Thursday, December 4, 2014

Six tips for selecting day hiking apparel

When hiking, opt for clothes that are durable and offer versatility.
Dressing properly for a hike is only half the battle; to be comfortable, you also want to make the best selections in apparel quality.

First, when purchasing hiking apparel, be aware that name brands don’t much matter. Many sporting goods stores carry expensive shirts, shorts, rain gear and jackets that look great but beyond that offer little advantage over less expensive apparel found at discount stores.

The one benefit that name brands do provide is that they made specifically for hikers, skiers and others who love the outdoors, so they are designed to meet their wishes, determined in part by marketing research. For example, a name brand likely will have a pull loop to make zipping easier whereas non-name brands won’t.

If buying hiking apparel from a discount store, a good hint that you have quality material are the seams. Look for flat felled seams, which are seams sewn over one another and that are, well, flat. Such clothing tends to be durable and sturdy.

Also focus on fit. Everybody’s body is different, so you’ll want to try on apparel rather than assume it will just fit. If sitting, the fit may not be a big deal, but when your body is in motion, the apparel should give you room to move rather than chafe against a swinging limb or a muscle as it turns or pivots. Loose, comfortable cuts usually are best.

Don’t forget breathability either. While staying dry from the rain, you don’t want to get soaked from your own sweat. Choose apparel made from synthetic pile or fleece. Besides keeping you warm, those fabrics wick moisture from your skin and allow the water vapor to pass into the open air.

Your apparel also should offer protection from Mother Earth. When hiking, you’ll likely brush against branches, prickly plants, and rocks. Your apparel should be durable enough so sharp points don’t cut through the fabric and cut your skin and rugged enough that it’ll shed dirt.

Finally, opt for versatility. A sweater with a zipper on a neck that can be turned up or down as needed allows you to stay warm in windy and cold conditions yet also stay cool when the wind is calm and warming. In addition, always go with a variety of clothes that can be layered rather than one item which purports to work in multiple weather conditions.

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