hiking clothes

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  #1  
Old 10-19-12, 10:55 PM
wwc
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Question hiking clothes

I want to get started in mostly day hiking and mostly in the summer for now.

I have read that cotton shirts are bad to wear but is it really a big deal for day hikes of a few hours?

What shirts and pants should a person wear and wear can they be bought cheaply for newbies like myself.
 
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  #2  
Old 10-20-12, 03:18 AM
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Cotton is always good to wear, as it wicks moisture well as well as helps to keep cool breezes at bay, while being lightweight. You say "in the summer for now", but it is leaf change time and approaching colder weather, so I feel you may be getting a late start. Most of the people who rent my weekend cabin do day hikes (last couple hiked every day for two weeks!) Keeping a close check on the weather which can vary by elevation is paramount. Day hikes on well maintained trails, shorts and t-shirts with a light jacket are good. Other trails, you will need leg protection from briars, limbs, etc, so a heftier pants like jeans or Carhartts would be in order. The cooler it gets the more clothes you need, obviously.
You don't need specialized hiking clothes for day hikes, and most of what you need you can get at Wal Mart or other clothing outlets.
 
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Old 10-20-12, 06:14 AM
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Cotton is seen by many as being less desirable for outdoor wear in cold climates than other fabrics.

It will absorb moisture from the body but will evenly saturate and remain damp throughout ts entire thickness causing heat loss.
The idea behind wicking it that it will transfer moisture but will not retain it.
The best natural fabric for this is wool. in that it will absorb moisture but it will naturally wick to the outer surface allowing an air space between your skin and the damp fabric.

The most simple and cost effective outdoor clothing is to wear layers of different fabrics.
Most synthetic fabrics are pretty good at wicking and not retaining moisture so a layer of something like rayon then possibly cotton on top to allow the moisture to transfer then evaporate but allowing a needed airspace as an insulator.
The best low tech combination would be a layer of rayon then wool.

All outdoor stores carry high tech underwear and clothing that use these principles but are fairly costly.

We use to do a little talk with the Boy Scouts about cold weather wear and to get their attention called it "Killer Cotton"!
We took a small bowl half full of water and a selection of single socks of cotton, rayon, nylon, fabric blends, wool and a high tech fabric.
Then we put the toes into the water and draped the length of the sock out onto the table around the bowl.
It would be there without explanation to the kids as we began the talk and it wouldn't take long for someone to notice that the table was being flooded.
This would lead us into which fabric was doing this and why this was happening.
The drama made it easy for the kids to learn.
 
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Old 10-20-12, 08:33 AM
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thanks for the comments, I miss spoke when i said for summer now, i meant that my plans were to only think about hiking in the summer months ( next year ) and not so much for colder hikes on my mind.
I have read all that about cotton , that's why I was wondering if it was that big a deal for day hikes, i guess so maybe since in the summer on a hour or few hours a person could be soaking wet from perspiration and not be able to get dry without washing and changing clothes.

What clothes did you recommend for the boy scouts to wear in the summer on hikes.

And can these clothes be bought cheaply like wally world ?
 
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Old 10-20-12, 09:01 AM
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The problem with cotton is that it does readily absorb sweat but it soaks in and becomes evenly saturated.
The problem with this is that your clothing becomes a wet rag that is in direct contact with your skin.
Once you are enveloped in damp clothing you loose the ability to cool yourself through the evaporation of sweat.

Synthetics can be cooler than cotton when worn for extended periods and should be loose fitting so that the cloth is not in firm contact with the skin and don't tuck your shirt in.

You could experiment with a very thin synthetic undershirt and loose fitting cotton over-shirt with buttons so that you can have it open if overheated.
The undershirt may make you feel cooler in spite the added bulk.
Walmart has quite a few synthetic garments and I have found Polypropylene undershirts there that are sometimes sold in outdoor stores for many times what you pay at Wally.

