Reverie Nature Podcast

The essentials of Outdoors Clothing Part 2. Balancing performance, practicality & style

May 18, 2024 Chadwick Howard Clifford Season 2 Episode 5
The essentials of Outdoors Clothing Part 2. Balancing performance, practicality & style
Reverie Nature Podcast
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Reverie Nature Podcast
The essentials of Outdoors Clothing Part 2. Balancing performance, practicality & style
May 18, 2024 Season 2 Episode 5
Chadwick Howard Clifford

Send us a Text Message.

In part two of our discussion on outdoor clothing, we explore the various materials used, including cotton, wool, synthetics, and even leather and fur. 

  • While unconventional, leather clothing has its merits, providing comfort, bug protection, and a cozy aroma when exposed to campfire smoke.
  •  In colder climates like the Arctic, traditional materials like caribou fur outperform modern synthetic gear in terms of warmth and lightweight design. 
  • Down jackets offer excellent insulation... 
  • Ultimately, outdoor clothing serves as the first line of defense against the elements, bugs, and other environmental challenges.

#clothing #outdoorclothing #hiking #camping #hellyhansen #traditional

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.

In part two of our discussion on outdoor clothing, we explore the various materials used, including cotton, wool, synthetics, and even leather and fur. 

  • While unconventional, leather clothing has its merits, providing comfort, bug protection, and a cozy aroma when exposed to campfire smoke.
  •  In colder climates like the Arctic, traditional materials like caribou fur outperform modern synthetic gear in terms of warmth and lightweight design. 
  • Down jackets offer excellent insulation... 
  • Ultimately, outdoor clothing serves as the first line of defense against the elements, bugs, and other environmental challenges.

#clothing #outdoorclothing #hiking #camping #hellyhansen #traditional

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 p 2

Transcribed by TurboScribe.ai.
 Welcome back. Today we continue with part two of outdoor clothing.

So we've talked about cotton, we've talked about the wools in alpaca, we've talked about the synthetics in all its forms. Let's just briefly touch on, uh, on skins, on leather furs. You know, it seems ridiculous to wear leather in the outdoors, doesn't it? But what have, what's happened for, for eons, right? It's leather clothing and furs.

And I do have experience with these and, and I tell you, I have this leather sort of an outdoorsy style jacket and it had a bit of the frill on it and whatnot. You know, it'd be terrible in the rain, of course, even with the frills, which help wick that moisture away from the jacket itself, but so comfortable. Bug proof, great around the fire.

And when you get the smoke from the fire on the leather, oh, just smells wonderful. Yeah, really nice. Yeah, very challenging otherwise.

But I do like leather mitts in the wintertime if it's not wet snow. They are great. They're great around the fire.

And in fact, I'll have leather gloves for my cooking stove or working with fire, just those leather work gloves, uh, safe around the fire. You won't burn your hands easily with those on compared to synthetics, where it'll melt right through. I have stories where young recreators with their synthetic stuff on getting too close to the fire or trying to dry their clothes near the fire.

Yeah. Yeah. A couple of holes and, you know, $500 later, you know.

Anyway, let's move on to, uh, furs. Now, how, we're not going to obviously start wearing furs, but there are real benefits to it when I lived in the Arctic, for instance. Yeah, I had a full set of caribou furs that I was wearing, uh, not all the time, but sometimes.

And I tell you, that, that's as warm as it gets. And there is, has been studies done, of course, on clothing, lots of studies. And, uh, there is one that compared military Arctic gear to what civilians can buy, like, you know, your modern adventure outdoor winter clothing to caribou skins.

And this, I think it was done at the University of Manitoba, but I'm not sure. I do have the research paper somewhere. Anyway, they compared people wearing these different types of clothing, these three types, the military cold weather clothing, the outdoor adventure stuff that, you know, civilians can get in there.

There's the local stores, outdoors stores and caribou clothing. And they put these people in a cold room where they could control the temperature. They weren't exercising.

I don't think they were just stationary, but they had sensors on their skin and they took notes too, on the perceived warmth of the clothing. And I don't remember the exact temperature, but at one point where the temperature was cold enough and enough time had gone by that the modern high tech adventure gear and the military cold weather clothing, the body temperature was starting to drop off, as well as the perceived comfort. At that same temperature, and I believe beyond that, the caribou skins actually kept the people warmer.

