulators wet or dry. Common fabrics include: Synthetic polyester fleece, Merino, Polyethylene.
2.) Over skin layer
A second cold weather thermal layer of the same fabrics as the Cold weather skin layer, but typically a jacket – best with a full length zip (for temperature adjustment) and couple of zip closed pockets.
3.) The Outer or Hard Shell layer
This is the windproof, waterproof and breathable layer typically represented by Rain wear.(over trousers included) Modern hard shell clothes are typically constructed of either: Fabric technologies like Gortex(better in Alpine) or coatings like Reflex(better sub Alpine)
This is were it gets complicated, bearing in mind the three layers and their purpose, this is where you personally need to try gear and see what which fabric types work best for your;
- Your comfort and fit
- Your personal Thermal profile and the best performers.
- Your budget (although the old rule still applies.. saving is not always comfortable!)
- Remember to select clothes designed for the outdoors. If you like down filled puffer jackets for example – make sure they are the waterproof outdoor version! ( because wet down is cold, very heavy and takes 3 weeks to dry!)
What works for me
Starting in the days of scratchy wool, classic kiwi stripy polypropylene thermals, worn under cotton shorts… I was introduced to synthetic polyester fleece in the early 90’s by a hunting mate and so by the time merino came on the scene .. it never worked as well for me….
Having a “Hot” thermal profile my day and overnight hiking clothing is always;
1. Skin layer;
- Taslan shorts: lightweight, windproof, fast drying
- Nylon underwear: fast drying (some prefer lycra for its great anti chaffing properties)
- Acrylic moisture wicking hiking socks (Thorlo light hiker)
- Hot: Polyester, long sleeved, lightweight, breathable with UPF 40+ protection and wide brim sun hat.
- Cold: 150 weight, Polyester fleece, long sleeved, 1/4 zip top and 150 weight polyester fleece balaclava, Polyester fleece gloves.
2. Over skin layer: Polyester fleece, Long sleeved, full zip Jacket
3. Outer / Hard shell: Entrant© Rain coat.