In the outdoors, proper clothing keeps you comfortable; more importantly, it keeps you safe.
It’s surprising that parents sometimes don’t seem to give much thought to what their Scouts wear to a camping trip. If your troop is like mine they will be rained on and experience unseasonably cold temperatures on just about every camp out! Without the right clothing, Scouts will be cold, wet, have a bad experience, and be reluctant to go camping again.
Good, practical, outdoor clothing is constructed of the proper fabrics. Style, as you may imagine, plays a minor role in comparison to the way the clothing functions. The secret to dressing for the outdoors is layering.
Simple Layering System
The base layer is worn against the skin, an intermediate layer goes over the base, an insulating layer is next, and a shell layer is worn over everything. Layers are adjusted according to the season and conditions. Synthetic or wool fabrics insulate even when wet and are strongly recommended for cold weather. In warmer weather, a good wicking base layer draws perspiration away from the skin and keeps you cool and comfortable. Here’s an overview of this simple layering system:
“Cotton Kills” is a common saying in the outdoor community.
It may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t.
|There is nothing wrong with wearing cotton in dry, warm conditions. but ideally dry and warm conditions are rare. It is much harder to stay dry and warm outdoors than most people think. Cotton holds moisture against your body and moisture saps body heat away. This can quickly lead to hypothermia, a condition that occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, lowering body temperature (thus “Cotton Kills”). Hypothermia can set in at temperatures well above freezing. Hypothermia is, at first, merely uncomfortable; but it can become serious medical emergency.|
A synthetic, moisture-wicking base layer draws perspiration away from the body, dries faster than cotton, and reduces dramatic swings in body temperature. As an active person perspires, a “microclimate” is created between the skin and the base layer fabric. Perspiration vapor condenses and moisture is absorbed on the interior side of the fabric. High-humidity air between skin and garment is naturally drawn towards the cooler, drier air on the outside. As this moisture moves through cotton fabric, the cotton fibers absorb it, and holding moisture against the skin. With synthetics, the moisture moves from the inside to the outside of the fabric without being absorbed so the moisture escapes to the outside where it evaporates. I tell all my Scouts to carry a rain jacket, rain pants, and polypropylene long underwear tops and bottoms no matter what the season. I know from experience if they have these two essential layers with them I can keep Scouts reasonably warm and safe in the worst kind of weather.
|Performance Tee Shirt||Performance Boxers|
|A 100% polyester wicking tee is comfortable in every season.||Soft, breathable material has excellent stretch and fast-drying, odor resistant properties that wick moisture away. 86% micro polyester, 14% spandex. Inseam 6″.|
|performance tee at Campmor||performance boxers at Campmor|
|performance tee at Amazon||performance boxers at Amazon
|performance tee at REI
||performance boxers at REI
|Polypropylene Top||Polypropylene Bottom|
|Made of 100% soft, ring-spun polypropylene engineered to give a close comfortable fit without being restrictive. Excellent moisture management and thermal qualities. I’ve chosen three weight alternatives to suit different climates:
|Lightweight Top at Campmor||Lightweight Bottoms at Campmor|
|Midweight Top at Campmor||Midweight Bottoms at Campmor|
|Heavyweight Top at Campmor||Bottoms at Campmor|
|Scout Microfiber Uniform||Nylon Shirt||Convertible Nylon Pants|
|The BSA official uniforms are now available in a number of different fabrics. I recommend getting the polyester microfiber shirt and pants. I wear my Switchback convertible uniform pants and poly/microfiber uniform shirt camping sometimes; they are flexible, comfortable and practical outdoor clothes.||A long-sleeved nylon shirt and convertible nylon pants (the bottom half of the leg zips off) make an excellent all-season mid layer for most climates. I recommend these because they are comfortable and quick drying. Available brands, colors, and sizes change often. I can typically find each for something less than $30.00 each.|
|Available at Scoutstuff||Nylon Shirt at Campmor||Covertable Pants at Campmor|
|Nylon Shirt at Amazon||Convertable Pants at Amazon|
|Nylon Shirt at REI||Canvertable Pants at REI|
|Fleece Pants||Fleece Jacket|
|Polar fleece (100% polyester) pants and jacket make excellent, versatile, insulating layers. They can be worn in any combination with the other layers, or on their own. Available brands, colors, and sizes change often. I can typically find each for something less than $30.00 each.|
|Fleece pants at Campmor||Fleece Jacket at Campmor|
|Fleece pants at REI
|| Fleece Jacket at REI
|Fleece pants at Amazon
|| Fleece Jacket at Amazon
Waterproof or Waterproof breathable?
The basic waterproof rain gear I have chosen is similar to what my Scouts have been wearing for twenty years or more, and I can assure you it works very well. The relatively small amount of moisture trapped inside a waterproof rain suit will be wicked away from the skin by the under layers, and your Scout will stay comfortable.
Waterproof breathable fabrics are constructed with a permeable membrane that permits water vapor to escape from the inside out without allowing liquid water to penetrate from the outside in. Waterproof fabrics have an impermeable coating that does not allow water vapor to escape, but still keeps the rain out. The other principal difference between the two is cost. Waterproof fabrics are less expensive. Scouts will normally outgrow their rain gear in a year or two, so investing in waterproof-breathable fabric may not be practical.
What about Ponchos? I don’t recommend ponchos, they are awkward when doing just about anything other than sitting still. A waterproof jacket and pants are much more serviceable.
|Parka||Cascade II Pants|
|Waterproof parka at Campmor||Waterproof pants at Campmor|
|Waterproof – Breathable|
|Camp Tech Parka||Pants|
|Breathable Parka at Campmor||Breathable pants at Campmor|
|Breathable Parka at REI|| Breathable pants at REI
|Breathable Parka at Amazon
||Breathable pants at Amazon|