Your first line of defenseClothing has the power to make your hike pleasant, or make it miserable. I remember stepping off for my first backpacking trip wearing heavy boots, cotton blend shorts, and a cut-up t-shirt. By the end of the first day I had blisters on both feet, and painful rashes in regions best not mentioned. In addition, I was carrying plenty of extra clothes that I never took out of the pack (but I still had to haul them up and down the hills!).
|At the trailhead, James River, VA, 2002|
|My usual hiking outfit. Near Laurel Falls, TN, 2014.|
|Trail runners dry out faster than hiking boots. Pickle Branch Shelter, VA 2011.|
Camp clothesOne of the first things I'll do after reaching my shelter or campsite for the night is to change into a set of "camp clothes."
|Relaxing in my camp clothes. Hurricane Mountain Shelter, VA, 2013|
OuterwearEven on a short trip you should plan for inclement weather. A good rain jacket will keep the showers off and also serves double duty as a windbreaker or light outer layer when the weather's raw. I got a Marmot Precip jacket some years ago and it's never let me down. If the weather's likely to be cold I'll pack rain pants as an extra layer, but I don't worry about them in the summer months.
|My Marmot Precip keeps the frost at bay, while my buff warms my head. Roan Mountain, TN, 2014.|
One final useful item is a mid-weight long-sleeve top with a quarter-length zipper. They're great for hiking in when the air is cool, and serve double duty as extra layer when you're sleeping or lounging around camp. They're often marketed as mid-weight long underwear tops, but I just layer it over my t-shirt. I've got a ratty Capilene top from Patagonia that's sure to mistaken for a cleaning rag someday, but I love it!
|You can have my capilene top when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. Iron Mtn Gap, TN, 2014.|