You’ve been there before: the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the sweet smell of spring is in the air. You decide to go for a nice hike when, halfway through, the temperature suddenly starts to drop. You look up only to see gray, puffy clouds looming menacingly in the distance.
Getting caught off guard by mother nature isn’t usually a fun experience. But having the right clothing for the outdoors turns bad weather into just, well, weather. With this in mind, here are six pieces of outdoor apparel that will help you prepare for whatever nature brings.
1. Rain Jacket
A good rain jacket is an essential item for any outdoor lover, whether you’re a novice or an expert. It helps keep you dry even when it’s coming down in buckets. And spring, summer, and fall can all be rainy from time to time. In many climates, you can throw winter in there, too. So a rain jacket is an excellent investment as a three- or even four-season piece.
When getting a rain jacket, or any outdoor gear for that matter, make sure to focus on quality fabrics. Low-quality rain jackets tend to breathe poorly, meaning there’s little circulation of outside air. As a result, you’ll probably end up sweating, so you won’t stay dry after all. So, as with all pieces on this list, prioritize high-quality items whenever possible.
In certain climates, you never know what kind of weather you’ll be hit with. A sunny day can quickly turn to rain, to wind, or even snow in some places. So it’s important to wear clothes that can withstand fickle nature. This is especially true if you work outdoors.
There’s a reason jeans have been a wardrobe staple of the outdoor workforce since the days of the ’49ers (the gold miners, that is). They’re extremely durable, and they can handle getting wet with rain or splattered with mud. Just throw them in the wash and they’ll be as good as new. A high-quality pair can be a bit expensive, but keep your eyes out for deals. For example, you could grab some Carhartt factory seconds and use the savings for some of the other goodies on this list.
3. Wool Socks
Wool has been a powerhouse clothing fiber for thousands of years. It’s one of the best materials for keeping your body warm in cold weather. It also has antimicrobial properties. So not only does it stay cleaner longer, but it resists the buildup of body odor.
Of all the clothing items that can be made from wool, socks are some of the best. They’re an essential part of any outdoorsy person’s ensemble. That’s because a great deal of heat escapes your body through your feet. So wool socks will help ensure your feet stay toasty warm in cold weather. Yet wool’s moisture-wicking and antimicrobial properties mean they’ll be less apt to get sweaty and stinky.
4. Convertible Pants
So you’ve now well prepared yourself for the appearance of chilly, soggy weather. But what about the inverse? Sometimes you’re over-prepared for rain when, instead, the sun prevails. On days when the heat really starts to crank, you’ll want convertible pants.
Convertible pants give you a breath of fresh air, just like driving a convertible along the coast. If you’re feeling warm, just unzip the pants at your knees, and voila! Now you’re wearing shorts. Simple, easy, and flexible, convertible pants are a great mid-season staple. REI and Patagonia offer especially durable options for thru-hikers.
5. Quick-Dry Shorts
This item embodies the same spirit of embracing the weather rather than protecting yourself from it. For all manner of situations, you can throw on a pair of quick-dry shorts and be good to go. Many companies like Prana and Treeline make these kinds of flexible shorts nowadays. They’re perfect for wet weather and activities like river treks and paddleboarding.
One of the main benefits of quick-dry shorts is their multipurpose nature. For example, you could wear quick-dry shorts for your daily run by the lake. If you’re feeling overheated, no problem — take a dip in the water and continue on your way. Your shorts will already be dry by the time you get back home.
6. UV Protection Hoodie
Sunlight is generally good for your skin and your overall well-being. But too much fun in the sun without protection can do more harm than good. That’s because sunlight contains powerful UV rays that can damage your skin cells over time. In fact, overexposure to UV rays is one of the leading causes of skin cancer.
So rather than risk harm to your beautiful skin, layer up with a lightweight UV-protection hoodie. UV hoodies will help cover your head, arms, and torso from overbearing sunbeams. Yet they’re made of light, breathable material, so you can still be comfortable while active. You’ll enjoy your sunsoaked fun even more knowing your skin is safe.
The Right Clothes for the Job
Enduring the weather is part of your clothes’ job. But some clothes do a better job of handling certain weather than others. So it’s important to make sure you’re prepared when the weather eventually changes. By picking up some of the items on this list, you’ll flesh out your wardrobe with some outdoor essentials. And you’ll be one step closer to handling whatever nature throws your way.
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