Saturday, November 22, 2014

Select pants and shorts to maximize comfort when hiking

Selecting a pair of pants or shorts for a day hike isn't always as simple as
throwing on any old pair. Photo courtesy of zayzayem / Photoree.
Often for a day hike, any old comfortable pair of shorts or pants will do. But if planning to spend more than an hour on the trail and if lugging a backpack or child carrier, you can maximize your comfort by looking for certain qualities in your selection.

When selecting shorts or pants for a day hike, follow these guidelines:
g Avoid denim and cotton – Both materials retain water, so whether rain falls or you sweat a lot, the clothing will stick to your skin. Fairly durable synthetic fabrics are a good option, as they breathe better and wick moisture away from the skin.
g Keep it rugged – Some synthetic fabrics aren’t good options for a hike, however, as they tear easily if you accidentally rub against hard rock, branches or bramble. If you can feel the seam give when you pull the fabric between your hands, the fabric probably isn’t rugged enough.
g Find a good fit – Shorts and pants should fit so you don’t need a belt, which can chafe if your backpack or child carrier has a hip belt. If purchasing shorts and pants specifically made for hiking, be aware that they likely will have more room in the rear and the waist than those purchased for casual use or office wear.
g Opt for big pockets – You’ll find bellowed pockets like those on cargo shorts come in handy when on the trail. Rather than taking a backpack on and off, your trail mix or map along with other items easily can be tucked into the pocket.
g Stick with Velcro – You want your cargo and back pockets to be closed when hiking. Especially on back pockets, Velcro will be easier to secure than buttons.
g Tight cuffs good – If wearing pants, stick with those that have elastic on the cuffs where the pants leg ends below the calf. This will cut off a potential entry to your skin for mosquitoes and ticks.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.