The desert people have it figured out with their full length gown style clothing and
the Bedouins even wear black for increased UV protection.
The idea behind the light flowing gowns is that the material can absorb sweat upon contact and the flowing nature of the style causes the moisture to very quickly evaporate cooling the skin.


Try the sock-in-a-bowl experiment.
What works for cold weather survival also applies to hot climates.
 
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Old 10-20-12, 09:27 AM
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I forgot to mention that if you wanted to experiment with wool for cold weather clothing, thrift shops are a good place to look.
A wool shirt and pants over polypropylene long johns and undershirt would rival high tech sports clothing for many times the price.
 
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Old 10-20-12, 10:04 AM
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I hope I was correct in assuming the OP was considering warmer weather hiking. Cotton by far is superior to synthetics. While the synthetics may have wicking abilities, for the most part the "clinginess" of the synthetics make them quite uncomfortable. Loose cotton clothing will wick and evaporate moisture just fine. Tight clothing is another point, as it won't wick and evaporate well. I believe it would boil down to not so much what the material is, but how close you want it to your body.
 
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Old 10-20-12, 10:31 AM
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Ya, this topic can generate some controversy, I know.
The cotton industry promotes their products well!

Here is an example:
This blog actively praises cotton for it's superior properties.

In another topic on different page of this blog he then goes on to not mention anything about cotton concerning cold weather garments which principals still apply to warm weather wear.
 
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Old 10-20-12, 08:18 PM
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I enjoy hiking and have friends that are into it too. I never bring hardly ANY cotton with me. Nylon and acrylics with some polyesters blends are best, not only for wicking moisture but also are lighter, and pack tighter into small packs. I like underarmour underwear and t-shirts under the clothes I'm wearing... and usually dress in layers, or at least have them available in the pack- socks are never cotton, usually merino wool but sometimes just ankle socks that are low in cotton, high in the aforementioned man made. The hiking pants that have removable pant legs (to turn them into shorts) are pretty good to have since they give you options.

The biggest knock re: cotton is more than just about wicking moisture away from your body, it also has to do with getting caught in the rain or snow. Try getting a wet cotton sweatshirt or cotton socks to dry inside your tent when its 45F at night. Nylon dries quickly with just a little breeze.

I have both cotton shirts and nylon/acrylics that I wear to work. On a hot humid summer day there is NO DOUBT that I am more comfortable in a cool nylon shirt than in my cotton pocket tee that is drenched with sweat and never dries out unless I take it off. I can hardly wear cotton tees when it gets in the 90's.
 
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Old 10-21-12, 07:03 AM
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As far as finding your clothes where they are less expensive, keep on eye out at Goodwill stores or Salvation Army, if you have any near you.
 
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Old 10-21-12, 08:00 AM
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Boy...this is so weird. People that use them a lot seem to love the synthetics when heat and sweat is involved, my wife on her races included. Personally...I can't stand a synthetic shirt in the heat. At least none that I've tried. I get rivers of sweat just running down my body with no absorption or evaporative cooling.

The shirt my wife bought from Columbia might be different, she says it really does work. The First Shirt That Lowers Your Body Temperature | Popular Science But I'm not paying their price for a T-shirt to wear when I'm doing something active. I'd need 4 or 5. I'll stick with 100% cotton in the summer. I do like synthetics for warmth and water repellancy, but only with a cotton shirt as the first layer.
 
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Old 10-21-12, 08:42 AM
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Ya, I know what you are saying.

We may be a bit too general here when we praise synthetics for their qualities as I have synthetic work shirts that are like wearing a plastic bag!

Thing is that there is a difference between wearing garments in cold or hot weather.
Cold weather does well with having positive skin contact with an undershirt to wick moisture into a breathable layer that will dissipate the moisture.
Hot weather does better with loose flowing clothing.
Synthetics are better at helping with evaporation but not so much with tight fitting, especially tucked in shirts.

