Reverie Nature Podcast

The Essentials of Outdoors Clothing Part 1. Balancing performance, practicality & style

May 11, 2024 Chadwick Howard Clifford Season 2 Episode 4
The Essentials of Outdoors Clothing Part 1. Balancing performance, practicality & style
Reverie Nature Podcast
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Reverie Nature Podcast
The Essentials of Outdoors Clothing Part 1. Balancing performance, practicality & style
May 11, 2024 Season 2 Episode 4
Chadwick Howard Clifford

Send us a Text Message.

  • The episode discusses the critical roles of outdoor clothing and the need for functionality to ensure safety and comfort during wilderness endeavors... 
  • The narrative contrasts traditional and modern clothing choices through personal anecdotes, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each. 
  • Layering is emphasized as a practical approach to regulating body temperature and adapting to varying activity levels. 
  • The discussion delves into different types of fibers used in outdoor clothing, such as cotton and wool, ... 
  • Practical tips are shared for utilizing wool in various layers of clothing, ... additional insulation around wrists. 
  • The episode concludes with a reminder of the importance of keeping the head covered for heat retention and the versatility of wool in providing warmth and comfort in outdoor settings.

#clothing #outdoorclothing #hiking #camping #Tilley #tilleyhat #smartwool

Please consider leaving a rating and/or review wherever you listen to the podcast. Don't forget to share a good episode on social media too. The mid-roll ad on this podcast includes the song entitled House of Mirrors, by Chad Clifford (Pete Meyer on flute).

Support the Show.



Thank you for tuning in to the Reverie Nature Podcast! Your support keeps our adventures alive. Be certain to subscribe for more captivating episodes exploring the wonders of the natural world. Join us on this journey to embrace nature's song and preserve the beauty of our planet. Together, we can make a difference.

Chad Clifford

Please support the podcast through a donation or subscription at:
Buy me a coffee


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

  • The episode discusses the critical roles of outdoor clothing and the need for functionality to ensure safety and comfort during wilderness endeavors... 
  • The narrative contrasts traditional and modern clothing choices through personal anecdotes, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each. 
  • Layering is emphasized as a practical approach to regulating body temperature and adapting to varying activity levels. 
  • The discussion delves into different types of fibers used in outdoor clothing, such as cotton and wool, ... 
  • Practical tips are shared for utilizing wool in various layers of clothing, ... additional insulation around wrists. 
  • The episode concludes with a reminder of the importance of keeping the head covered for heat retention and the versatility of wool in providing warmth and comfort in outdoor settings.

#clothing #outdoorclothing #hiking #camping #Tilley #tilleyhat #smartwool

Please consider leaving a rating and/or review wherever you listen to the podcast. Don't forget to share a good episode on social media too. The mid-roll ad on this podcast includes the song entitled House of Mirrors, by Chad Clifford (Pete Meyer on flute).

Support the Show.



Thank you for tuning in to the Reverie Nature Podcast! Your support keeps our adventures alive. Be certain to subscribe for more captivating episodes exploring the wonders of the natural world. Join us on this journey to embrace nature's song and preserve the beauty of our planet. Together, we can make a difference.

Chad Clifford

Please support the podcast through a donation or subscription at:
Buy me a coffee


Clothing part 1 - 2024-05-09, 8.05 PM

Transcribed by TurboScribe.ai. 

Please take this moment to subscribe and offer your support to the podcast. On today's episode, we are digging into outdoor attire, balancing performance, practicality, and style in the realm of outdoor clothing. We're going to explore its critical roles, our first line of defence against the unpredictable forces of nature.

Let's face it, clothing is your primary shelter. Whether you have shelter or can make one afterwards, it is clothing that is your first defense. So while style certainly has its place, the functionality of our attire and its ability to keep us safe and comfortable during our wilderness endeavors needs to be primary.

Now, every outdoor activity has its own unique needs as far as our clothing, our shelter system, our way to keep our body at that comfortable and safe temperature. And perhaps one of the best ways to learn about your particular outdoor activity is to join a club, get in with others who you trust. They will have great insights for you.