Their body temperature and perceived temperature was actually still going up. Very warm clothing. And it's not just that it's warm.

It's ultra lightweight. The clothing I had, I just had a shell. So I had the caribou skin shell and it was like a pullover with the hood.

And then I had the pants and I had the footwear. And underneath that I'd use a layer of wool. Yeah, but very lightweight.

I'd actually keep this clothing in my freezer before I'd use it because it wasn't fully tanned like some of the leathers you'd have tanned down in southern regions. So it was scraped and stretched, I guess. But otherwise it was more or less raw.

So I'd keep it in the freezer and before I'd go to put it on I'd literally take a spray bottle and I'd lightly spray the inside leather part with water because if it was too dry it could rip. It was thin leather, this caribou. And it'd be full fur on the outside.

So yeah, it seems like a dumb thing to do. But no, that's what you do. You get the leather a little damp so it's a little stretchy.

And it worked great and so light. And I wouldn't feel that coldness come up through. Not like I would with layers of wool or any other material.

It's just a wonderful material. And so lightweight. The footwear I had just looked like slippers, really.

Almost indoor slippers with wool sticking out on the bottom. And otherwise the hair is the fur sticking out on the bottom. But on the inside of the booty the fur also had layers of fur on the inside.

So very warm. I'd wear wool socks with that. Also lightweight.

Yeah, really nice. Worked really well. Otherwise when I was in the Arctic, if I might compare some clothing I had that wasn't traditional.

Well, sort of traditional. I had the Canada Goose brand. They're extreme weather parka.

And that was a pretty common jacket up there too for folks. And it was down so very heavy. There was so much down in that coat.

It was wonderful. Very, very big. And it would go down to my knees.

That coat alone was heavier than all my furs put together for going outdoors. But it was warm. But at the end of the day, if I was out for a longer period of time, because that jacket, the bigger jacket did not breathe.

It's down in the middle. And it didn't breathe. Your inside layers would slowly get damp.

By the end of the day the wool was obviously warmer. And you'd start to feel the coldness coming in with my large down parka. Which brings me to another type of material that's wonderful in the outdoors.

And that is down. A goose down. It's the lighter feathers, if you don't know, that make just a wonderful insulation.

And I tend to use it in a very specific way. But you can get many layers of down. Not your insulating layers as well as a shell.

Or a combination of both is common. You can even get like a Gore-Tex waterproof shell with down on the inside. And what down does so wonderfully is create an insulating layer.

A thick insulating layer. What is an insulating layer? You have to have some thickness there. You can't have a great insulating layer that's a quarter of an inch thick.

It's not going to happen. You need some bulk. And down coats create that bulk.

They're the big poofy coats. And even synthetic coats that are poofy like that create a nice loft. I'm thinking of sleeping bags.

Those big winter sleeping bags you can get. The down or the synthetic they're both wonderful because they create this big dead airspace. Now the problem with down jackets is when they get wet, they are useless.

Absolutely no value for heat retention once they are soaked. When they're not soaked though, they are wonderful. And when I was in the Arctic, I had my big down parka.

And that was my go to coat for the most part. If I was camping, yeah, I was probably in the Caribou or out for longer periods of time. It was sort of either or.

Convenience versus getting on the furs. However, there is another thing that is a really good use for down. It packs wonderfully.

So with a down coat if you get one with the lighter exterior or the lighter shell like a really thin nylon, you can pack a really good warm coat into the size of, what would it be, into like a two or three liter space. It really condenses well and packs beautifully. And then when you pull it out and shake it it just expands right back to what it should be.

And the insulating layers, as I said, are wonderful. So like I said, what I have for some types of winter camping or even travel, you know, if I'm not camping is I might have this down jacket with this very thin outer layer that I compact and I just don't tend to wear it until I'm stopped. But if it's a cold day and if I'm in like light layers because of, you're always overheating in the winter time it seems because it's strenuous work getting through the snow whether you're skiing, breaking trail.

I tend to be off trail more so that's why it's more work, I guess, or snowshoeing. So it's when you stop you need that insulating layer on right away. So that's what happens.

