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Updated: 4/18/2007 11:42 am
What to wear on your camping or hiking trip depends largely on the season. From head to toe, your attire can make a difference between a pleasant trip and a struggle with the elements. On hot sunny days, cotton's cooling power makes it an excellent choice, as it's breathable and comfortable. Also, a hat with a visor can help protect your eyes and face from sunburn. Even in summer, long pants are sometimes necessary due to the presence of insects and poisonous plants. However, jeans are not a good choice; they're heavy and don't dry quickly. In cooler weather, layering is essential. Layering involves wearing of insulating garments on top of one another to create an effective and efficient cold and/or wet weather system. It allows you to take pieces off when temperatures rise and put layers on when temperatures drop. To maximize the effectiveness of layering, three components are necessary. First is the base layer, also known as the wicking layer. Wicking is the garment's ability to pull moisture away from the body to the outside of the Garment, where it evaporates quickly. Cotton should never be used as a layering piece because, when wet, it robs your body of heat in situations where the objective is to retain body heat. Instead, use silk, capilene (CAP-uh-lean), or polypropelene (PAW-lee-pro-PUH-lean). Next is the mid layer, or the insulation layer, whose purpose is to give warmth. There are many types of insulating fabrics but fleece and pile are among the most popular because they're lightweight and dry three to four times faster than wool. The outer layer, or shell layer, provides protection from the elements. It needs to be windproof and waterproof because it's the piece that covers and protects the first two layers. A windproof/waterproof outer layer helps keep heat trapped closer to the body in the base and middle layers. The outer layer should be worn loosely to accommodate the changing middle layers. Although comfort is an important part of an enjoyable camping or hiking experience, practicality must also be a consideration.
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