They're probably up on the latest gear and what works and what doesn't. You do want to be careful choosing who you're taking advice from as well. There's been countless times where people have thought someone was a safe outdoor enthusiast, whether it's white water paddling or whatnot.

They get with someone who takes risks beyond what you think in hindsight is acceptable. They really don't know. They're not that experienced.

They might be a whole lot more experienced than you, but that's another thing. Consider clubs, considering doing your homework. At the same time, you know, trust yourself a little bit.

There's been a few times where I've stood out like a sore thumb in terms of clothing and, yeah, flush the fashion, I guess, is my motto. But anyway, I can maybe give you an example of this. There were some international outdoor recreation students coming over to experience a Canadian winter.

And these are, you know, the future outdoor professionals. And they were coming over to learn about winter camping, doing bushcraft and survival skills and learning the local animal tracks and whatnot. They were dressed professionally.

You know, they had the Gore-Tex or shells for wintertime. They had the fleece layers. They had modern quality footwear, high tech snowshoes.

And I was just at the extreme end. The other way, I was old school, right from my feet to my hat. I had the traditional snowshoes with lampwick lacing.

I had mucklucks on, wool socks, wool-long underwear, wool pants, wool layers. To top it all off, I had a Hudson Bay blanket that I turned into a coat just to give me that extra warmth over top, along with leather mitts, wool tuque and, of course, wool scarves and gaskets. I'll get into gaskets later.

So the temperature was bitterly cold. It was a colder winter. It was minus 30 that night, daytime highs.

I think we're around minus 17. Anyway, it was approaching dark and we're out looking at animal tracks. And I was plenty warm, toasty, somewhat overheating.

I had my Hudson Bay blanket coat wide open, you know, it goes down over my knees. So it's a really good barrier for heat. And I was touching the snow, pointing out tracks.

And there's actually steam coming off my hands when I got my hands wet in the snow. I was so warm, not necessarily sweating, but I was definitely toasty. I looked around, though, and everyone else was stiff.

They looked like they were starting to get cold. Too much standing around, not enough exercise. Case in point, different types of clothing works differently.

Traditional clothing versus the modern or synthetic clothing, there are differences and they both have their place and they both have their advantages and they both have their disadvantages. And I'd like to talk about some of those advantages and different advantages from various perspectives or points of view in terms of what's noisy in the woods. What absorbs body odor better? What absorbs sparks better when you're near a fire? All these considerations, not to mention safety and colors, the carrying capacity of an area as far as, you know, too many people and bright clothing kind of makes it look like, you know, a city park instead of a wilderness where you're trying to escape people and the mechanized things of the world.

There's so much to consider with clothing, but let's get on today with just some generalities. And I'm going to include some good tips here that I think you will find useful whether you're a beginner, outdoor guide, or you're just curious. One thing you're going to hear a lot of is people talking about layering, layering your clothing, and this makes great sense.

Instead of having one big heavy jacket, you have a lighter jacket, but you layer underneath it. The end result is just as much warmth when you need it, but you can adjust the temperature or your body temperature to your activity. So if you're strenuously hiking, you layer down so you have less layers on.

The steam or the vapors your bodies are creating are escaping. They're not getting stuck and you're not getting too wet from sweat and you're more comfortable. When you stop and it's a cold day, you put the layers back on so you don't start getting too cool.

That's layering in a nutshell. In general, you could further divide layering by your layers, your underlayer, which is typically some type of long underwear, whether you use a polyester or poly pro or a smart wool sort of brand, if you want to go with the natural fibers, even silk. The next layers after your underlayer would be the insulating layers.

The layers that you can bulk up with, these are your sweaters, whether they're wool or fleece or whatnot, both for legs and for your upper body. And finally, the outer layer. This is your shell.

This is what keeps the wind and rain off you or the snow or whatever it is. Always consider dampness and clothing, both from within and from without. When you are sweating, especially excessively, your layers are getting damp or wet and if these layers don't breathe properly or you have the type of shell that doesn't allow the moisture to get out, now all your layers are going to be soaked.