What some people do is they have that coat in their pack, in its little stuff sack as soon as they stop they pull out that down jacket they get that over and oh it just holds the heat in beautifully it's just a wonderful, wonderful idea and a really good tip for you folks who do recreate in the winter time. However if I used a big coat like that in cold weather and I was hiking around with it because it does not breathe my under layers would get soaked because I'd be sweating too much which would get into the coat itself which would get the down damp and then it loses its insulating value so for those reasons I say like down has something you put on to stay warm when you're mostly stationary because if you're exercising at all in these things yeah they get wet and they lose their quality, insulating quality. So I'm thinking down vests, down jackets, the reason I said with the jacket, the big down jacket I'm talking about, not the parka that I used in the Arctic but the other down jacket with the light shell is that this light shell allows it to be compacted well if you had a thicker or more durable shell you would not be able to get it packed so lightly and then to me it loses a lot of its value.

It's kind of counterintuitive isn't it because you would think with a nice tough shell on the outside you can walk through the woods and not worry about branches poking holes in it because with my down jacket if I was to walk through the brush every little stick would probably poke a hole in it, it's that thin of an exterior shell and I have contemplated getting a shell over that but that's just extra bulk and not needed because when that jacket comes on I'm hardly even walking around that stationary thing. There's another down product that I just love and that is booties there's a type of boot you can get that's it works, the fleece ones are not the fleece but the synthetic ones are just as nice but there's these booties you can get, they're just like big puffy things that you put around your feet and it's more so for when you just stop for camp you put these on and there's usually a harder foam bottom on these so you can walk around on sticks and whatnot but they're really thick so they look like these giant puffy boots that you put on and I don't wear them in camp so much, I wear them when I go to bed in a sleeping bag and I know lots of people have the problem of keeping their feet warm in a sleeping bag and these booties fill up that dead air space by your feet in your sleeping bag. It's hard for your feet to stay warm down there because they have to heat up this big area for the insulation to start working well for them but when you put these booties on it just fills all that space up and you got these nice snugly fitting insulating layers on that really make a difference and when you have to get out of your sleeping bag in the middle of the night for whatever reason you wear those around camp just for doing what you need to do, getting back into your bag so yeah just a really really good tip for three season camp or not three season camping I guess but more well yeah fall winter and spring you don't need something like that for the summer I don't think so that's another great thing for synthetics and for down are those booties and when you look into winter camping or camp booties you'll find those if you search for them I did also want to talk about headwear but I think I've sort of covered that for the most part I did mention that we lose 90% of our heat from our head so you know minding that and just being onto that is a big deal so before you get cold cover your head right by the time your body's starting to feel cold you've let so much heat escape already you should have had your head covered already so keep that in mind another tip I talked about the Tilly hats before there's another and we talked about the wool Tilly hats there's another type of hat that I just love to wear and it looks like an Indiana Jones hat it's a crushed wool hat and for summer time it is wonderful and there's good reasons for that it's wool so it keeps your head warm and not that you need that in the summer but if you're out on the river or lakes and it's really hot what I do with this is I'll dip that into the water this wool hat into the water and just shake off the loose water put it back on my head and that because wool takes a long time to dry especially if it's like a condensed wool like for a hat then what happens is that moisture and coolness stays in the hat and the sun beating down on it that doesn't come through you got this nice cool hat for the hot days you got a nice wide brim to keep the sun off and yeah so it works great that way too so a nice wide brimmed wool crushable hat are pretty nice and into the fall and spring too they add a little bit of warmth up there I need my ears covered with any kind of breeze and cold air some people it affects their ear cavity or canal I guess where you get headaches if you don't keep your ears covered and keep the cold air out so yeah just mentioned the Indiana Jones style hats they do work nice in the summertime and I also mentioned the handkerchief as a neck protector for the sun and bugs one last feature about headwear that should be mentioned is the fur brim around headwear especially with the parka style hoods that you pull over and some of them have like a fur brim and those make a world of difference and the difference between a real fur brim and a synthetic one is significant as well the Arctic parka I had had a significant wool not sorry wool brim a fur brim I don't know if it was coyote or what it was great big long guard hairs we were talking like four inches long of fur and the effects that that had on creating this dead