How to stay warm and dry by LAYERING

May 30, 2018
A quality rain jacket is important on a hike.

It doesn’t matter if you’re on Life’s An Adventure’s Three Capes walk in Tassie or the brand new five-day Bibbulmum walk in WA, when the weather turns bad you need to keep warm and dry. One way to do this is by LAYERING. 

Basically you should have three layers of clothing:

  • The inner layer is the one next to your skin. It’s probably a lightweight t-shirt, maybe made of Merino wool or bamboo (which also feature odour eating properties). This inner layer needs to ‘breathe’ which means air and moisture (i.e sweat) can move away from the skin allowing the shirt to wick (or dry).
  • Then you have a mid-layer: Normally a long sleeve fleece of some sort, also with wicking qualities.

  • And finally the outer layer. This is some sort of insulated rain and wind-proof jacket. Features could include hood, arm pits zips, velcro cuff flaps and waist chord.

Once you’ve got your layers you can swap between them according to weather conditions and comfort levels. Hot day? Just wear your inner. Hot and wet? Your inner and outer. Hot, wet and cold? Put on the lot!

So what’s all this wicking business?

The transferral of moisture, in the form of sweat, away from your body as quickly as possible, will ensure you stay dry, regardless of conditions. This is most important in extreme weather as the chances of getting – and staying cold – are significantly lifted.

Hypothermia is not something to take lightly so ensuring your base layer does the job of moisture transfer (or wicking) and warmth retention will mean you remain comfortable and safe regardless of conditions outside your other layers.

And don’t think you won’t sweat in such conditions – your exertion levels will be likely higher than normal when you’re out in trying conditions as you endeavour to reach your destination as fast as possible. The base layer should also offer warmth when damp.

Other tips

  • Look for a rain jacket that features durable material on hard-wear areas, such as the shoulders and elbows. It should also be comfortable, with articulated elbows and gusseted underarms so you can move our arms around without pulling the jacket up over your waist, exposing yourself to the elements.
  • With the arrival of garments using eVent (a waterproof/breathable fabric that its manufacturers claim is more breathable than other similar membranes such as Gore-tex) onto the market, there is a greater choice of outer-wear.
  • No matter how breathable the manufacturer claims their jacket is the garment must still be well manufactured, so look for tight stitching, good seamwork and plenty of tape seam sealing that is narrow (so as not to impede breathability).
  • A longer cut is more preferable, as it does offer more protection, but some may not like that particular fit, so try everything on and don’t be blinded by brand names.
  • Protecting your legs is just as important in some ways as keeping your upper body dry so consider buying waterproof pants – there are heaps out there. Look for articulated knee and pant sections for easy manoeuvrability and make sure the pants can be put on quickly when needed – long zips on each leg are a must to get over your boots.
  • Consider buying an hiking-specific umbrella. They’re small and sturdier than normal umbrellas and can be kept in one of your pack’s outer pockets. Tip: Choose one with a bright colour as that’s a lovely contrast when featuring them in photos!
  • Anyone working in an outdoor gear shop worth their weight in salt should be able to talk more to you about any of the above. So ask!

Happy walking!

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