Depending on the type of material you use for layers or the fibers that they're made out of, this could be a real problem and you could be in big trouble when it starts getting colder. So I think now is a good time to move on to the different types of fibers that you can use. And I will be referencing the layering system and how these different fibers work in the different layers.

Let's start with cotton. And I can hear many outdoor enthusiasts saying, cotton, cotton kills. And you hear that.

Yeah, cotton can be a very dangerous material to wear in the outdoors. And the reason for that is, is when it gets wet, not only does it lose all insulating value, it takes forever to dry. It just stays wet.

If you're wearing blue jeans out there, cotton blue jeans, cotton shirt, and they get damp and nighttime falls and it gets down to closer to zero or even not even close to zero, but just cooler, you're going to have a very difficult time keeping warm. And you can lump hemp in with cotton too. It takes a long time for it to dry.

That aside, cotton, on the other hand, can work okay if it's in a blend with polyester. I do have some pants, military-like pants, that have some cotton in there, but it's more polyester. And they actually do dry quite quickly.

And they're very comfortable and they breathe just fine. Another place for cotton, although I don't recreate in the desert much, it could be the desert, a great way to keep the sun off you. When it does get wet, you know, that's actually a good thing in that kind of hot environment until it gets cold.

And if your clothing's wet in the coldness, there you go. Another place I've used cotton with great effect is in the Arctic. And up there, I would use cotton as my outer shell and it would be called an anorak, I guess.

It basically looks like a hoodie. This great big cotton thing that goes over all your layers and has a hood on it with a big pocket in the front. And this works great.

It's meant to keep the wind from dissipating that heat layer that builds up around your body. And the cotton doesn't tend to get wet because it's cold, dry snow. So unless it's raining out, in which case, you wouldn't be wearing it that time of year anyway, it does work fine.

And what would happen would be as you have your heated layers underneath or your warm layers underneath, and for me that'd typically be wool, or that warm body air meets the cold outside air, that meeting point of the hot and cold air would turn to frost within your clothing. Sometimes it would even turn to frost on the inside of that cotton shell if it wasn't breathing fast enough. The shell never got wet, though.

But there would be a frost, and you could literally just take off that layer where the frost was forming, typically the outer wool layers and the inner of the cotton anorak. And you could take that layer off and literally just shake off that frost and the moisture with it. And although I'm not a fan of cotton otherwise, there are other things I use cotton for, such as handkerchiefs.

Handkerchief is actually a wonder. You can use it for all kinds of things, a cotton handkerchief. One thing that I use it for is if I'm cycling or in a canoe and the sun is beating down on the back of my neck, I will just simply put the cotton handkerchief under my hat so it drapes over my neck as a sunscreen.

It also works nice if you're hiking, and those deer flies are buzzing and they tend to always get you from the back. Mosquitoes, too, actually. So as you're walking and those biting insects are coming from behind, getting your neck, instead of bug spray, I might just put my handkerchief under my hat to drape over the back of my neck, and that keeps the bugs from drafting in behind me and biting at my neck.

Hats as well. I tend to like the tilly hat. Aren't they wonderful, those people who know about the tilly hats? They have the wide brim.

They're made from different types of materials. I think the original was cotton. My current tilly hats include a hemp tilly hat.

It's more or less white with a nice four inch approximately brim around it, and it floats. It's extremely durable, and when it gets wet, of course, yes, it's not going to be great as far as holding in warmth, but it just is a wonderful hat. You can also buy them in synthetics, which I find don't breathe as well, so I'm all about breathability and getting that moisture away from you.

In the rain, if it's in the summertime, yes, it works okay, but your head's still going to get wet. So for summer paddlers, people going out on trips, yeah, the tilly hat is commonly used. A benefit of the tilly hat beyond the sunscreen is it comes with these wonderful straps that come down over the back of your skull and under, is it your forehead? Yeah, just over your forehead.

So in windy conditions out on a lake, it's not going to blow off. So check out tilly hats. They are amazing, and they also come in wool too.

