Your best choices for outdoor fabric garments often depend on the season. To get the best results in your clothing choices, it’s a good idea to study the conditions where you’re headed and the amount of moisture in the air as well as the temperature and wind speed.
In hot and dry conditions, cotton is a great choice. In fact, a cotton shirt sprayed with water can reduce your risk of heat stroke when you’re in dangerously hot conditions. However, if you’re headed out in very cold conditions, even the fluffiest flannel shirt can actually rob heat from your body. Cotton jeans can also turn very cold without something under them to hold heat close to your body, such as fleece tights.
Wool is a great choice for anyone headed into the cold. If you’re going to be on the slopes or doing a long hike in the snow, pay special attention to your socks. Cotton socks, once wet, can put you at risk of hypothermia because your feet will get cold and stay that way. Wool socks will trap heat against your skin even after they get wet and reduce your risk of frostbite. On a hot day, avoid socks altogether and let your feet breathe.
A good polyester fleece is an ideal choice for getting out in the cold. Because both polyester and polypropylene fabrics are made of plastic, be aware that they will melt if exposed to fire, such as a pop from a campfire. These garments also tend to hold sweat and can stain over time. However, as a bottom layer when you’re togging up for a hike or a run in the snow, a polyester tee is a good choice.
If you find that your polyester outdoor gear develops and retains an odor over time, look for an enzymatic cleaner that removes odor with good bacteria. Many find that products such as Nature’s Miracle can reduce the pain of smelly outdoor gear.
While nylon close to the body can be uncomfortable as it doesn’t absorb moisture and can leave you feeling clammy, a nylon windbreaker can be a great benefit to anyone out in the cold. If you’re shopping for outdoor gear, look for an oversized windbreaker to serve as your top layer.
Layering is key to beating the cold effectively. Start with a polyester tee and cover it with a fleece or wool shirt or jacket. Over this, add a fleece hoodie and top the whole stack with a nylon jacket to keep out moisture. If you get overly warm, open the nylon jacket and let down your hood to cool your neck. Do the same on the bottom, with polyester or fleece tights under nylon wind-resistant pants. Wool socks and boots that lace up over the ankle can fully encapsulate your body heat and keep you warm on a long day out in the elements.
Finally, make sure your nylon jacket has a hood that you can use to keep the top of your head covered. If you can tolerate a hat, wear one. Consider either nylon, wool, or a knitted cap with a polyester fleece lining. Cover with your fleece hoodie, and cover all the layers with your nylon windbreaker hood.
A Word About Pulse Points
If you’re dealing with cold, make sure your wrists and ankles are covered. If you’re out in extreme heat, do your best to keep your wrists and ankles uncovered, as well as the backs of your knees and your armpits. Wrap a cool, wet cloth around your neck as well to prevent getting sick in the heat. No matter what the conditions are that you’re facing, stay hydrated.