What to wear while Long Distance Hiking.

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I’ve worked within the outdoor garment industry on the front-line of customer service for about 6 years now. 6 Years! Wow, that does feel like a long time.

I’ve also managed outdoor kit for two outdoor activity companies.

It’s safe to say, I know more about kit than almost anyone I know.

There’s not a lot I boast about, but if anyone wanted a sort of kit, related Rap battle then it’s on.

I can rap about DWR treatments, down fillings, deniers, zip technology. The lot.

I swear this is the only time I will be arrogant about my knowledge of something. Honest, It’s not in my blood, but I wanted to drill home how useful this advice is going to be in helping you choose the correct clothing for your long-distance hike.

So get to the point fool. What are you wanting to tell us?

Ok ok.. I want to talk to you about what to wear when long-distance hiking. It’s pretty straight forward stuff.

I get a lot of telephone calls and emails from customers wanting to know about what kit to wear on long distance hikes. There’s also a lot of people wearing the wrong kit, in the wrong layering combinations.

I want to set the record straight and provide THE best advice you have ever seen.

But first, let’s start with what most people wear when hiking

1. Cheap base-layers. Synthetic, cotton or a wicking top.

For the majority of the year, merino base layers are adequate. For the hot months, synthetic is fine, but the lighter, the better. However, when it’s cold, unless your vegan, I cannot recommend merino wool enough. It lasts ages, doesn’t smell and breaths great.

2. Cheap fleeces

Cheap fleeces are awful. You get what you pay for.

3. Micro down jackets being used as mid-layers

Unless your walking in -5, alpine climbing or you really feel the cold theres almost no need to use a micro down jacket as a mid-layer. You will overheat. Your jacket will get wet and sticky, and the down inside will get damaged. It also defeats the point of a down jacket, which is designed as a warm insulating layer for static warmth (when you stop).

In short, your down jacket simply does not have the breathability ratings high enough to comfortably sustain the output of moisture from your body.

4. Waterproofs are for when it rains

They are not designed to be worn all day, but if it’s raining all day keep it on. However, if it’s dry, or intermittently raining take your waterproof off!

Protect it from your bodily oils, and overexposure to the rubbing of your backpack straps on the delicate fabric on the shoulders and hips of your jacket.

If you want a layer to keep the wind off, your best off buying a cheap wind shell.

5. Get the right pants

Buying the correct pants for your long-distance walk is super important.

Merino pants which have a good fit are the best choice as they won’t rub, have antibacterial properties and will in colder condition keep you warm.

6. Don’t be fooled by ‘Water Resistance’

DWR treatments are the reason that your item has water resistance when you first buy it. However most fabrics are barely water resistant, if not simply a sponge when you buy it.

Unless the garment uses a waterproof fabric but is not truly waterproof (such as a stitched through down jacket), then it won’t hold off more than a light drizzle.

Caught in a heavy shower? Throw your waterproof on or risk getting totally wet through.

More to explore!

Matthew Usherwood

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