I do have a tilly wool hat that has ear flaps that come down. So, you know, I do use that more so in the fall. And yeah, great hat, and keeps the sun out of your eyes and the sun off your face too.

There's some amazing stories about tilly hats, and if you go to their website, check that out. They got some funny stories. I think there was one, I think he was a zookeeper.

He had an elephant swallow his tilly hat three or four times. It's in their museum now, the Tilly Museum, but it basically went through the digestive tract of the elephant out the other end, I assume washed off and then reused again, and then the elephant would steal it again and away the process went again. Another feature of tilly hats, I did mention that they do float, and the reason they float is because on the top of the hat there's a little insert area where you can insert a little piece of blue foam.

Blue, it's like a styrofoam, a closed cell foam. The type of foam that used to be used, or sometimes still is, I guess, for sleeping pads that would keep your hat afloat should it ever blow off in the wind. And otherwise, avoiding cotton is a good thing.

I sometimes cheat a little bit in terms of socks. Sometimes I'll just go ahead and wear the cotton socks. Knowing full well if they get wet, yeah, good luck drying those out.

But in conditions where my feet are protected from getting wet, you know, that's not necessarily a bad option. If it was winter out though, or fall, or spring colder weather, yeah, I'm definitely going for wool. One thing about preparedness in the outdoors, is it's usually not just one thing that causes a problem.

It's a buildup of small mistakes. And with hypothermia and being comfortable out there is such a number one priority in most situations. Your clothing is very important.

So you can get away with wearing cotton jeans sometimes, but, you know, if you get stuck or if it rains and you're out there for an extended period of time and you have cotton on, you know, one strike against you and you add a couple more things in there like you have to stay out overnight or you're a little hungry or you're a little tired and your body can't stay warm as easy as when it is functioning, you know, in full health. You know, you want all the advantages on your side. So cotton in the outdoors, except for those exceptions I talked about, yeah, you know, stay away from it.

One place I would like to recreate more is the desert and those types of environments. And I'd like to hear from people who do recreate there. I haven't even researched that much on how to stay safe and warm in desert conditions and how cotton might be used there by practitioners.

So anyway, that's something else for me to explore at some point. Okay, let's move on to wool. And I think alpaca can be lumped together with wool.

From the folks that own alpaca farms that I've talked to that are selling different types of clothing, they say and they've pointed out that it actually works better than wool. If wool keeps you warm even when damp, alpaca apparently has the same effect, but to a greater extent. So great.

I do have some experience with alpaca, mostly just socks, but yeah, I do have a pullover top too that works really well. Anyway, the nice thing about wool and alpaca, I think, is when it gets wet, even soaking, you can wring it out. You won't get it dry that way, but you can wring it out as much as possible, put it back on, and I'm going to make up this number here, but I thought I heard it was about 30% of its ability to keep you warm or its insulating value remains.

Even when damp, it still helps you stay warm, and I've definitely felt the warmth from wool even under wet conditions. Even when fully wet, the water that just drips out on its own, you still feel that heat. It does help.

So for the outdoors, wool is amazing. It breathes very well. It keeps you warm even when damp, and it's very hard to keep all your clothing dry when you are working in the outdoors or recreating your body.

Of course, all the moisture coming from your body and the heat, it has to escape, and if it can't get through your clothing, your clothing remains wet, and regardless of whether that moisture's getting out or not, wool will keep you warm. So yeah, it's definitely a material you want to check out, and what's nice about wool is you can go to these secondhand stores for clothing, and those old wool dress pants, I'm thinking probably more of men's old dress pants, they're a great three-season pant. They're lightweight wool, usually fairly thin, and they just do a wonderful job of keeping you warm, and you'll look great out there, of course.

Otherwise, wool can tend to be on the expensive side, so you get what you pay for in this case, and it's not that it's necessarily more expensive than the other dergier you buy anyways. Now, in terms of wool, you can get wool for your under layers, you can get wool for your insulating layers, and if it's a tightly knit wool, it will help you break the wind for you as well. So great for the under layers and your insulating layers.

