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What To Wear When Backpacking?

When exploring the backcountry, your attire can make or break your adventure. One moment of bad weather can ruin a perfect trip and one wrong decision about what to wear can leave you getting wetter than you would like.


A base layer under everything else you are wearing should offer enough support, be able to wick sweat, provide comfort, and keep you warm. Look for items that have polyester for moisture management and wool for warmth.

The second layer or mid layer should be capable of providing insulation for additional warmth. These are your fleece, sweaters, and softshell jackets. The ideal fit should be close-fitting for better thermal insulation.

An outer layer should help protect you from the elements. Waterproof, windproof and can also insulate the warmth you are trying to keep inside. Because outer layers generally reduce the breathability of your clothing, choose one that will work best for your situation.

If it gets too hot during the daytime or cold at night, simply remove layers as needed or put them back on as the situation changes. Layers are important because they allow you to adjust to changing weather conditions easily and quickly.

Focus on Function

Function is vital when it comes to backpacking. Your clothes should offer optimal performance without restricting your movements and causing too much discomfort. Try to look for pieces that are quick-drying, sun-protective, antimicrobial, and able to repel insects.

And remember that just because your jacket has extra pockets and a lot of zippers does not mean they are all functional. In general, these features can actually affect your performance by adding weight and reducing the breathability of your layers. Think of what actually serves a purpose.

Planning your clothing choices when backpacking is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, but there are some helpful guidelines to remember. Focus on what the weather will be like, what activities you will be doing, and how long you will be out in nature. A little bit of research can go a long way toward making sure you have the right clothes.


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