air space around my face was it was incredible it would just keep the gentle breeze from blowing the heat of my head out of that hoodie so it would create this wind break basically the wind would hit that fur and it would break up and it wouldn't like I say disrupt that layer of heat you have around your head I've had synthetic versions and of the same thing and they don't work as well but they do work but it's to break up that bitter wind from hitting your face and getting rid of that warm layer around your head so that's something you should really consider if you're doing much winter camping having a brim with that fur and you know some of the colder weather coats or hoods have a fairly long brim or a long hood so you know the fur might be three inches away from your face you got this long kind of channel where they have to kind of look through looks a little odd but that's the case and it works really well the closer your face is to that brim the harder it is to keep your face warm so that's another really good tip to consider if you're in the colder weather I suppose I should also mention the winter hats with the rabbit fur you know you see the fold up hats you know the ones that have the side flaps that come down and you can put them clip them up over your head if you want or bring them down and they cover the sides of your face those are quite wonderful too synthetic or fur yeah I'd say for most climates in Canada that works pretty well the further north you go the more you probably want to switch to a full on fur and even then it has to be a pretty big hat because when you need that much insulation when it's that cold those typically are made to be a little too thin for the really cold regions your headwear does need to be windproof though especially in cold areas if you're trying to keep your head warm yeah you can't have the wind blowing through same with any any clothing if you're worried about the wind if it's going to be if you're in a context where it's cool enough or you're damp enough where the wind is going to be a problem if it cools you off yeah you need wind protection to keep your body warm so let's move on to rain gear that outer shell that keeps the water out and I think I mentioned earlier when you get a nylon a rubberized nylon or a gortex some kind of shell that is waterproof the fact is that even the gortex are the more expensive materials that do breathe a little bit it's hard for that breathability to keep up with the body that's exercising so you're going to get your layers wet when it's raining and you put on your rain jacket you're slowly getting wet from the inside out as well it's just a matter of degree so if it's not raining very hard just a mist you might be better off not to have a rain coat on at all and just you know not get wet from the inside out that way and let your clothing breathe to let out those vapors versus you know a heavier rain where you do want the rain gear on so there is a balance there generally if it's raining hard at all yeah get the rain gear on but know that your insulating layers are going to get damp from the inside out that way and because of this I tend to go for medium priced rain gear you know I have had the very expensive gortex brands and you know the I guess the professional looking gear where you know it works quite well yeah you do get wet from the inside out costs a fortune is it worth it not to me for the stuff I do however the cheaper stuff like just a really cheap nylon shell I don't like that either what I do like is it's a brand by I think it's called Hildy Hansen and it's like this stretchable rubber it's quite stretchable it's like this nylon thin nylon shell with a coating that looks very rubbery and green and there's a bibb set of pants and there's the top and it's quite stretchy so I can put and roomy as well with rain gear or any pants that you have to put on for your outer shell I like it so you can pull it right over your footwear if you have to take your footwear off when it's raining or any other time you need your wind or rain protection on I'm not a fan of that I want to be able to pull it right over my boot and with these Hildy Hansen rubberized rainwear oh they're just wonderful I can pull these bibb pants right over my boots they're nice and baggy they're long enough so they go right over my boots so they're dragging on the ground but they're nice and large in that sense they're quite stretchable so I can move around in them and they're not going to rip from me overstretching them they're durable enough to walk through the brush and not worry about them ripping they're just button up the one I have but it buttons up in a fashion that overlaps material enough that you don't get wet the hood's decent and yeah they pack up really nicely so they're not heavy they don't take up much room and yeah it's a wonderful compromise between functionality and price so that's what I'm looking for and as well they last forever they don't seem to crack they don't wear out as far as being waterproof goes so yeah there are some really good options out there to consider and I think as far as rangier goes I don't really have to say much more so let's move on to footwear footwear could easily be a podcast let alone a single episode I've written articles on footwear especially related to outdoors and hiking and it's very activity specific isn't it footwear but let's talk about a few of the real basic things with footwear and one of those to me and there is some research to back this up is the weight of footwear there's been a few studies done on footwear and the amount of energy extra that you have to spend because of the weight of footwear and also the stiffness of footwear that contributes just