It stays warm even when damp. And there's another tip I'd like to give in terms of wearing wool suspenders. Why wear a belt to keep your wool pants in place? Use suspenders, and here's why.

You want a nice column of warm air, and a belt just cuts into that. So if you have a nice sweater tucked into your loose-fitting wool pants, and always get them a couple sizes big if you're using them for insulation, especially in the colder seasons. Put on a pair of suspenders, rock it old school, have that nice column of warmth that's not kind of divided with the belt that actually seems to cut circulation off.

If it doesn't cut circulation off, it certainly cuts off that heat flow underneath that insulating layer of clothing. So rock it old school, maybe find a nice wool vest, and you will look sharp. Just kidding.

And there's other great qualities to wool as well. If you're around a fire, and a spark hits your clothing, if it's a thicker wool, it just kind of fizzles out in your clothes. It doesn't melt a hole through the clothes like it would with synthetics.

So not bad choice for round fires. Another really important thing with wool is odor. If you're wearing synthetics, and you're doing a lot of sweating, especially under a dry suit if you've ever done that, look out.

But wool is great. It absorbs odors. How often do you need to wash a wool sweater? You know, very rarely.

The same goes with all layers of wool, whether using it for under layers or insulating layers. You know, you don't start to smell after a day. It breathes so well.

It's a natural fiber. It just is not an issue. So another great bonus for wool.

So you got the insulating properties. When wet, you have being okay around fires, not dangerous around the fire, and for odor. And years ago, you know, the long wool underwear you tend to get, I think it was called Stedman's brand or whatever it was, but you know, the silver long underwear, sometimes it was a one-piece, and it kind of felt like what you would think wearing chain mail would be like very scratchy and itchy on the skin.

And luckily for me, wool doesn't tend to bother my skin much. I can wear it. Even the most itchy of wool I can wear it.

But it's not like that anymore. For under layers, certainly, and even for your insulating layers, wool now, you can get it just as soft as cotton. It's, you know, it's a wonderful fiber now.

It's not like it used to be. You can get wool that's not itchy, so it's not an issue. Even if you did have a very itchy wool sweater, if you put an under layer under that, you know, to help with that, you're doing fine, whether that would be silk or a nice wool.

So anyway, lots of really good quality outdoor wool products there for you to get, and strongly recommend it for all your layers, except for perhaps the shell, because I don't know what layer would use as a shell if there's any kind of wind out. Wind tends to blow through wool. There are tighter knit wools that, you know, aren't too bad for your wind protection.

But in general, you're thinking under layers and you're insulating layers for wool. Hard to beat. If there was a drawback to wool, I think it would be weight.

Not with the under layers and the wool shirts, you know, they're pretty lightweight and comparable. But when you get into the thicker materials, like the pants and the larger sweaters, yes, there's more weight to it. But what you lose in weight, you certainly gain back in comfort and warmth.

And comfort, it's not just that it's warm and dry. You just, it's a nicer comfort. You feel better in wool for some reason.

If you get synthetics that don't breathe well, I don't know if you've ever worn a nylon shirt, for instance. But yeah, nylon shirt, it just, it doesn't breathe well. It just feels kind of icky.

I'm not trying to diss synthetics here because they have their place too. But yeah, natural fiber just feels great wearing. Definitely want a pair of wool socks.

And wool socks, you know, they do tend to wear out faster than other socks. But if you can get a wool blend even, but wool socks are wonderful and you want bulk, right? If you're doing this for warmth, it's the bulk you want. Don't get thin materials when you're trying to insulate unless you're doing a good layering job.

Although wool socks tend to wear out a little faster than other options, what are the other options though? You don't want cotton unless it's a cotton blend and it's summer and you know, you don't plan on spending the night and you can keep them dry somehow. Have you ever tried fleece socks? You don't want much synthetics in your socks. Yeah, not a comfortable thing.

So wool is just wonderful. Even summer hiking, you can get lighter weight wools with lots of stretchy materials in there. You know, these synthetic blends with wool, I think, whatever makes them stretchy.

