No matter where you live -- okay, as long as you're in the northern hemisphere -- winter is here and it's time to think about your layering system. Take a look at the hiker in the photo (yes, that's me). Can you spot the critical error that's going to leave me wet and cold in short order?Let's see:
- Cozy wool hat -- check!
- Weatherproof shell (jacket) -- check!
- Warm, synthetic layer underneath the shell -- check!
- Weatherproof gloves -- check!
- Jeans? RED ALERT!
Wearing cotton is a big mistake any time you might be exposed to wet and cold. The cotton soaks up the water and holds it next to your skin, chilling you. Been there, done that, and it's about as comfortable (and as much fun) as hiking with freezer gel packs strapped to your body.
The good news is that dressing properly for a cool-weather hike isn't that difficult. It starts with ditching anything made of cotton, then replacing those items with wool or synthetic materials that wick moisture away from your skin, and don't lose their insulating value like cotton does when wet.
Photo © Lisa Maloney