think of anything in motion and having something that's heavy and trying to get it to move the energy that takes you know that's why cross country skis are lightweight that's why ski poles and walking poles are lightweight these things that have to swing the energy it takes to swing something heavier of course uses more energy and we don't really need research to back that up do we but you know it is catching up all the same I think footwear really demands an episode all to itself so I'm going to save some of these things for then because there's so much to talk about however the weight you know go lightweight and this makes such a difference anytime I've had lightweight footwear on compared to you know something heavier what a difference it's freeing it really is going lightweight breathability it's not as much of a concern with your footwear you can wear non breathable footwear like the waterproof hiking boots types of rubber boots that you can jump in puddles with yeah not a big deal you do probably want wool socks all the time in your footwear at least that's what I think just to help keep your feet warm even if everything does get wet of course there's the obvious things like tread you know what kind of tread do you need what kind of tread do you want there's a lot of problems with those aggressive tread boots yes you can climb up the cliff with these things right you know if you got these aggressive treads but on the well used hiking trails in hilly country you know there's a real problem with erosion and these aggressive boots claw into the ground and even if they only raise a little bit of dirt each time next rainstorm that gets washed away and if you repeat this thousands of times on the same trail from many hikers yeah that can be a problem so there's that there's safety what about ankle support do you need ankle support really do you yeah I don't know I'm thinking probably not depends on the person I guess and if they're carrying a backpack and whatnot I find ankle support to be quite restrictive I don't like it myself I tend not to use it but I also recently bought a pair of boots that go over the ankle the first pair in a very long time I've had like that and the reason for these are not for protection not for support it's for colder weather spring and fall and it's for wetter conditions I mean it's been very wet the last couple of years where I hike and being able to walk through a little bit deeper water without getting soaked it can be hard if you don't have something that goes over your ankle so I'm giving these a second chance the footwear nowadays is so light compared to what people were wearing in the 70s and even 80s so I think winter footwear this is especially true where we really have to bulk up it's the bulk that matters when you're trying to stay warm if you have thin material and you're trying to get warm through you're using thin materials to insulate it doesn't work so well in my experience you need bulk so if you have footwear that says they're good to minus 50 or 40 and they're only like three quarters of an inch thick try it and see what happens I don't know you really need bulk and that's why in the winter time I'm a huge fan of traditional footwear like the muck lux or kamix you just need the bulk right? and the problem is with some of the winter footwear it gets very heavy when you start adding this bulk if you have the heavy rubber bottoms the problem is for me I'm often in a very humid climate where the temperatures fluctuate so it gets snow and then it turns warm and it melts and we get this wet snow all the time so using that lightweight or leather footwear it's going to get wet too often I usually have to go to synthetic or plastic or rubber bottom or shell so it's always going to be heavy in that sense but I think for the most part I'm going to save footwear for another day and I'm going to talk in lots of detail about it for now there's just so many things to consider for footwear and the type of activity it's too activity specific to really do a good talk here just besides weight considerations but let's just briefly also talk about gaiters I'm not talking about alligators we're talking about the gaiters that you put over your boots that cover part of your pant leg these are pretty nice cross country skiers in the 60s and 70s used to use these a lot and what it would do would go over those small little boots they used to wear and they clip onto the laces wrap around just below your ankle and go up halfway up to your knees and there would be a little zipper there so you could take them off and that would keep the snow out of your socks and out of your boots gaiters are being used now in all kinds of climates even to keep ticks off so some people will put them over their hiking boots to help they might be waterproof these gaiters some of them are anyway so you can keep the lower part of your pants dry in wetter conditions keep the burrs off your pants again keep the ticks from getting under and onto your skin by your pant cuffs gaiters are something to consider I tend not to use them myself except in the winter time when I'm cross country skiing but I have thought about using them in the summer as well as far as gloves go I've talked about gloves enough I think already so yeah there's lots of variations of gloves and depending on your climate wet dry are you going to be using gloves by the fire you need leather in that case let's just move on from there I'm just eager to get to bug protection and your clothing is your protection against bugs so what can you do?

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Leather & fur
Down
Booties
Headwear
Rain gear
Foot wear & gaiters
Bug protection
Environmental considerations