Wool is naturally stretchy too. And that said, watch out when you wash your wools. You already know this, I'm sure, but yeah, don't put it through the dryer.

It will shrink on you and that'd be tragic. And I'll talk more when we get to footwear about wool liners and wool liners for your mitts and whatnot, so I'll just leave that for now. Wonderful, you can't go wrong with wool in my opinion.

So start looking into wool. You can pay a bundle for it for the latest and greatest and there's some brands out there that have wonderful products and you pay for it. You can go to the second hand store and get some great deals there too though.

So, you know, keep your eyes open and get yourself some wool. Well, maybe I'll talk about the boot liners now. With footwear, you do want liners that come out.

You know, the type of footwear where the liners are within the boot and you can't pull them out, what happens if that gets wet? Almost impossible to dry, right? You want a removable boot liner in the wintertime, we're talking winter now, that is wool. Wool is just great. You need the bulk and you need the density of a nice felted wool.

And another tip for your winter boots, have the wool liner, underneath the wool liner, have a couple of layers of thick wool soles. That will bring your feet off that cold ground, that much more and it makes a big difference. Good quality boots have good insulation under your feet.

The underneath part is probably the most important. Another place that's great for wool is your mitts. If you can have mitt liner that is made out of wool, great, you can take it out, try and dry it off whenever you can, replace it with more wool liners.

Yeah, it's really going to help. For those of you who get cold feet and fingers, think of natural fibers. And if you do get cold hands easily, consider wearing mitts, not gloves.

Keep those fingers together, help them to keep each other warm. And why stop there? Wool headwear too is wonderful. You get a tightly knitted wool toque, you'll be doing well.

Now again, wind tends to go through wool pretty easily, so if you have a wool hat, that's great, but just watch. If it's a windy condition, you need a shell over that of some kind as well, or maybe a different material. It's obviously very important to keep your head while insulated.

We do lose, what is it, 90% of our body heat from our head, so even if you are feeling warm for the most part, but your hands are starting to get cold, your feet are starting to get cold, the first thing you should be thinking about is my head covered. You know, your body's working to keep that vital organ warm, and if you're dispelling that much heat from your head, it's going to, you know, start ignoring your outer limbs that you need less of to stay alive to keep your vital organs warm, so the first thing you should always think about when staying warm is get that head covered, keep it warm, and wool is a great way to do that. At every level, wool's great.

All the layers, just maybe not so much for your outer layer when you need wind protection. Another drawback of wool could be, and I've mentioned this earlier, the chafing wool is naturally an itchy material. Like I said, there are products out there now that are made 100% wool that are not itchy.

They're just like cotton, very soft, but there can be some chafing, so you just be aware of that, and if you're someone who's sensitive to that, make sure you have an underlayer where it's maybe silk or whatnot, something to keep that itch away from you if you don't have a blend of wool that is not itchy. I forgot to mention about wool socks that they do wear out maybe a little faster than other types of socks, but when they do wear out, when you get that big hole in the heel of your sock, that's where they always seem to wear out. You get a big hole in the heel, and when that big hole in the heel gets big enough that you just can't really use them anymore, don't throw them away.

There's another great use for these. Cut off the sock right above the hole, or I guess above the foot part, and keep that tube, the tube part that goes up your leg a little bit, and use that for gaskets for your wrists in the wintertime. So you take that wool, you put that on your wrist, and then where your coat meets with its cuff and where your gloves or mitts meet, there's an area there that lots of cold air always gets in or hot air escapes, and snow and dampness gets in there.

It's a vulnerable spot, and these wool tubes from old wool socks are wonderful there. It just provides a great gasket, and the other gasket I'm thinking of is, of course, scarfs around your neck. To help keep your head and neck warm all the time, consider scarfs, and a wool scarf, that's what I always use, works great.

So wool around the neck, wonderful. And there are products out there where you can get these little tubes of a thin soft wool that you can put over your neck or use as a beanie or a head producer.

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Introduction
Layering
Cotton
Wool
Synthetics
Transition to Part 2