You have a choice, fashion or comfort........pick one.
 
  #13  
Old 10-21-12, 01:20 PM
wwc
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wow I had no idea deciding what warm weather clothes to wear would be so hard.

cotton /no cotton debate.

Thanks for everyone's input.
 
  #14  
Old 11-13-12, 06:28 AM
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I didn't notice this thread until now....
I do a lot of cool weather backpacking (hiking, biking, kayaking) during the spring and fall. Because of my multi-sport interests, I tend to try to stay with generic (cross sport) clothing. For normal hiking type trips, in 40-70'F temps, I'll generally wear the following;
Feet: Sandle shoes (Mine are similar to these, look like shoes, but can get wet like sandles http://spck.imageg.net/graphics/prod...11969322dt.jpg)
Pants: Cargo pants with zip away pant legs. If you need to forge water, zip off the legs and you now have shorts.
Underwear: whatever you prefer (I've heard thongs are a bad idea for the female hikers)
Shirt: Synthetic base layer shirt with a t-shirt over top. The base layer wicks the mosture away from the skin, and is suprisingly warm in cooler weather. It also saves the arms while bushwhacking and reduces bug bites. I picked my few pairs up at a national big box store for ~$10 each. Don't need to buy the really expensive ones. The t-shirt keeps the wind off my chest, but will make my back sweat with the backpack. Probably should consider a better top layer.
top layer: Nylon rain/spring coat. Lots of pockets, and acts as a great wind break. The coat I have has zippered vents that will allow cooling in and around my chest, but again, back will be soaked. It also packs small.
Head: Baseball hat. There are better options for hats, but I like my baseball hat. Always, always wear a hat. Keeps crap out of your hair, and the sun and cold away from your head. A wide brim hat should be used if in areas with poisonous bugs or ticks. We don't have ticks here, so I'm still with the baseball hat.
Hands: full fingered gloves are a good idea if doing rugged back country hiking/backpacking. I always wear gloves as to save my hands if I fall, and or from branches and rocks. When backpacking over night or longer, my pack can range from 25-45lb which can throw your balance off while climbing hills or rock hopping.
Eyes: Glasses are a good idea to protect your eyes from that branch that will jump out and poke you. I have two polorized pairs. One pair are sunglasses, and the other are pretty much clear. Polorized glasses help when forging water as you can generally see the bottom. They do make seeing my GPS screen a bit tougher however.

One big suggestion I will make is to always have a change of comfy cloths at you vehicle for when you get back. Open sandles are also a good idea at the vehicle or base camp as it'll allow your feet to breath and recover.
 
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Old 11-13-12, 03:00 PM
wwc
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thanks for the help. I mostly hike in the summer so i'm trying to find low clothes.

What do these wicking shirts look like from big box stores.

do you have a link to a store showing the shirts?
 
  #16  
Old 11-13-12, 03:25 PM
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Under Armor is one brand. Wal-tart usually has a pretty good selection of both the name brand and their knockoff version. Under Armor briefs are pretty nice too, if you can get used to the stupid 1 1/2" wide waistbands.
 
  #17  
Old 11-14-12, 05:02 AM
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I don't have a link to the shirts I own (bought at wally mart), but they are the same as the under armor ones (just not name brand). I wear these shirts during the summer when doing heavy bushwhacking. Saves the arms from bugs and tree branch scratches. They will stink pretty badly after a full day of hiking though. If your doing an overnight trip, a quick rinse of the shirt in the lake is advised as soon as you get to base camp.

I don't normally like to post self pics online, but this one below shows what I wore on my last biking/hiking trip. Was the second weekend in September, morning temps about 2'C and warm afternoon about 15'C.
I opted for a bike jersey this time as we rode 12km to the start of the hiking, and it came in handy for the last 8km run to the top and down again. Most bike jerseys have pockets in the small of your back, and this one has a zipper pocket which was great for holding my camera while climbing.
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