We’ve all done it. Worn the wrong shoes or jacket, or forgot gloves or a hat and were miserable. Wet, cold, and gritting our teeth back to the car. Or maybe you were in a warm setting and your clothes didn’t breathe, and your shoes cooked your feet like a miserable sweat lodge. Or the time when you wore gore-tex shoes only to realize your hike had a river crossing and now those waterproof features actually kept your shoes from drying turning your feet into blister-ridden prunes.
With the right gear, you can enjoy all of the magic nature offers. Thanks to modern technology from brands you trust, we have access to some of the most amazing ways to experience the outdoors. Here are some basic tips on how to prepare for extreme weather so the great outdoors are still great to you.
Warm Weather Gear
Breathability is key when it comes to warm weather activities. Don’t cook yourself in a prison of your own making; here are a few tips to make sure you’re ready for adventure on those hot summer days:
Managing sweat with a breathable and non-chaffing material is key. Take boardshorts/swimming trunks for example. If there are heavy seams, they are sure to chafe—especially if you’re at the beach. Salt enters the seams and the crystals rub against your skin with every stride. The same can happen with hiking shorts: if they rub with every stride then the salt from our sweat helps add a sandpaper-like effect. Shop for breathable, light clothes with low profile or glued seams and plenty of vents.
“Breathable support with versatility” encompasses what you want to look for in a shoe. You want soles that can grip the tide-pool and river rocks, and a breathable shoe. If you know your upcoming hike includes river crossings, then you need to either have shoes designed for in and out of water or carry a water-shoe you can change into as needed.
The sun can be brutal and dangerous. A key component to a successful summer outing is sun protection. This includes sunscreen, chapstick with SPF, clothing with UV ray protection, and often most importantly: a proper hat. Your hat should be light with ventilation, yet have a brim that adequately shades your face, ears, and neck. One trick I love is to dunk my hat in a cold river along my hike. It feels like an ice pack for my overheated head—it’s heavenly.
You should always plan on packing extra drinking water when it’s hot out, but did you know you can actually use your hydration pack to keep cool? Prior to your hike, fill the hydration pack with ice, then water. The entire hike your ice will slowly melt creating roughly the same volume of water. This yields refreshingly cold water to sip on along your journey but the cold pack also feels amazing on your back!
Cold Weather Gear
You know layering is vital to staying warm, but I’m going to reiterate it here. When you’re hiking, kayaking, or biking in cold weather, you will inevitably warm up as your heart rate and blood pressure increase so you’ll need to shed a few layers.
One critical component in a successful outdoor winter experience is your foundation or base-layer. A water-wicking material is best for a base. For temperatures under 45 degrees Fahrenheit, a flannel-lined compression base-layer that also is water-wicking is highly suggested.
Your outer layer is as important as your skin! Do you anticipate wind, rain, snow, or all of the above? Your outer shell needs to protect all of the inner layers, otherwise, all of the cool wicking flannel wonder shirts in the world cannot keep you warm and dry.
Foot and Hand Wear
Your feet and hands need to stay dry and warm. Many materials advertise waterproof features but they don’t breathe which locks in sweat. Once the sweat is trapped, it sits on your skin causing you to become chilled, that is it’s purpose after all.
If you have to have access to your smartphone while outdoors, then either purchase gloves that have the smartphone-friendly tips or glue on the tips to your superior gloves to increase its function.
Your feet play a critical role in your adventures. Merino wool is a fabulous material for winter socks. If your hike is lengthy, consider sock-liners that will allow the motion of your foot to rub between the liner and the sock instead of your foot and the sock thereby eliminating blisters!