Thursday, March 25, 2010

Prepping for the Perfect Backcountry Camping Trip - Clothing Optional?

For the second instalment of our Prepping for the Perfect Backcountry Camping Trip we’ll take a quick look at some of the clothing choices you can make. And I’ll include a short list of the clothes I would take on a late spring to early fall camping trip.

You clothing choices should obviously reflect the seasons and it’s always a good idea to prepare for the worst. Now, that doesn’t mean you should bring a down filled parka when you are hitting the woods in April, but it does mean you need to take time to ensure you will be warm and dry.


Ok, a quick note about materials. Cotton, polyester and wool tend to be the main materials that can be found in good camping gear. Both the wool and poly blends wick moisture well, are very good insulators and will continue to do so when wet. In suport of, poly - it'll dry quicker.

Cotton on the other hand won’t dry as quickly and does not insulate well when wet. But I certainly find it more comfortable than some of the other fabrics.

Therefore I suggest a mix of fabrics depending on the activity you intend to undertake.

The List
The following list covers the clothing I would bring for a 5 day interior camping trip.

Hiking Boots/Shoes
I often just wear a pair of beat up trail runners – they dry fast and have good grip. But you’ll want to wear something that you feel comfortable in, especially if you are hiking and not simply canoe-camping. You may also need the kind of support that hiking boots/shoes can provided. Again, it’s personal choice.

I always bring a mix of socks. I bring thin cotton socks and merino wool socks to keep warm.

Long Underwear
Not always a necessity, but on those cold nights, you’ll be happy you have them.

Regular Underwear
Pretty obvious eh? And I guess it's optional.

I like to bring two pairs of pants if I have the room. I bring a heavier cotton pair with a lot of useful pockets and another pair of quick drying pants. If I am pressed for space I go for the quick drying ones. I don’t bring any heavy shorts as I just roll up my pants for the same effect.

You just have to have a belt. Not just to hold your knife/multi-tool etc., but it makes a great tie down for firewood. Just bundle up your firewood, zip that belt around it and amble on back to camp in style (or with your free hand holding up your pants).

Shorts (or swimsuit for the ladies)
Now you can roll all skinny-dip style, or you can retain some modesty and hit the lake, river or spring in a swimsuit. It’s not necessary if you have boxers, but among mixed company, shorts are always a nice touch.

2 wicking t-shirts will keep the moisture off your skin, but you may want a cotton T too.

Button up shirt
I like to bring at least one button up shirt with some good pockets. It’s an extra layer to keep you warm, and the pockets will come in handy. Guaranteed.

Dip it in the lake water and put it around your neck to cool down. Use it to scrub your pots. Use it to filter the big stuff out of your water (before you filter with a good filter system). It’s a sling for a broken arm. In a pinch it’s a good bandage. So many uses … and you can just tie it to the outside of your pack. Simple.

Polyfleece or Wool/Polyester sweater
This extra layer is extremely useful for those chilly nights and frigid mornings before the fire kicks in. I’m currently rocking a poly army sweater. It’s black, so it attracts heat from the sun and it has … wait for it … pockets! Great for layering. And a poly product will keep you warm when it is wet and will dry quickly.

Rain ponchos
Obviously, it’ll keep the rain off you. Not so obvious uses include keeping gear dry, covering firewood, or even acting as a makeshift tarp when necessary.

A hat (with a brim – baseball, or otherwise)
Keeps the sun off your face when it’s warm. Keeps your head warm when it’s cold. You can use it to gather water.

Ok, so that's the quick and dirty on clothing. And as mentioned, you're going to have to find the mix of gear that works for you. Maybe you like the UtiliKilt? Maybe you like full on army surplus gear. It's all up to you. Just make sure you dress for the climate you're heading out in.

Good luck.

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